The Manly Sea Eagles Look Set for the Top-Eigh - But What Now?

The Manly Sea Eagles Look Set for the Top-Eigh - But What Now?

Manly Sea Eagles are looking to secure their place in the NRL's top-eight during the final four rounds of the season, and despite it looking unlikely they will end their wait for another Premiership title, Trent Barrett will be pleased with the spirit his side have been showing in their quest for the finals.

2008 was the last year the Sea Eagles lifted the NRL trophy, when they defeated Melbourne Storm (who are favourites for another title in 2017) 40-0 in front of a packed out ANZ Stadium. Despite this year not looking to be the year their wait for another success ends, they have shown tremendous spirit in recent weeks to impress rugby league followers.

Back-to-back defeats against St George Illawarra Dragons (50-22) and Melbourne (40-6) in Round 20 and 21 left Manly's place in the top-eight looking vulnerable, with their defence in particular struggling to cope with any dangerous attack thrown at them, conceding 90 points in just 160 minutes of rugby.

However, Manly bounced back in Round 22, picking up an impressive 36-18 victory over the Sydney Roosters, who are the club currently trying to catch leaders Melbourne. Barrett's side defied the tipsters, including Oddschecker, who were predicting a narrow win for the Roosters in their betting preview, despite them having a terrible record at the Brookvale Oval.



That victory over Sydney has boosted Manly's chance of a top-eight finish despite the club sitting just seventh on the NRL ladder. St George Illawarra's miserable form has seen a gap open up between Barrett's side and ninth place, which they will be looking to increase this weekend when they face the lowly West Tigers in Round 23.

Manly are 1.46 favourites to pick up the win against the Tigers, who are looking over their shoulder with four rounds to go, as the Newcastle Knights drag them into a battle for the unwanted wooden spoon. Barrett will be looking for his side to turn on the style in round 23, with the hope they can pick up some form between now and the finals, which could potentially give his side the belief they can cause a shock in the end of season lottery.

Two players Barrett will be hoping can rediscover their best is leading points scorer, Dylan Walker and top try scorer, Akuila Uate. The outside backs have 23 tries between them in 2017, with Walker bagging 11 and Uate crossing the whitewash on 12 occasions. However, Walker has crossed for just one try in his last four appearances, whilst Uate has scored twice in that time.
The form of Walker and Uate will help in during the final rounds of the campaign, but Barrett will be looking to his more creative players to guide Manly through the final stages of the season and hopefully into the finals. The two players Manly are likely to turn to will be Daly Cherry-Evans and Tom Trbojevic, who will line-up at half-back and full-back respectively.

The duo have 13 tries between them and have laid on 32 assists over the course of 2017 - Cherry-Evans has three tries, but the half-back has been the creative cog in Manly's side for much of the season with 18 try assists for his teammates.


Trbojevic has also been effective, with 10 tries and 14 try assists, including two tries in Manly's victory over Sydney last week from full-back.

It is likely that the form of Cherry-Evans and Trbojevic will be key to Manly's success between now and the end of the season, with the duo behind everything Barrett's team has done well in 2017.
Last week's victory over the Sydney Roosters was very impressive, and it is more than likely that it will be the result that sees Manly stride towards a top-eight finish and a place in the finals. It would be a surprise to see Manly challenge for silverware later in 2017, but what they do between now and when their season ends, could be an indication of how they will perform in the 2018 campaign.

If Manly can continue to show the spirit they have shown recently, there is every chance that they will have a successful end to this season and take a lot of positives into the next.