NRL: Rejuvenated Sea Eagles plot another finals push

By Steve Jancetic in Sydney

Manly backrower Glenn Stewart has been showing form of old in recent weeks. Photo / Getty Images
Manly backrower Glenn Stewart has been showing form of old in recent weeks. Photo / Getty Images

Manly can feel their mojo coming back, heading into a period of the regular season they have used to propel them to NRL premiership success in recent years.

Today's meeting with Gold Coast represents the start of the final third of the regular season, a stretch of games the Sea Eagles have dominated during their run of eight straight finals appearances. In five of those years, they have produced 6-2 finishes to the regular season, boasting an overall record of 40-24 over the period for a 62 per cent winning record.

Often, those final stretches have coincided with the Sea Eagles getting their full array of stars back on deck following injury or State of Origin commitments - and 2013 is no different.

Stewart brothers Glenn and Brett are both getting back to match fitness while Daly Cherry-Evans and Anthony Watmough have emerged from a torrid Origin campaign.

"We're starting to get a few combinations going again," Glenn Stewart said. "It will be nice to get Choc and Cherry back and start rolling into the back end of the year."

With Canterbury and Cronulla just one point behind them on the ladder, the fourth-placed Sea Eagles know they can't afford any slip-up in the run to the finals.

South Sydney, Sydney Roosters and Melbourne are each at least four points ahead of them, so a top-three finish might be beyond Manly, but veteran prop Brent Kite knows hitting form at the right time of the year is more important than finishing in the top three.

"The guys on top deservedly are favourites - they've managed to knock us off," Kite said. "We like to think our best footy is ahead of us. We've shown in the past we can get things right for September and, if we can do that again, hopefully we can match it with these in-form teams."

The Titans head to Brookvale Oval without Origin duo Nate Myles and Greg Bird - who have both been rested - while Ashley Harrison will play after surviving a fitness test on his injured foot yesterday morning.

Canberra have won their 12th straight home game with a 14-0 NRL victory over Parramatta last night in treacherous weather conditions.

Hail, sleet and rain saturated Canberra Stadium before kick-off, ensuring a dour contest. And while the temperature dipped to a chilly four degrees, the Eels' performance was even colder, dooming them to their eighth consecutive loss.

It didn't take long for the slippery conditions to take effect; Eels winger Brayden Wiliame spilling a Terry Campese bomb a metre off his tryline in the sixth minute to gift centre Jarrod Croker a converted try.

Adding injury to insult, Wiliame was then caught off his wing minutes later when Campese threw a cut-out pass to Sami Sauiluma to extend the Raiders' lead to 12-0 going into the break.

Eels interchange Joseph Paulo was then sin-binned with seven minutes to go after his early tackle on Shaun Fensom prevented a certain try, Croker nailing the resulting penalty to give the Raiders an unassailable 14-0 lead.

The win puts the Raiders one step closer to the club's home winning streak record of 17, which was posted between 1993 and 1995. AAP

- Herald on Sunday

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