Wests Tigers v Sea Eagles preview
3 hours ago | Tim Costello
Sea Eagles press for top four finish
The Manly Sea Eagles and Wests Tigers will look to evoke the "Silvertails v Fibros" spirit on Thursday evening in a key matchup for both side's finals aspirations.
Returning from across the ditch after an unexpected 24-16 loss to the Warriors last Friday, the Manly Sea Eagles will be looking to continue a dominant record at Lottoland that has yielded six wins from eight appearances in 2019.
Dominating the Western Suburbs - Balmain joint venture on the northern beaches with eight wins from ten matches, coach Des Hasler will be stressing the importance of coming away with two competition points as the Sea Eagles look to secure their first top four finish since 2014.
With Brad Parker (knee) and Curtis Sironen (hamstring) sidelined in the aftermath of last week's loss in Auckland, Brendan Elliot and Jack Gosweiski come into the team at centre and second row respectively.
Left to rue a missed opportunity against the Bulldogs in last Saturday's 18-16 loss at ANZ Stadium, the Wests Tigers will need to win on Thursday night to remain in contention for the top eight.
Sitting one point outside the top eight in tenth position, coach Michael Maguire will be banking on the Tigers continuing a strong record against the Sea Eagles after recording wins in their past four meetings dating back to 2017.
Losing inspirational captain Robbie Farah with a knee injury that threatens to bring his career to a premature end, emerging hooker Jacob Liddle will start at hooker for only the seventh time in his career, while Tommy Talau - son of former New Zealand international Willie Talau - will make his NRL debut in place of Moses Mbye.
After being found guilty of a dangerous contact charge at the judiciary on Tuesday evening, Luke Garner will miss the vital clash with out-of-favour playmaker Josh Reynolds in contention to play his first match since Round 7 after being named on the extended bench.
Last meeting: Round 1 2019 - Wests Tigers 20 Sea Eagles 6
Who to watch: Enjoying a strong season after spending the past few years in and out of first grade due to injury, Jorge Taufua has provided the Sea Eagles with a hardened edge not seen since the retirement of Steve Matai. Missing just two matches in 2018 to reassert his status as a regular fixture on the left edge, the 27-year-old Samoan and Tongan representative has crossed for seven tries in addition to averaging well over 100 metres per game. Contracted to Manly for a further two years after penning a new deal back in June, look for Taufua to showcase his skills as a formidable opponent with a starring performance on Thursday evening.
Suffering the devastation of missing an equalising conversion on fulltime against the Bulldogs, emerging outside back Paul Momirovski will be eager to make amends with his actions on the football field. Joining the Tigers after making an important cameo in the Roosters' premiership success last year, the 23-year-old Alexandria Rovers junior has shown signs of promise in seven appearances under Michael Maguire, including four tries in his past three matches. Experiencing the heartache rugby league can conjure at its cruellest last Saturday, look for Momirovski to bounce back with resilience as he strives to keep the Tigers in contention for the play-offs.
The favourite: Despite going down in Auckland last Friday, the Sea Eagles are expected to bounce back in style at home.
My tip: Capable of finishing the round inside the top four should other results go their way, look for the Sea Eagles to make a big mark in front of a small crowd. Sea Eagles by 22.
1. Tom Trbojevic 2. Jorge Taufua 3. Brendan Elliot 4. Moses Suli 5. Reuben Garrick 6. Dylan Walker 7. Daly Cherry-Evans 8. Addin Fonua-Blake 9. Apisai Koroisau 10. Martin Taupau 11. Joel Thompson 12. Jack Gosiewski 13. Jake Trbojevic 14. Manase Fainu 15. Corey Waddell 16. Morgan Boyle 17. Taniela Paseka
1. Corey Thompson 2. Paul Momirovski 3. Tommy Talau 4. Esan Marsters 5. David Nofoaluma 6. Benji Marshall 7. Luke Brooks 8. Thomas Mikaele 9. Jacob Liddle 10. Oliver Clark 17. Chris Lawrence 12. Michael Chee-Kam 13. Ryan Matterson 14. Matt Eisenhuth 15. Elijah Taylor 16. Alex Twal 20. Chris McQueen
Referees: Gerard Sutton, Chris Butler; Sideline Officials: Todd Smith, Rickey McFarlane; Video Referees: Steve Chiddy, Ben Lowe;