The Raiders will be looking to turn their fortunes around when they face the Sea Eagles at Lottoland on Saturday, after two Shaun Johnson field goals last week relegated them to their third consecutive loss.
The Raiders went close to breaking their drought last week, leading by seven with three minutes left, but an Isaac Luke try and two late field goals ensured the Raiders were left empty handed.
The Sea Eagles haven’t faired too much better, with a 54-0 win over Parramatta in Round 2 sandwiched between losses to the Knights and Rabbitohs.
The Raiders enter this week’s clash with injury clouds hanging over a number of players. Aiden Sezer, Sia Soliola and Joe Tapine have all been named despite being in doubt for Saturday’s clash.
Blake Austin has been dropped, with Ata Hingano named to take his spot on the bench, although Austin may still play if Sezer is ruled out.
Matthew Wright comes in to replace the injured Jorge Taufua in Manly’s only change to the side that was beaten 34-6 by the Rabbitohs.
With both sides looking to bounce back from disappointing losses this should be a great clash. Especially after both matches last season between these two were decided in golden point.
Shannon Boyd vs Martin Taupau
It will be great seeing two of the biggest forwards in the NRL going head to head on Saturday. Both are used to running over the top of the opposition, so it will be great to watch these two giants running at each other.
Shannon Boyd has been solid for the Raiders this season and is currently fifth in the NRL for post contact metres. Martin Taupau has further cemented his title as the offload king, leading the NRL with 13 so far this season.
With no shortage of talent in the backline of both sides, these two big men will be looking to run hard, earn plenty of metres and lay a solid foundation for their side to attack from.
Sam Williams vs Daly Cherry-Evans
Williams has relished his return to the Raiders this season. He showed a great footballing IQ last week when he kicked a field goal on the stroke of half time that very nearly ended up securing the Raiders their first win.
He comes up against Daly Cherry-Evans who Manly will once again look to on Saturday night. Cherry-Evans had arguably the best game of his career in Manly’s 54-0 win over the Eels but struggled last week in their loss to the Rabbitohs and missed a number of field goals attempts in their golden point loss to the Knights.
The performance of the halfbacks will be one of the biggest factors deciding who takes the two points this weekend.
Jack Wighton vs Tom Trbojevic
There are so many great young fullbacks in the NRL and we see two come up against each other this week.
Jack Wighton and Tom Trbojevic are both vital to their sides’ success, being both one of the main attacking outlets and providing solid defence at the back. Look for the two to be lurking in attack, with both counting support play as one of their biggest strengths and Wighton sitting third in the League for that stat.
You can be sure that if one of them does make a break the other will be looking to close them down quick smart in what is sure to be a great contest.
Quote of the Week: “We have to be better in a few areas, we need to be positive and look at the things we’re doing well. There’s no point dwelling on the previous result, we need to move on.” -Sam Williams
Head to Head: Manly have the better record in matchups between the two, prevailing in 32 of the 53 meetings, with Raiders winning 20 and one ending in a draw.