STRONG RUNNER: Michael Jennings of the Eels is back to boost his team.
STRONG RUNNER: Michael Jennings of the Eels is back to boost his team. CRAIG GOLDING

Manly's hoping to keep up good run

RUGBY LEAGUE: Rookie Manly coach Trent Barrett must have been wondering what he had done to deserve so much bad luck with injuries earlier in the NRL season.

To his credit, Barrett has never harped on it or made a big deal of losing half his first grade squad to injury as the toll mounted week after week and the losses piled up to a point where finals football was looking pretty grim.

Manly's clash with Parramatta is a battle between two clubs who've had more than their fair share of adversity, especially Parramatta which has had to deal with a salary cap scandal and several off-field dramas involving players.

This week they copped another body blow with Jarryd Hayne signing with the Gold Coast.

Still, like Barrett, Eels coach Brad Arthur has got on with the job and kept his players focused on playing football.

But while Parramatta's season was effectively extinguished when it was stripped of 12 premiership points, Manly still has a shot at finals football.

A fifth straight victory against Parramatta tomorrow night would turn up the heat on the Warriors, Panthers and Wests Tigers, all battling for the last few spots in the top eight.

Manly will remember it was Parramatta which ended its finals run by beating the Sea Eagles in round 24 last year.

The Eels get Michael Jennings and Beau Scott back for the clash in which Barrett has finally been able to name an unchanged 17 from last week.

Manly has a lot more to play with but will have to muscle up and be prepared to earn the two points.

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