Manly Sea Eagles v Melbourne Storm
Brookvale Oval, 7:35pm.
Sea Eagles $1.65, Storm $2.25 (Sportingbet)
Sea Eagles: Brett Stewart, Michael Robertson, Jamie Lyon (c), Steve Matai, David Williams, Kieran Foran, Daly Cherry-Evans, George Rose, Matt Ballin, Brent Kite, Anthony Watmough, Joe Galuvao, Glenn Stewart. Interchange (from): Darcy Lussick, Jamie Buhrer, Shane Rodney, Tony Williams, Tim Robinson
Storm: Billy Slater, Matt Duffie, Dane Nielsen, Beau Champion, Anthony Quinn, Rory Kostjasyn, Gareth Widdop, Bryan Norrie, Cameron Smith (c), Jesse Bromwich, Adam Blair, Sika Manu, Kevin Proctor. Interchange: Ryan Hinchcliffe, Sisa Waqa, Todd Lowrie, Jaiman Lowe
THE MODERN DAY RIVALRY between Manly and Melbourne in recent years have always given their encounters that special something. Tonight will be no different as Manly and Melbourne sit 2nd and 1st on the ladder respectively.
Manly go into the game as favourites so we’ll focus on the reasons why:
Home ground advantage: Manly have not lost a game at Brookvale Oval this year and are always tough to beat when at their beloved ‘Fortress’. The home crowd will be up close and seriously vocal.
No Cooper Cronk: Not having their specialist number 7 in the side is always to the detriment of the Storm but it could be a lot worse. I’ve been seriously impressed with Gareth Widdop this year and on the two occasions he has filled in for Cronk at halfback he has been more than capable of getting the job done. The only downside is that there is a slight bit of disjointedness between the backs and the forwards with Widdop in the middle but I’m sure coach Craig Bellamy would have focused on this at training through the week to have everything running smoothly.
Psychology: Put simply, the Sea Eagles have more to play for than the Storm. A loss to Manly increases their chances of finishing the year in 3rd place instead of 2nd. As for Melbourne, they have a top 2 spot wrapped up and despite their players being consummate professionals it’s always hard to shake that thought from the back of your mind if the going gets tough.
No bets on this match, and it’s fair to say none will be needed to enjoy this one with mouth watering match ups such as Brett Stewart and Billy Slater.
Strap yourselves in footy fans!!
Mike’s Best Bet: None
Starting Bank: $2000, Current Bank $2744.73
(Team lists sourced from nrl.com.au)