Sea Eagles v Knights preview

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Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles v Newcastle Knights Sunday 4:05pm at Lottoland

Both the Sea Eagles and Knights poured doubt over their premiership credentials last week with disappointing performances against lowly opposition. 

While Manly rallied to take down Canberra after losing Tom Trbojevic a fortnight ago, it was a different story last week against the Sharks. 

The Sea Eagles conceded 40 points for the first time since 2018 as they slumped to a 18-point loss which has them vulnerable on the edge of the top eight. 

For Des Hasler's men, they simply need to get a win on the board to restore confidence and quell concerns they are hamstrung without Trbojevic. 

Much of the leadership falls onto the shoulders of halfback Daly Cherry-Evans, who is no stranger to playing through adversity throughout his own career. 

This week they face a Knights side that also took a giant step backwards last week. 

Adam O'Brien said he had given the team a huge wake-up call prior to the clash with the Cowboys, telling them they were not nearly as good as everyone is making them out to be.

On Saturday they proved him right. 

This was the Knights of old, conceding soft tries and looking a shadow of the defensive powerhouse O'Brien had seemingly transformed them into They are bolstered by the return of Bradman Best but he can only do so much. 

Last meeting: Round 20 2019 - Sea Eagles 30 Knights 6

Who to watch: Both teams will be looking for someone to stand up and take ownership after poor results and the halfbacks for each side look the most capable. Daly Cherry-Evans is arguably the most well-rounded playmaker in the game. His controlled kicking game and calming presence will be crucial in helping his teammates not become frazzled if the Knights strike early and doubts creep in.

Meanwhile, Mitchell Pearce has also been the natural leader Newcastle were crying out for as they spent years grounded to the bottom of the ladder. But he went missing when they needed him most last weekend. Kurt Mann is quickly improving and forming a strong combination with Pearce but the latter is the one this group will turn to when they need the big plays.

The favourite: Newcastle are slight favourites for this game.

My tip: It is more likely Newcastle's slip-up was a one-off. Manly's, on the other hand, threatens to derail their finals hopes if confidence continues to drop without Trbojevic. Des will have a plan up his sleeve but it doesn't help that they are playing a Knights team equally desperate to prove themselves. Knights by 16.

1. Reuben Garrick 2. Jorge Taufua 3. Brad Parker 4. Moses Suli 5. Tevita Funa 6. Lachlan Croker 7. Daly Cherry-Evans 8. Addin Fonua-Blake 9. Danny Levi 10. Martin Taupau 11. Joel Thompson 12. Curtis Sironen 13. Jake Trbojevic 14. Cade Cust 15. Jack Gosiewski 16. Sean Keppie 17. Taniela Paseka

1. Kalyn Ponga 2. Edrick Lee 3. Enari Tuala 4. Bradman Best 5. Hymel Hunt 6. Kurt Mann 7. Mitchell Pearce 8. David Klemmer 9. Andrew McCullough 10. Daniel Saifiti 11. Lachlan Fitzgibbon 12. Sione Mata'utia 13. Herman Ese'ese 14. Tex Hoy 15. Jacob Saifiti 16. Aidan Guerra 17. Pasami Saulo

Referees: Grant Atkins; Sideline Officials: Dave Munro, Belinda Sharpe; Video Referees: Jared Maxwell, Bryan Norrie;

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