Wests Tigers v Sea Eagles preview
3 hours ago | Tim Costello
Emotions run high as Sea Eagles and Warriors meet for the first time in Christchurch since the recent terror attack.
While two competition points will be up for grabs, a sombre mood will fill Christchurch Stadium in the moments preceding Saturday afternoon's game as the community comes together to honour those who lost their lives in the tragedy earlier this month.
The Warriors have been the most affected, with several players having friends living in the city, while utility Jazz Tevaga was born there.
The Sea Eagles also arrived five days early to offer their support.
Onto the game, Manly will be desperate to arrest a concerning start to the season and will be buoyed by the return of flashy fullback Tom Trbojevic.
Des Hasler's men showed plenty of promise late last week when they came close to running down the defending premiers, falling in the end 26-18.
But the ease at which they leaked tries in the opening half would have been a serious cause for concern.
While suffering a crushing 28-point defeat last week, the Warriors' 40-6 win over the Bulldogs in the opening round suggests that they have more than enough firepower to breeze past Manly if they don't find more resolve defending their line.
Errors proved their undoing against Wests, with most coming in prime attacking position, robbing Blake Green and Adam Keighran of any real chance of building pressure.
Perhaps their dominant win over a poor Canterbury side wasn't a strong indicator of the real Warriors side we will see in 2019.
Last meeting: Round 14 2018 - Sea Eagles 14 Warriors 34
Who to watch: The battle between the fullbacks will likely decide this one, with both pivotal to their respective side's attack.
Roger Tuivasa-Sheck was kept relatively quiet by the Tigers last week. But against one of the competition's more inexperienced backlines, last year's Dally M Medallist should find more success like he did a fortnight ago against Canterbury.
Meanwhile, Trbojevic's return at the back should inject Manly with the creativity in attack that they have been lacking in the opening two rounds of the competition. While defence has certainly been an issue, they have also struggled when it comes to posting points.
Hasler's men are yet to score a try in a first half this year and against a side like the Warriors who improve with confidence, will need a fast start to be any hope on Saturday. And with the perfect balance of both size and skill, the 22-year old taking his place at the back will be a welcome sight for the Sea Eagles faithful.
The favourite: The Warriors are slight favourites here with the better form and technically the home ground advantage.
My tip: While Kearney's men have shown more in 2019, the Sea Eagles will take plenty out of their late surge against Easts last week and Trbojevic's timely return could see them pull off an upset. Manly by 4.
1. Tom Trbojevic 2. Jorge Taufua 3. Moses Suli 4. Brad Parker 5. Reuben Garrick 6. Kane Elgey 7. Daly Cherry-Evans 8. Addin Fonua-Blake 9. Apisai Koroisau 10. Martin Taupau 11. Joel Thompson 12. Curtis Sironen 13. Jake Trbojevic 14. Manase Fainu 15. Jack Gosiewski 16. Corey Waddell 17. Toafofoa Sipley
1. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck 2. David Fusitua 3. Peta Hiku 4. Solomone Kata 5. Ken Maumalo 6. Adam Keighran 7. Blake Green 8. Agnatius Paasi 9. Issac Luke 10. Bunty Afoa 17. Isaiah Papalii 12. Tohu Harris 11. Adam Blair 13. Lachlan Burr 14. Jazz Tevaga 16. Leeson Ah Mau 18. Gerard Beale
Referees: Dave Munro, Chris Sutton; Sideline Officials: Michael Wise, Chris McMillan; Video Referees: Henry Perenara, Ben Lowe;