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NRL round 5 Thursday night : Manly Sea Eagles v South Sydney Rabbitohs

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Manly Sea Eagles v South Sydney Rabbitohs

Thursday, March 31, 8pm (AEST), Brookvale Oval, Sydney

Both Manly and South Sydney have been ravaged by early-season injuries and will need to dig deep on Thursday to collect a much-needed two points. Both sides are very much at the crossroads as Round 5 kicks off.
Selection NotesManly have suffered the ultimate blow with Daly Cherry-Evans to miss an extended period while Jamie Buhrer is also out with injury. Steve Matai and Tom Symonds are also long odds to return according to coach Trent Barrett though Matai has been named. Martin Taupau and Brenton Lawrence return from suspension while Api Koroisau comes into the side at halfback. Souths are hoping Sam Burgess is right to go after his neck scare but he has been named to return along with brother Tom. Paul Carter has been dropped. Kirisome Auva’a replaces Michael Oldfield on the wing with Alex Johnston still out. The Rabbitohs are without halfback Adam Reynolds.

HistoryManly and South Sydney have met on 136 occasions with the Sea Eagles holding a 74-62 advantage. The Rabbitohs have won 5 of the last 8 though dating back to 2013, including 3 of the last 4. The teams met twice last year with each winning their home fixture. Five of the last six matches have failed to tally 36 points – including the last five regular season matches.  Luke Keary has scored in two of his last three  against the Sea Eagles. Former Rabbitohs Dylan Walker, Josh Starling and Luke Burgess will turn out for Manly.
South Sydney bolted from the gates with big wins over the Sydney Roosters and Newcastle but those two teams have just a single premiership point between them, suggesting those wins may be overinflated. Since they have lost a grinder to the Dragons before being embarrassed at home by Canterbury. The Rabbitohs rate first in attack but have fallen to seventh in defence while their total opposition record is 5-10-1. Manly were soundly beaten by Canterbury in the opening round before a loss to the Wests Tigers but have since bounced back with wins over Cronulla at home and the Sydney Roosters away. Manly’s attack ranks 11th this year with their defence a disappointing 13th.
Key Matchup
Brett Stewart v Greg Inglis. Two of the biggest names on the paddock, both need to return  to their best without their star halves available. Stewart has been solid in two games back but now must assume the chief playmaking role without Cherry-Evans. Inglis has been off his game since Round 1 with a lack of attacking involvement a major concern. The No.1s will be top dogs in this one.

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