Are the Sea Eagles heading for back-to-back titles? Image courtesy of: foxsports.com.au
Defending premiers Manly face a desperate Brisbane Broncos side in one of the most anticipated games of the season on Friday night. The Sea Eagles have flexed their premiership muscles in recent weeks dispatching of both Souths and Newcastle in successive weeks to record four consecutive wins leading in this clash. After winning six games straight in the early part of the season, the Broncos are a shadow of their former selves recordingfive consecutive losses to sit in a log jam on 26 points fighting for their season. Brisbane Coach Anthony Griffin has adopted an Origin like approach to this weekend’s blockbuster flying his troops down Tuesday night to avoid any unwanted media attention. Workhorse front rower Josh McGuier will add plenty of firepower to the Broncos pack when he returns from an eye injury while Jason King and Jamie Buhrer remain under injury clouds for the Sea Eagles.
– Club bragging rights are on the line with both teams recording 12 wins each, with one game ending in a draw from 25 meetings between the two sides. Despite scoring one less try, Manly were 24-22 victors over Brisbane in round ten thanks to a quality kicking display by skipper Jamie Lyon. The Sea Eagles will be hoping of a repeat performance that ended Brisbane’s season on their way to lifting last year’s trophy with a dominant 26-14 display in week three of the finals.
– Sea Eagles fullback Brett Stewart celebrated his long term signing in fine style with a double in last week’s win over the Knights. Stewart boasts one of the best try scoring strike rates at Brookvale and is a worthy of consideration for any first try scorer bets. Broncos centre Justin Hodges scored first in last weekend’s game and was one of the Broncos best players after returning from injury.
– Manly have lifted a gear in recent weeks and should be too classy for a courageous Broncos side. Manly 1-12 .
Raiders v Bulldogs
Ninth placed Canberra are fighting for their finals lives when they host the high flying Bulldogs on Friday night. David Furner has turned his team’s season around winning six of their past eight games. The Bulldogs season reached new heights in last weekend’s golden point thriller over the Tigers however are Des Hasler’s men due for a loss? Raiders hard man tom Learoyd-Lahrs will be a welcome addition to the Raiders while the Bulldogs remain unchanged after last weekend’s win.
– Canberra are one side that knows how to win against the Bulldogs and will be confident of securing a result after recording two wins from their past three encounters. The Raiders have won eleven of the eighteen games played against the bulldogs at home.
– Although their season has been tarnished by inconsistent results, individual performances are something the Raiders coach David Furner would be proud of. Blake Ferguson and Reece Robinson have announced themselves as genuine first grade players and will add plenty of options to the Raiders attack. Words can’t describe Bulldogs superstar Ben Barba season who has now score 43 tries from his past 44 games.
– A cold night in Canberra could be the perfect recipe for one of the biggest upsets of the season. Raiders 1-12 .
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