By Stephen Gallagher
MATCH OF THE ROUND: ROUND 19 – Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles V Gold Coast Titans – Sunday, Brookvale Oval. 15.00 local time, 17.00 NZ time.
LAST WEEK: Manly kept on chugging with an emphatic win in North Queensland 34-14
The Titans got a break with the bye and two points.
THIS WEEK: A tough Manly team inside the top four looking to press on with the remainder of the season not long left. A team every year that proves its consistency and toughness. Against a strong Gold Coast team will make this a physical clash. No backing down in this one.
Gold Coast have been down with two losses in a row before the bye. Hopefully for them this means that a big attitude change has come over them with the bye week and ready to take on one of the biggest teams in the NRL.
WHAT TO EXPECT: If the sun is shining down on Brookvale Oval, the Sea Eagles could rack up a half-century. Sunday afternoon Brookvale games are always tough to win for the away side. The Sea Eagles will be showing just why they are sitting fourth, with a flurry of backs hitting the line with speed.
The Titans to be fresh, and ready to go. They’re recent struggles need to be mentally kicked aside and prepare for this one. At this stage of the competition it’s the biggest game for them with a loss forcing them out of the top eight. I think a fast play the ball will be their best weapon in a physical encounter.
THE BATTLE OF: Class-act Fullbacks. Brett Stewart’s return from injury has been with open arms, and his two games back have both been great. The Snake adds so much vemon to the Manly back line that you know he’s going to score at least once a match.
William Zillman has been the biggest shining light for Gold Coast this season. This will be his first game back from injury where he needs to return to form as quick as possible. Brilliant option for kick returns.
KEEP YOUR EYE ON: Steve Matai – Always an elusive ball runner and hits like there’s no tomorrow. He’s a live wire that adds plenty of attitude to this Sea Eagles unit.
Matt Srama – A crafty wee bugger out of dummy half. When he gets the ball in hand he munches up metres. A player that has a big future.
Sunday afternoon football returns to Brookvale Oval. A tough ground for any travelling team. I can’t see Manly letting this one slip against Gold Coast. I pick Manly to win 26-14.
Follow Stephen Gallagher on Twitter