Head to head in the NRL: Played 23; Sea Eagles 15, Cowboys 8
Geoff Toovey’s side face a huge test when they travel up to Townsville to take on the North Queensland Cowboys who have won their last eight matches in a row. The match will be Manly’s 1500th game in all competitions.
The Silvertails welcome back Kieran Foran into the halfback position whilst Tom Symonds keeps his spot at five-eighth.
The Sea Eagles will be boosted by the fact that they had the bye last week whilst none of their squad played during the mid-week State of Origin match.
The same cannot be said about the team from Townsville who played last week against the Wests Tigers whilst also having four players take part in the midweek clash between New South Wales and Queensland in Sydney.
Last time they met: Round 26 2014
Manly went into the clash undermanned, losing representative full-back Brett Stewart to an ankle injury on the eve of the match with Glenn Stewart, Jamie Buhrer and Matt Ballin already in the injury ward.
The Cowboys struck less than three minutes into the game when a Manly penalty handed Thurston a gift two points. Tariq Sims was left unsteady after a Jason King shot hit him high, but the referees ruled play on and centre Steve Matai crossed soon after for the Silvertails to move to a 4-2 advantage.
The Cowboys had plenty of possession, but Tautau Moga went to ground on the last and Thurston threw a ball over the sideline. It was Antonio Winterstein who finally crossed, picking himself up off the floor from a heavy hit to score in the left corner.
A pinpoint Lui bomb found winger Kyle Feldt in the 27th minute and when Kane Linnett sliced over in the shadows of half time, the score had blown out to 18-4. North Queensland kept up the attack after the break, Feldt bagging his double on a right-side raid. Justin Horo pegged the lead back to 14 when he crossed following a penalty, but Lui all but sealed the result when he crossed in the 55th minute.
Stewart’s replacement Clinton Gutherson scored a consolation try in the final minutes. The margin could have been greater, Feldt and lock Jason Taumalolo both denied by the video referee.
The match will be televised on Fox Sports 1 at 7.30pm