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Manly scores first and wins: Carroll

Manly premiership winner Mark Carroll says if the Sea Eagles can score first in Sunday's NRL grand final, they're capable of blowing the Sydney Roosters away.
Manly scores first and wins: Carroll
by AAP

By Ben Horne

SYDNEY, Oct 6 AAP - Manly premiership winner Mark Carroll says if the Sea Eagles can score first in Sunday's NRL grand final, they're capable of blowing the Sydney Roosters away.

However, getting across the line, let alone in the first half, has proven to be easier said than done for Manly against the Roosters this year.

In four clashes in 2013 - a trial, two regular season games and a final - Manly have failed to register a point in the first half.

During week one of the playoffs, the Sea Eagles went down 4-0 and seemingly out of ideas on how to crack the Roosters.

But game-breaker Brett Stewart, who wasn't there three weeks ago, is expected to pass a fitness test on his hamstring injury and play on Sunday.

Stewart knows his way to the try-line better than just about any player in the game and the fullback adds a dimension to the Sea Eagles' attack that the Roosters certainly haven't seen in their meetings this year.

Former Test and NSW prop "Spud" Carroll says breaking their drought with an early try could tip the match heavily in favour of Manly, with Daly Cherry-Evans and Kieran Foran orchestrating a potent backline.

"After the last game (a come-from-behind preliminary final win over South Sydney), they are poised for a great grand final," said Carroll.

"If they score first I reckon they'll get some points on the Roosters.

"Their outside backs are world class so it's up to the forwards to lead the way.

"If Manly start fast, we'll get them."

Rooster Sonny Bill Williams is a match-winner of the highest order, but Carroll predicts he will be in for a torrid evening trying to shake off a tenacious Glenn Stewart.

Carroll takes great pride in the Manly engine room and says Stewart is the key.

"Glenn Stewart, he's just the big dog that gets onto someone (and doesn't let go)."

"He'll be on to Sonny Bill all night.

"Souths had all these blokes over 100kg, but these guys are pretty mobile and they've all got a pass on them too,

"Glenn Stewart catches and passes and sometimes he looks like a five-eighth.

"They have great balance in the forwards."

Carroll remembers when a young, blond-haired Geoff Toovey burst onto the scene back in 1988.

He was playing for Penrith and couldn't lay a hand on the lightning-fast halfback.

Carroll said Toovey's role in guiding Manly through their finals run has been something special.

"How he didn't get nominated for coach of the year (at the Dally M awards) is a joke," he said.

"Tooves has done a magnificent job. Last year he was left with a shemozzle and this year he's said, "this is how we do it.'"

The Sydney Roosters are expected to welcome back Luke O'Donnell and Boyd Cordner for the showdown, however the club won't be publicly finalising their 17 until an hour before kick-off.


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