Sydney Roosters vs Canberra Raiders
Roosters: 1. James Tedesco 2. Matt Ikuvalu 3. Josh Morris 4. Joseph Manu 5. Brett Morris 6. Luke Keary 7. Kyle Flanagan 8. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves 9. Jake Friend 10. Siosiua Taukeiaho 11. Boyd Cordner 12. Angus Crichton 13. Nat Butcher 14. Lachlan Lam 15. Sitili Tupouniua 16. Mitchell Aubusson 17. Lindsay Collins 18. Poasa Faamausili 19. Ryan Hall 20. Isaac Liu 21. Drew Hutchison
Grand Final rematch! Good to see Ikuvalu keep his spot on the wing after his five tries against the Cowboys last round. Despite missing a few key players to injury, the reigning premiers have shown the quality in their depth. Going on current form, I believe the Roosters should win reasonably comfortably.
Raiders: 1. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad 2. Nick Cotric 3. Jarrod Croker 4. Michael Oldfield 5. Jordan Rapana 6. Jack Wighton 7. George Williams 8. Josh Papali’i 9. Siliva Havili 10. Dunamis Lui 11. Hudson Young 12. Elliott Whitehead 13. Joseph Tapine 14. Tom Starling 15. Kai O’Donnell 16. Ryan Sutton 17. Curtis Scott 18. Matt Frawley 19. Darby Medlyn 20. Sam Williams 21. Semi Valemi
The Raiders have only won three from their past seven post-Covid and with the loss of their co-captain and arguably most influential player Josh Hodgson for the rest of the season, I think Canberra will struggle, especially with their attack against the second best defensive team in the competition.
Roosters by 14
Melbourne Storm vs Gold Coast Titans
Storm: 1. Ryan Papenhuyzen 2. Paul Momirovski 3. Justin Olam 4. Brenko Lee 5. Josh Addo-Carr 6. Cameron Munster 7. Jahrome Hughes 8. Brandon Smith 9. Cameron Smith 10. Christian Welch 11. Felise Kaufusi 12. Kenneath Bromwich 13. Dale Finucane 14. Chris Lewis 15. Tino Fa’asuamaleaui 16. Marion Seve 17. Nelson Asofa-Solomona 18. Albert Vete 19. Nicholas Hynes 20. Ryley Jacks 21. Darryn Schonig
Currently third on the ladder, Melbourne just continue going about their business with the utmost professionalism. The early return of five-eighth Cam Munster is a huge boost and should make it easier for Sunshine Coast based Storm to stroll past the Titans.
Titans: 1. Corey Thompson 2. Anthony Don 3. Brian Kelly 4. Phillip Sami 5. Treymain Spry 6. Ashley Taylor 7. Jamal Fogarty 8. Moeaki Fotuaika 9. Erin Clark 10. Jaimin Jolliffe 11. Beau Fermor 12. Keegan Hipgrave 13. Jai Arrow 14. Tanah Boyd 15. Tyrone Peachey 16. Sam Lisone 17. Jarrod Wallace 18. Sam Stone 19. Jai Whitbread 20. Nathan Peats 21. Greg Lelesiuao
The challenge for the Titans is backing up their last round win against the Warriors with another good performance. Their previous two wins were followed by underwhelming performances and although this team is improving under coach Holbrook, they need to find consistency. The Storm are a class above though, so I think they’ll be in for a tough night.
Storm by 20
Wests Tigers vs Brisbane Broncos
Tigers: 1. Adam Doueihi 2. David Nofoaluma 3. Chris Lawrence 4. Moses Mbye 5. Tommy Talau 6. Billy Walters 7. Benji Marshall 8. Josh Aloiai 9. Harry Grant 10. Russell Packer 11. Luke Garner 12. Luciano Leilua 13. Matt Eisenhuth 14. Sam McIntyre 15. Thomas Mikaele 16. Luke Brooks 17. Chris McQueen 18. Oliver Clark 19. Reece Hoffman 20. Shawn Blore 21. Michael Chee-Kam
Coach Maguire has swung the axe again, demoting halfback Luke Brooks to the bench for his nine missed tackles last round. Benji returns to the halves and Billy Walters replaces the suspended Reynolds at five-eighth. They desperately need a win to hold their spot in the top 8 and despite the Broncos winning last round, they’re still ripe for the picking.
