There is no love lost between the Manly Sea Eagles and Melbourne Storm, so expect a tough encounter between two teams well in the race for the NRL premiership. Join us for live scores and commentary of Monday night football from 7pm AEST.
The Sea Eagles and Storm clash for the first time since the infamous Donnybrookvale encounter late last season, which saw both teams engage in an all in brawl which was followed by multiple suspensions.
The stage is now set for another tough and physical encounter between two teams who never take a backward step when facing one another.
Despite sitting in first position on the NRL ladder, Melbourne come into this match as underdogs given that they are without superstar fullback Billy Slater.
Slater injured himself in Queensland’s loss to NSW last Wednesday and will be out of action for four to six weeks.
Slater’s absence is a huge blow to Melbourne tonight, given that he plays such a huge role in the way the Storm attack, particularly when it comes to second phase play.
While Matthew Duffie is a very capable player, it remains to be seen if he has the ball playing skills necessary to instigate the second phase play that Slater usually produces out wide for Melbourne.
Manly meanwhile have all their players backing up from Origin last Wednesday, with Brett Stewart, Glenn Stewart and Anthony Watmough all backing up tonight for the Sea Eagles.
Overall, the Sea Eagles are at full strength and will fancy their chances of once again bullying the Storm pack out of the contest.
On the back of a big Brookvale Oval crowd, the Sea Eagles will be looking to dominate up the middle of the park where Jason King, Brent Kite and Watmough will look to push through the advantage line.
If Manly’s forwards get their way early on, Melbourne will struggle for field position tonight and without Slater to instigate any attacking plays from the back, the Storm may find themselves on the back foot for the majority of the contest.
The key to Melbourne’s chances tonight will be to weather the early Sea Eagles onslaught. Manly will come out firing tonight in a bid to finally showcase that they are the real deal in season 2012 after a lacklustre start to the year.
If Melbourne however can stick with Manly for the opening twenty minutes, playmakers Cooper Cronk, Cameron Smith and Gareth Widdop will come into their own and dictate play with their wonderful kicking games.
With Manly in desperate need of a win to solidify their position in the top eight, expect the Sea Eagles to muscle their way to a tough victory against a Storm side that will make them work for the competition points at home.
Sea Eagles by eight.