Sea Eagles v Sharks preview

Manly Sea Eagles v Cronulla Sharks
Brookvale Oval
Sunday, 4:00pm

One team is trying to bounce off the bottom of the NRL Telstra Premiership ladder, while the other is looking to break into the top eight, but make no mistake this will be a tight contest.

Daly Cherry-Evans' demotion from the Maroons squad is great news for Manly, while the Sharks will once again be without inspirational skipper Paul Gallen, who will take his spot in the NSW Blues team despite a rib complaint.

Wade Graham will need to lead from the front in his 100th appearance for the Sharks, with Michael Ennis ruled out through a one match suspension for a careless grade 1 tackle. 

The only change for Manly comes on an extended bench with Willie Mason returning.

 

Watch Out Sea Eagles: Sam Tagataese exploded onto the scene last week against the Cowboys with a huge performance off the bench. He had two linebreaks, 119 metres and a try in a powerhouse performance. Against an undersized Manly pack, Tagataese could have himself a field day.

Watch Out Sharks: By virtue of Cooper Cronk's return to Origin from a knee injury, the amazing Manly halves are back together. Last time they ran out together at Brookvale Oval they tore the Wests Tigers apart and they'll be planning to do no different on Sunday. In a team that make only five errors per game (4th least in the NRL) the more these two get their hands on the ball, the greater the chance of a Sea Eagles win.

Key Match-Up: Kieran Foran v Jack Bird. One is established the other is an up-and-comer but both are stars of our game. These two have vastly different styles as shown by their statistics so far this year. Foran has just one try this year, while Bird has six, however the Manly five-eighth has six try assists to his Sharks counterpart's two. Meanwhile Bird has a whopping 36 tackle breaks so far this year but averages only 47 kicking metres, while Foran has far less tackle busts (16) but averages 159 kicking metres. This will be an intriguing match-up. 

The History: Played 84. Sea Eagles 59, Sharks 23, Draw 2. The last time these two side's met was this time last year when the Sea Eagles smashed the Sharks 26-nil in Cronulla.

What Are The Odds: Sharks head to head and 1-12 have been the two most popular betting options in this game according to Sportsbet. As always, Brett Stewart has been the best backed for first tryscorer at Brookvale. Latest odds at Sportsbet.com.au

Match Officials: Referee: Ashley Klein. Assistant Referee: Chris James. Touch Judges: Jeff Younis, Chris Butler. Video Referees: Steve Chiddy, Steve Folkes.

Televised: Channel Nine – Live from 4:00pm.

The Way We See It: The Sharks might be in a much better ladder position than their northern beaches counterparts come Round 17, but don't let that fool you. Manly remain the big underachievers of this season and have so far been crippled by injuries and some key deficiencies. They average just 76 hitups a game (11th in the NRL), 496 post contact metres (last), 18 tackle breaks (last) and 28 completed sets per game (second last). However they also have two key statistics on their side. They have won 12 of their last 15 games at home and nine of their last 10 against the Sharks. They also have Cherry-Evans and Foran. They'll get the win by six points.