By Stephen Gallagher
THURSDAY: Manly Warringah Sea Eagles V Wests Tigers, 21.50 – Lottoland
With Manly returning home after a loss, they will be amped up for this clash against the Tigers who are desperate to crack the top eight.
A loss for Wests could spell the end of their season.
It will be a hard ask against the Sea Eagles, and without their inspirational hooker Robbie Farah who is out injured.
The Tigers will have a kick up the backside after a loss last week too, they have to play this game like it’s life or death.
TIP: Sea Eagles 1-12
FRIDAY: Gold Coast Titans V Parramatta Eels, 20.00NZT – Cbus Super Stadium
With wooden spoon in hand, the Titans will try pile in some tries to make this game competitive.
It’s their defence that’s been questionable all year, and against a strong side like the Eels, they could easily be opened and exposed.
Gold Coast will just have to throw caution to the wind and try catch the Eels off guard. I don’t see anything other than an Eels win as the result however.
TIP: Eels 13+
Brisbane Broncos V Penrith Panthers, 22.00NZT – Suncorp Stadium
Now this is a very tense finals-like game. Both of these teams are teetering on the edge of the eight, and a loss will see them slip out.
Brisbane’s form has not been inspiring. The Panthers look much more like a side that’s able to perform together consistently.
If Penrith get a bit of a start on the Broncos, they could pull away. This could be a defining result each of their seasons. I think the Panthers have more in them to win.
TIP: Panthers 1-12
SATURDAY: Newcastle Knights V North Queensland Cowboys, 17.00NZT – McDonald Jones Stadium
Time is ticking on the Knights season, and if they don’t get this game, then time will expire.
Their backs have been against the wall long enough, they have to get it together before it’s too late.
The Cowboys have delivered another poor effort for the second year in a row, but have shown glimpses of what they’re capable of.
Got to be an emphatic victory for the Knights, otherwise it’s curtains.
TIP: Knights 13+
Melbourne Storm V Canberra Raiders, 19.30NZT – AAMI Park
It’s one versus three here. The Storm will confirm their Minor Premiership with a victory here.
Canberra competed hard last week, but couldn’t find enough to win.
Melbourne have been the benchmark side this year, and deservedly so. They will be hard to stop, so if the Raiders could somehow topple them on home soil, that would show a lot about the Green Machine.
This should be a game built around defence, with not many points scored I think.
TIP: Storm 1-12
South Sydney Rabbitohs V Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs, 21.30NZT – ANZ Stadium
The Bulldogs are on a slight roll, winning their last two. Souths just dropped to the Storm, but still are set for a top four finish.
Canterbury’s season is over, which I think that’s why they’re starting to play a lot better. No pressure.
So the Rabbitohs have a slight banana-peel game on their hands. Under Wayne Bennett though, they’re better than that. They’ll get the chocolates.
TIP: Rabbitohs 1-12
It’ll be tough going for the Warriors to come up against the Roosters in this one.
They still have a chance on making the top eight, and I’d back them to do that if they get the W here.
The Roosters look to get their captain back from injury, which only helps their cause.
It’s the right time of the year for the Roosters to come out and play. Their forward pack is very mobile, and if they can build pressure early – the Warriors could crack.
TIP: Roosters 1-12
Cronulla Sharks V St George Illawarra Dragons, 18.00NZT – Pointsbet Stadium
As these two neighbours round out the week, there’s still plenty to play for.
The Sharks took a loss last week, and need a win over the Red V more than ever.
Cronulla’s halves have it all in their hands. With the Dragons back three making more than a few errors last week – I’m sure their game plan will be to put the ball in the air and see how they react.
Dragons will give it their best shot, but might come up just short.
TIP: Sharks 1-12
Follow Stephen Gallagher on Twitter