Rd9 MATCH PREVIEW: Storm v Sea Eagles
The greatest modern day rivalry is set to continue on Saturday night when the Sea Eagles travel to Melbourne to take on the Storm at AAMI Park.
Despite missing a host of key members for their clash against the archrival, the Sea Eagles will draw plenty of confidence from the last time they travelled to Melbourne.
Surprising many, an inspired Manly outfit produced their bravest performance in recent times to claim a 10-10 draw.
In a match that even golden point extra time could not separate, many thought the Sea Eagles warranted the two competition points after a courageous defensive effort that saw hooker Matt Ballin break the club’s all-time tackling record for a single match, with a staggering 69 tackles.
The Sea Eagles are coming off a comprehensive 36-poiont win over Canberra and will need to be at their best to match it with the Storm, who are looking to turn their season around on Saturday night.
Having only won one of their past five matches, far from convincing, and with their only win coming after the siren against the Dragons, it’s officially the worst start to a season for Craig Bellamy’s men since 2005.
Fullback Brett Stewart has been named as Sea Eagles skipper and will lead the side for only the second time in his career and the first time since 2011.
With injuries to a number of key personnel including regular captain Jamie Lyon, the custodian will be out to defend his 100% strike rate, having led the side to victory against the Roosters back in 2011.
Daly Cherry-Evans is expected to play despite a minor calf strain, while Jack Littlejohn retains his spot in the halves with Foran still out.
David Williams comes back in on the wing for what will be his 99th match in the maroon & white, while Peta Hiku shuffles in to the centres after scoring four against the Raiders at Brookvale.
Since Manly’s 40-0 demolition of Melbourne in the 2008 grand final, the two sides have gone punch for punch. The Sea Eagles have won five, lost five and played out a draw.
George Rose is set to face his old teammates for the third time this season after first playing Manly in round one and then in round six for Melbourne’s reserve side at Brookvale Oval.
Rose, a man who once despised Melbourne, has added another element to an already fierce rival after coming out this week and admitting both clubs hate one another.
"As far as this game is concerned, it's very similar - both teams absolutely hate each other," Rose said.
"It something that brings out the best games of the season for both teams and I think it will be a cracker on Saturday night.