Without a win over a fellow top four side all year, Manly host a Melbourne side on Saturday night which hasn’t lost to a NRL premiership heavyweight in 2013.
The meeting of the bitter rivals is a clash of the have and have-nots of the NRL season, with the Sea Eagles still looking for the big-name scalp to prove their title credentials.
A draw against the Storm in round 10 is the Sea Eagles’ best result against a fellow top four side, Manly have lost four other games against South Sydney and ladder-leaders Sydney Roosters.
The Storm have won their three matches against the top two sides – with all of those victories being by more than a converted try.
Coach Geoff Toovey claimed not to be fazed by the lack of success against fellow top four sides, pleading ignorance to the alarming run of outs.
“I wouldn’t even know what it is,” Toovey said when asked about that record.
“I haven’t looked at that. I think in every game though we’ve been in the match this year, no matter who it is.
“We just need to find that bit extra.
“We don’t want to show our cards too early, we think we can show that bit extra come semi-final time.”
The Storm have proven their ability to rise to the occasion, the premiers boasting plenty of big-match experience in the form of key trio Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater.
After a dip in form post-Origin, the Storm have won four in a row – a run that has including two 60-plus scorelines.
Five-eighth Kieran Foran said a win over a side like the Storm would be a massive boost on the eve of the finals.
“We see them as the benchmark and I know we get up for these games,” Foran said.
“This time of year you want that confidence going into the finals and if we could get that win up against the Storm who are travelling really well it’d be a big boost.”
“We’re just focusing on trying to win this game, to wrap up a top-four berth and hopefully build some momentum heading into finals.”
The Sea Eagles need to win one of their last two games – the other being at home to Penrith – to claim a top four finish, while they could still finish third with a pair of victories to close out the regular season.