Sea Eagles v Titans: Cartwright back; Perrett, Lee return
The battle among teams to avoid the wooden spoon is almost as intriguing as what's happening at the top end of the Telstra Premiership ladder.
This Friday night clash brings together the 12th and 13th-placed teams, both with 7-14 records.
Sitting just one win behind the Sea Eagles and Titans in a three-way tie for last place are the Cowboys, Bulldogs and Eels - all desperate to avoid finishing at the bottom of the pile.
So with that in mind, this game should be more intense than what you might normally expect from a 12 v 13 duel.
The Sea Eagles are coming off a home win over the Bulldogs,while the Titans let a match-winning lead slip in a golden point loss to Penrith.
Match: Sea Eagles vs Titans
Round 23 -
- Fox League
- LIVE PASS
Key match-up: AJ Brimson looked right at home in his first game at fullback for the Titans and it remains to be seen if the spot will be his going forward into next season. He'll face a great test in trying to match it with in-form Manly fullback and NSW Origin star Tom Trbojevic this week.
For the Sea Eagles to win: As mentioned, 'Turbo Tom' has been great since returning from a triumphant Origin series in which he was one of the standout performers for NSW. Daly Cherry-Evans has also played well and if the pair maintains their recent form Manly should come away with a victory.
For the Titans to win: Have to feel for Garth Brennan and the Titans after last week's golden point loss. Despite clearly being the better team for a large majority of the game, they still lost, giving up a try in literally the final second of regulation time. So the simple lesson here is to follow one of rugby league's oldest adages - play for 80 minutes.
Sea Eagles Stat Attack: The Titans will have to tie up Martin Taupau every time he carries the ball, though it might be easier said than done. The Sea Eagles prop leads the NRL in off-loads with 64, with Andrew Fifita (62) second.
Titans Stat Attack: Crafty Ash Taylor knows how to create for his teammates, with his 17 try assists tying him with Johnathan Thurston and Luke Keary in first place. But Taylor doesn't always get it right - his 17 handling errors are also the most in the NRL.
And another thing: If the Titans don't win this one, they might not win again this year given they host the Storm and Cowboys in the final two rounds. The same could be said for Manly, with road games against the Wests Tigers and Broncos to close out their 2018 campaign.
Match: Sea Eagles vs Titans
Round 23 -
Fullback for Sea Eagles is number 1 Tom TrbojevicFullback for Titans is number 1 Alexander Brimson
Winger for Sea Eagles is number 2 Jorge TaufuaWinger for Titans is number 2 Anthony Don
Centre for Sea Eagles is number 3 Moses SuliCentre for Titans is number 3 Konrad Hurrell
Centre for Sea Eagles is number 4 Brian KellyCentre for Titans is number 4 Brenko Lee
Winger for Sea Eagles is number 5 Brad ParkerWinger for Titans is number 5 Phillip Sami
Five-Eighth for Sea Eagles is number 6 Dylan WalkerFive-Eighth for Titans is number 6 Kane Elgey
Halfback for Sea Eagles is number 7 Daly Cherry-EvansHalfback for Titans is number 7 Ashley Taylor
Prop for Sea Eagles is number 8 Addin Fonua-BlakeProp for Titans is number 8 Jarrod Wallace
Hooker for Sea Eagles is number 9 Manase FainuHooker for Titans is number 9 Nathan Peats
Prop for Sea Eagles is number 10 Martin TaupauProp for Titans is number 10 Ryan James
2nd Row for Sea Eagles is number 11 Joel Thompson2nd Row for Titans is number 11 Kevin Proctor
2nd Row for Sea Eagles is number 12 Shaun Lane2nd Row for Titans is number 12 Keegan Hipgrave
Lock for Sea Eagles is number 13 Jake TrbojevicLock for Titans is number 13 Jai Arrow
Interchange for Sea Eagles is number 14 Trent HodkinsonInterchange for Titans is number 14 Mitch Rein
Interchange for Sea Eagles is number 15 Kelepi TanginoaInterchange for Titans is number 15 Moeaki Fotuaika
Interchange for Sea Eagles is number 16 Frank WintersteinInterchange for Titans is number 16 Jack Stockwell
Interchange for Sea Eagles is number 17 Lloyd PerrettInterchange for Titans is number 21 Bryce Cartwright
Sea Eagles: The Sea Eagles will line up as named on Tuesday. Lloyd Perrett replaces Taniela Paseka on the bench in the only change to the team that beat Canterbury last week. Matthew Wright and Taniela Paseka were omitted an hour before kick-off, while Tom Wright and Toafofoa Sipley were cut on Thursday.
Titans: Coach Garth Brennan has made one change but it's a notable one, with Bryce Cartwright named on the bench in place of Will Matthews. Brenko Lee returns from a hamstring injury in the centres in place of Brendan Elliot. Jai Whitbread and Leilani Latu were the two players left out 24 hours before game time, while Elliot was cut an hour before kick-off.
Head-to-head: Played 17; Sea Eagles 1 wins, Titans 7 wins
Previous result: Titans won 32-20 at Marley Brown Oval in round 5
Points per game: Sea Eagles 20.5; Titans 18.9
Points conceded per game: Sea Eagles 24.3; Titans 24.2
Televised: Live on Nine, Fox League
Petero Civoniceva's prediction: The Sea Eagles are yet another club in crisis and that doesn't help you play your best footy but they have come up with two wins in a row. The Titans were brave against Penrith and looked home for 75 minutes but somehow they were run down. They may be deflated after that loss.
Tip: Sea Eagles by 4