Manly Sea Eagles team photo

The 2021 Manly Sea Eagles are on track for a place in the finals. (credit Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles Twitter)

After a slow start the Manly Sea Eagles are on track for a top eight finish. What do the Sea Eagles need to do to be in premiership contention?

Snapshot of the season

The Manly Sea Eagles have had another good season, with the side currently sitting sixth on the ladder. Des Hasler has managed to work his magic yet again to keep the side competitive. The Sea Eagles had a slow start to the season losing their first four matches, but have since turned it around, firmly entrenching themselves in the top eight. The question that Manly fans are asking is whether this winning run can continue deep into the season.

What has worked

Since round four, the Manly Sea Eagles have won eight of 10 matches in what has been one of the clubs most significant winning streaks. What has been most impressive is the Sea Eagles scoring. The side has scored 50 points in its last two matches, in addition to the 50-6 win over the Broncos in round 10.

The Sea Eagles season turned around with the return of fullback Tom Trbojevic and in every game he has played so far Manly have won. His impact has been enormous with 15 try assists, 13 line breaks and 1643 run metres with an average of 205 per game, Trbojevic is mounting the case to be the best fullback in the competition.

Outside of Trbojevic, it is hard to pick out players who have dominated. However, Reuben Garrick has been a machine on the wing. The 23-year-old has over 2000 metres run to go along with 12 tries and 52 goals. The combination of tries and goals puts Garrick second in the competition for points scored.

Lachlan Croker has been unstoppable as the hooker. Along with a highly aggressive attacking game, the Sea Eagles defence has been rock solid. This is largely down to Croker, who has 496 tackles from his 14 games, putting him in the top 10 in the competition.

What has not worked

The biggest issue for the Manly Sea Eagles is the first four games of the season that the team played. While it is easy to put those four losses down to poor form at the start of the season, there may be a more significant issue afoot. Of the teams that the four losses came against, three are higher on the ladder than the Sea Eagles, and the Dragons are only one position behind. There is a straightforward question over whether the Sea Eagles can compete with the top sides. This is a question that Des Hasler will need to answer in the coming weeks and months as finals approach.

While Daly-Cherry Evans is an absolute legend of Manly and the NRL, he has not had his greatest start to the season. The Manly captain has given away nine penalties. While he does have the ball in his hand a lot of the time, a player with as much experience as Cherry-Evans should be able to do his job without giving away penalties.

Who needs to lift

Jason Saab: At only 20 years of age and 200 centimetres, Saab no doubt has a huge future in the game. Unfortunately, 2021 has not been the best of times for the young man. The winger has missed 39 tackles with only 55 made, in one of the worst ratios in the competition.  At the same time, he has been impressive in running almost 1500 metres and scoring 13 tries. While Saab is explosive on the attacking end, he needs to lift and match that effort on the defensive side of the field.

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The Run Home

The Manly Sea Eagles are not looking at the worst run home in the competition, but there are a few challenging games ahead. Matches against the Storm and the Eels will be the most extensive tests for the Sea Eagles. However, they should make finals based on the run home, with likely easy wins coming against the West Tigers and the Bulldogs in the next few weeks.

Remaining Matches

3rd July v Bulldogs8th July v Raiders
16th July v Dragons24th July v West Tigers
1st August v Sharks7th August v Storm
14th August v Eels20th August v Raiders
29th August v Bulldogs4th September v Cowboys

Can the Sea Eagles play finals

The Manly Sea Eagles are almost guaranteed to be playing finals at this point. During the last full length season in 2019, the eighth-placed team required 11 wins to secure a finals position. With the Sea Eagles now on 8, it stands to reason that the side is not too far away from clinching that spot. With two wins likely coming against the Bulldogs and the 14th placed West Tigers, the Sea Eagles should see themselves hit that 11-win mark in the next couple of weeks.

Players to return from injury/Origin.

The Sea Eagles have a couple of Origin representatives that will be managed through the next couple of weeks. Skipper Daly Cherry-Evans and Tom Trbojevic may miss a game each in the lead up or after the the final State of Origin game, but expect the pair to be ready to go come finals time.

On the injury front, Jack Gosiewski will be back in a couple of weeks with a foot injury. After pulling out of Origin 2, Jake Trbojevic will need until round 17 to recover from his hip injury. Josh Schuster is also expected to come back in round 17 from his calf tear. Zac Saddler suffered a cheek fracture during a high tackle and is likely to return in the later rounds of the season. Josh Aloiai will also return in round 22, whilst four players are out for the rest of the season. Curtis Sironen, Manase Fainu, Andrew Davey and Morgan Boyle will all have to wait until next season to pull on the Sea Eagles jersey again.

The Sea Eagles will next play on the 3rd of July against the Bulldogs live from Bankwest Stadium in Sydney.

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