By Stephen Gallagher
Parramatta Eels V Sydney Roosters – Pirtek Stadium – 21.50
The Roosters season is over. Parramatta’s season is over (If the NRL still has the guts to strip their points).
The Eels are hardly affected by Origin where the Roosters are missing a few key players.
Parramatta will be strong favourites and rightly so. They’re really strong in attack mode and they’ve learnt to scramble on defence.
I think the Roosters have enough in them to push them for 80 minutes. Bondi’s Roosters have gone walkabout in most games this year. I think Trent Robinson would try to harness the talent and energy in to one 80 minute performance this week.
The Eels are going to have them in the forwards. So if they can get on top like they should, Parra will be clear winners.
TIP: Eels 1-12.
Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs V Wests Tigers – ANZ Stadium – 21.30NZT
A good Saturday night clash despite players missing from both sides for Origin.
The Bulldogs it in fourth spot, but the way the Tigers outclassed Penrith last week they could be a team sitting much higher than 12th.
But that’s their season, and their last ten years it seems. A side that have failed in the consistency category.
The Bulldogs are a side who can wrestle the best of them, and this match is almost like a heavy weight taking on a light weight.
Canterbury Bankstown have the players all over the field to put 50 points on this team, but the question is will they?
TIP: Bulldogs 13+. A messy but solid win.
Penrith Panthers V Cronulla Sharks – Pepper Stadium – 18.00NZT
The Panthers have a very good opportunity to end the streak of the Cronulla Sharks.
They are rarely affected by Origin, whereas the Sharks are almost crippled by it.
So this is the ultimate test really. If Cronulla can notch 13 straight wins I will find it hard to believe they will lose more than one more game this year.
If Penrith can win – then that’s some great confidence to take out of it for a very young and talented side.
Penrith need to rally around their halves. Give them the time and space with the ball and they will create tries.
Cronulla have to just win. They’ve won pretty and ugly plenty of times this year – and a winning culture is what they have.
This game is going down to the wire.
TIP: Panthers 1-12. Streak ends.
Canberra Raiders V North Queensland Cowboys – GIO Stadium – 21.00NZT
I think this Monday night match will be one of the better ones this year.
The Cowboys will be low on troops, but they are the reigning premiers and they know how to get to work.
The Raiders will be happy after their miracle come from behind win last Sunday, but will have had the time to get over it and focus on this mammoth task at hand.
Canberra will need to play a little more direct early on I feel. If they can run in to the Cowboys and tire them out, they the already stretched squad will be wanting to catch more than just their breath.
The Cowboys will not be underestimated by the Raiders.
One thing is certain – it’ll be bloody freezing in the nation’s capital. Coming from Townsville for the Cowboys they may as well be playing in Antarctica.
TIP: Raiders win 1-12.
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