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4:10pm Sun April 15, 2018
Round 6 - 4 Pines Park - Crowd: 15456

Round 6: Sea Eagles v Wests Tigers preview

Inconsistent Sea Eagles look to bounce back against high-flying Tigers

Manly coach Trent Barrett will be hoping for an improved effort on Sunday afternoon as his side attempts to prove themselves as genuine title contenders. The Sea Eagles have shown glimpses of brilliance (take note of their 54-0 and 32-16 wins over the Eels and Raiders respectively) yet have also backed these performances up with 34-6 and 32-20 losses. It is very difficult to get a read on Barrett's men given their inconsistent start to the year. Errors were the main issue for the Sea Eagles in last week's loss to the Titans with the men from the Northern Beaches completing just 69% of their sets. Fortunately, their chances on Sunday afternoon are boosted by the return of star fullback Tom Trbojevic.

Meanwhile, their opponents have been anything but inconsistent to start their 2018 campaign. The West Tigers have been highly impressive in all five of their games this season with their only loss coming in controversial circumstances against Brisbane. Ivan Cleary's men have claimed two wins over last year's Premiers and a two-point victory over the Premiership favourites. Complacency does not seem to be an issue either as they also picked up a 10-point win over the struggling Eels a fortnight ago. Halfback Luke Brooks has been at the centre of the success and has established himself as one of the most improved players in the competition. As a result of his early form, key recruit Josh Reynolds returns from injury off the bench. In other team news, winger Tui Lolohea has been dropped with David Nofoaluma recalled on the wing and Corey Thompson shifting to fullback.

Last meeting: Round 23 2017 - Wests Tigers 30 Sea Eagles 26

Who to watch: For the home side it has to be Tom Trbojevic. The Sea Eagles missed his attacking brilliance last weekend against the Gold Coast. Despite only playing four games, the skilful fullback has posted six try-assists, five line breaks and 16 tackle busts this year and will need to be at his best this weekend against a defensively strong Tigers outfit.

Recalled from reserve grade, David Nofoaluma has been given another chance to cement his spot in first grade. The barnstorming winger starred in the Intrust Super Cup and his potential was on display a fortnight ago when he ran in two tries, busted eight tackles and managed 267 running metres. Nofoaluma finished in the Top Five in the competition last year when it came to tackle busts, offloads and running metres and still has the power to be one of the most dangerous wingers in the competition if he fixes up his defence.

The favourite: Manly are favoured to win this one given their strong home record. The Sea Eagles have won eight straight against the Tigers at Brookvale.

My tip: Despite their abysmal record at Lottoland, the Tigers have been far more consistent and should be able to defend their way to victory. Tigers by 10.