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NRL: Manly out to pile more misery on the Eels

Parramatta will be attempting to pick up their first win of the 2023 NRL season when they take on the Sea Eagles at 4 Pines Park in the opening game of round three.

It has been a disappointing start for the Eels to say the least. Many suggested they could slip down the ladder following the departure of a number of top players in the off-season.

So far that is proving to be correct and defeats to Melbourne Storm and Cronulla Sharks have seen them slide to second from bottom. It is still very early days of course but there cannot be many more slip-ups and Brad Arthur’s men really need to get up and running.

That will be far from easy though against a Sea Eagles side that impressed with a 31-6 win over the Canterbury Bulldogs in round one.

They had a rest due to the bye last weekend and will be itching to hit the ground running and carry on where they left off. It has all the makings of a cracking game to open up week three so let’s take a closer look at both sides with game-day fast approaching.

What:Manly Sea Eagles v Parramatta Eels
Where:4 Pines Park, Sydney
When:20:00 (AEST) Thursday 16th March 2023
How to watch:Channel 9, Foxtel, Kayo
Odds:Sea Eagles 1.68, Eels 2.20

Arch rivals to clash

There is no love lost between these two sides and we could be in for another fierce battle under the lights on Thursday night.

The Eels and Sea Eagles met in back-to-back grand finals in 1982 and 1983 with Parramatta winning them both. The rivalry has grown from there and games between these two teams are always fierce.

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We could be in for another bruising encounter on Thursday night.

Sea Eagles out to build on strong start

Manly had a 2022 to forget as they slid down the ladder following a disastrous end to the season that saw them miss out on finals. There were issues on and off the pitch and it resulted in long-serving coach Des Hasler parting company with the club during off-season.

However those issues seem a million years away right now and there is a lot for the Sea Eagles faithful to be optimistic about under the leadership of new coach Anthony Seibold. They won the pre-season challenge in impressive style and then kicked off the NRL campaign with an equally eye-catching win over the Bulldogs.

Now all eyes will be on this game and they should be well rested after the bye and ready to go again.

Eels need a response

As for Parramatta’s recent form, it has not been great. They have lost their opening two games, albeit against sides that could be pushing for the Premiership this season. Now they face a tough trip to Manly and desperately need a win to boost confidence and get them moving in the right direction.

The omens and stats are not in their favour though. Star halfback Mitchell Moses has not won at 4 Pines Park in four attempts. The Eels did win at the venue last season, but that was without Moses in the side.

Sea Eagles welcome back Schuster

Manly were handed a massive boost when one of the best players in the NRL returned to fitness for the start of the season. Tom Trbojevic was outstanding against the Bulldogs and now the Sea Eagles are set for another boost with the return of Josh Schuster.

Schuster has recovered from a calf injury and is set to play at halfback, meaning Cooper Johns will drop into the reserves. Lachlan Crocker did suffer a head knock in round one but the bye has come at a good time and he is free to play against the Eels.

Arthur to keep the faith

Eels coach Brad Arthur will keep the faith with his side as they look to pick up their first win of the season. They have received a big boost after star winger Maiko Sivo was just handed a fine following a dangerous tackle at the weekend and he is free to play.

However there is no place for Ryan Matterson. The backrower still has one week of his suspension to serve and will watch again from the stands. Despite a disappointing start to the season for the Eels, Junior Paulo has impressed with his running metres and the Eels will need another big game from him on Thursday night.

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