By Stephen Gallagher
THURSDAY: Parramatta Eels V Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs, 21.50 – Bankwest Stadium
The Bulldogs could be the form side of the comp realistically, but once again it comes at a time when their season is already over.
Parramatta have a top four finish in their sights, but they can’t afford to sleep on Canterbury Bankstown.
It’s going to be a kitchen sink sort of game. I can see both sides throwing everything at it. I’m excited to see how this plays out. It’s going to be close.
TIP: Eels 1-12
FRIDAY: North Queensland Cowboys V Penrith Panthers, 20.00NZT – 1300 Smiles Stadium
Another season of despair for the Cowboys, as they look for answers in 2020. Penrith have it all to play for, with the top eight in their sights.
If the Cowboys can put a complete performance together, it might be a miracle – as they’ve been missing the mark all year.
Penrith have started slow, but it’s crunch time. A decent showing here could just get them in to the eight.
TIP: Panthers 13+
Brisbane Broncos V South Sydney Rabbitohs, 22.00NZT – Suncorp Stadium
Brisbane have to defend their home turf against a very desperate Rabbitohs side.
Earlier in the season, it was Souths who put the Broncos out of their misery. I feel the Broncos will be better for that hiding.
Brisbane have to be resilient. Sometimes they don’t have a backbone at all, and it costs them dearly.
Souths are good enough, and it feels like now or never with the finals only three weeks away.
TIP: Rabbitohs 1-12
SATURDAY: Cronulla Sharks V New Zealand Warriors, 17.00NZT – PointsBet Stadium
It was a field goal in the Warriors favour that separated these two only five weeks ago.
Cronulla at home will be a tough ask. The Warriors do get three players back from injury and suspension, so that does boost their chances.
Both sides were short of their best last week, and the Warriors will look to spoil the Sharks finals chances.
Cronulla’s forwards will give the Warriors a run for their money.
TIP: Sharks 1-12
Wests Tigers V Newcastle Knights, 19.30NZT – Campbelltown Stadium
This is knockout football. Whoever wins gets a better chance of making the eight.
The Tigers lose inspirational retiring hooker Robbie Farah to what could be a career ending injury, but are boosted with Josh Reynolds in the 9 jumper.
Newcastle’s emphatic victory last week will help build some confidence for them.
Whoever’s able to make the most of their chances will get the win. The Knights haven’t done so well under pressure, where the Tigers have. Hard to know which was this will go.
TIP: Knights 1-12
St George Illawarra Dragons V Sydney Roosters, 21.30NZT – Netstrata Jubilee Oval
St George have been chopping and changing their side all year it seems, and haven’t built any combinations that they’ve stuck with.
It doesn’t get any easier against the Roosters, who have been putting on huge scores against weaker opponents.
The Red V have to watch themselves. Sydney could very much make it difficult for them, and their fans.
I see this being end to end footy, mistakes galore – but plenty of tries.
TIP: Roosters 13+
SUNDAY: Melbourne Storm V Gold Coast Titans, 16.00NZT – AAMI Park
With the wooden spoon in hand, the Titans will arrive in Melbourne knowing that the biggest David versus Goliath task is in front of them.
What doesn’t help their cause, is that the Storm got run down last week from being 18-0 up. They’ll be flogged at training, and will be fierce in this game.
The Titans are cannon fodder. I genuinely think it’s possible the Storm could notch up 80 points.
TIP: Storm 13+
Canberra Raiders V Manly Warringah Sea Eagles, 18.00NZT – GIO Stadium
Third versus fourth on the ladder gives this an instant classic feeling.
Just one change to the Raiders, and none for the Sea Eagles. Both sides at pretty much full strength.
It’ll be interesting what the Raiders can serve up, with their first win over a top four opponent last week – they’d love to back it up again.
The Sea Eagles are genuine contenders for the title this season, and could prove themselves even more with a victory here. Game of the round!
TIP: Raiders 1-12
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