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Inside this week's issue of Big League magazine...
EXPERIENCE is the difference between the genuine premiership contenders and the title pretenders, according to Manly skipper Jamie Lyon who says his side isn’t afraid of facing either the Roosters or Rabbitohs in Finals Week One of the 2013 Telstra Premiership.

The soaring Sea Eagles, who thumped Melbourne 28-8 at Brookvale Oval last weekend to claim their first top-four scalp of the season, have won eight of their past nine matches and, according to Lyon, it’s just a taste of what’s to come.
“We definitely know how hard [the Roosters and Rabbitohs] are but any team’s beatable on the night and we’ve been in big games before and we know how to win big games,” Lyon told Big League.

“Time will tell – hopefully we’ll put in our best performances in the semis.”

Prior to their victory against the Storm, critics had written-off the Sea Eagles for their inability to beat the NRL’s best-performing sides. The Sea Eagles, though, were never concerned.

“We don’t really listen to what people are saying or writing about us,” Lyon said. 

“I think the fans and us as players, we all know what we’re capable of. We’ve been in big games before and won big games so I don’t think we’ve got to try to persuade people or anything like that. It was a good win [against Melbourne] so hopefully we can keep building.”

Lyon, one of the competition’s most consistent performers, said despite strong showings from the Roosters and Souths this season, he and his team-mates weren’t fazed by the prospect of meeting them in Finals Week One, despite being beaten twice this year by both teams. 

“It doesn’t matter [who we meet],” Lyon said. “If you want to be the best team you’ve got to beat the best. I’m sure down the track when we get another go at the teams, we’re going to go in and give it our best shot and hopefully get a win against them. 

“It doesn’t matter what’s happened throughout the year, it matters what happens in the big games.

“They’ve been very strong and they deserve to be in first and second spot. They’re both definitely very good sides and they’re going to take some stopping I think. We’re really looking forward to playing one of them in the semis.”

The Sea Eagles’ opponent for next week’s final will be determined this weekend with the make-up of the top-four finals clashes decided following the blockbuster Rabbitohs-Roosters clash, Melbourne’s meeting with the Titans and Manly’s match against Penrith.

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