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Manly win a massive challenge: Lyon

By Joe Barton 06/09/2010 07:09:51 PM Comments (0)

Manly captain Jamie Lyon says it could be the greatest challenge in his NRL club's proud finals history - facing minor premiers St George Illawarra with a team missing up to 11 Test and Origin stars.

But Lyon insists Sunday's fourth qualifying final is not a mission impossible and eight-placed Manly can pull off an historic triumph on the Dragons' home turf at WIN Jubilee Oval.

Already stricken by mass injuries, Manly's finals hopes were thrown into further disarray on Monday with stars Steve Matai and Jason King facing suspensions for high tackles.

Volatile Kiwi Test centre Matai's season may already be over as he faces a nine-week ban for his crude late hit on Michael Ennis in Sunday's loss to the Bulldogs.

NSW prop King faces a one-week ban even with an early guilty plea after being charged with a grade one careless high tackle.

Matai and King are set to join lock Glenn Stewart who's currently serving a four-match ban for striking.

Meanwhile, skipper Lyon (ankle), five-eighth Kieran Foran (shoulder), prop Brent Kite (collarbone), hooker Matt Ballin (concussion) and backrowers Anthony Watmough (ankle/shoulder) and Joe Galuvao (groin) are also all in doubt.

And that's with Brett Stewart (knee), David Williams (shoulder) and Shane Rodney (knee) already ruled out for the season.

The Sea Eagles were on Monday installed as $4 outsiders with the Dragons paying just $1.22, but Lyon was adamant the horror build-up could result in Manly's finest hour if they pull off the greatest of NRL finals upsets.

"I think this is (our greatest challenge)," Lyon said on Monday.

"Considering how many players we're missing and who we could miss out on (through suspension) it's going to be one of the biggest games we could play.

"It's going to be a big opportunity for some young blokes coming in.

"A lot of people don't get to play semi-finals, so they've really got to take it in both hands and really have a crack.

"I think it would definitely be one of the best wins (in the club's history) we could come up with if we did get over the line.

"It's a great opportunity. It's the semi-finals. You don't need much more motivation than that."

Lyon's youngsters face the toughest possible challenge, coming up against a rampant Dragons outfit who rested five stars in Sunday night's mauling of South Sydney.

The Dragons devastating form and imposing line-up was not enough to strike fear into Lyon.

"We're capable of beating anyone on the day," Lyon said.

"It's just about all 17 players getting out there and all playing their best footy.

Manly have recent history on their side, with the Dragons having not won a finals match since 2006 while the eighth-placed team has triumphed in the past two years.

"In the back of our minds we know it's possible (to win)," Lyon added.

"We're going to go in there and leave nothing in the tank.

"We're going to give it our best and hopefully we can really match them and take it to them."

"We're expecting to win (but) I don't think there's too much pressure on us.

"(The Dragons poor recent history) may be in the back of their mind but (coach) Wayne Bennett's been around a long time, I don't think he'll let that creep in."

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