Schick Hydro Preview: Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles vs. Brisbane Broncos
Game two of Saturday night's Suncorp Stadium double-header will see the Broncos travel to Brisbane to play Manly-Warringah away from home.
And no, that's not a typo - the Sea Eagles have sacrificed a chance to play Brisbane at Brookvale Oval, instead shifting their home game to Brisbane's home ground…
The sold out clash will have lucrative financial benefits for the Sea Eagles and the 50,000+ crowd will be something a lot of their players have never experienced before.
It gives Brisbane a great opportunity to secure a vital two points 'away' from home after being beaten by Cronulla-Sutherland 30-28 two weeks ago.
The Sea Eagles were well beaten in their last start against North Queensland - a side that is very similar to the Broncos.
Manly have made a number of changes leading into Saturday's clash. Brett Stewart returns from injury to start at fullback and that means Dylan Walker will shift back to five-eighth. Tom Symonds has been moved back to an extended bench, accompanying Blake Leary and Pita Godinet.
The suspension of Adam Blair and injury to Alex Glenn means that Brisbane has been forced to reshuffle their forward pack. Jarrod Wallace will start in the front row and Sam Thaiday will shift to the back row. Young lock Jai Arrow is set to make his debut, slotting onto the Broncos' bench.
Watch out Sea Eagles: Corey Oates sent out a warning to the rest of the competition at the start of the week, stating how hungry he is to play State of Origin. Oates feels like he has something to prove after missing Australian selection and the Sea Eagles are looking like the unlucky recipients of Oates's frustrations. The hulking winger is equal second in the competition for tries scored with eight to his name. Expect this tally to grow on Saturday night as he sets his sights on cementing an Origin berth for Queensland. Oates's 10 line breaks for the season are the second most in the competition and if he and Anthony Milford continue to build their combination then the Sea Eagles' right-side defence will be in for a long night.
Watch out Broncos: Manly young gun Jake Trbojevic has been a bright spark for the Sea Eagles at lock in 2016. This week he will get to battle it out with the game's best number 13 in Broncos captain Corey Parker. You can expect Trbojevic to take it to Brisbane's most experienced forward as he attempts to make a name for himself. A future New South Wales Origin representative, Trbojevic is at his best in defence. He averages 42 tackles per game and he will be the Sea Eagles' rock in the middle of the park come Saturday night. Brisbane's best bet will be to run at the Sea Eagles' edges - away from Trbojevic.
Key match-up: Daly Cherry-Evans vs. Ben Hunt. The two Queensland halfbacks are set to battle it out for the Maroons' number seven jersey in the coming years and Saturday looms as a chance for early bragging rights. The two halves have had very different seasons so far. Cherry-Evans has struggled with injury and form. The 27-year-old has missed three games this season with an ankle injury and even when he has played, he hasn't dominated for the maroon and white. Cherry-Evans has only managed three try assists in six games this season – struggling to adapt to life without Kieran Foran. Hunt on the other hand has played every game this season and has been one of Brisbane's best. He is second in the NRL for try assists with 10 to his name. Hunt also has four tries of his own for 2016 and his 13 offloads ranks him in the top 20 of the competition. This battle looms as the key match-up of the night and Cherry-Evans will need to play out of his skin if he is to outplay Hunt and get Manly-Warringah over the line.
The history: Played 41; Sea Eagles 21, Broncos 19, Drawn 1. The Sea Eagles are one of very few teams who have a positive record against the Broncos. Manly-Warringah's dominance over the last 10 years has taken its toll on Brisbane, with the Sea Eagles winning 11 of the past 15 matches between the two sides. But in what is a rather telling statistic, the Broncos have won the last two meetings between the two sides at Suncorp Stadium by an average of 30 points. Brisbane centre Jack Reed has a superb record against the Sea Eagles, scoring five tries in his last four matches against the side from Sydney's northern beaches. Matt Parcell will start at hooker for the Sea Eagles, in what will be his first game against his old club.
What are the odds: Sea Eagles $4.85, Broncos $1.20. Money is coming in at a rate of 3:1 in favour of Brisbane as far as head to head betting is concerned. Sportsbet customers consider the Broncos a lock in their multis and 75% of money wagered on winning margin is for Brisbane to get home 13+. Brisbane winger Corey Oates continues to shorten in the first try scorer market – paying $5.50 to cross the line first. Latest odds at Sportsbet.com.au
Match officials: Referee: Jared Maxwell. Assistant Referee: Gavin Reynolds. Touch Judges: Nick Beashel & Clayton Sharpe. Standby: Adam Devcich. Review Officials: Bryan Norrie & Jason Robinson. Senior RO: Ashley Klein.
Televised: Fox Sports 1 – Live coverage from 7:30pm.
The way we see it: Brisbane will be keen to hit back after a disappointing loss to the Sharks. That performance was well below that of what coach Wayne Bennett expects from his troops and the Broncos will be a different team this week. The Sea Eagles are brave bringing a home game up to Brisbane and it looks set to be something the club will regret. The absence of Blair, Glenn and Andrew McCullough will no doubt weaken the Broncos' middle, but Brisbane will still have too much class for Manly. Broncos by 14.