Pre Match
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2:00pm Sun June 16, 2024
Round 15 - 4 Pines Park, Brookvale / Cammeraygal

Round 15: Sea Eagles v Dragons preview

More than hopefuls: can Sea Eagles, Dragons be the real top eight deal?

The Manly Sea Eagles and St George Illawarra Dragons will look to break away from a pack of teams vying to play finals football when they face off in a crucial contest on Sunday afternoon.

Grouped among ten teams separated by just four premiership points, the two Sydney rivals, who missed the finals in 2023, have shown signs of great promise along with consistent shortcomings during the first half of the season.

Sliding down the ladder following a form slump that has yielded one win in well over a month, the Manly Sea Eagles will be hoping the rare opportunity to play at home in daylight hours reaps rewards. 

Causing Penrith grief before ultimately going down 32-22 away from home last Sunday, coach Anthony Seibold has been forced into changes with Nathan Brown starting in place of Josh Aloiai (suspension) and Ethan Bullemor joining the bench.

The Sea Eagles have won four out of five matches at 4 Pines Park this season, along with three out of four daytime matches at home during Seibold's tenure.

The St George Illawarra Dragons will be eyeing off three straight wins when they make their first appearance on the northern beaches in five years.

Posting their highest score in well over a decade with a 56-14 annihilation of the Wests Tigers last Friday, coach Shane Flanagan has retained the same squad with Luciano Leilua starting ahead of Raymond Faitala-Mariner in the second-row.

The Dragons have won only one of their past six visits to 4 Pines Park, yet hold a slender advantage over the Sea Eagles in all meetings this decade with four wins from six clashes.

Last meeting: Round 4 2024 - Dragons 20 Sea Eagles 12

Who to watch: Making the most of a career lifeline by appearing in every game this season, unassuming forward Corey Waddell will bring up 50 games for the Sea Eagles on Sunday afternoon. Returning to Manly after spending the past three years plying his trade with Canterbury-Bankstown, the 27-year-old has performed a reliable role averaging 22 tackles and 75 running metres as a middle and edge forward. Named on the bench despite Haumole Olakau'atu being under an injury cloud, look for Waddell to come into contention for a starting position in his milestone match.

Taking the step from talented young gun to long-term first grader, Tyrell Sloan will be keen to build on his newly inked deal with a win in his 50th game for the joint venture. Enjoying a stellar season with eight tries, six try-assists and 36 tackle breaks, the 22-year-old fullback has reaped the rewards of Shane Flanagan's regime to rank among the most improved players in the competition. Scoring four tries in three matches against the Sea Eagles - his best strike rate against any team in the league - look for Sloan to add to his tally as the Dragons strive to record their first win on the northern beaches since 2017.

Favourite: Sea Eagles are favoured to continue their strong record at home and get the job done in the first meeting between the two sides at the venue formerly known as Brookvale Oval in five years.

My tip: The Dragons have been good enough to win most of the games they should over the first half of 2024. If they are serious about featuring in September for the first time in six years, this is the type of game they need to win. Dragons by 7.