Written by Oliver Kellner-Dunk
Photo by Sea Eagles Media
In recent years the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles have been somewhat of a wildcard team in the NRL and 2021 will be no different.
Their one to seventeen is solid and on paper a top eight roster; however, Manly’s depth is once again questionable which is a serious concern when fielding injury-prone stars such as Tom Trbojevic.
Whether the stars align in 2021 for them or not, here are the top five Sea Eagles fixtures to watch this season.
ROUND 1 – SYDNEY ROOSTERS
After a disappointing 2020 Manly will be looking to silence their doubters early and there aren’t many clubs better to do so against than the Roosters.
The Roosters have made the top four every season since 2017 and of course, won the premiership in both 2018 and 2019.
If the Sea Eagles can beat such a dominant side to kick off their 2021 campaign, they will have set themselves up for improvement at the very least, and Manly got the win the last time they met the boys from Bondi in a close one but will be looking for a more decisive victory in this game.
ROUND 6 – GOLD COAST TITANS
While the Titans look promising headed into 2021, a fully fit Sea Eagles side would match up with them nicely as at the time of writing this fixture looks like a potential barnburner.
Although, it isn’t just the intrigue around the possible on-field display we would see between Manly and the Gold Coast that gets it on this list.
Glen Willow Oval in Mudgee will host this encounter as the NRL looks to continue supporting Country Rugby League.
Here’s hoping that this fixture can take place in front of a full crowd of 10,000 locals who otherwise would not be able to get to a game.
ROUND 11 – PARRAMATTA EELS
Secure your tickets now for our #NRL trial against @WestsTigers 🎟️https://t.co/oQEJGpdnNl#ManlyForever pic.twitter.com/BfA33HtIfJ
— Manly Warringah Sea Eagles (@SeaEagles) February 10, 2021
There will always be tensions between Manly and Parramatta fans due to their postseason and Grand Final battles in the late 1970s and early 1980s, with the rivalry being reignited recently as a result of some memorable matchups.
Following the Sea Eagles’ 54-0 flogging of the Eels in 2018, three of their past four meetings have been decided by eight points or less.
In 2020, a controversial finish saw Parramatta escape with a 19-16 victory early in the season, as Manly exacted their revenge in round 10, winning 22-18 and knocking the Eels off the top of the NRL ladder.
Let’s hope we are in for another close one when this game comes around.
ROUND 17 – CANBERRA RAIDERS
Ever since Canberra has stepped up as a premiership contender in 2019 they have failed to beat their 1987 NSWRL Grand Final opponents the Sea Eagles.
Manly certainly have not won these games easily, however; with the past two matches between the two sides being decided by four points.
If the Sea Eagles are once again able to topple the Raiders, they will have well and truly earned the title of Canberra’s bogey team during one of the Green Machine’s most successful periods.
ROUND 21 – MELBOURNE STORM
You would be hard-pressed to find any other rivalry in Rugby League that has been through more peaks and troughs in the past decade than the Sea Eagles versus the Storm.
At the moment hype around this fixture is low as much as Manly fans would like to think otherwise.
Things looked promising after Daly Cherry-Evans kicked a field goal in golden point to secure an 11-10 victory against the Storm in Melbourne.
Unfortunately, this rivalry’s momentum did not continue, with the Storm winning their past three matches easily.
Despite Melbourne’s dominance, it’s clear to see Manly still consider the Storm their arch-rival and will be desperate to regain bragging rights.
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