PREVIEW: Rd 22, 2015
Sea Eagles v Rabbitohs
The rivalry between Manly and Souths is set to re-ignite this Friday night at Brookvale Oval, when a resurgent Sea Eagles look to keep their season alive with a win against the Rabbitohs in the NRL’s Indigenous Round.
Currently placed in 11th spot on 22 competition points, the Manly side sit just two points out of the top-eight with the likes of the Dragons and Bulldogs occupying seventh and eighth spot on 24 points. With just five games remaining, it’s now or never for the Sea Eagles – and the Rabbitohs know it.
Indeed, the north-siders have been making all the right noises in recent weeks by defeating the New Zealand Warriors, before then taking down the first-placed Brisbane Broncos by a whopping 44-14 and a brilliant performance. Rabbitohs Head Coach, Michael Maguire, knows that the Sea Eagles are not only a dangerous side, but an experienced one that will test his men with their must-win mentality.
“They’ve obviously got a lot of players that have played in big games right throughout the last five to 10 years,” said Maguire.
“I think they’ve got the same spine (and) they’ve got a lot of quality out on their edges and no doubt they’ll try and challenge us through the middle like every team.
“Every team turns up when they’re playing against us, so for us it’s a great time to really come together with our combinations and get them right.”
The Rabbitohs meanwhile made it three wins in a row when they defeated a Penrith Panthers outfit also looking to keep their season alive in Round 21.
The performance was described as ‘clunky’ by Maguire, and was a far cry from the side’s earlier two wins over the Dragons and Knights in consecutive weeks, but the character and composure to win shown by his side was a pleasing factor for Maguire.
“The boys performed well,” said Maguire.
“Obviously there are areas in our game that we definitely need to look at. Defensively at times we had a few lapses, but we’re looking forward to fixing that up this week through our preparation and get our attack chiming like it was two weeks prior, and getting those combinations working together.”
Maguire this week named another settled line-up to take on the challenge of the Sea-Eagles, with the freshly-re-signed Aaron Gray named to start on the wing after being brought in as a late inclusion last week.
“It’s great to see another junior come through and perform and get another opportunity at a great Club,” said Maguire of the fleet-footed Souths Junior.
“He’s worked really, really hard at his game and for a player that has faced a lot of adversity through injury, has now come through the other end and he’s getting a great time on the end of the line, especially outside people like G.I.”
Maguire has also named Kyle Turner in jumper number 14, after the forward made his return to first grade last week following major necks surgery. Turner’s inspirational return was somewhat soured by a head-knock that saw him leave the field under the concussion rule, but the Head Coach said that Turner will go through thorough testing to prove his fitness before Round 22.
“Obviously there was a lot of emotion shown throughout the game with what happened and our first thought is about his welfare, which the Club is very good at,” stressed the mentor.
“He’s obviously had injuries with his neck, (but) that’s really, really strong at the moment, so everyone can feel confident around that.
“With his head knocks, we go through the protocols that are assigned by the powers that be, and we make sure he’s ready to go.
“If he’s right to go at the end of the week, then he’ll get an opportunity, if not, we’ll progress forward to the next one.”
The Rabbitohs will take the field this Friday wearing the 2015 Indigenous jersey, a source of pride to Maguire and his men – particularly those with Indigenous heritage.
“I think it’s a great opportunity to celebrate around the fact that we look after the cultures of everyone involved, and to have that jersey on, it’s going to be a very special day.”
Sea Eagles v Rabbitohs
The Rabbitohs NYC (under 20s) outfit will take on the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles this Friday at 5:20pm, as they look to lift themselves from the bottom of the Holden Cup ladder.
A 34-10 loss to the Panthers last week yielded some positive moments for Rabbitohs Coach, Troy Finch, with the side coming out and scoring first amid an exuberant opening from the men and red and green. Tries to wingers Devon Makoare-Boyce and Josh Ellison while impressive, weren’t enough to stem the Panthers’ flurry of points.
Penrith eventually clicked into gear to run in seven tries to take the match.
The Sea Eagles currently sit in seventh position on the competition ladder with a points differential of 22 points, while the Rabbitohs record reads -124 at the end of 21 rounds.
The men in red and green will be looking to lift this week as they look to jump the St George Illawarra Dragons and the Titans – both of whom sit just one point ahead of the Rabbitohs on 16 points in 14th and 15th spot.