St George Illawarra Dragons vs Sydney Roosters
Dragons: 1. Matthew Dufty 2. Jordan Pereira 3. Euan Aitken 4. Zac Lomax 5. Mikaele Ravalawa 6. Ben Hunt 7. Adam Clune 8. Blake Lawrie 9. Cameron McInnes 10. Paul Vaughan 11. Tyson Frizell 12. Tariq Sims 13. Jackson Ford 14. Tristan Sailor 15. Josh Kerr 16. Trent Merrin 17. Tyrell Fuimaono 18. Jacob Host 19. Corey Norman 20. Jason Saab 21. Kaide Ellis
I think shifting Ben Hunt back to the halves after he was starting to become effective and potent in attack at hooker, is a huge step backwards. He didn’t play well at halfback last round and the chopping and changing of the spine will be too unsettling for the Dragons.
Roosters:1. James Tedesco 2. Ryan Hall 3. Josh Morris 4. Joseph Manu 5. Matt Ikuvalu 6. Luke Keary 7. Lachlan Lam 8. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves 9. Jake Friend 10. Siosiua Taukeiaho 11. Sitili Tupouniua 12. Mitchell Aubusson 13. Isaac Liu 14. Drew Hutchison 15. Poasa Faamausili 16. Nat Butcher 17. Lindsay Collins 18. Daniel Fifita 19. Christian Tuipulotu 20. Max Bailey 21. Egan Butcher
News that Kyle Flanagan was dropped, rather than rested was a bit of a shock, but it gives Lachlan Lam a chance to cement his spot in the #7 jersey. I still think Keary should be the halfback as he does most of the game management, but either way I think the Roosters will be far too strong for the Dragons.
Roosters by 10
Manly Warringah Sea Eagles vs New Zealand Warriors
Sea Eagles: 1. Brendan Elliot 2. Jorge Taufua 3. Tevita Funa 4. Moses Suli 5. Reuben Garrick 6. Cade Cust 7. Daly Cherry-Evans 8. Addin Fonua-Blake 9. Danny Levi 10. Martin Taupau 11. Joel Thompson 12. Curtis Sironen 13. Jake Trbojevic 14. Lachlan Croker 15. Corey Waddell 16. Sean Keppie 17. Taniela Paseka 18. Haumole Olakau’atu 19. Abbas Miski 20. Morgan Boyle 21. Albert Hopoate
2020 is turning out to be a very inconsistent season for Manly. Some impressive wins mixed with a few big losses. Injuries have been the main cause for said inconsistency, but their lack of depth is a concern. They need a massive attitude readjustment, especially in defence against the equally inconsistent Warriors.
Warriors: 1. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck 2. Patrick Herbert 3. Adam Pompey 4. Peta Hiku 5. George Jennings 6. Kodi Nikorima 7. Chanel Harris-Tavita 8. Jamayne Taunoa-Brown 9. Karl Lawton 10. Jack Hetherington 11. Eliesa Katoa 12. Tohu Harris 13. Jazz Tevaga 14. Wayde Egan 15. Adam Blair 16. Daniel Alvaro 17. Lachlan Burr 18. Isaiah Papali’i 20. Adam Keighran 21. Jack Murchie 22. Gerard Beale
The Warriors showed a lot of character in their win against the Tigers last round. Blake Green will be a huge loss for them, after he walked out on the club to join Newcastle, but you can’t blame him for the way he was treated by the club owner. That said, they have to get on with it and I think they’re a team who is well coached at the moment by Todd Peyton and I think they can cause another upset in this one.
Warriors by 2
South Sydney Rabbitohs vs Brisbane Broncos
Rabbitohs: 1. Latrell Mitchell 2. Alex Johnston 3. Campbell Graham 4. Dane Gagai 5. Jaxson Paulo 6. Cody Walker 7. Adam Reynolds 8. Tevita Tatola 9. Damien Cook 10. Thomas Burgess 11. Jaydn Su’A 12. Bayley Sironen 13. Cameron Murray 14. Mark Nicholls 15. Liam Knight 16. Patrick Mago 17. Keaon Koloamatangi 18. Jack Johns 19. Corey Allan 20. Troy Dargan 21. Kurt Dillon
Grudge match! Souths will be looking for payback after their round 2 loss to the Broncos. The storylines write themselves in this one, especially the coaching saga between Bennett, Seibold and both clubs that dominated the media for months. Adam Reynolds has been named at halfback. He needs to lift in order for the Rabbitohs to get one back on their rivals.
