6:00 PM (AEST) Friday, April 27 at Lottoland, Brookvale
The hot and cold Manly Sea Eagles will play hosts to a Knights side coming off a win last weekend, but is also looking at a lengthy time without their halfback.
Manly: Tom Trbojevic; Matthew Wright, Dylan Walker, Brian Kelly, Akuila Uate; Lachlan Croker, Daly Cherry-Evans; Addin Fonua-Blake, Apisai Koroisau, Martin Taupau, Joel Thompson, Jack Gosiewski, Jake Trbojevic. Shaun Lane, Lloyd Perrett, Taniela Paseka, Lewis Brown.
Newcastle: Kalyn Ponga; Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Sione Mata’utia, Nathan Ross, Ken Sio; Connor Watson, Jack Cogger; Herman Ese’ese, Slade Griffin, Daniel Saifiti, Lachlan Fitzgibbon, Aidan Guerra, Mitchell Barnett. Luke Yates, Chris Heighington, Jamie Buhrer, Jacob Saifiti.
There have been 49 games between these sides, with Manly winning 31 games to the Knights 18. They last met in in the opening Round of 2018, where the Knights won a thriller 19-18.
Manly have shown this year already that when their attack is on, they are unbeatable, but when it’s off, they can be ugly to watch. In Round 1 they lost in Golden Point to the Knights 19-18. The hit back emphatically with a 54-0 flogging of rivals Parramatta. They were on the receiving end of a hiding in Round 3 when Souths beat them 34-6. In Round 4 Manly bounced back with a 32-16 win over the hapless Raiders side. After the Sea Eagles went down 32-20 to the Titans, a side they were expected to beat, they were flogged by the winless Eels 44-10 last weekend.
The Knights have finished dead last for three straight seasons prior to 2018 and despite some solid recruitment in the offseason, they were not expected to be a finals contender in 2018. They have though given the competition a major shake after scoring a brilliant golden point win in Round 1 against Manly. They followed it up with a stunning come-from-behind victory last week over Canberra. They suffered back to back losses against the star studded Roosters 38-8 and the undefeated Dragons 30-12, before bouncing back with a tough 15-10 win over the Broncos. The Knights were in the wrong place at the wrong time in Round 6 as the Storm belted them 40-14. The bounced back with an exciting come from behind win over the high flying Tigers last weekend 22-20, despite losing halfback Pearce early in the game to injury.
Halves – Manly’s halves have been rocks or diamonds all year while the Knights go into this match without Mitchell Pearce, who has been a revelation since joining the club.
Manly are dealing with in-fighting and salary cap issues, while the Knights will be without Pearce. Who knows what will happen here.
Sea Eagles $1.55