Round 12: Raiders v Sea Eagles preview
Just a combined three points separated Manly and Canberra in their two clashes in 2017 which saw Manly take golden point victories in both games against the Raiders as well as a 16 point victory earlier in the 2018 season.
The Raiders head into their clash against Manly off the back of two losses in a row to the Sharks at GIO Stadium a fortnight ago as well as narrow defeat to the competition leaders the St George Illawarra Dragons in Mudgee last Sunday. The Raiders form in 2018 has been less than ideal with their season beginning four straight losses including their defeat to the Sea Eagles at Brookvale in Round 4. The Raiders put their first two wins on the board against the Bulldogs and Eels but they weren't able to go on any sort of winning streak only putting back to back wins together once more in rounds 8 & 9.
The Raiders of 2018 have won one less match than they had after 11 rounds of 2017 but what would be more of a concern for the Raiders and coach Ricky Stuart is that they have scored less points and conceded more than they had at the same point. The Raiders for and against currently sits at 0 having scored and conceded 241 points so far this season.
Manly come into the game with confidence having won two matches in a row with victories over the Broncos in a home game at Suncorp before taking victory in the dramatic clash against the Melbourne Storm last week at AAMI Park. The Sea Eagles are without Dylan Walker who suffered a fractured eye-socket following the melee last week.
The Sea Eagles are on the road for the fourth week in a row with and their third trip outside of Sydney in a row. The Manly away record has seen them just win one game which game last weekend in Melbourne and the Sea Eagles will be confident that they can get a third straight win. The Manly record of late over the Raiders has been very good with the Raiders having only won five clashes against Manly since 2004.
Aidan Sezer - The Raiders halfback is the key player to any success for the Raiders. The Raiders half has big expectations on him every time the Raiders come out and he has been the better performing half of the Raiders season. Even with this the Raiders will need Sezer to improve with just four try assists coming from the Raiders halfback.
Trent Hodkinson - Trent Hodkinson returned to the Sea Eagles last week and although he played limited minutes, he has a starting position this week against the Raiders replacing Dylan Walker. Trent Hodkinson was in good form when he was called up throughout the early part of the season for the Cronulla Sharks when he was replacing Matt Moylan.
My tip: The Sea Eagles will take confidence from their back to back wins against two quality opponents, they don't lose anything by welcoming Trent Hodkinson back into the team and they should be able to keep their record going. Manly by 10.