Southern Districts v Manly: Rebels call on young brigade for season defining Manly clash

Southern Districts kept their slim finals hopes alive with an impressive 34-19 win over Randwick last weekend but must beat Manly at home on Saturday to stay in the race for the playoffs. 

“Last week was a huge step forward by our guys, particularly playing Randwick at Coogee. We showed composure last week that we haven’t really shown all year,” Rebels coach Don Mackinnon said. 

“We’ll need to be patient again this week against Manly, they’re a very good team and will punish you if give them opportunities.”

Jed Holloway hasn’t been named to play the Marlins, while gun flyhalf Bayley Kuenzle will also miss the class after getting concussed last week. 

Mackinnon has called upon the club’s next generation to fill the void. 

“Nathan Lawson and Daniel Bell are both local juniors. Daniel is in his first year of grade and Nathan is still a colt. 

“Cooper Chambers at scrum half is still eligible for colts next year and has come through our junior academy, then we’ve picked up hooker Joe Cotton from the Australian U20s after he signed with the Waratahs.”

Manly were disappointing in a 40-24 loss to Eastwood that has seen them drop out of the top six heading into the final month of the regular season. 

“We handed the momentum back to Eastwood too often and you can’t give teams as good as them an easy was out. We have them too many easy points by tactically not managing the game we,” Marlins coach Billy Melrose said. 

Ben Crerar replaces Josh Turner on the wing for Saturday’s clash against Souths, while prop Gunnz Fuavao and veteran centre Dennis Pili-Gaitau will also start. 

Beaudein Waaka and Mick Adams are also in doubt for the clash.

“It’s nice to have Dennis back considering the injuries we’ve got, but he’s only one player. I’m more concerned about the impact our other 14 players have,” Melrose said. 

Manly are currently seventh, one competition point behind Gordon in fifth but a win this weekend could be crucial. Gordon and sixth placed Easts face tough matches against Eastwood and Sydney Uni respectively, opening the door for the Marlins to leapfrog both sides into the top six.

Alternatively, a win to Souths and losses to Gordon and Easts could see all four sides locked tightly in a battle for the final two playoff spots.

Southern Districts (1-15)

Matt Gibbon, Joe Cotton, Ernesto Urgarte, Jake Douglas, James Hasson, Nathan Lawson, Sam Latunipulu, Harry McLennan, Cooper Chambers, Christian Kagiassis, Tyrrell Naleba , Apo Latinupulu, Denny Godinet, Apaola TeaLama, Daniel Bell.

Manly (1-15)

Sio Tatola, Aaron Blacklock, Conor Davidson, Alex Dalzell, Van Stewart, Alex Humfrey, Luke Crocker, Harry Bergelin, Harry Emery, Nick Holton, Ben Crerar, Beaudein Waaka, Dennis Pili-Gaitau, Jay Baker, Ben Howard.

Photo: Malcolm Chuck

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