Manly Sea Eagles skipper Daly Cherry-Evans.

The ability to not only survive but thrive in the face of hardship is the biggest difference between the Manly Sea Eagles of 2018 and this year's model according to Daly Cherry-Evans.

From largely written off before the season to now on the cusp of a top-four finish, Manly have proven they are real contenders especially in the wake of their 18-14 win over Canberra on Sunday.

However, that victory came at a cost with the Sea Eagles picking up two more crucial injuries ahead of their blockbuster clash with Melbourne.

Joel Thompson (broken arm) is out for at least four weeks and Moses Suli (syndesmosis) is unlikely to be fit to play at Brookvale Oval on Saturday but for once the Northern Beaches side has reinforcements on the horizon.

In a like-for-like swap, Brad Parker and Curtis Sironen are expected to be named by coach Des Hasler ahead of a game which could potentially seal a rematch with the Storm in the first week of the finals.

"We'll cross our fingers for Moses and Joel, but it’s really handy we got the two points tonight given how hard we have been hit by injuries," Cherry Evans said on Sunday.

Manly second-rower Joel Thompson.
Manly second-rower Joel Thompson. ©Grant Trouville/NRL Photos

"If the rugby league gods are kind to us and they'll get through relatively okay and Siro and Brad will be available, two players who have really stood up this season and played good football

"So, we do have options which is great, but obviously we want our full squad healthy.

"We've been really unlucky thus year [with injuries] and a lot of them are contact injuries so you can't avoid them."

Manly's win over the Raiders was their second of the season and while Cherry-Evans loved the determination shown by the side when down two players for all of the second half, the playmaker knows the job is only half done for their season.

"We've been chasing those top-four sides all year and we've spoken about having to test ourselves as a side," he said.

"We can't get too far ahead of ourselves, we're still not where we want to be [and] we've got a big couple of weeks ahead of us with the premiership favourites and then Parramatta."

That the Sea Eagles have gone from finishing 15th in 2018 to beating some of the best sides in the NRL shows how far Manly has come under Des Hasler this season.

However, Cherry-Evans said the playing group is only looking forward to playing games in September.

"To be fair I don't think we gave ourselves [the chance last year] to be in games late," he said.

"So, we never really knew if we were able to win those games but, to be fair, that was last year and we've got a different coach, adjustments in the playing group, a core group that's held over from last year and who have taken their game to a new level."

Manly forward Curtis Sironen.
Manly forward Curtis Sironen. ©Paul Barkley/NRL Photos

Off the back of the Raiders clash, which Cherry-Evans described as being played at finals-like intensity, Manly won't get any relief from the Storm.

"We've obviously got belief and I've said before if you don't have belief at this stage of the year, you're kidding yourself and you're probably not playing finals footy," he said.

"So, we've got belief no matter who we play against, but we'll make sure we show respect to the competition leader who have been the best side all year.

"But we're looking forward to the challenge and testing ourselves against the best."

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