By Stephen Gallagher
Thursday, August 16
Broncos v Rabbitohs, Suncorp Stadium, 21.50NZT
This game could really determine the finish of the top eight. The Broncos are desperate for a win, and if they don’t get that, at least try not get smashed.
The pressure is mounting for Brisbane to get a result. Souths are going to be hard to beat because they’re in rich form.
Brisbane have to really go out and try blow the Rabbitohs off the park.
I think it will be a very close game. Not many points in it.
TIP: Rabbitohs 1-12
Friday, August 17
Sea Eagles v Titans, Lottoland, 20.00NZT
The late season resurgence of the Sea Eagles is something to admire, but both sides really have been terrible all season wrong.
This game has no bearing on the finals, but should still entertain nonetheless.
Manly have the Titans on paper, but don’t count out the Gold Coast. They can always pull a result when punters least expect it.
Manly at home, on a Friday, too strong in this one I think.
TIP: Sea Eagles 13+
Storm v Eels, AAMI Park, 21.50NZT
The Storm, after losing two in a row will really be fired up and raring to go.
Parramatta managed to score plenty of points themselves last week, so will have some confidence in their ability to get tries on the board.
Melbourne’s game plan must involve a smarter kicking game. They weren’t at their best last week, and it showed.
If Parramatta have a sniff, it’ll be that they’ll just go out play football. Melbourne are still looking to finish top of the table.
TIP: Storm 13+
Saturday, August 18
Panthers v Knights, Panthers Stadium, 17.00NZT
Penrith are unlucky to lose their main man James Maloney for the next few weeks, but they have shown they’re a quality side under adversity this season.
It’ll be water off a panthers back. They’ll just go out and do their thing.
The Knights would like to at least win one more game before the end of the year, but it’ll be hard yakka against this Penrith outfit.
The Knights are unchanged from their loss last week, so hopefully for their sake their players can build on what went wrong, and try get points on the board early.
TIP: Panthers 1-12
Depending on what happens on Thursday night, this game has some huge ramifications. The Tigers will definitely be up for it.
The lowest point of the season for the Dragons was last week. They must be better. They must win, for confidence going in to the finals.
Wests have already beaten the Red V once this season, and will look to notch this one on the board in front of their screaming fans.
I have to back the Dragons. They can’t get any worse. Lots of pressure on both sides.
TIP: Dragons 1-12
Sharks v Cowboys, Southern Cross Group Stadium, 21.30NZT
Cronulla are really making a solid run in to this finals footy season. They’re a bit of a smoky when it comes to winning the premiership, but they’ve done it before.
I’d hate to see the Cowboys finish last. Especially in Thurston’s last season. I can’t see them going down to Cronulla and winning this encounter however.
The Sharks are playing a really positive brand of football. Promoting it, not afraid to give the ball some air early. They’re hard to stop when they pile a few quick tries on.
TIP: Sharks 1-12
Sunday, August 19
Bulldogs v Warriors, ANZ Stadium, 16.00NZT
This is an interesting one for me. The Bulldogs have a habit of getting a sneaky result against the Warriors.
The Bulldogs have nothing to lose, either. Their season was a write off ten weeks ago.
For the Warriors, it’s a banana peel match. They slip up here, and the pressure goes back on them.
Still waiting to watch them blow a side off the park in an 80 minute performance. For their sake, I hope they get the result. They need it.
TIP: Warriors 13+
Raiders v Roosters, GIO Stadium, 18.10NZT
The Raiders have been cruelled by poor decision making in their side all year, and last week was no different.
That’ll most likely be the difference here.
They’ve got the arsenal to match it with the Roosters, but the way Sydney play – they are much smarter and more clinical.
The Roosters are really impressing at the back end of the season – and pose a big threat in the finals.
Should be plenty of points scored in this.
TIP: Roosters 1-12
Follow Stephen Gallagher on Twitter