Finals Wk1 Preview: Sea Eagles v Rabbitohs
Manly head into their tenth straight finals series looking to cap off a decade of dominance by recording the club’s third premiership since 2008.
The Sea Eagles will also look to send off club legend Jason King in style as he enters his final NRL finals series after announcing his retirement last month.
Manly’s first assignment is to overcome a Rabbitohs outfit desperate for premiership glory to book their place in the preliminary final.
The Sea Eagles will be desperate to knock the Rabbitohs off, as it will give them a much-needed week off with a number of injured players waiting to return.
The Rabbitohs come into this clash in reasonable form having won three of their last five matches, including a close loss to the Roosters.
However, they will have memories of last year’s preliminary final, where they jumped out to a 14 – 0 lead, before the great Manly side produced one of the most memorable comebacks to win 30 – 20.
Compared to the Rabbitohs, Manly are masters come this time of year. Since 2007, they have been a part of four grand finals and won competitions in both 2008 and 2011.
They will be counting on this experience, along with a mix of new quality players to drive them deep into this finals series.
These two sides have faced off twice this year, with the ledger being squared off at one a piece. The Sea Eagles got away with a close victory 14-12 back in round two at Central Coast Stadium, whereas the Rabbitohs ran away with a comprehensive victory in round 22 at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
The Rabbitohs will be quietly confident following their recent win over the Sea Eagles. Maroons and Australian representative Greg Inglis is a player that the Sea Eagles must be wary of. The battle with Manly stalwart Brett Stewart is something to keep an eye on.
Whilst both sides possess lethal backlines, the battle could be won and lost through the middle of the park. It has been well documented this year that the Rabbitohs employ a power game where they look to dominate their opposition forward packs. The Manly side will need to be up for the challenge and expect a physical clash come Friday night.
In recent weeks Manly haven’t been in the best of form, having only won two from their last five clashes. However, come this time of year we all know that Manly have the mentality, culture and in built toughness that allows them to find a way to get the job done no matter what the circumstances.