Broncos: 1. Tesi Niu 2. Jamayne Isaako 3. Herbie Farnworth 4. Darius Boyd 5. Xavier Coates 6. Anthony Milford 7. Brodie Croft 8. Tevita Pangai Jr 9. Issac Luke 10. Payne Haas 11. Ben Te’o 12. Corey Oates 13. Patrick Carrigan 14. Cory Paix 15. Thomas Flegler 16. Jamil Hopoate 17. Joe Ofahengaue 18. Tom Dearden 19. Rhys Kennedy 20. Richard Kennar 21. Tyson Gamble
A drought breaking win last round for the under siege Broncos, albeit against a hapless last-placed Bulldogs, it certainly eased the pressure on coach Seibold and his players. But that win won’t mean much if they can’t back it up against a tougher opposition and I think their fragile defence will struggle against Benji’s attack prowess.
Tigers by 10
St George Illawarra Dragons vs Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs
Dragons: 1. Matthew Dufty 2. Jason Saab 3. Euan Aitken 4. Zac Lomax 5. Mikaele Ravalawa 6. Corey Norman 7. Adam Clune 8. Blake Lawrie 9. Ben Hunt 10. Paul Vaughan 11. Tyson Frizell 12. Tariq Sims 13. Cameron McInnes 14. Trent Merrin 15. Josh Kerr 16. Tyrell Fuimaono 17. Jackson Ford 18. Jacob Host 19. Tristan Sailor 20. Tim Lafai 21. Korbin Sims
I’d like to see Ben Hunt wearing the #9 jersey for the rest of his career. Promoted to the starting side shows his true value in what I believe is his best position and the team is benefiting from it. Big chance for them to edge closer to the top 8 with a win over the last-placed Bulldogs and on current form, they should do it comfortably.
Bulldogs: 1. Nick Meaney 2. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 3. Kerrod Holland 4. Marcelo Montoya 5. Christian Crichton 6. Kieran Foran 7. Lachlan Lewis 8. Aiden Tolman 9. Jeremy Marshall-King 10. Dylan Napa 11. Josh Jackson 12. Raymond Faitala-Mariner 13. Luke Thompson 14. Sione Katoa 15. Sauaso Sue 16. Renouf To’omaga 17. Ofahiki Ogden 19. Dean Britt 20. Jake Averillo 22. Chris Smith 23. Brandon Wakeham
It will be interesting to see if Dean Pay’s exit will galvanize the playing group. Their loss against the equally-bad Broncos last round showed the lack of NRL quality in this side. They’re coming up against the only team they’ve beaten this season, but the Dragons are in much better for than they were in round 4.
Dragons by 8
South Sydney Rabbitohs vs Newcastle Knights
Rabbitohs: 1. Alex Johnston 2. Jaxson Paulo 3. James Roberts 4. Dane Gagai 5. Corey Allan 6. Cody Walker 7. Adam Reynolds 8. Tevita Tatola 9. Damien Cook 10. Thomas Burgess 11. Jaydn Su’A 12. Ethan Lowe 13. Cameron Murray 14. Mark Nicholls 15. Hame Sele 16. Bayley Sironen 17. Patrick Mago 18. Jack Johns 19. Kurt Dillon 20. Steven Marsters 21. Cory Denniss
The Rabbitohs have won their last two games and will be looking to cement their spot in the top 8. Losing Latrell to suspension might effect their potency in attack but they have a capable replacement in the ever-reliable Alex Johnston. I still think they’ll have enough points in them to overcome the Knights.
Knights: 1. Kalyn Ponga 2. Enari Tuala 3. Tautau Moga 4. Bradman Best 5. Hymel Hunt 6. Kurt Mann 7. Mitchell Pearce 8. David Klemmer 9. Andrew McCullough 10. Jacob Saifiti 11. Lachlan Fitzgibbon 12. Aidan Guerra 13. Herman Ese’ese 14. Connor Watson 15. Mitchell Barnett 16. Pasami Saulo 17. Sione Mata’utia 18. Tex Hoy 19. Josh King 20. Phoenix Crossland 21. Gehamat Shibasaki
The Knights have been a bit hot and cold over the past few weeks, as well as the form of their two marquee men, Pearce and Ponga. Their attack has looked out of sync which I’m sure they’re working hard to fix at training, but they’ll need to be at their best, especially defensively to beat the Bunnies.
Rabbitohs by 4
Manly Warringah Sea Eagles vs Parramatta Eels
Sea Eagles: 1. Brendan Elliot 2. Jorge Taufua 3. Brad Parker 4. Moses Suli 5. Reuben Garrick 6. Cade Cust 7. Daly Cherry-Evans 8. Taniela Paseka 9. Danny Levi 10. Martin Taupau 11. Joel Thompson 12. Curtis Sironen 13. Jake Trbojevic 14. Lachlan Croker 15. Jack Gosiewski 16. Sean Keppie 17. Corey Waddell 18. Haumole Olakau’atu 19. Tevita Funa 20. Abbas Miski 21. Toafofoa Sipley
Still missing several key players to injury and suspension, Manly desperately need a win to halt their slide down the ladder. DCE is obviously the key, but he has been firing blanks in attack since losing Tom Trbojevic and Walker to injury. He just doesn’t look dangerous at the moment. They need to fix up their defensive deficiencies as well if they want to give themselves any chance of beating the Eels.
