By Stephen Gallagher
THURSDAY: North Queensland Cowboys V Brisbane Broncos, 21.50 – 1300 SMILES Stadium.
These two sides only managed to score four points each last weekend, as they both looked awful.
There are points to be scored in this game however, with the Cowboys vying to upset some sides with their eyes on the top eight.
Brisbane have to be smarter with their execution, as they lacked the patience last week against Melbourne.
I think the Broncos are good enough to learn from last week and get a good win.
TIP: Broncos 1-12
The Warriors season is all over now, and it doesn’t get any easier against the red-hot Sea Eagles.
It was the Warriors who Manly topped with ease earlier this season in Christchurch, and after being thrashed last week – there will be a lot of emphasis on their poor defending.
The Sea Eagles are too good for the Warriors, who do have some injury concerns. It should be all one way traffic, unless Kearney’s been thrashing them at training this week.
TIP: Sea Eagles 13+
Penrith Panthers V Cronulla Sharks, 22.00NZT – Panthers Stadium
Pressure is starting to mount on the Panthers after consecutive losses. Do they have the mental capacity to turn it around? Every win here on out is crucial.
Cronulla have turned their season around, and that all adds to the theatre of this match up.
The intensity will be finals-like I’m sure. Every carry, every tackle will have that extra sting of venom.
I can see this game being decided close to the 80th minute, and I’m thinking it might be the away team to get it done.
TIP: Sharks 1-12
SATURDAY: St George Illawarra Dragons V Gold Coast Titans, 17.00NZT – Netstrata Jubilee Stadium
I’m excited to be attending this game, despite how little it means to both teams who are having a season to forget.
The Dragons have been lacking that killer instinct over the last few weeks, but this is their chance to really turn up the heat.
Gold Coast were dreadful last week, so here’s hoping they have some resistance in them, otherwise it could be another ugly score-line.
TIP: Dragons 1-12
Parramatta Eels V Newcastle Knights, 19.30NZT – Bankwest Stadium
Whatever’s happened to Newcastle, it needs to be reversed now. It doesn’t get any easier with a match up against the Eels who are destined to make the finals.
Both sides remain the same from their round twenty fixtures.
Parramatta and Newcastle are quite similar in the way they play. Fourth tackle plays seem to be the one they target to get things done. So there’s pressure on the defence in the flanks.
The Eels are good enough to keep winning, and I don’t believe Newcastle can find their mojo in time.
TIP: Eels 1-12
Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs V Wests Tigers, 21.30NZT – ANZ Stadium
After an upset last week, the Bulldogs will be targeting another upset as they come against the top eight Tigers.
Canterbury’s competitive line speed was the winner for them last week. If they can keep that intensity, then I believe they can really get a result.
Wests will be aware of what a loss at this stage of the competition means, so there is that added pressure.
Should be a good game. Don’t underestimate just what could happen.
TIP: Tigers 1-12
SUNDAY: Canberra Raiders V Sydney Roosters, 16.00NZT – GIO Stadium
If Sunday football couldn’t get any better – we’re getting finals footy early. Teams in second and third come together in a very important fight.
The Raiders are going from strength to strength. They’re still improving – but they’re a tough side to crack.
It’ll be a frosty reception for the Roosters I’m sure, but as reigning premiers – they know what it takes to get over the line in these big games.
Really looking forward to what these two teams can throw up in this one.
TIP: Roosters 1-12
South Sydney Rabbitohs V Melbourne Storm, 18.00NZT – Central Coast Stadium
And another top four clash, as one plays four.
Souths took a big loss last week, and would love to show they are genuine contenders by beating the Storm.
Melbourne are the sort of team that could absolutely put it on if they need to, but the Rabbitohs aren’t going to let them.
The way I see it, is whoever gets to win the ruck, wins the game. Cook V Smith. This is a great match up.
This could be a very close game.
TIP: Rabbitohs 1-12
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