THE LONG HARD LOOK WITH MIKE WILSON
Manly Sea Eagles v Wests Tigers
Blue Tongue Stadium, 7:30pm local time
SEA EAGLES: Brett Stewart, Michael Oldfield, Jamie Lyon (c), Dean Whare, David Williams, Kieran Foran, Daly Cherry-Evans, Jason King (c), Matt Ballin, Brent Kite, Anthony Watmough, Tony Williams, TBA. Interchange: Jamie Buhrer, Vic Mauro, Darcy Lussick, Tim Robinson
WESTS TIGERS: Tom Humble, Beau Ryan, Blake Ayshford, Chris Lawrence, Matt Utai, Benji Marshall, Tim Moltzen, Aaron Woods, Robbie Farah (c), Matt Groat, Adam Blair, Gareth Ellis, Chris Heighington. Interchange (from): Liam Fulton, Junior Moors, Matt Bell, Joel Reddy, Ben Murdoch-Masila, Sean Meaney, Shaun Spence
BOTH TEAMS ARE COMPETING AFTER A 5 DAY TURN-AROUND from their previous matches and both of those games were hard fought, close affairs.
The Sea Eagles used all of their efforts to hold off the Warriors and now have to prepare for Friday night football after the long trek to and from New Zealand. Their preparations will take place without key players in 2011 Clive Churchill Medallist Glen Stewart and Steve Matai with both suffering hand injuries that will keep them on the sidelines for around 4 weeks. The loss of Stewart particularly is a major blow for the Manly team.
The Tigers didn’t have to make any long trips but they had to fight tooth and nail to beat the Sharks in Golden Point extra time last Sunday. The major factor of the Tigers season opener was the sweltering conditions in which the match was played. It was so hot that some players reportedly lost 4 kilos and the amount of leg cramp suffered was through the roof. It’s going to be a tough ask for the Tigers to back up from those draining conditions both physically and mentally and I don’t envy them with the task that lies ahead.
Both teams chose to throw the ball around a lot last week so we could be in for a highly entertaining attacking game from the two hotly tipped premiership contenders.
With all those factors at the fore I’m tipping Manly in what could be a close contest for 60-70 minutes before we see the Tigers drop off towards the end. If the Tigers are to fade then don’t be surprised by a Sea Eagles 13+ victory.
Chance of winning: Sea Eagles 57%, Tigers 42%, Draw 1%
Mike’s Tip: Sea Eagles
Mike’s Best Bet: None
Brisbane Broncos v North Queensland Cowboys
Suncorp Stadium, 7:30pm
BRONCOS: Josh Hoffman, Gerard Beale, Jack Reed, Justin Hodges, Jharal Yow Yeh, Corey Norman, Peter Wallace, Ben Hannant, Andrew McCullough, Sam Thaiday (c), Alex Glenn, Ben Te’o, Corey Parker. Interchange: Ben Hunt, Josh McGuire, Matt Gillett, Petero Civoniceva
COWBOYS: Matthew Bowen, Ashley Graham, Brent Tate, Kane Linnett, Antonio Winterstein, Johnathan Thurston (c), Ray Thompson, Matthew Scott (c), Aaron Payne, James Tamou, Gavin Cooper, Glenn Hall, Dallas Johnson. Interchange: (from) James Segeyaro, Joel Riethmuller, Ashton Sims, Jason Taumalolo, Cory Paterson, Kalifa Faifai Loa
FOLLOWING AN EMBARASSING PERFORMANCE last week, the Cowboys really can’t play worse this week if they try. As for how well they improve, well that’s another question. They will be up against a well drilled Broncos side that showed against Parramatta that if they put their heads down and stick to their structure, they can get their job done and walk away with a win. The goal of the Broncos team this week will be to show their coach that they can knuckle down for the full 80 minutes and stay true to their game plan.
It’s difficult to put a solid form line through this game simply because of how bad the Cowboys were last week and therefore it’s hard to go past the Broncos, especially with the home ground advantage. Playing in front of their loyal fans for the first time this season will be a big boost for the Broncos.
Chance of winning: Brisbane 67%, Cowboys 32%, Draw 1%
Mike’s Tip: Broncos
Mike’s Best Bet: None
Starting Bank: $2000, Current Bank $2039.22
(Team lists sourced from nrl.com.au)