Round 17: Sea Eagles v Warriors preview - 2017 Round 17
Sea Eagles look to build on momentum against top 8 chasing Kiwi's
This should be an absorbing contest! Two of the best attacking teams in the NRL go toe to toe on Saturday night with a vital two points on offer.
Manly have turned out to be a real darkhorse in the competition thus far in 2017 with some consistent performances. Led by in form half back Daly Cherry Evans and talented outside backs Dylan Walker and Tom Trbojevic the Sea Eagles are giving hopes to its fans for Premiership glory in 2017.
Although the season still has a lot to run, the way Manly are playing you would be foolish to bet against them. Last weekend's 35-18 mauling of reigning Premiers Cronulla at Shark Park added weight to these claims as the Northern Beaches based club moved into the top 4 under the guidance of Trent Barrett. This Saturday's contest against the Warriors is a danger game though and it will need to perform well to stave off the visitors from across the Tasman.
The Warriors kept touch with the top 8 after a gritty 21-14 defeat of the out of form Bulldogs at Mt Smart Stadium last week. Some David Fusitua magic and Roger Tuivasa Sheck's return to form helped the situation for the Warriors. It is renowned for making ground during the origin period and this year has been no different. Obviously the loss of Isaac Luke (dislocated shoulder) hurts the Kiwi's a lot, but if the second half against the Bulldogs is any indication they will be in good hands with the talented Nathaniel Roache.
This is one of the most talented rosters on paper, if somehow the Warriors can click into gear and find some form it will be trouble for the rest of the NRL.
This match has upset alert written all over it, the returning Kieran Foran could bolster an already strong Warriors outfit in a match that it needs to win to stay close to the top eight.
The Sea Eagles have won the past five clashes against the Warriors including the last clash at Perth. The Warriors' record in Perth also leaves plenty to be desired.
Who to watch: Manly has been dealt a blow with Curtis Sironen ruled out until Round 26 with a shoulder injury. This puts more weight on the young shoulders of lock Jake Trbojevic, who will be more than happy to burden the load for the home side. 2017 has been a watershed year for him, with selection in the New South Wales side for games one and two as well as performing consistently for Manly. Trbojevic's ability to break through tackles and create post-contact metres is vital to the success of Manly's backs who have more room to manoeuvre when they have the ball.
Not to be diminished is his offloading ability which creates room and second phase play. He normally attracts two or three defenders when doing this, which leaves opposition defenders short out wide. A vital cog in the machine that is the Sea Eagles - and will need to be stopped if the Warriors are to have a chance this weekend.
Warriors winger Ken Maumalo has been superb since breaking into the first grade side back in 2015. His try last week against the Bulldogs where he broke a tackle, lost his footing, got up and ran over 50 metres, beating two more players before sliding over for a try, was a highlight of the Kiwi side's season and set the platform for the win. Blessed with pace, strength and a killer fend it could be a tough evening for the Sea Eagles edge defenders against one of the most clinical finishers in the league. Tip for the Warriors halves, get the ball into this man's hands early and a lot!
My tip: This feels like a match that New Zealand could spring an upset but with the way the Sea Eagles are playing as well as the long travel for the Warriors it is almost impossible to go against the Northern Beaches boys who will grab the two points. Manly by 10.