The Sea Eagles put the off-field distractions, an average away record this season and a slow start aside, to record a strong 22 – 12 win over the Warriors in New Zealand last weekend. The home-side scored in the first two minutes but some staunch Sea Eagles defence prevented the Warriors from building on the quick start whilst the Sea Eagles responded with two tries of their own to take a deserved 10 – 4 lead into the break.
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Two more tries in the final fifteen minutes of a tense second half, sealed the win for the Sea Eagles and kept them in the top spot on the competition ladder. They return to Brookvale for this clash, their first home game in three weeks, where they hold an impressive 9 – 1 records. The only change to the Sea Eagles from last week is the return of Jorge Taufua on the wing replacing Cheyse Blair. Between them, Taufua and centre Steve Matai have scored 21 tries this season and will again ask plenty of questions of the Brisbane defence.
The news during the week of Wayne Bennett returning to the Broncos next year, did little to inspire the current Broncos’ roster who were comprehensively beaten by the Storm last week, 30 – 8. As was the case against Penrith and the Warriors in the proceeding two rounds, the Broncos were slow out of the blocks and trailed 12 nil after 15 minutes. It was a position that, against a professional side like the Storm, not many teams recover from. It was the Broncos’ fourth loss from their past five games where they have conceded an average of 26 points per game. With the Broncos having to face the current top four teams in the remaining six week of the season, they are in grave danger of missing the finals for the second consecutive year if their current form does not dramatically improve. Dale Copley, the Broncos leading try-scorer this season, has been kept in the centres taking the regular position of Jack Reed who is named on the wing.
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HEAD TO HEAD
When the two sides last met in round 12 of this year at Suncorp, the Broncos handed the Sea Eagles their heaviest defeat of the year, 36 – 10. The win was the first over Manly in six matches for the Brisbane side and was the third of four in row at the time however, the Broncos form since has tapered off. With their season now on the line, there is no excuse for the Broncos not to put in a big effort here however that still may not be enough to upset the Sea Eagles at home.
Manly Sea Eagles:
Brett Stewart, Jorge Taufua, Jamie Lyon, Steve Matai, Peta Hiku, Kieran Foran, Daly Cherry-Evans, Josh Starling, Matt Ballin, Brenton Lawrence, Anthony Watmough, Tom Symonds, Jamie Buhrer. Interchange: Jesse Sene-Lefao, Tyson Andrews, James Hasson, Jason King
Ins: Jorge Taufua. Outs: Cheyse Blair
Josh Hoffman, Daniel Vidot, Dale Copley, Justin Hodges, Jack Reed, Ben Barba, Ben Hunt, Josh McGuire, Andrew McCullough, Corey Parker, Alex Glenn, Matt Gillett, Sam Thaiday. Interchange: Jake Granville, Todd Lowrie, Ben Hannant, Corey Oates, Martin Kennedy
Ins: Daniel Vidot, Martin Kennedy. Outs: Lachlan Maranta, Jordan Kahu