Manly Sea Eagles v Melbourne Storm
7.05pm AEDT, Saturday, March 14
Brookvale Stadium, Sydney
2015 NRL Round 2 Betting Preview for Manly vs Melbourne thanks to William Hill Australia.
The two premier teams of the last decade, Manly and Melbourne are fighting desperately to hang onto their title as premiership heavyweights. The Sea Eagles are a club in crisis after Daly Cherry-Evans announced he was moving to the Titans while the Storm showed their class with a Round 1 win over the Dragons but need to go on with it.
Manly have lost Kieran Foran and Clint Gutherson to injury. Steve Matai returns to the centres while Jack Littlejohn gets the start at five-eighth. Melbourne are unchanged though Tom Learoyd-Lahrs could come in for Felise Kaufusi.
Melbourne have won 15 of the 27 matches played against Manly in a rivalry that is rich with history. The teams have played in two deciders against each other, winning one apiece, while the Storm hold a 3-1 edge in all finals games. The Sea Eagles have won just one of their last six against the Storm and lost both matches last season – 23-22 and 22-19. The last three matches between the two sides have topped 36 points. Melbourne have won two of the last three at Brookvale. Manly have topped 22 points in just two of their last 13 against the Storm.
Manly were humiliated in Round 1 by a good Parramatta side, flogged 42-12. The Sea Eagles remarkably had more possession than the Eels but a humiliating 6.4 metres per hitup and 7.7 metres per kick return (against 7.6 and 11.7 respectively) left Manly on the back foot all night. Melbourne didn’t show much efficiency in attack but were typically gritty in a 12-4 win over the Dragons at Kogarah. The Storm had just 45% of the ball and dropped twice as much ball as the Saints but showed tremendous stoutness on their line in a win that will impress coach Craig Bellamy.
It is impossible to look past Daly Cherry-Evans and Cooper Cronk, two of the three best halves in the game. Cherry-Evans has been the source of much controversy already this year but will want to show his total professionalism by having a big game against Queensland rival Cronk. The Storm half is one of the most reliable players in the NRL but was a little quiet in the season opener. Against a quality No.7, Cronk will want to prove he still reigns supreme.
Stats That Matter
Manly are 15-5 (10-10 ATS) at Brookvale over the last three seasons with a 12-8 over record. As an underdog at the venue dating back to 2009, the Sea Eagles are 4-1 straight and ATS, their last win coming against the Storm in 2013. The Storm are 12-13 straight and ATS on the road over the last three years while they are 4-9 ATS as a road favourite. Road teams who kept a home team to 6 points or fewer the previous week are a poor 4-7 ATS. Manly have covered just one of their last six night games. Melbourne are 3-6 ATS on a short backup over the last three years while the under is 12-5 for road teams on a short backup who played away the week prior.
Manly love to dig their heels in and at home against rivals Melbourne a surprise could be on the cards. The Storm were stout defensively but offered little in attack. Manly are much more threatening with the ball and can pressure the Storm fringes, particularly with Steve Matai returning. The Eagles need to put the off-field dramas to one side and their pack needs to be a lot more aggressive this week but this is an extremely winnable game for the home side.
How It’s Shaping Up
Manly by 2
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Manly vs Melbourne Comparison Betting Odds
Below we have 2015 NRL Round 2 comparison betting odds from leading Australian and International online sportsbooks for the game.