Wests Tigers will head to Lottoland this Sunday afternoon looking to continue their strong start to 2018 against a Manly-Warringah side yet to find true consistency.
Despite the toughest start to a year in premiership history, Ivan Cleary’s side showed they mean business in 2018 with another gutsy victory over the defending premiers — fighting their way back from a second half deficit before a late field goal to Benji Marshall secured a 11-10 win.
The win leaves Wests Tigers firmly entrenched inside the top four of the competition after five rounds — all of which have been played against teams that finished in the top four last year.
They won’t get a reprieve this week either, with a trip to the Northern Beaches to face the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles at Lottoland — a ground the club has not won at since 2003.
Trent Barrett’s side will be desperate to return home after a disappointing trip up north to Gladstone saw them come up short against the Gold Coast Titans. With just two wins so far in 2018 (over the 13th placed Canberra Raiders and the 16th placed Parramatta Eels), the Sea Eagles will no doubt look to the return of fullback Tom Trbojevic for a bit of spark this weekend as they try to pry open the Wests Tigers defence — statistically the best in the competition so far with an average of just 11 points against per game.
For the visitors, they’ll be without co-captains Russell Packer and Elijah Taylor for the game, but they will welcome in star five-eighth Josh Reynolds for his first game in his new colours.
Reynolds hasn’t played for the side since picking up a hamstring injury on the eve of Round 1, and his energy and enthusiasm off the bench will certainly add a point of difference to Wests Tigers attack, which proved clinical in the key moments against Melbourne last weekend.
The loss of the Kiwi international forwards will certainly be felt by Wests Tigers, but it’s simply another opportunity for someone in Cleary’s side to shine; promising forward Alex Twal looks set for an increase in minutes while Sauaso Sue has been named for his first game of the year.
With depth at an all-time high at the club, taking advantage of the opportunities when they present will certainly be on the minds of all players this weekend and they’ll know that continuing their strong run of form so far in 2018 is the best way to do that.
Date — Sunday, Aptil 15, 2018
Time — 4:10pm AEST (Gates open at 11:30am)
Venue — Lottoland (Brookvale Oval)
GAME DAY INFORMATION
TV, RADIO AND LIVE STREAM INFORMATION
TV — Live via Fox League (Ch.502) and Channel 9
Radio — FM 104.9 Triple M Sydney, AM 702 ABC Grandstand, NRL Nation
Live Stream — 9Now, Foxtel Go, NRL Digital Pass, Watch NRL Streaming (exc. Australia)
LATEST CROWNBET ODDS
Head to Head — Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles ($1.65), Wests Tigers ($2.25)
Line — Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles -3.5 ($1.92), Wests Tigers +3.5 ($1.92)
Odds correct as of 3:00pm, Wednesday, April 11 — 18+ only, gamble responsibly.
CONFIRMED TEAM LISTS
Final Update: Two late changes to note for Manly ahead of kickoff today with Taniela Paseka on to the interchange bench for his first-grade debut in place of Frank Winterstein, while Matthew Wright also joins the bench with Jackson Hastings ruled out with an achilles injury. For Wests Tigers, Josh Aloiai will start at prop for the first time in his career in place of Alex Twal, with Josh Reynolds also set for his club debut.
Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles — 1. Tom Trbojevic 2. Brad Parker 3. Dylan Walker 4. Brian Kelly 5. Akuila Uate 6. Lachlan Croker 7. Daly Cherry-Evans 8. Addin Fonua-Blake 9. Apisai Koroisau 10. Martin Taupau 11. Joel Thompson 12. Jack Gosiewski 13. Jake Trbojevic (Interchange: 15. Shaun Lane 16. Lloyd Perrett 18. Matthew Wright 21. Taniela Paseka) — Coach: Trent Barrett
Wests Tigers — 1. Corey Thompson 2. David Nofoaluma 3. Esan Marsters 4. Kevin Naiqama 5. Malakai Watene-Zelezniak 6. Benji Marshall (capt.) 7. Luke Brooks 15. Josh Aloiai 9. Jacob Liddle 10. Ben Matulino11. Chris Lawrence 12. Robbie Rochow 13. Matt Eisenhuth (Interchange: 8. Alex Twal 14. Josh Reynolds 16. Michael Chee Kam 17. Sauaso Sue) — Coach: Ivan Cleary
Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles
Round 1 — Newcastle Knights 19 def. Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 18
Round 2 — Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 54 def. Parramatta Eels 0
Round 3 — South Sydney Rabbitohs 34 def. Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 6
Round 4 — Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 32 def. Canberra Raiders 16
Round 5 — Gold Coast Titans 32 def. Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 20
Round 1 — Wests Tigers 10 def. Sydney Roosters 8
Round 2 — Wests Tigers 10 def. Melbourne Storm 8
Round 3 — Brisbane Broncos 9 def. Wests Tigers 7
Round 4 — Wests Tigers 30 def. Parramatta Eels 20
Round 5 — Wests Tigers 11 def. Melbourne Storm 10
KEY MATCHUP — Daly Cherry-Evans vs. Luke Brooks
He’s one of the most in-form halves in the competition and at home, Daly Cherry-Evans certainly holds the key for Manly’s attack returning to what it can be this Sunday. The Origin hopeful has shown an ability to dominate any defence — particularly with Tom Trbojevic in the side — and has chalked up the second most points of any player so far this year with his sharp kicking and running game. He’ll definitely be a threat that Wests Tigers will need to contain on Sunday, as will his opposite number in Luke Brooks. The former Dally M Rookie of the Year has had arguably the best start to a year in his career so far and has thrived on playing with an experienced head in Benji Marshall. Brooks took over last week with a Man of the Match performance against the Melbourne Storm, and if his forwards can gain more of an ascendency than last week, he too is more than capable of dominating the opposition defence. How he fares when Josh Reynolds comes on the field — in whatever role that might be — still remains to be seen, but there’s no doubting the halfback’s ability to bring out the best in his fellow playmaker, whether that be Marshall or Reynolds.
Referees — Ben Cummins and Matt Noyen
Touch Judges — Jeff Younis and Peter Gough
Review Officials — Ben Galea and Ashley Klein