By Stephen Gallagher
Thursday, July 26
Broncos v Sharks, Suncorp Stadium, 21.50NZT
An interesting top eight affair kicks the weekend of footy off.
The Broncos made a statement win last week against the Panthers, and will want to do so again this week.
Cronulla are one win off a top four berth, and will look to build on that.
Brisbane’s confidence comes from a fast start. They’re such a hard side to try chase down.
Cronulla will be aware of that, and will have to make some important tackles early.
TIP: Broncos 1-12
Friday, July 27
Cowboys v Knights, 1300SMILES Stadium, 20.00NZT
North Queensland are unchanged despite their loss last week, and the Knights are bolstered by the return of Kalyn Ponga.
This is a massive boost for the Knights, who did well to fight back and win last week.
There’s nothing left in the Cowboys tank, not even for a JT send off. Things don’t look to green in Townsville.
I expect Newcastle to win this, they have the troops to do so.
TIP: Knights 1-12
Bulldogs v Wests Tigers, ANZ Stadium, 21.50NZT
The Tigers are daring to dream. Needing to win the remainder of all their matches, they get the luck of the draw here against the Bulldogs.
Wests defence has been amazing this season, and all they have to do is keep the Bulldogs out a couple of times in the first half to really dampen their spirits.
The Tigers are looking like a complete football side when things are going their way, and if that’s the case – they will demolish Canterbury Bankstown.
TIP: Tigers 13+
Saturday, July 28
Sea Eagles v Panthers, Lottoland, 17.00NZT
Both these sides were on the end of a thrashing last week, so who will come to this match with the biggest bounce back factor?
Surely it’s Penrith, who have a lot more to play for than Manly Warringah.
Manly would love to play devil’s advocate, and beat the Panthers for the second time this season.
Penrith’s backline looks to be the side they’ll take in to the finals, so it’s important they find some points in this match.
TIP: Panthers 1-12
Rabbitohs v Eels, ANZ Stadium, 19.30NZT
The third best side in the competition will go up against the last placed side.
Just by going on that, the Rabbitohs should win comfortably.
Then put in that they were thrashed in a game they should have won last week, and the fire will be burning in their eyes.
Imagine if Parramatta could pull this behemoth victory off, it’d probably be their only talking point all season.
Just can’t see it happening, though. Rabbitohs by plenty.
TIP: Rabbitohs 13+
Storm v Raiders, AAMI Park, 21.30NZT
For Melbourne, it’s about more of the same.
They love the nitty, gritty style matches. It’s how they’ve gotten so great over the years.
Canberra were a try away from a stunning win last week, and despite a few injuries are showing they they are capable of performing.
They won’t make the eight, but they will give a few top eight sides a fright for the rest of the season.
Melbourne will play a smart game, and get the victory with pin point accuracy in kicks, and taking all their point scoring opportunities.
TIP: Storm 1-12
Sunday, July 29
Titans v Warriors, CBus Super Stadium, 16.00NZT
It’s the Warriors game to lose, here. They have a lot to play for.
Their points differential needs a huge boost, and they come up against a side they have a really good record against.
The Titans lost a lot of confidence after being run down last week, and that won’t help their causes.
New Zealand Warriors see the return of two crucial players in Harris and Green. Time to win is now.
TIP: Warriors 13+
Roosters v Dragons, Allianz Stadium, 18.10NZT
A mammoth clash to finish off Round 20.
The form these two are showing is world class. I can already smell the finals intensity in this one.
Both sides are as about full strength as they can get, which makes this really really exciting.
The Dragons got the two points on ANZAC Day, and would make a statement by getting the wood over the Chooks twice in one season.
The attacking prowess in both these sides is phenomenal. Hopefully there’s some great attacking football on display.
TIP: Dragons 1-12
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