Wests Tigers will look to keep their slender finals hopes alive this Thursday night when they take on the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles at Campbelltown Stadium.
Off the back of a disappointing defeat to the St. George-Illawarra Dragons last Saturday in front of a sold-out Leichhardt Oval, Ivan Cleary's side now find themselves in a simple yet difficult situation if they are to qualify for the club's first finals appearance since 2011 — win their remaining two matches and hope that either the Brisbane Broncos or the New Zealand Warriors also lose both their matches.
In that happening, Cleary's side will also need a points-differential swing to take place — meaning that they are up against it in terms of making the eight, but certainly not down and out just yet.
And as they say, as long as there's hope, there's life.
Playing in the first game of the round this weekend, Wests Tigers can close the gap to both the Broncos and Warriors to just two points — putting the pressure back on those two teams — when they take on a Sea Eagles side down on confidence and in the headlines for all the wrong reasons at this time of the year.
Trent Barrett's side looked to be on course for a dominant victory last week against the Gold Coast Titans when they lead 22-6 at the break, before a stunning second half saw them walk away with a heavy defeat.
The boys from the Northern Beaches cannot make the finals and are just playing for pride at this point, but that doesn't make them any less dangerous than some of the other sides in the competition. Both Tom and Jake Trbojevic showed last week that they can put points on from anywhere on the field, and with an experienced head in Daly Cherry-Evans steering them around, Manly are far from an easy-beat team.
Wests Tigers will head in to Thursday's game without co-captain Elijah Taylor after he picked up a cork in last week's loss — Matt Eisenhuth returning to the run-on side with Chris Lawrence on the edge, while Josh Aloiai and Alex Twal are both welcome returns on the interchange bench after missing out last week.
It's been a tough run for Wests Tigers at Campbelltown Sports Stadium in recent years with the side recording two contrasting but equally devastating losses at the ground this year to the Brisbane Broncos in Round 3 and Canberra Raiders in Round 15. They have lost their last seven games at the venue, and Cleary's comments after the game last week indicated that turning that around would be a key focus.
It seems like an eternity ago, but Wests Tigers did record their biggest win of the season over the Sea Eagles when they met back in Round 6 at Lottoland; the visitors piling on the points early to record an emphatic 38-12 victory. For a side not known for their attack this year, Wests Tigers looked extremely dangerous last week — up until the final pass — and if they can correct their errors and completion rate this Thursday night, there's no reason why they can't produce a similar scoreline again this time around.
Date — Thursday, August 23, 2018
Time — 7:50pm AEST
Venue — Campbelltown Sports Stadium
TV, RADIO AND LIVE STREAM INFORMATION
TV — FOX League (Ch.502) and Channel 9
Radio — AM 702 ABC Grandstand, AM 2GB 873, FM 104.9 Triple M Sydney
Live Stream — Foxtel Go, 9Now, NRL Digital Pass, Watch NRL Streaming (exc. Australia)
LATEST BETEASY ODDS
H2H — Wests Tigers ($1.57), Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles ($2.40)
Line — Wests Tigers -4.5 ($1.92), Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles +4.5 ($1.92)
Match: Wests Tigers v Sea Eagles
Round 24 -
Venue: Campbelltown Stadium
Fullback for Wests Tigers is number 1 Moses MbyeFullback for Sea Eagles is number 1 Tom Trbojevic
Winger for Wests Tigers is number 2 David NofoalumaWinger for Sea Eagles is number 2 Jorge Taufua
Centre for Wests Tigers is number 3 Esan MarstersCentre for Sea Eagles is number 3 Moses Suli
Centre for Wests Tigers is number 4 Mahe FonuaCentre for Sea Eagles is number 4 Brian Kelly
Winger for Wests Tigers is number 5 Kevin NaiqamaWinger for Sea Eagles is number 5 Brad Parker
Five-Eighth for Wests Tigers is number 6 Benji MarshallFive-Eighth for Sea Eagles is number 6 Dylan Walker
Halfback for Wests Tigers is number 7 Luke BrooksHalfback for Sea Eagles is number 7 Daly Cherry-Evans
Prop for Wests Tigers is number 8 Russell PackerProp for Sea Eagles is number 8 Addin Fonua-Blake
Hooker for Wests Tigers is number 9 Robbie FarahHooker for Sea Eagles is number 9 Manase Fainu
Prop for Wests Tigers is number 10 Ben MatulinoProp for Sea Eagles is number 12 Shaun Lane
2nd Row for Wests Tigers is number 11 Chris Lawrence2nd Row for Sea Eagles is number 11 Joel Thompson
2nd Row for Wests Tigers is number 12 Michael Chee-Kam2nd Row for Sea Eagles is number 16 Jack Gosiewski
Lock for Wests Tigers is number 13 Matthew EisenhuthLock for Sea Eagles is number 13 Jake Trbojevic
Interchange for Wests Tigers is number 14 Alex TwalInterchange for Sea Eagles is number 10 Martin Taupau
Interchange for Wests Tigers is number 15 Sauaso SueInterchange for Sea Eagles is number 14 Trent Hodkinson
Interchange for Wests Tigers is number 17 Josh AloiaiInterchange for Sea Eagles is number 15 Kelepi Tanginoa
Interchange for Wests Tigers is number 18 Jacob LiddleInterchange for Sea Eagles is number 19 Matthew Wright
Elijah Taylor is out for Wests Tigers, with Matt Eisenhuth shifting to lock and Chris Lawrence to the back row, while Alex Twal and Josh Aloiai also return to the interchange bench. Jacob Liddle is a late inclusion in place of Luke Garner, while Manly have confirmed a number of late changes with Shaun Lane starting at prop and Jack Gosieski moving to the back row. Martin Taupau drops back to the bench while Matthew Wright is a late inclusion in jersey 19 — replacing Lloyd Perrett in the final squad.
Overall — Played 27, Wests Tigers 11, Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 15, Drawn 1
At Campbelltown Sports Stadium — Played 1, Wests Tigers 0, Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 1
Last Time They Met — Wests Tigers 38 def. Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 12 (Rd.6, 2018)
Match Referees — Matt Cecchin and Alan Shortall
Touch Judges — Ziggy Przeklasa-Adamski and Belinda Sleeman
Review Officials — Ben Galea and Steve Chiddy