Sea Eagles v Wests Tigers: Turbo back; Utoikamanu confirmed to return

The Sea Eagles return to 4 Pines Park on Saturday after two weeks on the road and will be desperate to get back in the winner's circle against a Wests Tigers side on the rise.

Manly were gallant in defeat to South Sydney last start given they played majority of the game with only 12 men, but their overall slide in the past fortnight has coincided with injuries in the backline, none more so than Tom Trbojevic.

The Wests Tigers will take plenty away from their six-point defeat to the Dragons, particularly around the key stats areas they were able to win during the match without being able to ice the moments when it mattered. 

With a four-point gap already appearing on the ladder between Michael Maguire's men and the top eight, Saturday's game is shaping as an imperative one for the visitors if they are to stay in touch with the competition contenders.

Recent results between the two clubs are in the Sea Eagles' favours with Des Hasler's side scoring 84 points in two games against the joint venture last year, but recent results in the past fortnight suggest it's anyone's game on Saturday.

The Rundown
Team news

Sea Eagles: Ethan Bullemor was promoted to the starting line-up in place of the injured Josh Schuster, with Morgan Harper joining the bench when the squad was trimmed to 19 players 24 hours before kick-off. Tom Trbojevic (knee) has been named and will play. Brad Parker (knee) and Jason Saab (toe) were casualties out of last week's loss with Ben Trbojevic taking Parker's centre spot and Reuben Garrick shifting back to the wing. Haumole Olakau'atu returns from suspension in good timing with Karl Lawton accepting a four-match ban, while Josh Aloiai will return from a shoulder knock.

Wests Tigers: Luciano Leilua (hamstring) and David Nofoaluma (concussion) are out, replaced by Alex Seyfarth and Ken Maumalo in the starting side. Jake Simpkin (ankle) is back at hooker in place of Jacob Liddle. The big boost for Michael Maguire's men is the return of Stefano Utoikamanu, who is confirmed to return from his knee injury ahead of schedule.

Key match-up
Daly Cherry-Evans v Jackson Hastings: It's no secret Hastings' exit at the Sea Eagles in 2018 had a fair bit to do with his spat with DCE, but it's also to be noted the pair has since settled their differences with the Sea Eagles captain only recently commending Hastings for his return to the NRL. Regardless, Hastings' return back to 4 Pines Park will be a special one and if we've seen anything from the Tigers playmaker in the past month, this one might mean a little bit more.

Stat attack
Both sides have been very good at engaging the defensive lines this season, with the Wests Tigers ranked second behind the Roosters on 182 while Manly sit fourth on 165. Kieran Foran ranks second behind Ben Hunt in the competition in this area with 59 alone while Jackson Hastings, who missed three weeks due to suspension, is eighth on 45. Hastings ran the ball 24 times against the Dragons last week and isn't afraid of taking on the defence.


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