Broncos: 1. Darius Boyd 2. Richard Kennar 3. Kotoni Staggs 4. Herbie Farnworth 5. Xavier Coates 6. Brodie Croft 7. Tom Dearden 8. Thomas Flegler 9. Jake Turpin 10. Payne Haas 11. David Fifita 12. Tevita Pangai Junior 13. Patrick Carrigan 14. Issac Luke 15. Rhys Kennedy 16. Joe Ofahengaue 17. Ben Te’o 18. Cory Paix 19. Ethan Bullemor 20. Matthew Lodge 21. Jesse Arthars
Milford is a huge loss for the Broncos. He cops a lot of criticism for his recent form but he’s still their best attacking player. David Fifita finally returns to the side and will be looking to make an immediate impact. I think the Broncos will dominate the forward battle, but I don’t think they’ll have enough points in them. Their attitude in defence and inability to produce in the effort areas for a full 80 minutes is also a concern.
Rabbitohs by 12
Melbourne Storm vs Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs
Storm: 1. Nicholas Hynes 2. Suliasi Vunivalu 3. Tom Eisenhuth 4. Justin Olam 5. Josh Addo-Carr 6. Cameron Munster 7. Jahrome Hughes 8. Jesse Bromwich 9. Brandon Smith 10. Christian Welch 11. Felise Kaufusi 12. Kenneath Bromwich 13. Dale Finucane 14. Ryley Jacks 15. Tino Fa’asuamaleaui 16. Albert Vete 17. Nelson Asofa-Solomona 18. Darryn Schonig 19. Chris Lewis 20. Cooper Johns 21. Sandor Earl
This will be our first preview of the post-Smith Melbourne Storm. But they have the New Zealand test hooker in Brandon Smith to take his place. Although Brandon is a different type of player than Cam, I don’t think they’ll lose much. Bellamy has also decided to rest fullback Papenhuyzen, so Munster will have to step up in the absence of two members of the team’s spine.
Bulldogs: 1. Nick Meaney 2. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 3. Tim Lafai 4. Jake Averillo 5. Marcelo Montoya 6. Kieran Foran 7. Lachlan Lewis 8. Ofahiki Ogden 9. Sione Katoa 10. Dylan Napa 11. Josh Jackson 12. Raymond Faitala-Mariner 13. Luke Thompson 14. Jeremy Marshall-King 15. Aiden Tolman 16. Sauaso Sue 17. Reimis Smith 19. Kerrod Holland 20. Renouf To’omaga 21. Chris Smith 22. Matt Doorey
The Bulldogs were unlucky not to make it two in-a-row against the high flying Eels last round. They continue to show a lot of effort and I expect another spirited performance against the Storm, but they’re at the opposite end of the ladder compared to their opponents and don’t have the class in their side to cause an upset.
Storm by 14
Newcastle Knights vs Wests Tigers
Knights: 1. Kalyn Ponga 2. Starford To’a 3. Enari Tuala 4. Gehamat Shibasaki 5. Hymel Hunt 6. Blake Green 7. Mitchell Pearce 8. David Klemmer 9. Kurt Mann 10. Jacob Saifiti 11. Lachlan Fitzgibbon 12. Aidan Guerra 13. Mitchell Barnett 14. Phoenix Crossland 15. Josh King 16. Herman Ese’ese 17. Brodie Jones 18. Chris Randall 19. Tex Hoy 20. Mason Lino 21. Jirah Momoisea
I expect Newcastle, who are clinging on to a top 8 spot, to bring their A-game this weekend against the Tigers. The addition of Blake Green, straight into the side is a huge boost for the Knights who have lost a few key players to injury. He’ll be the perfect foil for Mitch Pearce and will take a lot of pressure off him and Ponga.
Tigers: 1. Adam Doueihi 2. David Nofoaluma 3. Joseph Leilua 4. Tommy Talau 5. Asu Kepaoa 6. Luke Brooks 7. Benji Marshall 8. Josh Aloiai 9. Moses Mbye 10. Russell Packer 11. Luciano Leilua 12. Sam McIntyre 13. Matt Eisenhuth 14. Thomas Mikaele 15. Shawn Blore 16. Chris Lawrence 17. Billy Walters 18. Alex Seyfarth 19. Luke Garner 20. Josh Reynolds 21. Elijah Taylor
I like Brooks at #6. I have always held the opinion that he’s a natural five-eighth. He’s a strong ball runner and he doesn’t need the responsibility of managing the team. Leave that for the far more accomplished Benji. But after their last round loss to the Warriors, that soft underbelly that coach Maguire is trying to get rid of is still there, which might cost them another result.
Knights by 4
Penrith Panthers vs Canberra Raiders
Panthers: 1. Caleb Aekins 2. Josh Mansour 3. Brent Naden 4. Stephen Crichton 5. Malakai Watene-Zelezniak 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. Zane Tetevano 18. Mitch Kenny 19. Matt Burton 20. Billy Burns 21. Daine Laurie
Ivan Cleary has his side firing on all cylinders at the moment but you have to wonder if they’re firing too early. This will be their biggest test in probably the past 6 weeks, against last years grand finalists. Both forward packs are evenly matched but I think the form of Nathan Cleary could be the difference.
