Manly v Cowboys – Saturday 6th September 7.30pm1300SMILES Stadium
Manly come into this clash in inconsistent form, going WLWLW. Despite “struggling” over the past 7 weeks or so, they are still yet to lose 2 games in a row this season.
The Cowboys have been in good form, winning 6 of their last 7, but almost suffered a shock loss at the hands of the Sharks last week, sneaking home in Golden Point via a JT Field Goal.
Head to Head between these two sides, Manly have won the past 6 games and have won 15 of 22 meetings. The last time they met was in Round 7 this year, with Manly pulling off a controversial upset 26-21 with DCE missing that game, and Foran scoring from a controversial call that left the Cowboys seething.
Where it will be won
Manly have been tested in the forwards over the past 2 months, and still have not come up with a definitive answer to these problems. This will be a huge test for Manly, considering two of their hardest workers in Buhrer and Ballin are now out for the season most likely.
The Cowboys possess possibly the most potent Props in the game in Scott and Tamou, and they would be crazy to not attempt to play a power game this week. Manly are short on big men in their 17, and will have their hands full containing these guys as well as the likes of Tariq Sims and Taumalolo.
Some teams fall into a trap against Manly, and become obsessed with playing in the middle corridor. Whilst you can make meters doing this, you still need to test Manly with 2nd phase play or shifts off the back of quick play-the-balls, they will not just roll over and let you score. Manly is one of the grittiest teams in history, and always play for 80 minutes.
Manly will need to show some creativity coming out of their own end in this game, purely due to a size miss-match. Look for Cherry-Evans, Lyon and Symonds to put on some shifts on the right side when coming out of trouble.
Manly are under-dogs in this game, probably genuine under-dogs for the first time in months. I would not say that alarm bells are ringing, but they are not stamping their class on the premiership like we have seen from the Bunnies, Roosters, Storm or Cowboys in recent times.
This is Manly’s chance to win this game and make people consider them real threats again.
But I believe the Cowboys will win this game, with too much fire power in the forwards. However, I always give Manly a chance when you have a class backline and Anthony Watmough in your pack.
Cowboys 23-16 (Man of the Match JT, Manly’s best Tom Symonds)
How can Manly cause the upset?
Predict the man of the match and score?