Round 16: Sea Eagles v Storm preview
It might be 11 years since the Battle of Brookvale, but the rivalry between the Manly Sea Eagles and the Melbourne Storm has never died down despite different fortunes of the teams in recent seasons.
The Sea Eagles have had an up and down season sitting in tenth spot with seven wins and eight losses from their fifteen games this season including their capitulation at the hands of the Cowboys a fortnight ago. Leading 26-12 with 15 minutes to go, Manly looked as if they had the game under control having dominated the contest only to concede three tries in the space of three minutes to fall 28-26 behind.
Manly have had their struggles this season against top eight sides this season without a victory against a side above them on the ladder and they were comprehensibly beaten by the Storm a couple of weeks ago when the sides met in Melbourne.
The Sea Eagles will have all their rep stars backing up from last weekend bar Josh Aloai who was left heavily concussed in last week's Samoa V Cook Islands match at Campbelltown. This has meant that Sean Keppie comes into the starting side with Taniela Paseka coming onto the bench.
Sitting in second spot, the Melbourne Storm are needing to play catch-up football if they want to close the gap to the Panthers who have a bye in hand as the Storm are four points behind on the ladder. Before the rep break, the Storm had to come from behind in their victory over the Broncos when they scored a 32-20 win after
The Storm have been in good form in recent weeks having won their past three matches including having the bye during that period. A minor injury crisis put the pressure on the Storm as they suffered two heavy losses against the Panthers and Cowboys which saw Melbourne fall four points behind the top of the ladder.
Despite being named by the Storm, Cameron Munster looks to be in serious doubt with a shoulder injury in Origin 2. This could be offset by the return of Ryan Papenhuyzen who has been named in the reserves after suffering a hamstring injury and then a delayed return due to COVID. The Storm will also be without Felise Kaufusi for family reasons.
Who to watch: Coming off the back of the loss in Origin 2, Daly Cherry-Evans will be looking to bounce back and the Sea Eagles star will want to be putting in a statement performance that Manly can match it with the top teams. A starring performance from DCE needs to happy if the Sea Eagles want to beat Melbourne.
The importance of Jahrome Hughes was on show during Melbourne's losing streak where they looked a completely different team to the one with Hughes. Potentially losing Cameron Munster, the pressure will go on Hughes and with the loss of a key playmaker, the weight will go on the shoulders of Hughes to get the Storm home.
My tip: Part of me wants to go for an upset, but I think that the Storm will get home but the game could be a lot close than people think. The Sea Eagles always put in a better performance at home but the Storm have the class factor that should see them home. Storm by 8.