Manly Sea Eagles will look to maintain their four point lead at the top of the NRL ladder when they host Brisbane Broncos on Friday night. Two of their nearest challengers – the Bulldogs and Panthers – face off at ANZ Stadium, meaning a slip up by the Sea Eagles at Brookvale Oval will leave the gap at just two points.
The Sea Eagles have responded to rumours of off-field discontent with some of their most complete performances of the 2014 season. Last weekend against the in-form Warriors they shut down the Kiwi’s attacks before picking holes through their defence later in the game.
Any contract issues do not appear to be affecting the likes of Brett Stewart, Anthony Watmough or Steve Matai. Furthermore, the squad do not seem to have any problem playing alongside the man alleged to be at the centre of the contract wrangles, halfback Daly Cherry-Evans.
These are the kind of situations that Manly thrive on. When they can feel that the whole world is upon them, they come out fighting. Appearing in four of the past seven Grand Finals speaks for itself, and they are on course to make that five from eight.
If the Broncos were hoping to catch Manly off guard this week they probably could have done without one of their players making ill-advised comments in the media. Todd Lowrie’s dim view of Brookvale will ensure a hot reception from the locals. However the Sea Eagles clearly do not need an excuse to fire up at their spiritual home having recorded nine straight wins at the venue.
Friday 1st August, Brookvale Oval 19:40
Manly Sea Eagles v Brisbane Broncos