NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS v MANLY-WARRINGAH SEA EAGLES
Round 10, 2014 NRL Premiership
Monday, May 19 Kick-Off: 7pm
Venue: Brookvale Oval, Sydney
Referees: Matt Cecchin and Adam Devich
Last Time They Met:
Manly surged to a comprehensive 32-0 victory over Newcastle at Brookvale Oval in Round 2 last season.
Led by three tries to winger Jorge Taufua, the Sea Eagles romped home in a dominant display.
Newcastle have won just two games against Manly at Brookvale Oval since the Club's inception in 1988.
The Knights last tasted victory at Brookvale in Round 17 of the 2006 season. On that particular day in June, the men in red and blue recorded an upset 26-12 win.
The Club's only other win against Manly on their home turf was a 50-16 victory in Round 9 of the 1998 season.
Boyd, McManus, Gagai, Leilua, Uate, Mullen, Roberts, Fa'alogo, Gidley (c), Snowden, Scott, Rochow, Cuthbertson. Interchange Clydsdale, Houston, Mason, Sims, Tapine.
MANLY-WARRINGAH SEA EAGLES
B.Stewart, Taufua, Hiku, Matai, Williams, Littlejohn, Cherry-Evans, Starling, Ballin, Lawrence, Watmough, Horo, Buhrer. Interchange Hasson, Lui, Sene-Lefao, King, Symonds.
Travelling to Brookvale Oval has always been a daunting prospect for the Knights.
That said, assistant coach Rick Stone admits he loves playing at the suburban ground on Sydney's Northern Beaches.
"It’s a really hostile environment, but it’s really good fun and engaging," Stone says.
"It’s a decent test and one we look forward to.
"People say it’s doomsday going down there, but I really enjoy it.
"I enjoy their parochial fans and Manly usually turn up, so you know what you are going to get."
The Sea Eagles are traditionally strong starters at home, so Stone stresses the Knights must be on their guard in the opening exchanges.
"It’s vitally important," Stone says.
"Manly generally start quick, especially at Brookvale Oval they are great starters.
"They have you on the back foot quickly, so the first 20 minutes of the game will be really important.
"So if you can handle that first 20 minutes and then get back in the groove, you’ll give yourself a chance."
Darius Boyd vs Brett Stewart
There's no question Darius Boyd has been down on form in recent weeks, but could this be the battle to reignite his season?
Manly fullback Brett Stewart is one of the game's premier No.1s and Boyd will have to be at his best to contain him.
Stewart is the master of finding the try line, especially at Brookvale, so Darius and the Knights will have to be on their game defensively to shut him down.
Daly Cherry-Evans vs Tyrone Roberts
Tyrone Roberts is starting to rediscover his running game and he'll need to replicate that attacking flair against a Manly side led by Daly Cherry-Evans.
Cherry-Evans has been in brilliant form this season and Roberts faces a big job trying to limit his effectiveness.
Stone rates the Manly No.7 highly, but believes Tyrone will be up for the challenge.
"Daly is a great player," Stone says.
"He has been growing in statue in the last couple of years and has got to the status of an Australian player now, which is terrific.
"He is really talented, great on his feet, good vision and his play selection is great.
"But Tyrone has been running the ball a bit in recent weeks and hopefully he can do more of the same this weekend."
Kurt Gidley vs Matt Ballin
This should be a great battle between two of the NRL's fittest players.
Gidley is yet to reach his potential at hooker, but Stone has no doubts the skipper's best form is just around the corner.
"Kurt is a champion competitor and we don’t want to count him out," Stone says.
"I really believe that the best of Kurt is to come this year. He is probably still finding his feet and it’s hard because we probably lacked some forward grunt for him to get on the back of out of dummy half.
"That first run he made through the middle of Penrith is something we’d like to see more from Kurt."
Gidley spent time at lock against the Panthers last weekend and Stone admits it's a move that has plenty of potential for the Knights.
"It’s up to the coach, but Adam Clydsdale is growing in statue all the time as a nine," he says.
"We look nice and composed when he is on the field and his defence is tidy, which is good.
"It also gives Kurt the freedom if he is on at the same time to float around and give us a extra dimension in attack."
Player to watch:
Daly Cherry-Evans. Arguably the form player in the competition, Cherry-Evans has been in great form so far this season.
The Queenslander is the complete player and the Knights must contain him to get the win.
Helping the Knights' cause will be the absence of Jamie Lyon and Glenn Stewart, two players who help Cherry-Evans form a potent right-hand side combination for the Sea Eagles.
Where it will be won:
The first 20 minutes. Manly always start strongly at Brookvale, so it's paramount Newcastle aim up in the opening exchanges.
The return of forwards Willie Mason and Korbin Sims will help give the Knights some power up front, but it's also vital halves Tyrone Roberts and Jarrod Mullen take control and guide the team around the park.
There's no doubting the Sea Eagles will be hard to beat, especially at Brookvale, but this is a defining match for the men in red and blue if they want to play finals football this season.
If the Knights can go with Manly in the first half, then they will give themselves every chance to cause an upset at the backend of the match.
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