By Stephen Gallagher
THURSDAY: Dragons V Rabbitohs – QIN Stadium – 21.50NZT
With both sides hovering around that eighth spot, this game can really define who out of these teams could press on and make the top eight.
The Dragons are home will be a tough ask for the Rabbitohs, but Souths always seem to find a way to get the wood over the Red V.
While Saint George Illawarra did win the Charity Shield back off them in the pre-season, Souths got a good win over them in April.
This could be a good game where the outside backs get a lot of space and have a big say for both teams.
Both sides are also wearing their indigenous jerseys again.
TIP: Rabbitohs 1-12
FRIDAY: Sea Eagles V Cowboys – 4 Pines Park – 20.00NZT
There’s a real surge in attitude over the Sea Eagles in the last few weeks, and it’s good to see them really ripping in for each other.
This Cowboys side though is a genuine threat for a premiership and will be a great measuring stick for this Manly team.
We saw last year that the great teams Manly couldn’t get past, so this is a test of character for them.
North Queensland have a great recipe for success, and a lot of that comes on the back of their defence. They’re outstanding in that aspect. That’s where premierships are built.
TIP: Cowboys 1-12
Storm V Broncos – AAMI Park – 21.55NZT
We are fifteen weeks into the comp, and the Broncos are now on a seven-game win streak and look nothing like the team they were 12 months ago.
With an outside chance of Ryan Papenhuyzen returning, there’s a clear boost coming for Melbourne.
Not that they necessarily need it, but knowing it’s there helps their troops.
Brisbane have a number of injuries to contend with, losing Paix, Reynolds, Farnworth and Robati this week.
Don’t doubt their ability in this contest. They will really throw everything at Melbourne.
I just think that the Storm will be good enough to absorb the pressure and still get the win.
TIP: Storm 1-12
SATURDAY: Sharks V Titans – C.ex Coffs International Stadium – 17.00NZT
The Titans linger at the bottom of the table, which is unfamiliar territory for this club that finished 8th last year and had plenty of high expectations this season.
They come up against a Sharks side who are very good at disposing of poor sides, and I expect them to really put the sword to the Gold Coast.
Despite a poor start last week, they remained calm and came back and really strong and never looked like losing from halftime.
The Titans have a series of issues, and I think their spine changing all the time does not help.
TIP: Sharks 13+
Warriors V Panthers – Moreton Daily Stadium – 19.30NZT
There will be a lot of eyes on Ronald Volkman, getting his NRL debut in the 6 jersey for the Warriors.
The big loss is Aiken, out with injury. He’s been the glue for this side, and although they’re awful, he’s been a shining light.
The only thing you can hope for the Warriors is to have a crack. They are playing the Panthers, they will lose. But they have to show something for the fans in Redcliffe.
TIP: Panthers 13+
Eels V Roosters – CommBank Stadium – 21.30NZT
Stung. That’s how the Eels will feel after that horrible loss to the Bulldogs. You’d have to think they will be hitting the ground running to try get one up over the Roosters.
These Roosters are good enough to win this game over the Eels. They are a top eight side through and through.
There are some very staunch forwards in this Roosters lineup who will want to take a piece of these Eels. There’s plenty to fight for through the middle.
TIP: Eels 1-12
SUNDAY: Raiders V Knights – GIO Stadium – 21.30NZT
If Ponga plays, the Knights are in with a chance, but really, the Raiders should win this regardless.
They have proven to themselves they are better than they were at the start of the season and are playing like every week is a finals match.
While Newcastle haven’t been at their best, they are getting through a heap of work – it’s just some errors in their own half that let them down ultimately.
Like you always hear, travelling to Canberra won’t be easy – and they’ll rely on Milford and Clifford heavily to kick them around and move the Raiders pack about.
TIP: Raiders 1-12
Bulldogs V Tigers – CommBank Stadium – 18.00NZT
The battle of the two interim coaches! Potter versus Kimmorley! What a thriller!
On a more serious note, you could see just how poor the Tigers were last week. I genuinely believe Madge was their man, and now Leilua has gone effective immediately too.
Those Doggies are getting better every week, and that is a massive statement win last week.
They look more confident out there, less burden on the halves, and more flow in their attack.
Happy to see Tigers star Adam Doueihi back from an ACL injury too.
TIP: Bulldogs 1-12
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