A spot in the preliminary final awaits the Manly Sea Eagles or Sydney Roosters, as they meet in a do-or-die game in Mackay on Friday.
Manly couldn’t have been more disappointing when losing to the Melbourne Storm last week, so it needs to recapture its best form to stand a chance.
The Sydney Roosters clung on to beat Gold Coast, but the level of opposition increases significantly against Manly this week.
Online betting markets have Manly as double-digit favorites.
Will the Real Manly Please Stand Up
We’re not sure what team we witnessed play the Melbourne Storm last week, but it wasn’t the real Manly Sea Eagles.
There was an imposter in the ranks as Manly suffered a one-sided 40-12 defeat at the hands of the minor premiers. Losing to Melbourne isn’t a shock, but it was the way in which the Sea Eagles were never competitive over the 80 minutes.
The biggest disappointment was the performance of senior players Tom Trbojevic and Daly Cherry-Evans, who tried hard but their class didn’t shine through.
Trbojevic has struggled against Melbourne throughout his career, so we’re expecting a bounce-back performance against the sometimes flimsy defense of the Sydney Roosters.
— Noh Noh (@n0ll3y) September 10, 2021
Cherry-Evans will also need to control the game better. He often crabbed sideways and put his outside backs under pressure, but they didn’t do much to help out their captain. The outside backs were awful, with the exception of Jason Saab, who scored two tries in the losing effort.
Saab, considered the quickest player in the NRL, should get a chance to shine against Sydney. It should also be a good aerial battle between Saab and Daniel Tupou, who are two of the best leapers in the competition.
We’re not surprised Manly is the favorites. However, -10½ points is shorter than we expected in what should be a tight battle at BB Print Stadium.
Sydney Survives Late Scare
The Sydney Roosters continue to defy belief. The latest chapter came last weekend against the Gold Coast Titans, who should have won the game in the dying seconds.
Gold Coast made a linebreak where they were certain to score, but Patrick Herbert decided to not pass the ball to a rampaging David Fifita. Instead, the former New Zealand Warrior opted for a late flick pass that flew into touch.
It was a disappointing end for the Titans, but the Roosters won’t be complaining. Despite being ravaged by injuries, they now get a chance to pull off an upset win over the Sea Eagles.
— Sydney Roosters 🐓 (@sydneyroosters) September 13, 2021
Having Adam Keighran and Sam Walker back from injury has helped the Roosters, who continue to rise to the occasion. James Tedesco is still the premier fullback in the NRL, so they are still a formidable team.
Teammate Jared Waerea-Hargreaves only has good things to say about Sam Walker, who kicked the winning field goal with three minutes remaining.
“It’s very impressive just how calm he is, then to make that tackle, they’re big plays at that age and it’s a big credit to him,” Waerea-Hargraeves told NRL.com.
“It’s nice to have somebody like that that can cover many positions but also that can do it in a calm sort of way as well. He’s going well but we know he’s got a lot of work to be done as well.”
Sports betting markets are being generous by offering the Roosters at +10½. It’s going to be much harder this week, but the Roosters have continued to show up when least expected.
Last Time They Met
The Sea Eagles and Roosters met in the opening round of the season and it was a one-sided contest.
Sydney won 46-4 in a dominant display, but the team has changed a lot since Week One. They have lost the likes of Josh Morris, Lachlan Lam, Luke Keary, Lindsay Collins and Jake Friend to season- and career-ending injuries.
Credit to the depth of Sydney that it has been able to survive those players leaving.
Manly didn’t have Trbojevic playing in the opening week. His inclusion turned the Sea Eagles around, so he was a big exclusion in the 42-point defeat.
Sea Eagles vs Roosters Pick
NRL odds are in favor of the Sydney Roosters, who should keep this game close throughout.
A double-digit line is tough to cover at the preliminary stages of the playoffs, so we expect the Roosters to have a chance of winning outright.
Bettors get +250 for the Roosters to win, but take the insurance with the +10½ points.