Schick Hydro Preview: Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles v Melbourne Storm
Another instalment of this fierce rivalry is set to play out on Saturday night, as the Sea Eagles host the Storm for their one and only meeting of 2016.
Both sides come into this game in losing form, although it will be the home side who are hurting most after Round 23.
A golden point try to Josh Reynolds ended the Sea Eagles' slim hopes at a finals berth, with Manly now needing to turn their attentions to 2017.
Melbourne were beaten by a very impressive Canberra side in the nation's capital on Monday night, and a five-day turnaround won't help their cause in trying to bounce back against the Sea Eagles this Saturday.
Despite the loss the visitors have named an unchanged 17, however Manly have some changes as Blake Leary, Nate Myles and Matt Parcell come on to the extended bench. Dylan Walker will miss due to a shoulder injury.
Watch out Sea Eagles: The Melbourne Storm aren’t used to losing. They haven’t lost back-to-back games this season, and only suffered their fourth defeat of the year last Monday night. Melbourne have won all three games following losses this season and will be determined for that streak to continue. The Storm will be hungry to keep themselves in first place before two huge home games against the Broncos and Sharks to end the regular season, so Manly will need to be at their absolute best to have a chance at knocking off the ladder leaders.
Watch out Storm: Sometimes when a team gets knocked out of the finals race they start to play their best football, and Melbourne need to be wary of that happening this Saturday night. Manly were eliminated from the finals race last week, which now lifts the pressure off Trent Barrett's men for the final three games of the season. The Sea Eagles will look to adopt a carefree approach to Saturday's game and could decide to play spontaneously in attack, which could pose a threat for the Storm if they let their guard down.
Key match-up: Tom Trbojevic v Cameron Munster. Two of the most exciting young fullbacks in the competition will square off on Saturday night. Tom Trbojevic has lit up the NRL this season, and currently has run the fourth most metres of any player this season. The 20-year-old leads his side in try assists (10) and line breaks (14), and is touted as a future prospect for the Blues No.1 jersey. His direct opponent on Origin night in years to come could be Cameron Munster, with the 21-year-old fantastic throughout 2016. Munster has slotted into fullback after Billy Slater's season-ending injury in Round 1, and has been a key factor in sending the Storm to the top of the ladder. This is the first time these two men have faced off at NRL level, and expect this duel to become a showpiece over the next few years.
The history: Played 29; Sea Eagles 13, Storm 15, Drawn 1. These two teams have been fierce rivals in recent years, and the past two seasons show just how tight it's been. The last four meetings between these two sides have been determined by a combined margin of eight points, with both sides winning two games each.
What are the odds: Melbourne Storm are expected to bounce back from their loss to the Raiders, with the majority of the money backing a 13-plus win in margin betting. Jorge Taufua is the best-backed in Sportsbet's first try-scorer market, but there has been plenty of interest for Daly Cherry-Evans to cross the try-line first. Latest odds at Sportsbet.com.au.
Match officials: Referee: Henry Perenara. Assist Referee: Chris James. Touch Judges: Nick Beashel, Belinda Sleeman. Review Officials: Bryan Norrie, Jason Robinson. Senior RO: Luke Patten.
Televised: Fox Sports – Live coverage from 5pm (AEST).
How we see it: Melbourne may struggle against the Sea Eagles after a loss on Monday coupled with a five-day turnaround between games, but can Manly take advantage if the Storm let their guard down? While the last four meetings have been tight affairs, Melbourne should have too much firepower for Manly here. Storm by 12.