2021 NRL Membership Tracker
43 days ago | LeagueUnlimited Media
After one of the Manly Sea Eagles' most courageous wins they will look to their returning cast to maintain a dominant record over the middling Cronulla Sharks.
Watching Manly hold off the Canberra Raiders with only 15 men after four minutes, then sans Tom Trbojevic for most of the second half was inspirational and no doubt galvanising for Des Hasler's side.
It's an effort just about every NRL coach would be dreaming their own team had, including Sharks coach John Morris.
When Cronulla was put under pressure from the Bulldogs in their 20-18 win over Canterbury, the Sharks gave away eight six-again penalties and lost Briton Nikora to the sin bin for the repeated infringements. It was the second win of the season for Cronulla from six matches and they'll need to improve on their performance to overturn a heavily one-sided run of results against the Sea Eagles.
Manly has won 11 of their last 12 games against the Sharks and also enjoy a great record at Central Coast Stadium, where they've won 13 of their 16 matches.
There is more adversity for the Sea Eagles to combat this week as Tom Trbojevic and Dylan Walker are both set to miss at least six weeks of footy to deal with another torn hamstring and foot injury respectively. However in good news, Jorge Taufua and Martin Taupau return from their own injures. Brad Parker is a chance to play after he failed a HIA on Sunday and Moses Suli is still unavailable for selection.
Meanwhile Cronulla will welcome some stability to their lineup as the only change they've made is Andrew Fifita to start, pushing Braden Hamlin-Uele to the bench. Sione Katoa will be breaming with confidence after completing his first NRL hat-trick of tries. Matt Moylan is set to start at fullback once again after playing 68 minutes on his return last round. He was on track to play the entire match until Dallin Watene-Zelezniak's crunching hit created heavy contact between Moylan's head and the ground. Fortunately he passed the HIA shortly after.
With Manly making two unplanned adjustments to their spine, Brendan Elliott at fullback and Lachlan Croker at five-eighth, where the points will come from remains to be seen. It puts a lot more responsibility on Daly Cherry-Evans to create and he'll no doubt be front of mind for the Sharks to scheme against. If Cherry-Evans is kept quiet, that might be enough to outscore the Sea Eagles.
Last meeting: Finals Week 1 2019 - Sea Eagles 28 Sharks 16
Who to watch: Named to play his first match of the 2020 season, Cade Cust exploded into the NRL last year and could be the man to lift the Sea Eagles. Set to come off the bench on Sunday the 21-year-old played seven matches in the halves last season, scored four tries and six try assists. Lachlan Croker is the starter at five-eighth so there would be some reshuffling of the backline to accommodate Cust mid-match. Wherever he's placed, the impact off the bench could be a game changer.
Last week was his first NRL match since 2017 and the first in Sharks colours since 2008, Bryson Goodwin had a successful return and will look cement his spot in the team with more strong performances starting Sunday afternoon. With one try, 18 runs, 151 run metres, five tackle breaks and no missed tackles Goodwin has a harder job this week. He has the assignment of marking Jorge Taufua, and while Goodwin's been away Taufua's formed the reputation of being one of the NRL's leading enforcers.
The favourite: Purely based on betting odds, it'll make you believe the Sea Eagles are the likely winners. Given the recent history between these teams also heavily favours Manly, it's definitely a hoodoo the Sharks are struggling to crack.
My tip: The Sea Eagles found themselves down on healthy players early last week and kept a quality Raiders side at bay. This type of statement win should act as an alert to Cronulla that they too could find themselves beaten if they're not at their best. Last week against the Sharks were good but not great against the Bulldogs. Now Cronulla should be ready to put together a complete performance if they're serious about making the top eight. Sharks by 10.
1. Brendan Elliot 2. Jorge Taufua 3. Brad Parker 4. Tevita Funa 5. Reuben Garrick 6. Lachlan Croker 7. Daly Cherry-Evans 8. Addin Fonua-Blake 9. Danny Levi 16. Sean Keppie 11. Joel Thompson 12. Curtis Sironen 13. Jake Trbojevic 10. Martin Taupau 14. Cade Cust 15. Jack Gosiewski 17. Taniela Paseka
1. Matt Moylan 2. Sione Katoa 3. Josh Dugan 4. Jesse Ramien 5. Bryson Goodwin 6. Shaun Johnson 7. Chad Townsend 15. Braden Hamlin-Uele 9. Blayke Brailey 10. Aaron Woods 11. Briton Nikora 12. Wade Graham 13. Jack Williams 8. Andrew Fifita 14. Toby Rudolf 16. Siosifa Talakai 17. Royce Hunt
Referees: Adam Gee; Sideline Officials: Phil Henderson, Chris Sutton; Video Referees: Jared Maxwell, Ben Galea;