Round 4: Sea Eagles v Raiders preview
What a match up of contrasting fortunes we have this weekend on the Northern Beaches.
The Sea Eagles have had an up and down season thus far whilst the Raiders could just as easily be 3-0 on the ladder just as much as they are 0-3. Manly opened the season with an indifferent performance against the Knights at McDonald Jones Stadium which saw them fall in golden point to a Mitchell Pearce field goal. They then turned on the style at Brookvale when they put a 54-0 victory on over the Eels in which the hype train began to get to full steam and it looked as if Manly had a good side and had to take on a winless Bunnies side.
Last week's effort against the previously winless Rabbitohs was poor, the Eagles never adapted to the greasy conditions at ANZ Stadium and there were plenty of questions asked about their tactics and game after another poor defeat, which left people questioning the strength of the 54-0 victory. Manly will look to replicate their form at Brookvale and despite losing Jorge Taufua there are no other injury concerns for the home side.
Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, the speciality once of the North Sydney Bears has quickly become a speciality of Ricky Stuart and the Canberra Raiders who have blown winning positions in each of the three rounds so far. The Raiders opened up big margin against the Gold Coast Titans in round 1 before being conceding victory in the 79th minute. The Raiders again had a match winning position deep into the second half against the Knights in round 2 but yet again the Raiders couldn't see the game out yet again from a winning position late on and fell to defeat yet again.
The most telling of the games was last week's capitulation against the Warriors. The Raiders had run out to a 19-6 lead early in the second half before holding a 19-12 lead until the final four minutes when the Warriors had the miracle of scoring 7 points in the space of just four minutes with Shaun Johnson hitting an 80th minute victory. For the Raiders, Blake Austin has been sent back to the Intrust Super Premiership with Havili coming into the side.
Who to watch: Outside of the obvious, the man to watch for the Sea Eagles is Api Koroisau, the Manly hooker has been tipped as an option for the NSW no.9 spot and there isn't a lot of arguments around to say he wouldn't be a solid option. Fijian international Koroisau is like the energizer bunny at times, steers the Sea Eagles around from dummy half and create plays without getting the credit of the bigger named players. If Koroisau can take momentum from dummy half on Saturday night, then the Sea Eagles will have a big game.
The eyes on the Raiders will in particular be looking at their halves Sezer and Williams who have been at times missing in action for the Raiders. Sam Williams in three games has run for just 46 metres having played every minute of action for the Raiders and whilst being defensively sound, the Raiders halfback needs to get the game going if the Raiders want to win.
The favourite: The Sea Eagles are heavy favourites to win the game and it's easy to understand why given their form at Brookvale of late whilst the Raiders form against some unfavoured sides has been poor.
My tip: The Sea Eagles should bounce back at Brookvale, there's no doubt Manly need to improve on last weeks effort but there will be confidence back at "fortress" Brookie after their win against Parramatta in round 2. Manly by 6.