By Stephen Gallagher
THURSDAY: Broncos V Sharks – Suncorp Stadium – 21.50NZT
Lots of hype around the Talakai and Staggs match up. Both rugby league handfuls, but my God, Talakai is in some form right now. UNREAL behaviour on the field.
Both comfortable winners in the end last week, the Sharks get Finucane back and Brisbane are unchanged.
Adam Reynolds took control so well last week, and will need to do so again this week against a red hot Cronulla side.
Home advantage will help, but I don’t think it’ll help enough. The Sharks look a lot more in tune and stronger across the field.
TIP: Sharks 1-12
FRIDAY: Titans V Panthers – CBUS Super Stadium – 20.00NZT
Feels like the Titans just aren’t getting their combinations right on the field, and mixing up their halves by putting Brimson in the 1 is just another questionable call by Holbrook.
That being said, they need all the help they can get as they come up against the Penrith Panthers who are just decimating teams for fun.
Gold Coast are the worst Queensland side right now, and after having big wraps on them pre-season, it’s not looking good.
I don’t believe they will catch the Panthers out, nor do I believe they have what it takes to beat them. Especially since Penrith are unchanged.
TIP: Panthers 13+
Rabbitohs V Sea Eagles – Central Coast Stadium – 21.55NZT
Losing by one point never feels good, but if anything, it does drive you to be better the next week.
Even a strange game of two halves couldn’t bail out Manly, and missing Olakau’atu doesn’t help either.
Bit of a bounce back game this one, but for whom?
Souths look like a better side on paper, but when you get Cherry-Evans kicking and kicking well, he can single handedly turn a game around.
Not much in this, I think both sides are on a similar wave. Both have potential, just struggle to complete their sets at times and that hurts.
TIP: Rabbitohs 1-12
SATURDAY: Warriors V Raiders – Moreton Daily Stadium – 17.00NZT
Whatever opinion you have after the Warriors loss last week, they’d have heard it, and nothing good comes from repeating it.
And it was a Raiders outfit who just ran out of gas and conceded a few late scores to see them blown out by 30 against the premiers.
In the two games these sides played last year, the team who was up comfortably at half time was run down in the second half.
This is a coin flip. Whoever you think will win, and even at the 79th minute mark, you might not know who will come up trumps.
All I know if that both sides have to be a helluva lot better. Injury concerns really hinder the Warriors this week.
TIP: Raiders 1-12
Bulldogs V Roosters – Accor Stadium – 19.30NZT
Aw man, why do the Bulldogs suck so much? Their forwards have been pretty good, but it just feels like when they get in to their opponents redzone, all cohesion goes out the window and their attack looks clunky and broken.
The Roosters middle forwards don’t have that aura they once did, and they need to earn it again.
I know the Bulldogs try, but trying every week and losing still pays a toll.
Roosters should get the job done, but they have to work on their first three tackles of every set. Quick play the balls will help them dominate.
TIP: Roosters 1-12
Eels V Cowboys – TIO Stadium – 21.30NZT
I know Parra have an outside backs shortage, but putting their deadly five-eighth in there doesn’t do it for me. Even if Dylan Brown is more than capable.
Their forward pack has been very good. All but one ran for over 100 metres last week in their romping of the Knights.
North Queensland have a well balanced spine. Drinkwater, Townsend, Dearden and Robson are a very direct, and a very organised group.
I’d like to see them try put some pressure on the Eels around the ruck. Really test the markers and play a quick game.
This has the potential to be the game of the round. A treat for the fans in Darwin.
TIP: Eels 1-12
SUNDAY: Knights V Storm – McDonald Jones Stadium – 16.00NZT
The pressure cooker is intense for the Novocastrians. Losing five in a row, and then facing Melbourne Storm after they scored 56 points in 33 second half minutes? Good luck.
But it’s not just luck the Knights need, it’s almost a miracle.
The Storm only need one of their players to fire up, and they can win – whereas it’s going to take a whole team effort for the Knights to even compete.
I’m writing Newcastle off, and it’s going to be a tough week for Adam O’Brien the coach.
TIP: Storm 13+
Dragons V Wests Tigers – WIN Stadium – 18.05NZT
Two weeks ago, the Tigers were being booed by everyone, and looked lifeless. Now, after two one point thrillers, they have a renewed confidence and look ready to win three on the trot.
But the Dragons have also picked up two BIG wins in a row, and won’t back down against this surging Wests side.
I know that Jackson Hastings is a big game player, and coming up against someone like Ben Hunt will only give him more drive and more determination.
Saint George Illawarra look their best when they give their centres early ball. Lomax and Suli can be a real threat to Wests.
What an interesting match up to end the week!
TIP: Dragons 1-12
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