By Stephen Gallagher
I went for a gamble on a few upsets – and they did NOT pay off. Tipping at 51/80 this year.
THURSDAY: Cowboys V Knights – Queensland Country Bank Stadium – 21.50NZT
The Cowboys put up a goodish fight last week, but wasn’t good enough in the end. The Knights coach Adam O’Brien was clearly frustrated by his sides lack of consistency in a big loss last week, but has only made one injury change this week.
The Cowboys are slowly getting there in terms of getting to the game plan, and that could help them get up over the Knights, especially at home.
Newcastle have to win these sorts of games to show they’re worthy of a top eight, I just don’t know which side will run out for them.
TIP: Knights 1-12
FRIDAY: Warriors V Tigers – Central Coast Stadium – 20.00NZT
The Warriors only have themselves to blame after a big loss last week where they were down by 24 after 18 minutes.
The Tigers have the same 17 as last week, and will want to look to string two together.
It’s hard when two sides struggle with such consistency that this game could be wildly one-sided, or it could be a high scoring shoot out.
The Warriors staring down three losses in a row need to be better.
TIP: Warriors 1-12
Sharks V Dragons – Netstrata Jubilee Oval – 21.55NZT
The Sharks sit on a five game losing streak and don’t look like getting any better. While the Dragons have been decimated through suspension, but despite that should still be in with a chance.
There has been a change of attitude under Anthony Griffin which has seen the Red V become stronger mentally.
Whereas it’s hard to see where the Sharks get up under their caretaker coach.
They have been playing okay in patches, but there’s nothing that’s gelling them together on the field.
It could get messy for the Sharks.
TIP: Dragons 1-12
SATURDAY: Titans V Bulldogs – CBus Super Stadium – 17.00NZT
A slight reshuffle for the Titans with suspensions, but there’s still a very talented team to take the field against the Bulldogs.
One thing the Titans have really let themselves down with this season is defence. Leaking points consistently, and still haven’t addressed it.
The effort is there for the Bulldogs, but the results aren’t. That must be a super frustrating thing for them.
The Titans really have to work on their D. And with plenty of weeks left in the season, it needs to happen sooner rather than later.
Canterbury should do their best to win the ruck, and get on the back of that. They look a lot better when they have momentum.
TIP: Titans 1-12
Roosters V Broncos – SCG – 19.30NZT
Lots of injury concerns this season for the Roosters, but they are able to name the same 17 players this week which feels like a momentous occasion.
The Broncos have had to change their halves pairing again, with Albert Kelly making his debut for the club.
The merry-go-round continues at the Broncos, which doesn’t make their case very strong this weekend.
The Roosters look more than capable to put Brisbane to the sword this weekend, especially if the Broncos can’t keep up.
TIP: Roosters 13+
Raiders V Storm – GIO Stadium – 21.30NZT
The Raiders finally got a win last week, which must have felt like an eternity.
And that’s good timing too, because coming up against Melbourne isn’t going to be easy.
It’s also isn’t going to be easy to play the Storm without Wighton, Papalii and Hodgson, all suspended.
So notch up a big win to the Storm, because that’s the only result I can see.
Especially with Brandon Smith back for Melbourne, he’ll be raring to get going.
TIP: Storm 13+
SUNDAY: Rabbitohs V Panthers – Apex Oval, Dubbo – 16.00NZT
Game of the round on a Sunday arvo? Yes, please!
The Rabbitohs get Latrell Mitchell back from suspension for this one, and that’s a huge inclusion.
I say this every week about the Panthers – but how good are they!? Honestly, they deserve all the accolades they’re collecting because they’re just dominating teams for fun.
This game will be a doozy.
Both sides who are great on attack, two sides who have plenty of firepower, and two sides who have plenty of spark.
Hopefully we get a fine display of attacking footy.
TIP: Panthers 1-12
Eels V Sea Eagles – Bankwest Stadium – 18.05NZT
While it was another convincing win for the Eels last week, their lapses of concentration through the middle period of the game was slightly concerning.
The Sea Eagles are looking to roll their incredible five weeks of form in to Western Sydney and give the locals a run for their money.
Two very electric backlines going head to head will be worth the price of admission alone.
Cade Cust replaces Keiran Foran in the halves through injury.
Really nothing between these two team on their day. I like the way the Eels can bully and dominate sides, but the way the Sea Eagles back themselves from anywhere on the park is really something.
TIP: Sea Eagles 1-12
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