Eels: 1. Clinton Gutherson 2. Maika Sivo 3. Michael Jennings 4. Waqa Blake 5. Blake Ferguson 6. Dylan Brown 7. Jai Field 8. Reagan Campbell-Gillard 9. Reed Mahoney 10. Junior Paulo 11. Shaun Lane 12. Ryan Matterson 13. Nathan Brown 14. David Gower 15. Stefano Utoikamanu 16. Marata Niukore 17. Brad Takairangi 18. Daniel Alvaro 19. George Jennings 20. Will Smith 21. Andrew Davey
Currently the benchmark side in the comp. Despite the loss of halfback Mitch Moses to injury, captain Gutherson has really stepped up to guide his team to a couple of impressive wins over the past couple of weeks. Their forward pack is on fire at the moment and I think they’ll cruise past the struggling Sea Eagles.
Eels by 12
New Zealand Warriors vs Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks
Warriors: 1. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck 2. David Fusitu’a 3. Patrick Herbert 4. Peta Hiku 5. Ken Maumalo 6. Kodi Nikorima 7. Blake Green 8. Jamayne Taunoa-Brown 9. Wayde Egan 10. Adam Blair 11. Eliesa Katoa 12. Tohu Harris 13. Karl Lawton 14. Agnatius Paasi 15. Jack Hetherington 16. Isaiah Papali’i 17. Jazz Tevaga 18. Chanel Harris-Tavita 20. Jack Murchie 21. Lachlan Burr 22. Adam Pompey
This will be the last game for a few of their players who will fly home to be with their families, so they desperately need a win because the situation the club is in won’t get any easier. Disappointing loss to the Titans last round, but they welcome back perhaps their most in-form player in Kodi Nikorima. They’re coming up against a Sharks side desperate to stay within reach of the top eight so they’ll need to produce their best football to compete with them.
Sharks: 1. Josh Dugan 2. Sione Katoa 3. Bryson Goodwin 4. Jesse Ramien 5. Ronaldo Mulitalo 6. Shaun Johnson 7. Chad Townsend 8. Braden Hamlin-Uele 9. Blayke Brailey 10. Aaron Woods 11. Briton Nikora 12. Wade Graham 13. Toby Rudolf 14. Connor Tracey 15. Scott Sorensen 16. Siosifa Talakai 17. Royce Hunt 18. Jack Williams 19. Billy Magoulias 20. Will Kennedy 21. Nene Macdonald
After a few impressive wins, the Sharks were smacked with the ultimate reality check going down 56-24 to the Panthers last round. They currently sit in 9th spot so they’ll be looking to rebound and return to the winners circle. I expect them to go on a feeding frenzy against the struggling Warriors.
Sharks by 10
Penrith Panthers vs North Queensland Cowboys
Panthers: 1. Dylan Edwards 2. Josh Mansour 3. Dean Whare 4. Stephen Crichton 5. Brent Naden 6. Jarome Luai 7. Nathan Cleary 8. James Tamou 9. Apisai Koroisau 10. James Fisher-Harris 11. Viliame Kikau 12. Liam Martin 13. Isaah Yeo 14. Tyrone May 15. Spencer Leniu 16. Moses Leota 17. Billy Burns 18. Mitch Kenny 19. Matt Burton 20. Lindsay Smith 21. Malakai Watene-Zelezniak
The Panthers are riding high in 2nd place with only one loss. They racked up 56 points against the Sharks last round and its hard to see them slowing down, especially against the Cowboys defence which has more holes than Swiss cheese at the moment. I expect Cleary and Koroisau to put on another clinic.
Cowboys: 1. Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow 2. Kyle Feldt 3. Connelly Lemuelu 4. Esan Marsters 5. Justin O’Neill 6. Mitchell Dunn 7. Jake Clifford 8. Josh Mcguire 9. Reece Robson 10. Francis Molo 11. Shane Wright 12. Coen Hess 13. Jason Taumalolo 14. Daejarn Asi 15. Tom Gilbert 16. Gavin Cooper 17. Ben Hampton 18. Murray Taulagi 19. Reuben Cotter 20. Jordan McLean 21. John Asiata
Injuries galore for the hapless Cowboys with Holmes and Drinkwater set to miss several weeks. Mitch Dunn has been named at five-eighth but if Asiata can pass fit, he might go into the halves to partner Clifford. The Cowboys have to show something in defence, but I can’t see it happening. They are really struggling and I expect the Panthers to pile on the pain.
Panthers by 16