THE stakes are massive for Manly and South Sydney at Allianz Stadium tonight – a win paramount to the chances of both clubs staying in the race for the NRL finals.
The situation is more critical for 2014 premiers South Sydney (14 points) with a seventh straight loss at the hands of Manly likely to be the death knell for 2016.
That result would see Manly (16 points) push itself a little closer to breaking into the top eighth and contesting the finals after a tough draw and a horror run with injuries during the season.
Penrith’s upset win over Brisbane on Friday night secured the Panthers a spot in the top eight while Canberra’s thrilling golden-point win over the Warriors has seen Ricky Stuart’s Green Machine burst into the top four with 27 points, one ahead of the Bulldogs who crashed to North Queensland 36-0 on Friday night.
Adam Reynolds (pictured) will be a big bonus if he makes his return along with Bryson Goodwin for the Rabbitohs against Manly, which has found some good form with back-to-back wins, the latest a 15-14 heart-stopper against the Warriors.
Queensland Origin prop Nate Myles returns to the Manly pack, which will be vital against the size and power of the Rabbitohs forwards led by English international Sam Burgess.
Souths coach Michael McGuire is under pressure with his team’s defence a problem and an area the players will need to tighten up if the likes of Daly Cherry-Evans, Jamie Lyon and young Tom Trbojevic find some space.
Manly enforcer Matin Taupau has warned he won’t be toning down his aggressive defence which means when he and Burgess do collide at some stage in the middle, it won’t be pretty.
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