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Minor premiers Melbourne face a stiff test in the opening week of the finals against a red-hot Manly side that pushed the Storm all the way in round 21.

Their qualifying final will be played at 7.50pm on Friday at Sunshine Coast Stadium.

With fullback Tom Trbojevic and halfback Daly Cherry-Evans leading the way the Sea Eagles have shown they can score from anywhere on the park. Their final try against the Cowboys on Saturday is Exhibit A.

The Storm attack has broken records this season but could be hampered by the absence of key personnel.

Both teams will run out to an intense atmosphere with the match confirmed on Wednesday to be sold out.

Sportsbet Betting Preview - Storm v Sea Eagles

Coach Craig Bellamy and crew won't be taking anything for granted after Manly became the first side since the 2005 Dragons to make the top four after losing their opening five games. 

The rundown

Team news

Storm: Cameron Munster is a confirmed starter after overcoming a knee injury.

Nicho Hynes will remain on the interchange bench with Tom Eisenhuth the 18th man.

George Jennings (knee) has also been cleared to play and will join returning centre Reimis Smith on the right edge. Josh Addo-Carr (hamstring) won't play.

Aaron Pene and Chris Lewis dropped off the extended bench 24 hours before kick-off.

The Storm have won their past four matches against the Sea Eagles.

Sea Eagles: Lachlan Croker (back tightness) is out, with Karl Lawton to start at hooker and Curtis Sironen joining the bench.

Josh Aloiai returns at prop, pushing Toafofoa Sipley to the reserves. Moses Suli will be the 18th man.

Sean Keppie and Taniela Paseka have held onto their bench positions after making returns last week.

Croker and Tevita Funa were omitted from the playing squad on Thursday night.

Hasler is the only current coach with a winning record against Craig Bellamy (17-15).

Team Lists

Backs

  • Fullback for Storm is number 1 Ryan Papenhuyzen
    Fullback for Sea Eagles is number 1 Tom Trbojevic
  • Winger for Storm is number 2 George Jennings
    Winger for Sea Eagles is number 2 Jason Saab
  • Centre for Storm is number 3 Reimis Smith
    Centre for Sea Eagles is number 3 Brad Parker
  • Centre for Storm is number 4 Justin Olam
    Centre for Sea Eagles is number 4 Morgan Harper
  • Winger for Storm is number 5 Isaac Lumelume
    Winger for Sea Eagles is number 5 Reuben Garrick
  • Five-Eighth for Storm is number 6 Cameron Munster
    Five-Eighth for Sea Eagles is number 6 Kieran Foran
  • Halfback for Storm is number 7 Jahrome Hughes
    Halfback for Sea Eagles is number 7 Daly Cherry-Evans

Forwards

  • Prop for Storm is number 8 Jesse Bromwich
    Prop for Sea Eagles is number 8 Josh Aloiai
  • Hooker for Storm is number 9 Brandon Smith
    Hooker for Sea Eagles is number 15 Karl Lawton
  • Prop for Storm is number 10 Christian Welch
    Prop for Sea Eagles is number 10 Martin Taupau
  • 2nd Row for Storm is number 11 Felise Kaufusi
    2nd Row for Sea Eagles is number 11 Haumole Olakau'atu
  • 2nd Row for Storm is number 12 Kenneath Bromwich
    2nd Row for Sea Eagles is number 12 Josh Schuster
  • Lock for Storm is number 13 Dale Finucane
    Lock for Sea Eagles is number 13 Jake Trbojevic

Interchange

  • Interchange for Storm is number 14 Harry Grant
    Interchange for Sea Eagles is number 14 Dylan Walker
  • Interchange for Storm is number 15 Tui Kamikamica
    Interchange for Sea Eagles is number 16 Sean Keppie
  • Interchange for Storm is number 16 Nelson Asofa-Solomona
    Interchange for Sea Eagles is number 17 Taniela Paseka
  • Interchange for Storm is number 17 Nicho Hynes
    Interchange for Sea Eagles is number 20 Curtis Sironen

Reserves

  • Reserve for Storm is number 19 Tom Eisenhuth
    Reserve for Sea Eagles is number 19 Moses Suli

Match Officials

  • Referee: Grant Atkins
  • Touch Judge: Todd Smith
  • Touch Judge: Peter Gough
  • Senior Review Official: Ashley Klein

Last updated:

Key match-up

Ryan Papenhuyzen v Tom Trbojevic: The Storm custodian is back to his best after a long battle with concussion. Papenhuyzen's final-round hat-trick against Cronulla had the same spark that saw him dominate the NRL to open the season.

But he will need all of that and more against the best player in the game. Trbojevic, the Dally M favourite, has scored 25 tries and produced 30 try assists in just 15 games in 2021.

Stat attack

Manly have finished the regular season No.1 in handling errors, their explosive scoring obscuring the drops that plagued them in their wins over Canterbury and North Queensland. Melbourne, in contrast, ranked 14th in that category.

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