By Stephen Gallagher
THURSDAY: Canberra Raiders V Cronulla Sharks, 21.50NZT – GIO Stadium
Round 14 starts off with an absolute banger as these two fight for a spot in the top four.
Both sitting on 16 points, these two teams have had stand out seasons thus far.
Canberra’s named the same 17 who thrashed the Tigers, and the Sharks will welcome back Shaun Johnson from injury.
This will be a very close game, both sides have strong mobile forward backs. It will be a war of attrition. Lots on the line, but I think the home side will get in. Just.
TIP: Raiders 1-12
FRIDAY: Gold Coast Titans V New Zealand Warriors, 20.00NZT – CBus Super Stadium
The Titans season hangs on by a thread, but the Warriors have already written off 2019.
It’s Adam Blair’s 300th game in the NRL – so that should be motivation for the Warriors.
Gold Coast looked a lot better with Ryley Jacks at the helm. A lot more direct and a smarter approach to football.
The Warriors predictability is their massive downfall. Wrap plays and one off the ruck runs. They need to reinvent the wheel. Titans should win this comfortably.
TIP: Titans 13+
North Queensland Cowboys V Wests Tigers, 22.00NZT – 1300 SMILES Stadium
After being pipped by two points at home last week, the Cowboys will be looking to bounce back against an out of form Tigers side.
The Cowboys have won three of their last five starts as they still have a shot in the 8.
Wests have fallen by the by, and need a win to boost their morale and their season’s hopes.
Of course Taumalolo will be a handful for the Tigers, so if they can contain him they will go close to winning.
Cowboys on form should get up however.
TIP: Cowboys 1-12
SATURDAY: Melbourne Storm V Newcastle Knights, 17.00NZT – AAMI Park
This is the biggest test of the season for both sides undoubtedly.
The Storm at home will be very tough for Newcastle, but since the Knights have won five on the trot they will be very happy to undo Melbourne in Melbourne.
Sitting top of the table for a reason, the Storm have once again proven they’re the measuring stick for success.
If Newcastle can storm in and get the result – I believe they are real premiership contenders.
TIP: Storm 1-12
South Sydney Rabbitohs V Penrith Panthers, 19.30NZT – ANZ Stadium
A couple of forced changes for Souths after their loss last week, but the Panthers remain the same as last weeks big win.
They would have taken a lot of confidence out of their best performance of the season – and the Panthers will have their sights on knocking off the Rabbitohs too.
Souths have to be better around the ruck defensively, as that’s where they were caught out last week.
The Panthers could cause another upset here if Souths aren’t careful.
TIP: Rabbitohs 1-12
Parramatta Eels V Brisbane Broncos, 21.30NZT – Bankwest Stadium
A lot of pressure on both these sides to perform as they’ve taken a dive recently.
The Eels just look lost out on the field. Their forwards have let them down, and the backs are doing too much.
Brisbane have a few more injuries to contend with, which doesn’t help their trip to Sydney.
Parramatta have a battle on their hands up front, because they haven’t been getting the job done. The Broncos have plenty of power there.
Parra to scrape home.
TIP: Eels 1-12
SUNDAY: Manly Warringah Sea Eagles V St George Illawarra Dragons, 16.00NZT – Lottoland
It was a dubious non-call in the 80th minute that ended up gifting the Dragons a win last time these two met, and I bet Manly haven’t forgotten it.
The Dragons looked very hot with their go to Corey Norman back.
Both sides are the same 17 which saw them win in Round 13 – which is a rare feat in terms of consistency for these two in 2019.
The Sea Eagles were slow out of the starters blocks last week, and it almost cost them.
St George will still have to eliminate their silly errors, especially against a side like this.
Very close game here. Can go either way.
TIP: Dragons 1-12
Sydney Roosters V Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs, 18.00NZT – Sydney Cricket Ground
I don’t think the Bulldogs would want to play this game this week, as the Roosters are out for redemption.
They have their origin stars back, and it could be with a vengeance.
The Bulldogs welcome Kiwis captain Dallin Watene-Zelezniak for his first start in the centres. They will be hoping his experience will have a positive influence.
The Roosters are just too good for the Bulldogs. There’s miles between them on the ladder, and it will show during the match.
TIP: Roosters 13+
Follow Stephen Gallagher on Twitter