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The Manly Sea Eagles and Canberra Raiders will do battle on Sunday afternoon in a match which looks extremely difficult to call. Join The Roar for live scores and coverage from 2pm (AEST).
The Raiders, with a revamped forward pack led by English star John Bateman, have been one of the surprise packets of 2019 so far.
They come into this match holding pace with the competition leaders, having won five of their first six games, which includes four of their last five since they lost to the Melbourne Storm in Round 2.
The Raiders have improved greatly since that match, with their defence generally excellent. Two weeks ago, they held the Parramatta Eels to zero, and while they weren’t at their best last weekend, they still came away with a four-point victory over the Brisbane Broncos.
This first half of the season is incredibly important for Canberra, given they play seven of their first 11 games at home, and they need to continue building form and consistency over the next handful of weeks, with this trip to the Northern Beaches being a key one.
It’s a danger game for the Raiders, where they may need to get into the grind and use their kicking game from the much-improved Jack Wighton and Sam Williams to get them over the line.
The Sea Eagles have also surprised many to start the new season and while their results have been mixed with a three and three record, it’s the attitude they are playing with which is a clear sign of change at the club under Des Hasler.
They are going to need the new-found attitude in spades this afternoon, with Tom Trbojevic and Addin Fonua-Blake still on the sidelines for the club.
Still, if Martin Taupau can lead the way and their forwards hold their own, then the short-range kicking game of Daly Cherry-Evans will come into its own.
The biggest problem is errors, particularly among a weak back five, which still featured Brendan Elliot at fullback. Canberra have made sides pay for errors this year, and could do plenty of that this afternoon if the kicking game is good and the Manly back three not so.
This is going to be an intersting sort of match. Even at home, and even if their forwards can match it, Manly may not have enough points in them without Tom Trbojevic. I’m tipping the Raiders with no confidence.
Raiders by 6.
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Kick-off: 2pm (AEDT)
Venue: Lottoland, Manly
TV: Live, Fox League 502
Online: Live, Foxtel app, Foxtel now, Kayo Sports
Betting: Raiders $1.65, Sea Eagles $2.22
Overall record: Played 55, Sea Eagles 33, Raiders 21, drawn 1
Last meeting: 2018, Round 12 – Raiders 21 defeat Sea Eagles 20 at GIO Stadium, Canberra
Last five: Sea Eagles 3, Raiders 2
Record at venue: Played 28, Sea Eagles 18, Raiders 10
Referees: Gerard Sutton, Adam Gee
Manly Sea Eagles
1. Brendan Elliot, 2. Jorge Taufua, 3. Moses Suli, 4. Brad Parker, 5. Reuben Garrick, 6. Kane Elgey, 7. Daly Cherry-Evans, 8. Toafofoa Sipley, 9. Apisai Koroisau, 10. Martin Taupau, 11. Joel Thompson, 12. Curtis Sironen, 13. Jake Trbojevic
Interchange: 14. Manase Fainu, 15. Jack Gosiewski, 16. Corey Waddell, 17. Morgan Boyle, 18. Kelepi Tanginoa, 19. Sam Smith, 20. Lachlan Croker, 21. Taniela Paseka
1. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, 2. Nick Cotric, 3. Jarrod Croker, 4. Joseph Leilua, 5. Jordan Rapana, 6. Jack Wighton, 7. Sam Williams, 8. Josh Papalii, 9. Josh Hodgson, 10. Dunamis Lui, 11. John Bateman, 12. Elliott Whitehead, 13. Ryan Sutton
Interchange: 14. Siliva Havili, 15. Emre Guler, 16. Iosia Soliola, 17. Jack Murchie, 18. Aidan Sezer, 19. Bailey Simonsson, 20. JJ Collins, 21. Hudson Young