MANLY SEA EAGLES V NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS – 5PM (NZT)/3PM (AEDT) @ RUGBY LEAGUE PARK, CHRISTCHURCH
The Storylines: Given this is the first major sporting event held in Christchurch since the March 15 terror attacks, Manly’s clash with the Warriors means more than two premiership points and is sure to be an emotional occasion.
But after getting out in the community and helping the city with its healing process during the week, the rivals will be keyed up for what teams should be seeing as a must-win game.
The Warriors received a punishing reality check last Sunday, negating their Round 1 demolition of Canterbury with a dismal 34-6 away loss to Wests Tigers. The Warriors were outmuscled and out-enthused by the Tigers, showed little imagination on attack and were well below their usual standards ball control-wise.
Des Hasler’s return to the northern beaches has so far garnered convincing losses to the Tigers and Sydney Roosters. The 26-18 scoreline at Brookvale flattered the Sea Eagles, who trailed 26-0 with less than 25 minutes to go.
Stephen Kearney has stuck solid with a line-up he hopes can reproduce their season-opening form, while the Sea Eagles – who have been boosted by a couple of big-name inclusions –
Ins and Outs: The Warriors named an unchanged 17, though Sam Lisone’s crusher tackle suspension will likely see Ligi Sao come onto the bench. Nathaniel Roache, a late withdrawal last week, remains on the sideline with a calf complaint.
The Sea Eagles welcome back internationals Tom Trbojevic and Addin Fonua-Blake. Brendan Elliott and Kelepi Tanginoa drop out of the 17, with former Warriors forward Toafofoa Sipley moving back to the bench.
The History: Played 32 – Manly won 23, Warriors won 9
-Manly has won 13 of its last 15 – including 7 of their last 8 – against the Warriors.
-The Sea Eagles’ last 3 wins over the Warriors were by 4 points or less, with 2 games going to golden point.
-5 of the teams’ last six games have produced 43 points or more.
-The Warriors have won just 7 of 29 games at New Zealand venues other than Mt Smart.
-The Warriors have a 3-4 record in Christchurch.
-The Sea Eagles have won 7 of 8 games against the Warriors at alternate/neutral venues.
3 Key Match-ups
Roger Tuivasa-Sheck v Tom Trbojevic: Manly has been desperate for Tommy Turbo’s return at the back – his ball-running punch and underrated ball-playing is vital to any chance of a Sea Eagles resurgence. After a blistering Round 1 display against the Bulldogs, RTS was one of the few Warriors who left Campbelltown with their reputation untarnished. But the side’s glaring over-reliance on his spark in attack was a real concern. Hopefully the skipper gets more support from the rest of the spine this week.
Blake Green v Daly Cherry-Evans: Green was an outstanding foil for Cherry-Evans during a one-season stay at Manly in 2017 that saw the club return to the finals and DCE revitalise his career. Green produced a pair of deft try-assists in Christchurch last year to get the Warriors’ ball rolling, while Cherry-Evans – a perennial thorn in the Warriors’ side – had a tough night out. Big pressure on both chief playmakers.
Agnatius Paasi v Martin Taupau: The Warriors are lacking an explosive, enforcer type in the middle of the pack. Manly certainly are not, with Marty Taupau consistently putting up big post-contact, offload and tackle-bust numbers. Paasi can be that guy for the Warriors, but he has been quite to start 2019 and was downright anonymous against the Tigers. ‘Iggy’ must step up against a big Sea Eagles front-row.
Last Time They Met: The Warriors lit up Rugby League Park in Christchurch in Round 14 last year, with David Fusitu’a bagging a hat-trick and Shaun Johnson running riot. The Sea Eagles led 8-0 early but the Warriors piled on a string of classic long-range tries to win 34-14.
The Sea Eagles have covered just 6 of 18 away from Brookvale. The Sea Eagles are 18-12 ATS away from Brookvale getting a start of 4 or more. The Sea Eagles are 1-5 ATS in interstate day games. The over is 24-18 in Warriors day games. The Warriors are 10-18 ATS when favoured by 4 or more. The under is 9-4 when the Warriors are away from Mt Smart off a loss of 13 or more. The Warriors are 10-15 ATS after being held to 12 or fewer.
TAB’s Best Bet: Sea Eagles +3.5 @ $1.90
$10 on this week's @radiosportnz Rambler Multi could return you $171.10.
— TAB Sport (@TAB_Sport) March 26, 2019
The Verdict: The Sea Eagles have been ordinary so far in 2019 but they can pile on quick points – and they will only be more dangerous with Tom Trbojevic back on deck. Given their lack of attacking inventiveness, the key for the Warriors is forward dominance to provide as many shots at the Manly goal-line as possible. The Warriors fell flat in virtually every basic area against the Tigers, but if they hold onto the pill, kick well and take their scoring chances, they should rebound strongly in Christchurch. Warriors by 8
TWL RD 3 PREVIEW: WARRIORS V SEA EAGLES
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