2018 PREVIEW 🔍 Perennial underachievers? Our fifteenth preview is here. Andrew Ferguson assesses whe...
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Sea Eagles look to secure Top Eight against disappointing Warriors
Despite boasting the Kiwi international spine of Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Kieran Foran, Shaun Johnson and Isaac Luke, a loss on Sunday afternoon will be the Warriors' eighth-straight. It all looked very promising early in last week's game with the Rabbitohs after Stephen Kearney's men managed an 18-12 lead after 50 minutes of play. Yet, in typical ‘Warriors' fashion, the New Zealand club slumped to a 36-18 defeat in the end and now find themselves in 13th place and can consider themselves lucky that they are highly unlikely to receive the Wooden Spoon given their recent efforts. However, fortunately they welcome back influential halfback Shaun Johnson and prop Ben Matulino in a significant boost for their slim chances of an upset. Also helping their chances is the fact that this game will be played at home, seeing that the Warriors have only won one of 11 outings this year away from Mt. Smart Stadium.
If the Warriors' performance last week was disappointing, that would be mean that the Sea Eagles' one was disastrous. Trent Barrett's side were predicted to dispose of the Dogs with ease, particularly given that so much was on the line - in fact, I myself wrote in my Preview Article for the Sea Eagles that, if they were to prove themselves as true premiership contenders, a victory by at least 20 or so was expected. Yet, they suffered one of their most shocking losses of the season, going down 30-16 and now find themselves just holding onto eighth spot on the ladder, a stunning stumble given that only two weeks ago they were strong Top Four possibilities following their 36-18 win over the Roosters. However, surprising defeats at the hands of the lowly Bulldogs and Tigers now threaten to derail their season - if they cannot bounce back this week.
Warriors fans - if you get out to an early lead do not feel too comfortable, as in their last game against Manly, Kearney's men skipped out to an early 16-0 lead before eventually losing 26-22 in Round 17 earlier this year at Perth.
Who to watch: For the home side, the fleet-footed Roger Tuivasa-Sheck displayed glimpses of his form at the Roosters in a losing effort last week and his input will be crucial as the struggling Warriors look to end their season on a high. ‘RTS' was highly impressive last week, finishing with 231 running metres, three line breaks and two tries in one of his strongest performances this year.
However, when these two sides last met, it was Tuivasa-Sheck's opposite number who was receiving all the accolades. Tom Trbojevic finished the 26-22 win with 183 running metres, two line breaks, a try-assist and two tries. Shutting him down will go a long way towards securing victory for the home side.
My tip: If Manly do not win this game, they simply do not deserve to play finals footy. They have too much to play for and the Warriors cannot be trusted against any side, let alone one as desperate as Manly. Sea Eagles by 16.
1. Roger Tuivasa-sheck 2. David Fusitua 3. Blake Ayshford 4. Solomone Kata 5. Ken Maumalo 6. Kieran Foran 7. Shaun Johnson 8. Ben Matulino 9. Issac Luke 10. Sam Lisone 11. Bunty Afoa 12. Ryan Hoffman 13. Simon Mannering 14. Mafoa'aeata Hingano 15. Charlie Gubb 16. Isaiah Papalii 17. Jazz Tevaga
1. Tom Trbojevic 2. Matthew Wright 3. Dylan Walker 4. Brian Kelly 5. Akuila Uate 6. Blake Green 7. Daly Cherry-Evans 8. Darcy Lussick 9. Apisai Koroisau 10. Martin Taupau 11. Frank Winterstein 12. Shaun Lane 13. Jake Trbojevic 14. Lewis Brown 15. Lloyd Perrett 16. Brenton Lawrence 17. Addin Fonua-blake