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Manly's left-edge attack looms as the key to Des Hasler's men upsetting the heavily-favoured Melbourne in Friday night's qualifying final at Sunshine Coast Stadium.

The Sea Eagles are under no illusions about the difficulty of beating the Storm – having won just two of their past 10 clashes – but they perhaps uncovered the blueprint in their round 21 match.

While Melbourne ultimately claimed a 28-18 victory, Manly had success attacking on the left with winger Reuben Garrick bagging a double – and narrowly denied a third – off Tom Trbojevic's passes.

Data from NRL.com Stats suggests that if the Storm have a weakness, it's their right-edge defence, which is home to second-rower Felise Kaufusi, halfback Jahrome Hughes and centre Reimis Smith.

Provided he overcomes a knee issue, George Jennings is expected to line up outside Smith with Isaac Lumelume – who played on the right for the past fortnight – to replace Josh Addo-Carr on the other flank.

The case for the Sea Eagles to upset the Storm

Significantly, it's not only the Sea Eagles who have found reasonable joy down Melbourne's right side with 35 of the 59 tries (59.32 percent) they have conceded this season coming in that area.

That's comprised of 24 tries scored near the right sideline and a further 11 tries scored more centrally right compared to 13 near the left sideline, six in the central-right region and five in the middle.

Crisp play from Schuster and Trbojevic sees Garrick cross again

Meanwhile, Manly have posted 50 of their 130 tries on their left side (38.46 percent) with 26 near the left sideline – where Garrick has proven a lethal finisher – and 24 in the central-left area.

Despite more points flowing on the right edge, only the Rabbitohs (73 tries), Storm (62), Eels (60) and Panthers (51) have been more proficient in crossing the line on the left side of the field.

Red-hot fullback Trbojevic often pops up on the left edge and has frequently delivered the final pass to assist Garrick – who has tallied 21 tries in 24 matches throughout the year – or scored himself.

One thing is for sure: attempting to crack Melbourne through the middle is almost always futile. After dominating on the fringes, Trbojevic said the Sea Eagles will continue their expansive style.

"It's the footy we feel comfortable playing and we're not going to try and change too much," the Dally M Medal favourite said.

"We're looking forward to the challenge, we're up against a very good footy side and we're going to have to be very good to beat them."

Storm v Sea Eagles - Qualifying Final

Reflecting on the last meeting with the Storm at an empty Suncorp Stadium, Trbojevic said: "I thought we played alright.

"The problem we probably had was we dropped too much footy and we didn't have as much possession as we'd like to, and field position.

"In the end, if you turn the ball over, [Melbourne] are going to make you pay. And that's what they did. [This time] we'll be trying to limit that and trying to win that field position battle."

Captain's challenge: DCE reveals moment that ignited Sea Eagles' season

Manly captain Daly Cherry-Evans is energised by the task of toppling the Storm, who have lost just three matches all season.

"Daunting is definitely not a word a player uses. We go out there trying to beat any opposition that we come across," Cherry-Evans said.

"We understand the sort of season you have to have to be minor premiers and they definitely deserve the minor premiership.

"We're aware of what's in front of us and it's not an easy challenge, but we're pretty excited about this week and the whole finals series."

 

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