Northern Suburbs v Manly: Plenty to play for in final round blockbuster

Manly-Daniel Alley-Adam MacDonald

Northern Suburbs can give their premiership hopes a huge boost this weekend, if they can beat Manly in their final regular season match on Saturday.

Heading into the final round, the Shoreman sit second and can steal the minor premiership from Sydney Uni if they claim a bonus point win over the Marlins on Saturday and the Students lose, or fail to pick up a bonus point.

But perhaps more important for Norths is the chance to secure a home semi final at North Sydney Oval, where they’ve lost just once this year.

“We’re not looking to change anything this week, we just need to stick to our processes and execute the basic skills,” coach Simon Cron told Rugby News.

Manly have struggled with consistency this year, but remain in striking distance with one round remaining. The Marlins must beat Norths to secure a spot in the top six, or rely on either Warringah or Eastwood to lose.

“We’re not thinking about the finals yet, we need to get through tomorrow before we worry about anything else,” Manly coach Damien Cummins said.

After a slow start to the year, Manly turned their season around with a number of brilliant defensive performances through the middle rounds of the season however Cummins admitted his side will need to score points to beat Norths.

“We’re expecting a fast paced game. They are very hard on the ball and are a well-drilled side,” he said.

“At this time of the year, you just need to be doing all the little things as best as you possibly can.”

While Manly’s squad has plenty of experience after featuring in last year’s grand final, the Shoreman are preparing for their first finals campaign in four years.

“I don’t think pressure will affect us and we aren’t changing our preparation because of that,” Cron said.

“Our squad is very cohesive so I think they’ll be able to absorb pressure and just enjoy playing together.

“Manly are a really good side with some great individual athletes so we’ll need to be at our best.”

Norths are raising money and awareness for Heart Research Australia on Saturday, with all grades wearing specially designed socks to promote the fact that heart disease kills 55 Australians each day, or one Australian every 24 minutes.

Ladbrokes: Northern Suburbs $1.40; Manly $2.80

Northern Suburbs (1-15)

Ezra Luxton, Will Weeks, Lawrance Hunting, Nick Palmer, James Brown, Michael Smith, Will Miller, Hugh Sinclair, Mitch Magrath, Angus Sinclair, Lochie Creagh, Irae Simone, Jordan Heyer, Stephan Van Der Walt, Harry Burey.

Manly (1-15)

Hayden Stringer, James Hilterbrand, Mitch Lewis, Adrian Hall, Ed Gower, Dan Alley, Harry Bergelin, Junior Palau, Tim Donlan, Sam Lane, Josh Turner, Nick Holton, Dennis Pili-Gaitau, Richard Hooper, Brenden Hartmann.