By Stephen Gallagher
Hearing Brandon Smith describe Craig Bellamy’s halftime spray last week as the worst he’s ever received, you’ll have to think that Melbourne will want to fire up for this, despite missing their Origin stars.
Cronulla only lose one player, which means they will get the favourites tag.
The way the Sharks took control of the game in the rain was brilliant. It shows they’re really growing into a top-four team under Craig Fitzgibbon.
Feels like one of those games that should be on a Saturday rather than a Thursday because it has the potential to be the best game this weekend.
I think the Sharks will just pip Melbourne, but it will be a fight to the end.
TIP: Sharks 1-12
FRIDAY: Knights V Rabbitohs – McDonald Jones Stadium – 21.55NZT
With their wingers scoring for eight tries last week, the Knights will be eager to shovel the ball out wide early to Lee and Young to give them more opportunities to get across the white line.
There’s a big difference between the Titans last week and the Rabbitohs this week though.
Souths will be a lot harder to break down defensively. Even without a few of their origin stars, they have the confidence knowing that Latrell Mitchell is in the 1 jersey.
Newcastle has Jayden Brailey back for the first game this season. His presence will be a big boost.
Think that Newcastle have enough in the tank to make it competitive, but Souths will be too strong in the end.
TIP: Rabbitohs 13+
SATURDAY: Tigers V Eels – Leichhardt Oval – 21.35NZT
Both sides thoroughly outplayed last week. The Tigers don’t look like they’re going to fight for the rest of their season – but it feels like the Eels only just manage to win these games, and get up for higher opposition.
I don’t want to see the Tigers continue to fall, but they’re just not showing anything worthwhile.
The Eels just need to thrash the Tigers and do it in a big way.
TIP: Eels 13+
SUNDAY: Broncos V Dragons – Suncorp Stadium – 18.00NZT
The last time the Broncos managed to beat the Dragons was in 2017. The big miss for the Red V is Ben Hunt on Origin duty.
Then you look at the Broncos, who are missing 8 regular starters for this clash, and you’d say it evens up.
I expect Adam Reynolds to come out swinging after copping some criticism last week around his performance. He’s a good player and can win this game for the Broncos.
The Dragons have won two in a row, and they were two very different games to win.
This has the potential to be a very close game. Brisbane have them in the halves, but I think the Dragons will win the physicality up front.
TIP: Dragons 1-12
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