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If there's one thing Manly coach Des Hasler thought was coming, it was a week one finals showdown with minor premiers Melbourne.
Hasler's side secured fourth place on the NRL ladder, heading into week one of the finals with an emphatic 46-18 victory over North Queensland on Saturday.
The win put them level with the Roosters on 34 points but their superior points differential provided Hasler's side a safety net heading into the post-season.
The Sea Eagles have broken records this year, with Reuben Garrick recording the most ever points in the regular season by a player (304), and the club also boasting three players with 20 or more tries in a season.
It's fitting they should matchup with the Storm, who went on their own record-equalling run of 19 straight victories throughout the year to equal that of the Roosters' run in 1975.
Hasler says his side has improved since their round 21 loss to the Storm, but was tight lipped on how, and what to expect when they meet next weekend.
"It was always one of the matchups that by the time all the dominoes dropped and fell into place - yeah it'll be a real challenge," he told reporters after the win over the Cowboys.
"There's definitely areas of improvement in us from that particular game ... weve just got to execute it on the night, that's what it comes down to.
"I just think we need to be able to manage our possession a bit better ... but it's always the case in those tight games and that's what it's going to be.
"The seven other (finals) coaches are probably saying the same thing."
Skipper Daly Cherry-Evans says he's excited to face the competition heavyweights, echoing the thoughts of his coach.
"I definitely think we've improved as a side since last time we played them but you know whether we've made the right adjustments - we won't know until after the game next week," he told AAP.
"I do feel as though we're on the right track and I do think we're up for the occasion.
"We're really excited and we definitely had a pretty strong desire to finish in the top four after we knew where we stood before the weekend.
"To achieve that definitely gives us a big pep in our step and we'll be up for the challenge against Melbourne next week."