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Sea Eagles v Eels: Battle of the beaten sides

This shapes as an intriguing clash between two teams that both tasted defeat in round one.

The Eels were cruising throughout the first half last Sunday against Penrith, only to fall asleep and concede 24 unanswered points in a loss that must have grated on coach Brad Arthur's nerves.

Manly were hot and cold in their 19-18 golden point loss to Newcastle and will be looking forward to being back on home turf.

Both teams will be desperate to avoid starting the season with back-to-back losses.

The selections

Sea Eagles coach Trent Barrett has drafted in talented local junior Brad Parker to partner Brian Kelly in the centres, with Matthew Wright dropping back to be a reserve option.

Utility Jackson Hastings looms as a viable option off the bench alongside prop Lloyd Perrett, with the duo replacing Lewis Brown and Frank Winterstein respectively.

For the Eels, Brad Arthur has opted for the same 17 players who were beaten 24-14 by Penrith last Sunday afternoon at Panthers Stadium.

The key match-up: Daly Cherry Evans v Mitchell Moses. The Sea Eagles halfback and captain was one of his team's better players last Friday, but his failure to ice the game saw the Knights eventually emerge triumphant 19-18 in golden point extra time. DCE will also once again be Manly's goal-kicker. Moses looked in ominous touch early on versus the Panthers, but found himself in the sin bin leading into the break and was quiet in the second half.

For the Sea Eagles to win: The hosts need to spend less time in the red zone and defending their line. Last round they made a competition high 366 tackles, and crucially missed 41 tackles. Trent Barrett's men also butchered a couple of easy tries versus Newcastle which proved to be their undoing. Martin Taupau needs to maintain the rage, chalking up an impressive six off-loads last start.

For the Eels to win: They need to not lose their discipline and focus when in front. At 14-0 last Sunday they looked fantastic, only to run out of steam in the second half versus the Panthers. Hooker Cameron King needs to tighten up the ruck, missing eight tackles in the Battle of the West. His opposite this weekend Api Koroisau was ironman-esque, chalking up 66 tackles in the Hunter.

Sea Eagles Stat Attack: Get the ball out wide. Those will be the instructions from coach Barrett if Jorge Taufua's electric numbers from the Knights clash are any guide. Returning from an ACL injury, the bustling winger produced 26 carries – a NRL high for the round – and also a total of 239 metres, second only to Roosters flyer Blake Ferguson.

Eels Stat Attack: Nathan Brown again caught the eye, carting the ball up for 156 metres. The hard-nosed lock also made 28 tackles in a non-stop effort at the foot of the mountains. Talk this week of Parramatta's pack lacking a cutting edge will have the enforcer primed to perform in the engine room on Sydney's northern beaches.

And another thing: The Eels don't mind playing the Sea Eagles... in fact Brad Arthur's men love it. The blue and golds have won all five previous meetings against their long-term rivals, and despite a near capacity crowd tipped to make their way to Lottoland, Parramatta fans should be the ones celebrating at fulltime.

The prediction: Eels by 8.

Manly: 1 Tom Trbojevic, 2 Jorge Taufua, 3 Brad Parker, 4 Brian Kelly, 5 Akuila Uate, 6 Lachlan Croker, 7 Daly Cherry-Evans (c), 8 Addin Fonua-Blake, 9 Apisai Koroisau, 10 Martin Taupau, 11 Joel Thompson, 12 Curtis Sironen, 13 Jake Trbojevic

Interchange: 14 Jackson Hastings, 15 Shaun Lane, 16 Lloyd Perrett, 17 Kelepi Tanginoa

Reserves: 18 Matthew Wright, 19 Lewis Brown, 20 Jack Gosiewski, 21 Frank Winterstein

The above team is subject to change one hour before kick-off.

Eels: 1. Bevan French, 2. Josh Hoffman, 3. Michael Jennings, 4. Jarryd Hayne, 5. Kirisome Auva’a, 6. Corey Norman, 7. Mitch Moses, 8. Tim Mannah (c), 9. Cameron King, 10. Daniel Alvaro, 11. Manu Ma’u, 12. Tepai Moeroa, 13. Nathan Brown.

Interchange: 14. Beau Scott (c), 15. Brad Takairangi, 16. Suaia Matagi, 17. Kane Evans

Reserves: 18. William Smith, 19. Kenneth Edwards, 20. David Gower, 21. Kaysa Pritchard.

The above team is subject to change one hour before kick-off.

Sunday March 18, 4.10pm AEDT, Lottoland

Head-to-head: 137 games, Sea Eagles 82 wins, Eels 51 wins, 4 draws

Matches at the venue: 63 games, Sea Eagles 42 wins, Eels 20 wins, 1 draw

Last five games: Eels 5 wins

2017 matches: Eels beat Sea Eagles 20-12 in round 1

2017 points per game: Sea Eagles 23; Eels 20.7

2017 points conceded per game: Sea Eagles 21.3; Eels 19

Televised: Nine, Fox League, NRL Live Pass

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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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