Raiders: 1. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad 2. Jordan Rapana 3. Jarrod Croker 4. Curtis Scott 5. Nick Cotric 6. Jack Wighton 7. George Williams 8. Josh Papali’i 9. Siliva Havili 10. Dunamis Lui 11. John Bateman 12. Elliott Whitehead 13. Hudson Young 14. Tom Starling 15. Joseph Tapine 16. Ryan Sutton 17. Corey Harawira-Naera 18. Sam Williams 19. Michael Oldfield 20. Kai O’Donnell 21. Matt Frawley
It was a timely return for star back rower John Bateman, who was instrumental in the Raiders escaping Townsville with the two points last round. A win will ensure they keep within reach of the top 4, but I think they’re still feeling the effects from the loss of Josh Hodgson. They’ll put up a fight but it’s too hard to bet against Penrith at the moment.
Panthers by 6
Gold Coast Titans vs North Queensland Cowboys
Titans:1. Alexander Brimson 2. Anthony Don 3. Brian Kelly 4. Dale Copley 5. Phillip Sami 6. Ashley Taylor 7. Jamal Fogarty 8. Moeaki Fotuaika 9. Nathan Peats 10. Jaimin Jolliffe 11. Kevin Proctor 12. Keegan Hipgrave 13. Jai Arrow 14. Tanah Boyd 15. Jarrod Wallace 16. Tyrone Peachey 17. Sam Lisone 18. Corey Thompson 19. Jai Whitbread 20. Erin Clark 21. Beau Fermor
This will be a battle to determine who is the best Queensland team. The Titans were unlucky not to beat the reigning premiers last round. They had a couple of big calls go against them and squandered a couple of try scoring opportunities. But they’re improving. The Cowboys have them covered in the forward battle, but I think the Titans will still have enough points in them to win with their expansive attacking style.
Cowboys: 1. Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow 2. Kyle Feldt 3. Tom Opacic 4. Connelly Lemuelu 5. Justin O’Neill 6. Ben Hampton 7. Michael Morgan 8. Josh Mcguire 9. Reece Robson 10. Jordan McLean 11. Mitchell Dunn 12. Coen Hess 13. Jason Taumalolo 14. Jake Granville 15. Tom Gilbert 16. Emry Pere 17. Francis Molo 18. Shane Wright 19. Jake Clifford 20. Esan Marsters 21. Corey Jensen
Captain Morgan finally returns to a Cowboys side which have improved in recent weeks, especially in defence but have lacked direction which Morgan will provide. But Morgan hasn’t played since round 2 and will lack match fitness. There’s also question marks as to how Hampton will go as his halves partner. This should be a close game but I’ll lean towards the Titans who are well coached and have the home field advantage.
Titans by 2
Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks vs Parramatta Eels
Sharks: 1. Will Kennedy 2. Sione Katoa 3. Josh Dugan 4. Jesse Ramien 5. Ronaldo Mulitalo 6. Matt Moylan 7. Shaun Johnson 8. Braden Hamlin-Uele 9. Blayke Brailey 10. Aaron Woods 11. Siosifa Talakai 12. Wade Graham 13. Toby Rudolf 14. Connor Tracey 15. Jack Williams 16. Teig Wilton 17. Royce Hunt 18. Scott Sorensen 19. Briton Nikora 20. Braydon Trindall 21. Bryson Goodwin
An injury ravaged Sharks side overcame the desperate Broncos last round in Brisbane. Their first choice centres in Dugan and Ramien return from injury and Matt Moylan has been named at five-eighth which is a huge boost. I think they may struggle in the forward battle, as both Moylan and Johnson need time and space to be effective.
Eels: 1. Clinton Gutherson 2. Maika Sivo 3. Michael Jennings 4. Waqa Blake 5. Blake Ferguson 6. Dylan Brown 7. Mitchell Moses 8. Reagan Campbell-Gillard 9. Reed Mahoney 10. Junior Paulo 11. Shaun Lane 12. Marata Niukore 13. Nathan Brown 14. Andrew Davey 15. Ray Stone 16. Kane Evans 17. Oregon Kaufusi 18. Brad Takairangi 19. Stefano Utoikamanu 20. David Gower 21. Jai Field
Eels have named a strong lineup. They were lucky to escape with the win against the last-placed Bulldogs last round and I still think they look like a side that needs a week off to refresh. But to their credit, they’re still managing to grind out wins. It’s still too hard to bet against them, considering they’re equal-second on the ladder. I think Mitch Moses will manage them to another win.
Eels by 4