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The Battle of the Beaches is set to get its first finals showdown in more than two decades when the Manly Sea Eagles and the Cronulla Sharks face off in a do-or-die elimination final this weekend.
With a spot in the Week 2 semi-finals on the line, and more than 40 years of intense rivalry in the history books, both teams have everything to play for this Saturday night.
After finishing sixth and seventh on the NRL ladder, the Manly Sea Eagles and the Cronulla Sharks are set to go head-to-head in week one of the finals.
The Sea Eagles and Sharks have only played each other once this season, resulting in a 24-14 win to the Sea Eagles away from home at Pointsbet Stadium. Missing captain Daly Cherry-Evans as well as a host of other stars, a united defensive effort helped Manly get the job done the last time these two sides met.
Of the last 17 clashes between the two, the Sea Eagles have come out victorious in 15, including ten of the past 11.
Adding to the misery, from 52 years of playing at Lottoland, the Sharks have only come away victorious six times.
It is a hoodoo that is both hard to ignore and difficult to escape for the Sharks players. While Manly will be entering the clash undermanned, the mental demons will be playing a massive part on the Sharks’ minds.
The Sea Eagles have been decimated by injuries this season and will just be able to field the required 21 players on the team sheet come Saturday night.
Tony ‘T-Rex’ Williams will head into his first NRL clash in over a year, requiring a special exemption due to the Manly injury crisis. Centre Brad Parker must pass all required concussion tests to be deemed fit to play also. However, Martin Taupau will miss the clash after being handed a one-game suspension due to a high-tackle charge.
For the Sharks, fullback Matt Moylan is unlikely to return from a hamstring injury but still remains an outside chance to front up.
Manly Sea Eagles and the Cronulla Sharks face-off at Lottoland Stadium, Sydney on Saturday 14 September. Kick-off is at 7.50pm. Tickets are on sale now, starting from just $25*.
Grab your tickets from Ticketmaster.com.au to see who will advance to Week 2 of the NRL Finals Series.