History will be on Manly’s side as their NRL season goes on the line against the Sydney Roosters on Friday night at Brookvale Oval.
The blockbuster clash could not be more important for Geoff Toovey’s men – win and live to fight another day; lose and they can start booking hotels in Bali for Mad Monday.
Since entering the competition, the Sea Eagles have held the wood over the tri-colours, taking out 81 of their 126 meetings for a 64 per cent winning percentage.
Brookvale has been a graveyard for many teams but the Roosters have been particularly luckless there, losing 35 of 47 games at the Manly home ground including 14 of the past 20 and seven of their past eight.
The Sea Eagles have the added motivation of playing for club legend Geoff Toovey and five-eighth Kieran Foran in what will be their final home games at Brookvale.
Toovey has been shown the door by the Eagles’ board while Foran is set to make a big-money move next year to Parramatta.
But coach Toovey is wary of taking anything for granted after watching his side ambushed by Parramatta last week and blow a chance to move into the top eight.
“I know the coaching staff were stung (by the loss to the Eels). We had a great week leading into it and, with the season on the line, we were very poor,” Toovey said.
“We need to turn it around because if we play like that again this week, then we’ll get our pants pulled down.”
Roosters coach Trent Robinson described the clash as a pressure test just two weeks out from the finals.
Despite sitting in top spot, there are massive question marks over the Roosters with Jared Waerea-Hargreaves out for the year with an ACL injury and halfback Mitchell Pearce (hamstring) set to miss the next month.
Sam Moa and Jackson Hastings have been asked to step up to the plate by Robinson and he predicts it will test his side.
“We enjoy going to Brookie and the way that people have to play there,” Robinson said.
“But it’s a tough challenge and we love going there to go and play and test ourselves.
“I know they will be ready or the game, so I want to see us go over and play our style of footy over at Brookie.
“We’re looking for a couple of those new combinations, with Jacko (Hastings) coming in and playing with Jimmy (Maloney) and also with Sammy Moa coming back.
“There’s been a bit of shuffling there and those new combinations need to play well.”
STATS THAT MATTER:
* Manly have won nine from nine when scoring four tries or more but just one from 13 scoring three tries or less this season
* The Roosters have not won 11 straight in one season since setting the all-time record of 19 in a row in 1975
* The Roosters have won seven of 11 away games this year including their past five straight
* Brett Stewart is just two tries away from becoming the fifth equal greatest try-scorer of all time (level with Terry Lamb on 164) and the equal highest at Brookvale Oval (level with Steve Menzies on 88)