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Roosters out to end Manly finals hoodoo

The Sydney Roosters will need to overturn 38 years of finals misery against Manly if they are to move a step closer to the NRL grand final.
Roosters out to end Manly finals hoodoo
by AAP

By Emma Kemp

SYDNEY, Sept 13 AAP - The Sydney Roosters will need to overturn 38 years of finals misery against Manly if they are to move a step closer to the NRL grand final.

Feathers will fly at Allianz Stadium on Saturday as the Roosters aim to down the Sea Eagles in a finals clash for the first time since 1975 when Jack Gibson's side prevailed at the SCG.

And it's game on for first-year coach Trent Robinson, who's on the verge of securing a third win against Manly this year.

"It's always been a physical game against Manly," said Robinson.

"They've been bringing it for years, and I think we've risen our game this year to match that.

"I don't expect anything different on Saturday."

The Sydney rivals have come face to face six times in finals since 1972, with Manly coming off second best just once when rugby league immortal Artie Beetson skippered the Roosters to a 28-13 win.

But the Sea Eagles weren't so fortunate in both this year's regular-season fixtures, falling short to a much-improved Roosters side on their way to a first minor premiership since 2004.

But Geoff Toovey's side go into the game having lost just once in nine games before last week's 38-26 stumble against Penrith.

They were in ominous form a week earlier when they thumped Melbourne 28-8 at Brookvale Oval, and are banking on that experience going into their ninth-straight finals campaign.

"We know what's expected of us and each individual and we know what has to be done to win a game," back-rower Anthony Watmough said.

Experience aside, the Roosters must tame a red-hot backline that is arguably the best in the NRL.

Jorge Taufua, Daly Cherry-Evans, Steve Matai, Jamie Lyon, Kieran Foran and David Williams have racked up 85 tries this year - more than eight NRL clubs have amassed for their entire roster.

"Are you asking me to choose between Foran and Matai, and Cherry-Evans and Jamie Lyon?" Robinson scoffed on Friday when asked which side of their opponents' line the Roosters would target more.

"They're both outstanding sides.

"They've probably got one of the best backlines in the competition."

Although they have the firepower to hurt sides, Manly come up against a Roosters outfit that's conceded just 325 points at an average of just 13.5 per game - the club's best record since 1982.

And Robinson is under no illusions about its importance for the game, especially for a team lacking the muscle of suspended prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves.

"It's everything. It's what we've built our season on," he said.

"We've attacked really nicely but it's often been off the back of our defence," he said.

Saturday's winner will be rewarded with a week off to recover, while the loser will face either North Queensland or Cronulla.


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