Round 10: MAGIC ROUND: Manly v Brisbane preview
Brisbane away, but will be right at home against Manly
The second game of the NRL's annual Magic Round will kick off with the Manly Sea Eagles to play the Brisbane Broncos. Despite all of the weekend's games being played at Brisbane's home of Suncorp Stadium, they will be considered the away side for this clash. Manly are coming off a triumphant performance against the Warriors last week, seeing fullback Tom Trbojevic put on a clinic at Lottoland. Brisbane are backing up after a heartbreaking one-point defeat at the hands of their biggest rivals the North Queensland Cowboys. This is a crucial game for both sides as Manly look to crack the top eight, whilst Brisbane look to pull further away from cellar dwellers Canterbury. The two sides have produced many great contests over the years and it is exciting to see what they will produce in Magic Round.
Sea Eagles coach Des Hasler has named only one change this week from the side that defeated the Warriors last weekend. Martin Tapau is back this week, with Sean Keppie reverting back to the bench following a solid hit-out last week. The change sees the last round debutant Zac Saddler drop back to the reserves.
Brisbane coach Kevin Walters has too made only the one change to the 17 lining up this round, with it being a forced change. Captain Patrick Carrigan is out with a season-ending ACL tear. This sees Jake Turpin earn the captaincy, with Tom Flegler coming into the starting side to replace Carrigan at lock. This means that John Asiata comes onto the bench.
Who to watch: It's hard to look past fullback Tom Trbojevic for Manly. He was absolutely outstanding last week and quite possibly produced the best individual performance across the NRL in round 9. If he can play up to a similar standard again, he will have the Broncos defence in shambles.
Tevita Pangai Junior is well known for his aggressive style of play and his ability to lead a pack from the front. With their captain now gone for the season, look for the damaging second row forward to step up and take it to the Manly pack with an added responsibility placed on his shoulders. If he is able to produce anything close to his best, Manly will struggle to contain him and he could be a large factor in getting his side the win.
The favourite: On the back of some outstanding form that has seen them put themselves right back into top eight contention, Manly are the favourites to take out the win.
My tip: The Broncos can definitely challenge the Sea Eagles as it has been proven that despite their good form, Manly's defence still isn't quite right. Only last round, they conceded 32 points in their eventual win over the Warriors. If Brisbane can produce a solid defensive performance themselves, Manly may not be able to outscore them. However, that is a big if, with Brisbane proving throughout the year that their defence isn't as good as it could be. With that in mind and the superb form of Tom Trbojevic, Manly should be able to come away with the two points. Manly by 10.