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Roosters v Sea Eagles: Bounce-back time for both sides

Four wins, four losses - there was nothing in the script about under-achievement and mediocrity for the Sydney Roosters in 2018 but that's right about where they sit after eight rounds.

Last week the Chooks received an Anzac Day lesson from the Dragons, losing 24-8 after another ordinary performance in which they struggled to create solid scoring chances.

Coach Trent Robinson would be trying to ignore the critics who say the Roosters look disjointed, that players are zigging instead of zagging; that they are shifting to the right when they should go left, etc etc, but he knows the only way to silence the endless theories is to get his star-studded side to start firing.

Poor old Manly look to be lurching from bad to worse, losing their fourth straight last week after leading Newcastle for most of the game.

You could see when the game was tight down the stretch that the Sea Eagles looked nervous and unsure of themselves, while the Knights embraced the moment and didn't second-guess themselves.

Injury-hit Manly could be in for another disappointing afternoon on Sunday.

Roosters v Sea Eagles - Round 9

Sydney Roosters v Manly Sea Eagles, 4pm Sunday at Allianz Stadium

Key match-up: Regardless of who the Sea Eagles name at five-eighth and subsequently who plays at five-eighth, the Roosters should have an edge through Luke Keary. Every Roosters fan has an opinion on what will produce more wins and some believe Keary has to get his hands on the ball more often and provide frequent opportunities for Latrell Mitchell and James Tedesco to strut their stuff.

For the Roosters to win: This team doesn't seem confident in its scoring ability for some reason and it's an area that they quickly need to improve. There isn't too much wrong defensively, but the Chooks have to start taking what defences give them and get their combinations working. They won't get a better chance to get the ball rolling than Sunday's game against an out-of-sorts Manly.

For the Sea Eagles to win: He still looks in good nick for a 40-year-old and wore the No.6 jersey for club, state and country with distinction. But Manly coach Trent Barrett won't be ending eight years of retirement to make a comeback for the injury-decimated Sea Eagles, who are in desperate need of a five-eighth. They also need an urgent injection of self-belief, especially when the pressure is on in close games. If nothing else, the Sea Eagles should be encouraged by the fact the Roosters aren't travelling much better.

Roosters stat attack: The Roosters haven't beaten Manly at Allianz Stadium for five years, while winger Blake Ferguson has been on the losing end nine of the 10 times he has faced the Sea Eagles. Mitchell has scored all his team's points (14) in their past two outings.

Sea Eagles stat attack: Manly have lost all four of their away games in 2018 but have got the better of the Roosters in five of their previous six meetings. The Sea Eagles are one of only two teams to concede more than 200 points thus far. The Titans are the only team with a slightly worse defensive record.

And another thing: They can't win on the road and now the Sea Eagles are not even sure they love their home turf anymore. Manly officials have asked for experts to carry out an extensive inspection of the playing surface at Lottoland after three Sea Eagles players suffered serious knee injuries in four home games. Not sure what sort of scientific testing is involved, but it's hard to see how anyone or anything will be able to ascertain if the surface is the problem.

Sydney Roosters v Manly Sea Eagles, 4pm Sunday at Allianz Stadium

Roosters: 1 James Tedesco, 2 Joseph Manu, 3 Latrell Mitchell, 4 Mitchell Aubusson, 5 Blake Ferguson, 6 Luke Keary, 7 Cooper Cronk, 15 Siosiua Taukeiaho, 9 Jake Friend (c), 10 Dylan Napa, 11 Boyd Cordner (c), 12 Ryan Matterson, 13 Isaac Liu

Interchange: 8 Zane Tetevano, 14 Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, 17 Victor Radley, 20 Kurt Baptiste

Siosiua Taukeiaho moves into the starting side and Kurt Baptiste joins the bench, with Zane Tetevano moving back to the interchange and Nat Butcher dropping out of the side.

Sea Eagles: 1 Tom Trbojevic, 2 Matthew Wright, 3 Moses Suli, 4 Brian Kelly, 5 Akuila Uate, 6 Dylan Walker, 7 Daly Cherry-Evans (c), 8 Addin Fonua-Blake, 9 Apisai Koroisau, 10 Martin Taupau, 11 Joel Thompson, 12 Shaun Lane, 13 Jake Trbojevic

Interchange: 14 Lewis Brown, 15 Frank Winterstein, 16 Lloyd Perrett, 17 Taniela Paseka

The injury-ravaged Sea Eagles have named centre Dylan Walker to move into five-eighth for Lachlan Croker (ACL, season) with Jackson Hastings and Tevita Funa trimmed from Trent Barrett's squad 24 hours before kick-off. Former Tiger and Bulldog Moses Suli will make his club debut in the centres. Shaun Lane comes into the starting side for back-rower Jack Gosiewski (hand, four weeks) with Frank Winterstein joining the bench. Tom Wright and Toafofoa Sipley were omitted from the extended bench an hour before kick-off.

Head-to-head: Played 130; Sea Eagles 84 wins, Roosters 44 wins, 2 draws
Matches at venue: Played 23; Sea Eagles 15 wins, Roosters 8 wins
2017 results: Sea Eagles won 18-12 at Allianz Stadium in round 5 and 36-18 at Lottoland in round 22
Points per game: Roosters 17.3; Sea Eagles 20.5
Points conceded per game: Roosters 15; Sea Eagles 25.1
Televised: Live on Nine, Fox League

Steve Turner's prediction: The Roosters have been inconsistent this year and when you think they're on track, they dish up a performance that leaves you with more questions than answers, while the past month has been one the Sea Eagles would like to forget. Manly are down on troops, down on confidence and will be facing a recharged Roosters side who come into Sunday's clash off an 11-day turnaround. TIP: Roosters by 14

Acknowledgement of Country

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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