The opening phase of the 2014 NRL season concludes with Manly Sea Eagles hosting Newcastle Knights at Brookvale Oval. With bye rounds commencing from next weekend and continuing through the State of Origin series, both sides will be looking to go into the period on a high.
Manly’s loss to the Storm last weekend was a disappointment, but had they had a more reliable goal kicker to stand in for the injured Jamie Lyon then they would have taken the points. Lyon will still be absent this week, along with Kieran Foran and Glenn Stewart, but you would still fancy the Manly side that takes to the field to be too strong for the opponents this time around.
The Sea Eagles are well placed in second on the NRL ladder, and another win on Monday night will give them a bit of breathing space ahead of the State of Origin period. With the above mentioned players due to return from injury, and with Daly Cherry-Evans the only high profile player due to be involved in the Origin games, Manly could well be the team to watch in the middle third of the season.
With the reported non-payment of staff and players, as well as the sacking of a young player, the Knights could be forgiven for wishing for an easier fixture to round off a horror week. Coming up against one of the toughest sides in the NRL will not fill Wayne Bennett’s team with much confidence of turning around their poor form.
A heavy loss at Brookvale Oval could see Newcastle slip below Cronulla to the foot of the ladder. The retun of Willie Mason and Korbin Sims at least gives the Knight’s squad a bit of depth this week.
Monday 19th May, Brookvale Oval 19:00
Manly Sea Eagles v Newcastle Knights