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Sea Eagles v Warriors: Manly duo in doubt; Blair, RTS concerns

The under-strength Warriors face another uphill battle against a battle-hardened Manly side that has emerged with a 1-1 record after going toe-to-toe with competition heavyweights Melbourne and the Roosters. 

The New Zealand side, stranded in Australia by the coronavirus, sits at the bottom of the NRL table after losing their opening two games by 20 and 14 points.

Even though they were much-improved in the first half against Canberra in round two they only have a solitary penalty try to show for their efforts over 160 minutes of football.

The cavalry is at least a week away and while the rugby league community has been bending over backwards to help the Warriors that feelgood story has yet to extend to the playing paddock.

Manly's attack has also been modest in 2020 but a more fluent outing against the back-to-back premiers at Leichhardt Oval suggests a breakout performance is looming. 

The Rundown

Team news

Sea Eagles: Manly have been able to keep the same 17 for the season's opening two rounds. Front-rower Sean Keppie and centre Brad Parker failed HIAs during Manly's one-point win over the Roosters and will be monitored during the week. Prop Taniela Paseka (ankle) is a chance of returning for round three.

Warriors: Senior players Adam Blair and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck will be monitored this week after finishing bruised and battered from a number of heavy hits in the loss to Canberra. The stranded New Zealanders must do without Patrick Herbert, Gerard Beale, Jazz Tevaga, Josh Curran and Agnatius Paasi who remain in self-isolation after arriving from New Zealand and won't be available until round four. Former Dragons prop Lachlan Timm has been training with the club this week.

Key match-up

Tom Trbojevic v Roger Tuivasa-Sheck: The Sea Eagles custodian starred in both attack and defence in Manly's win over the Roosters. He scored his side's only try and scythed down Rooster after Rooster, saving at least two tries including Luke Keary's likely match-winner as he was putting the ball down over the line. The Warriors skipper is pivotal to his side's attacking structure, piling up the metres from the back to provide a platform for attacking raids.

Brett Kimmorley says

Two great defensive efforts by Manly against the Storm and the reigning premiers. It hasn’t taken long for Tom Trbojevic to get rid of any cobwebs from not playing any games in the off-season. Both Trbojevic boys have been unbelievable and Dale Cherry-Evans’ ability to own the field and kick that clutch field goal was enormous. The Warriors have obviously got a few distractions to contend with and they look a bit sluggish. They look off the pace and have no real forwards that can create some momentum, and apart from RTS they lack a bit of spark in attack. They’ll have a tough year for a number of reasons. Manly by 10

Stat Attack

The Warriors have struggled to get their attack into gear in the opening two rounds, scoring zero points against the Knights and just six last week from a penalty try. Manly haven't been much better, posting just four points against Melbourne and nine last week against the Roosters.

And another thing...

Manly beat the Warriors 24-10 in the 2011 grand final, with Glenn Stewart claiming the Clive Churchill Medal. Stewart and his brother Brett each scored a try, while Daly Cherry-Evans and Jamie Lyon also crossed for the Sea Eagles. Manu Vatuvei and Elijah Taylor scored the Warriors' two tries.