NSW Origin hopefuls Brett Stewart and Josh Dugan go head to head today as the Manly Sea Eagles clash against the Canberra Raiders. Join us for live scores from 2.00pm AEST.
Manly will start as firm favourites this afternoon against a Raiders outfit that has lost its past two matches convincingly.
Over the past fortnight, Canberra has suffered heavy defeats against premiership fancies the Broncos and Sharks, and will need to show a much improved attitude today if they are to upset the Sea Eagles.
The Raiders however can take heart from the fact that Manly’s last performance at fortress Brookvale saw the hosts lose to cellar-dwellers the Gold Coast.
On that particular evening, the Titans displayed enormous courage en route to a massive upset against the reigning premiers.
The Raiders will certainly have to take a leaf out of the Titans’ book if they are to stand a chance against a Sea Eagles side desperate to atone for their home defeat against the Gold Coast.
Manly are coming off a strong victory against the Bulldogs last week and should go on and beat Canberra if they are to be considered serious premiership contenders.
Although Manly have the better strike players, the result of today’s contest hinges on the battle between star fullbacks Stewart and Dugan.
Dugan in particular has to shine if the Raiders are any hope of causing the upset against the Sea Eagles.
At his best, Dugan stands alongside Billy Slater as the NRL’s most damaging kick returner, so expect Manly halves Liam Foran and Daly Cherry-Evans to avoid kicking down the middle of the park as much as possible.
On the other side of the coin, Raiders halves Josh McCrone and Sam Williams must also kick to the corners if they are to have any hope of limiting Stewart’s influence from the back.
Without the influential Terry Campese however, Canberra may struggle to dictate proceedings from the boot, and thus could be in for a long afternoon if Stewart is offered easy kick returns.
The battle upfront will also be critical in deciding which team emerges victorious today, with the Raiders and Sea Eagles both blessed with strong packs.
With Origin around the corner, expect Manly stars Glenn Stewart, Anthony Watmough, Jason King and Brent Kite to perform strongly against fellow Origin and Test stars Tom Learoyd-Lars, David Shillington and Bronson Harrison.
Overall, Manly should have learned some hard lessons from their loss to the Titans two weeks ago and should not underestimate Canberra this afternoon.
A fit and firing Sea Eagles should win this but a good performance from Dugan and the Raiders should keep this contest close aswell.
Sea Eagles by 10.