By Guest Writer Stephen Gallagher
GAME OF THE ROUND: ROUND 15 – Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles V Melbourne Storm – Monday, Brookvale Oval 19.00 local time.
LAST WEEK: Manly-Warringah with the bye.
Melbourne suffered their second loss of the season, and first at home. In wet conditions, the Wests Tigers defeated them 10-6.
THIS WEEK: Sea Eagles will have their mind set on nothing other than a victory. Playing at “Fortress Brookie” is as good as having fourteen men on the field. A week off for the side last week will let the players get a bit of a rest, and those who have been suffering with niggling injuries would have had more time to heal. An almost full strength Sea Eagles side is a team more than capable to steer them to the finals series once again.
Any Storm fan would have hoped their Big Three made it through State of Origin unscathed. Unfortunately for them Billy Slater will see three to four weeks on the sideline. However, the Storm are a very good side and who have young players that are all good enough to step up and fill in when needed. A backline re-jig will be nothing major for this side who have a cool and calm hold on these types of things. These two teams also share a rich rivalry, which the Storm will know.
WHAT TO EXPECT: Manly will be confident. They have had the wood over Melbourne of late too, with three of the last four meetings dating back to 2010 going in the favour of them. Lets not forget the infamous scuffle last year, with Glenn Stewart and then-Melbourne player Adam Blair going toe-to-toe on their way to the Sin Bin. If you think either side won’t have that in the back of their minds you’re kidding yourself. Manly have a lot of guts, and passion. A tough brotherhood. They will back each other up in every aspect of this game, and that’s what makes them such a tough side to beat.
The Storm still sit atop of the NRL competition ladder, and with 11 games to go and a four point lead – everyone will be out to topple the leaders. Don’t expect a drastic game plan change because of a couple losses in the last month. The Storm are a well drilled, hugely organised and well disciplined side who can win most matches under any circumstances. A tough breed of footballers. They also have been through a at the club, which has only made them stronger. It will be nothing short of a solid performance on Monday night – an excellent performance may be the showing to get the two.
THE BATTLE OF: The captains. Jamie Lyon is such an inspirational player. Possibly the most in form centre going around at this point of the season. All the players look towards him, but you don’t have to go far past his actions on the field to know that he is one of the most influential players that grace the footy field. Knowledgeable. seasoned and confident.
Cameron Smith is a hooker all young players probably look at and idolise. An international and state representative for many a season, his tough attitude and true grit is what separates him from anyone else. He knows exactly what to do in every play, and seems to be two or three tackles in front of where the actual play is.
KEEP YOUR EYE ON: Darcy Lussick – Remember this kid last time these two played? I imagine he will be up for this challenge for sure.
Todd Lowrie – No frills, but if you watched him for 80 minutes you’d see a workhorse who does not give up. A player with true determination.
The feeling will be tense, both sides will be up for this challenge. I think home advantage goes a long way in this match though. Manly to win 30-20
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