Sunday 20 August 2017 / 09:45 PM

NRL ROUND 9 FRIDAY PREVIEW: SOUTHS-MANLY, NQ-PARRA

South Sydney Rabbitohs v Manly Sea Eagles – 6.00pm (AEST), Friday, April 28 @ Allianz Stadium

The Storyline: The Rabbitohs are battling to keep their season afloat after last week’s heartbreaker against Brisbane, while the Sea Eagles are clinging to a spot in the top eight after an equally dramatic victory in Canberra. Neither side has been consistently good enough to suggest they’re a 2017 finals team, but a win here would provide a handy springboard ahead of the rep weekend break.

The Stat: After beating Manly just seven times in 32 games from 1993-2012, Souths have won seven of the last 11 games between the archrivals.

It’s a big game for: Mitchell Pearce’s brilliant form for the Roosters have really put Adam Reynolds under the pump in the NSW Origin selection stakes. Outplaying Daly Cherry-Evans would put Reynolds back at the forefront of Laurie Daley and Peter Sterling’s thinking.

Last time they met: Alex Johnston scored two tries, Reynolds kicked seven-from-seven and Robbie Farah starred as the Rabbitohs came from behind to belt the Sea Eagles 38-18 at Lottoland in Round 2 this year.

The Verdict: Their clash earlier this season aside, these teams have produced some brutal blockbusters in recent years, and the battle up front between Martin Taupau and Sam Burgess will be a sight to behold. The halves contest will be critical – and Cody Walker has the ability to take a game by the scruff of the neck – but the Rabbitohs our woefully thin out wide. Tom Trobojevic, Dylan Walker and co give the Sea Eagles a big edge, and they should get the spoils if they produce the commitment and poise that laid the platform for last week’s win. Sea Eagles by 7

North Queensland Cowboys v Parramatta Eels – 7.50pm (AEST), Friday, April 28 @ 1300SMILES Stadium

The Storyline: Johnathan Thurston is expected to make his return from injury, making Parramatta’s bid for three straight wins significantly more difficult.

The Stat: The Eels are on a five-match losing streak in Townsville, with their last away win against the Cowboys coming back in 2010.

It’s a big game for: Corey Norman has overcome some truly indifferent form to steer Parramatta to wins over the Tigers and Panthers, but he needs to find the brilliance that rendered him an early-season Dally M favourite as he prepares to go up against the No.7 maestro. He’s also playing alongside a stopgap five-eighth.

Last time they met: Michael Morgan bagged a double in a 32-16 win at 1300SMILES Stadium in Round 8 last season, avenging a 20-16 Pirtek Stadium loss six weeks earlier.

The Verdict: JT’s presence dramatically swings the contest in favour of the Cowboys, who have battled on admirably without their talisman to win two of their last three games and come desperately close to a remarkable comeback in the other. The Eels haven’t shown enough in the past fortnight to suggest they can pull off a rare win in the far north, particularly with third-stringer Kenny Edwards in the No.6 jumper. Cowboys by 14

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About the author

Will Evans

CBS’s Editor-in-Chief and lead rugby league, union and cricket writer, Will is a Christchurch-based freelancer, also writing for Big League and Rugby League Review magazines, and The New Daily website. Will has written four rugby league books.

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