By Stephen Gallagher
Manly Warringah Sea Eagles V Parramatta Eels – Brookvale Oval – 21.55NZT
A juicy Thursday night clash is this one.
Despite sitting in 10th spot – Manly are starting to come in to their own while a couple of their big guns are on the sidelines.
The Parramatta Eels will be ready for this one, as halves pairing Corey Norman and Kieran Foran are starting to really scare teams with their ability.
I’ll admit I was never a massive Norman fan, but he is really finding his feet with Foran beside him.
This game is going to be a typical battle in front. Trbojevic, Taupau, Myles against Moeroa, Scott and Ma’u.
These blokes are bringing a traditional style of forward footy and adding in some extra juice with their ball abilities.
Expect it to be close throughout – a typical Brookvale arm-wrestle.
TIP: Sea Eagles to strike late and hold on, 1-12.
North Queensland Cowboys V South Sydney Rabbitohs – 1300 SMILES Stadium – 21.55NZT
The Cowboys are bolstered after a late and lucky victory against a courageous Penrith side, while the Rabbitohs confront the Premiers after being humiliated by the previously winless Roosters.
So this game is about redemption really for the visitors – with the inclusion of tatted halfback Adam Reynolds at 7 to partner Luke Keary.
Whenever the Cowboys play, you know what you’re in for. Slack off for 2 minutes, it’ll cost you. Miss a tackle, it’ll cost you.
The Townsville-based side are going to continue to build on the seasons start which has seen them start slow but steady.
Something special will have to happen for the Rabbitohs to win this one, but they are desperate.
TIP: Souths will hit the ground running, so Rabbitohs halftime/Cowboys fulltime will be the go. Cowboys 1-12.
Gold Coast Titans V Saint George Illawarra Dragons – Cbus Super Stadium – 17.00NZT
This is leg 3 of 3 for the Dragons on their Queensland road trip. Conceded 62 points without actually getting on the board themselves.
In 13th position, I find it very hard to see them winning this one.
The Titans have delivered over and above through six rounds so far – being led around the park by rookie Ash Taylor and in his second NRL game, Cameron Cullen.
These two kids have some of the biggest body guards in the competition, with Ryan James, Agnatius Paasi, and Greg Bird using shoulders like they’re going out of fashion.
If the Dragons were to overcome this seemingly one-sided affair – it’ll be because they’ve finally piled on some points. Desperate to score tries, as both James Tedesco and Solomone Kata have individually scored more tries than the Dragons have as a team. Ouch.
TIP: The Titans will do it, but the Dragons will finally get on the board. Titans 1-12.
Wellington Bulldogs V New Zealand Warriors – Westpac Stadium – 19.30NZT
Westpac Stadium in Wellington is literally a fortress for the ‘Dogs. They have NEVER lost a game there – an incredible record.
The Warriors will be licking their wounds in a stadium they’ve only won once in – against a team who has just beaten Melbourne for the sixth straight time.
“Wellington Bulldogs” will know not to take this one lightly, a banana peel match if you will.
If the Warriors lose this, and slip to 2-5, it could spell disaster. Times are desperate, with Tui Lolohea shifted to stand off with Jeff Robson dropped.
The Bulldogs will be running hard from kickoff, and if they can unsettle the Warriors early – it’ll be a victory for the Blue n Whites.
TIP: The Bulldogs have it all over the park. Warriors will be better than they were last week though. Bulldogs 1-12
Brisbane Broncos V Newcastle Knights – Suncorp Stadium – 21.30NZT
Breaking new territory here, the Broncos haven’t played on a Friday for two whole weeks! And the Knights won! What kind of sorcery is this?
Lucky Newcastle won last week, because chances are Brisbane will win this one.
Sitting top of the table, this Broncos side has shown plenty of good performances this year – but nothing outstanding. Guys like Oates, Blair, Roberts and Wallace have really been leading the way all year.
Newcastle’s new era isn’t amazing, but Nathan Brown is doing everything he can with their sub-par roster.
Mullen and Hodkinson are two players that really need to stand up. Both have been successful in their careers, but need to take action and direction. Leadership stemming from the halves is a must for this side.
Broncos have the Knights in the forwards, and that will do the damage early.
TIP: Broncos 13+. Ben Hunt first try scorer.
Canberra Raiders V Cronulla Sharks – GIO Stadium – 16.00NZT
Here’s the game of the round in my books.
The Raiders and Sharks both within the top eight, and have had great starts to their seasons.
The Raiders are a force at home, and will look to protect the Nation’s capital with all their might against a thirsty Sharks side.
Cronulla are really starting to win the battle against teams, games which in the past they would have lost. If they can wrestle with the Raiders for 60 minutes, they’ll have a very good chance to win this game.
Ben Barba has been great the last three weeks, and will have to once again be his best. Every game he has scored a try in this year – Cronulla have won.
The Raiders wonder men Aidan Sezer and Blake Austin are going to have to be at the top of their attacking game.
TIP: The Raiders will hang on, a late penalty to hand them the victory. Raiders 1-12.
Wests Tigers V Melbourne Storm – Leichhardt Oval – 18.00NZT
Desperate times call for desperate measures.
However the Tigers have one of the thinnest rosters in the competition, and don’t have any special players to call on after losing four in a row.
The Storm suffered a loss on Monday and will be out to correct that.
The Tigers at Leichhardt are usually quite strong, and the incredible form James Tedesco is in should help, but it hasn’t.
I’m quite critical of Robbie Farah, and the whole fiasco with Jason Taylor really made the Tigers look quite poor. They also haven’t won a game since his return.
The Kiwi contingent at Melbourne should link up and have solid games. Harris, Proctor, Bromwich x2 and Asofa-Solomona.
TIP: Tigers with five straight losses, Storm 1-12.
Sydney Roosters V Penrith Panthers – Allianz Stadium – 21.00NZT
The Roosters could be making moves now. After finally getting the winless ugly monkey off their back – they’ll now be confident they can win a second against a Penrith side who have had an indifferent season so far.
The Roosters youngsters are finding their feet in the deep end, and up against this shaky Panthers outfit, it could be another win.
Penrith have relied too heavily on forwards to get the job done, when they haven’t been up to scratch.
There needs to be big performances from Trent Merrin and Sam McKendry if they want to stick it to the likes of Dylan Napa and Sam Moa.
This game will be close I feel, but the Roosters have been good this year with only one win.
TIP: Roosters to get it done by 10.
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