By Stephen Gallagher
North Queensland Cowboys V Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs – 1300 Smiles Stadium – 21.50NZT
Third plays fourth in a hotly-contested match that may determine who finishes where in the top four.
This is an exciting start to Round 20, unfortunately it’s a Thursday night and no one will be watching.
The Cowboys will be ready to put their foot on the accelerator to help defend their 2015 title – but the Bulldogs will be wary of the impressive threat they pose.
North Queensland are the kind of side that will always be in the game, so Canterbury can’t afford to take it easy if they take the lead.
I think there is a high possibility that this game could go to golden point. There’s not much in it!
TIP: Cowboys 1-12.
Brisbane Broncos V Penrith Panthers – Suncorp Stadium – 21.50NZT
Here come the Broncos. As per their usual rampage to the finals, opponents beware.
Penrith are looking quite tough and brute, as their helluva comeback last week showed.
Brisbane love their home advantage though, just as much as they love to hog the Friday night spot.
Penrith already have their backs against the walls – but sitting in 9th spot, they will have to keep winning to break the eight.
The Broncos have a tough forward pack, and if they can be gritty and frustrate Penrith – they will win.
The Panthers are too inconsistent, if they can manage a win – it’ll do this club wonders for their remaining games.
TIP: Broncos 13+
Canberra Raiders V New Zealand Warriors – GIO Stadium – 17.00NZT
This is a biggie, for both teams.
Much like all games with a skinny amount of matches to go – it’s a must win.
The Raiders are a stellar team. Fun to watch and hard to beat.
The Warriors – well this is their usual “go off the boil with a chance to make the eight” period that they really have to get over.
GIO Stadium has not been kind to the visitors, but of late they have had their winning ways in the Nations Capital.
For the Raiders, they just have to focus on building pressure. The Warriors have tendency to start slow, and if they can get a few early tries and keep on rolling, then it could be a cricket score.
The Warriors need to execute better. Same old story it seems, but their fifth tackle options are generally weak.
I think this game could be an arm wrestle if both teams play to their potential.
TIP: Raiders 1-12
Gold Coast Titans V Parramatta Eels – Cbus Super Stadium – 19.30NZT
The Titans are in the top eight, but Parramatta could spoil their fun.
I think the Titans are deserved of their position on the table, but sometimes they flake in and out of games that they’re really hard to pick.
In order to defeat Parramatta – the Titans kicking game will need to be 100% right.
The Eels are starting to crack on field, as their head office is already in a thousand pieces. It’s unfortunate for their players – but the wear and tear of injuries and everything else seems to be taking its toll.
If I am the Titans coach, I keep my focus internally. Worry about what they need to do as a group.
Parramatta have to continue to fight like they have all season.
TIP: Titans 13+
Melbourne Storm V Sydney Roosters – AAMI Park – 21.30NZT
The Storm just need to keep on winning.
Having only dropped one of their last twelve matches, they are in ripe form for another year of success.
The Roosters are only playing for pride, and down in Victoria they could find themselves on the wrong side of a hiding.
Storm are going to work the edges perfectly like they have all year long. The Roosters weak spots are on the flanks, which spells disaster.
Melbourne are experts in these games. I feel like the Roosters will feel heartache again.
TIP: Storm 1-12
Cronulla Sharks V Newcastle Knights – Southern Cross Group Stadium – 16.00NZT
Here comes 15 wins in a row.
Saint George Illawarra Dragons V Wests Tigers – ANZ Stadium – 18.00NZT
Both of these teams have defence that leaks like a sieve. So you’d imagine there are plenty of points at stake here, right?
To be fair- their attack has been lacklustre as well.
So I think these two teams will find themselves with plenty of opportunities, but they just need to convert them.
Whoever gets on the board first I think goes a long way to winning this match.
The Dragons and Tigers generally play out pretty entertaining games too.
TIP: Dragons 1-12.
South Sydney Rabbitohs V Manly Warringah Sea Eagles – 21.00NZT
Why is this game at Allianz Stadium?
Anyway, there are plenty of points on offer in this match between two teams that have failed to live up to expectation in 2016.
The Rabbitohs need to show what they are made of. A side that has firepower stacked to the brim, but lacking in confidence.
The Sea Eagles are grinding away in games without much toil.
I feel like there are going to be plenty of tries scored in this one. A 60 or 70 point match.
TIP: Rabbitohs 1-12
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