It has almost been a season of two halves for Trent Barrett’s men.
Patchy form in the early parts of the season has been followed by a late-season resurgence that had them well within reach of a finals berth up until a week ago.
They are a team that also grows an extra leg when they play the Storm, leaving Craig Bellamy and his troops plenty to ponder ahead of their trip to Brookvale Oval.
Turned a corner
Do not let the last two weeks fool you, Manly have been one of the form sides of the competition since the start of July. A four-game winning streak breathed new life into their season and while two losses since have ended their finals hopes they have been dreadfully unlucky in both of those games. A controversial late penalty against the Eels saw them fall to a one-point defeat and they pushed the fourth-placed Bulldogs all the way into golden point before suffering a heart-breaking loss. Trent Barrett has this side on a late season charge and Storm should expect no different come Saturday.
Getting the boys back
It is no secret that Manly’s 2016 season has been plagued by injuries to key personnel. Daly Cherry-Evans, Jamie Lyon, Nate Myles and now Dylan Walker are just some of the key personnel that have had to do without for significant periods of the year. All except Walker will be out there on Saturday and no doubt the re-introduction of such players that has been a big reason behind the Sea Eagles success in the second half of the year.
Up until Round 17 the Sea Eagles were allowing nearly 25 points per game to be scored against them. Since then they have average just 12 points against. That is the standout statistic at the moment for Manly and one they will be looking to test themselves against when they come up against the No.1 ranked defence in the competition this weekend. Storm struggled to find a way through the Raiders’ line on Monday night and will need to make significant improvements if they are to break Manly’s resistance.