The NRL Finals series has already thrown hope some surprise results, and another upset is on the cards in the second Elimination Final when Manly Sea Eagles host Canterbury Bulldogs at Allianz Stadium. Despite this being a match between teams second and seventh on the final ladder, this game is not expected to follow the usual script following contrasting fortunes last weekend for both sides.
As they have done over the final weeks of the 2014 season, Manly once again looked flat in their Qualifying Final against South Sydney. If the Sea Eagles are not focused from the first whistle tonight they could find themselves on the wrong end of a similarly one sided half time score as was the case against Souths.
Their forward pack has been depleted further by the suspension handed to Anthony Watmough for a dangerous throw. A reshuffled side will see Tom Symonds move to the back row and Dunamis Lui come into the starting lineup.
Last weekend against the Storm the Bulldogs put in their best performance since their previous trip to Melbourne a couple of months ago. When they ground out that 6-4 win in mid-season many predicted that the Bulldogs were heading for Minor Premiership contention. However things played out very differently in the remaining weeks of the regular season, and going into the finals from seventh on the ladder they were strongly tipped for elimination at the first hurdle.
While they may not have the overall game to outplay the best teams in the competition the Bulldogs have certainly got enough strength through the middle to overrun a depleted Manly side. The likes of James Graham and Tony Williams could run riot against a Sea Eagles side that was trampled over by Souths. The Bulldogs are forced into one change, with Reni Maitua replacing the unfortunate Pat O’Hanlon who suffered a terrible ankle injury against Melbourne.
The winner of this match progresses to a Preliminary final next Saturday night against Penrith Panthers.
Saturday 20th September, Allianz Stadium Moore Park 19:45
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