No blowout this time, says Manly's Toovey

JOE BARTON
Last updated 20:04 20/09/2012

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Manly coach Geoff Toovey expects Friday night's preliminary final with Melbourne to buck recent history and actually be a tightly contested game.

Despite building up the NRL's fiercest rivalry as the two strongest modern day sides, finals clashes between the two teams have been uncharacteristically one-sided.

When the two teams split grand final victories in 2007 and 2008, both games were decided long before the final whistle, with Melbourne winning 34-8 for a premiership that would later be stripped for salary cap rorts, while Manly returned serve with a 40-0 thumping the following year.

In 2009, Manly travelled to Melbourne intent on keeping their premiership defence alive only to be crushed 40-12.

"The points might be there (but) it doesn't seem that way to the players.

"It's always a very physical, very close encounter despite the scoreline. It just goes to show you if you're a bit off your game that's what will happen to you. You'll lose and maybe lose by a few points.

"We are expecting a close game. We know that they'll bring their best game and I'm sure that we'll bring our best game.

"... There's been some great encounters over the last few years against Melbourne around this time of the year and no doubt this will be another one."

The Storm have the wood on Manly in 2012, having defeated them 26-22 at Brookvale Oval earlier this year but Toovey doesn't expect that result will have too much bearing on the encounter at AAMI Park.

"I don't think (that result will matter)," Toovey said.

"It can go either way. I thought we were unlucky (in that game) ... the bounce of the ball didn't go our way but hopefully it will be on Friday."

Toovey was impressed with the Storm's dismantling of South Sydney in week one of the finals, when they triumphed 24-6 in a ruthless display.

"Very clinical, very controlled," he said.

"That's been them for the last four or five years. We expect the same on Friday."

The Sea Eagles remain outsiders for the match, much to Toovey's delight as he claims underdog status.

"Having the week off probably suits them a little better (and obviously) home ground advantage," he said.

"The odds are certainly in their favour."

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