By Stephen Gallagher
Sydney Roosters V Brisbane Broncos – Allianz Stadium – 21.50NZT
The worst Roosters season in a wee while has shown a few cracks in this infrastructure.
The Broncos fall from grace also continues.
There is so much to play for if you’re the Broncos, as their top eight hopes are wasting away with each poor performance.
It’s a simple recipe. Hold the ball. The lack of confidence by the senior plays reflects badly on this team.
The Roosters are just going to go out there and give it there all like they have all season, but wanting to come up trumps to try finish this hellish year on a high.
The Broncos have to win. Simple as that.
TIP: Broncos 1-12. Desperate times.
Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs V Saint George Illawarra Dragons – ANZ Stadium 21.50NZT
The difference between these two sides?
The Bulldogs are hungry to make amends after being embarrassed last week.
Poor results doesn’t inspire the Dragons to do better, and neither do positive results.
The Bulldogs are going to run all over them if the Red V are soft in the forwards again.
This Bankstown team need to prove they are better than the rubbish they served up last week, and they are the sort of side who can reverse that result emphatically.
I hope for Mary McGregor’s sake that his team aren’t just passengers at a training run.
TIP: Bulldogs 13+
New Zealand Warriors V Penrith Panthers – Mount Smart Stadium – 17.00NZT
Another crunch match.
Both sides are deserved of finals footy, but the loser could miss out because of this game.
The Warriors will be thankful they are back home after two harsh golden point losses.
However I feel the Panthers have turned their season around over the last fortnight.
It’s going to be tough for the Auckland-based franchise, but their best attacking weapon this season, Tuimoala Lolohea is at fullback and has time to make up for.
If they can get up at home, they will make the eight.
TIP: Warriors, just. 1-12.
Parramatta Eels V Wests Tigers – ANZ Stadium – 19.30NZT
I do think the spirit of the blue and golds has finally been broken, but this match is a judge of character.
The Tigers are almost equal on the “sporting headlines” table as Parramatta, but I don’t think they’re good enough to win this.
They did perform remarkably without Farah (surprised? I’m not) and they need to keep that style up.
The Eels, despite how make-shift their squad is, are still bigger and better on the park and should get the result.
North Queensland Cowboys V Melbourne Storm – 1300Smiles Stadium – 21.30NZT
If anyone can catch Cronulla – it’ll be either one of these two teams. So this match is almost a playoff for second place on the table.
The Cowboys, without Johnathan Thurston are dealt a massive, potentially game winning blow.
Melbourne are soaring through the competition quite easily at the moment, and this 80 minutes of football might just push them to the brink.
Michael Morgan, Lachlan Coote and Jake Granville have to lead this team in attack, and Ray Thompson will have to play the game of his life.
Melbourne will want to play on the fact JT is away, and push the Cowboys back as much as they can.
TIP: Storm 1-12.
South Sydney Rabbitohs V Canberra Raiders – ANZ Stadium – 16.00NZT
Can the Rabbitohs win?
The Raiders are fourth for a reason. They are never out of games regardless of the scoreline, and are very good at winning – something Souths fans have forgotten in 2016.
This is going to be a test for Canberra though.
South Sydney need to bring back their bully tactics which saw oppositions submit to their physical style of play.
The Raiders are one of the biggest teams up front, and will gladly accept this challenge
Souths will have to be at their very best, and more to even get close.
TIP: Raiders 1-12
Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles V Newcastle Knights – Brookvale Oval – 18.15NZT
The Sea Eagles are looking for an impressive three wins in a row in a dull season on the field.
The Knights just want to notch up their second win of the season.
Manly are finally starting to gel – and we saw glimpses of what they can produce in the first half of last week.
Ideally, they’re hoping to play for 80 minutes. Something that both of these sides have failed to do this season.
If the Knights want to win, they just have to execute. They are horrible close to the line and on fifth tackle.
Sea Eagles fans know that this is their game to lose, and need a big performance at home on a Sunday.
TIP: Sea Eagles 13+
Gold Coast Titans V Cronulla Sharks – CBUS Super Stadium – 21.00NZT
The Titans will win this match.
Yep, they will.
I believe they are the side who will end this mammoth streak of success that Cronulla have managed to string together this season in emphatic fashion.
The Titans are a team who don’t care who they play – they have the hunger to win. They’re back in a groove that saw them look so deadly earlier this season.
The Cronulla Sharks just have to trust their instincts which have got them so far already in 2016.
They are both big sides, and on paper the Sharks would win it – but the Titans just seem to lift in these sorts of affairs.
Game of the week for me. I can’t wait to see what Monday serves up.
TIP: Titans 1-12.
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