Brisbane Broncos vs Penrith Panthers
Broncos: 1. Darius Boyd 2. Corey Oates 3. Kotoni Staggs 4. Herbie Farnworth 5. Richard Kennar 6. Sean O’Sullivan 7. Tom Dearden 8. Payne Haas 9. Issac Luke 10. Rhys Kennedy 11. David Fifita 12. Ben Te’o 13. Patrick Carrigan 14. Cory Paix 15. Jordan Riki 16. Ethan Bullemor 17. Jamil Hopoate 18. Jesse Arthars 19. Pride Petterson-Robati 20. Tyson Gamble 21. Brodie Croft
The Broncos have received a boost with Corey Oates, Payne Haas and Isaac Luke returning to the side, but Brodie Croft’s career is at a crossroad as he is left out of the starting 17 all together. Their bench is very inexperienced and i don’t see where the improvement is going to come from. I don’t believe they’re any chance of beating the ladder leaders.
Panthers: 1. Dylan Edwards 2. Josh Mansour 3. Brent Naden 4. Stephen Crichton 5. Brian To’o 6. Jarome Luai 7. Nathan Cleary 8. James Tamou 9. Mitch Kenny 10. Moses Leota 11. Viliame Kikau 12. Liam Martin 13. James Fisher-Harris 14. Tyrone May 15. Spencer Leniu 16. Kurt Capewell 17. Zane Tetevano 18. Apisai Koroisau 19. Billy Burns 20. Matt Burton 21. Pat Hollis
Flying high on top of the ladder and riding an 11-game winning streak, it’s hard to see when the Panthers next loss come. Their side has only been strengthened with the return of Kikau on the left edge, the same side of the field where the Roosters carved up the Broncos defence with ease last round. I think Penrith will win comfortably.
Panthers by 28
Newcastle Knights vs Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks
Knights: 1. Kalyn Ponga 2. Starford To’a 3. Enari Tuala 4. Gehamat Shibasaki 5. Hymel Hunt 6. Mason Lino 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. Herman Ese’ese 16. Josh King 17. Brodie Jones 18. Tex Hoy 19. Jirah Momoisea 20. Tautau Moga 21. Chris Randall
The Knights terrible performance last round has me convinced that they’ll simply be making up the numbers in the finals. I think they’re still a year off under coach Adam O’Brien from becoming genuine contenders. They’re still a outside chance of finishing in the top 4, but they will most likely have to win their last 4 games, starting with the Sharks this weekend.
Sharks: 1. Will Kennedy 2. Sione Katoa 3. Josh Dugan 4. Jesse Ramien 5. Ronaldo Mulitalo 6. Braydon Trindall 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. Bryson Goodwin 20. Teig Wilton 21. Andrew Fifita
The Sharks are still clinging on to 8th position, with the Warriors still within reach of stealing their finals spot. The good news for them is their finals destiny is in their own hands, and they welcome back halfback Chad Townsend from a long injury layoff. This game is a coin toss, but the inclusion if Townsend and the form of Wade Graham, I think the Sharks can pip the Knights at home.
Sharks by 6
South Sydney Rabbitohs vs Melbourne Storm
Rabbitohs: 1. Alex Johnston 2. Corey Allan 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. Jed Cartwright 19. Steven Marsters 20. Troy Dargan 21. Ky Rodwell
Souths have hit top form in the last 2 rounds by mauling Manly and 3rd-placed Parramatta. But they’ve paid a heavy price though, losing fullback Latrell Mitchell to injury for the rest of the season. Johnston is a safe option at the back, but won’t provide the same potency in attack as Latrell does. The Storm are a bogey side for the Rabbitohs, and I don’t think their attack will be as effective against Melbourne’s defence.
Storm: 1. Ryan Papenhuyzen 2. Isaac Lumelume 3. Brenko Lee 4. Justin Olam 5. Josh Addo-Carr 6. Cameron Munster 7. Jahrome Hughes 8. Jesse Bromwich 9. Cameron Smith 10. Christian Welch 11. Felise Kaufusi 12. Chris Lewis 13. Tino Fa’asuamaleaui 14. Nicholas Hynes 15. Ryley Jacks 16. Albert Vete 17. Darryn Schonig 18. Sandor Earl 19. Max King 20. Aaron Pene 21. Kenneath Bromwich
The Storm welcomed back their big guns Smith and Munster last round and performed accordingly with a comfortable win over Manly to keep their minor premiership hopes alive. I think the Storm are premiership favourites at the moment and despite Souths recent form surge, I think they’ll grind them out in a close one.
Storm by 4
Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs vs Gold Coast Titans
Bulldogs: 1. Will Hopoate 2. Nick Meaney 3. Marcelo Montoya 4. Kerrod Holland 5. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 6. Kieran Foran 7. Lachlan Lewis 8. Ofahiki Ogden 9. Jeremy Marshall-King 10. Dylan Napa 11. Josh Jackson 12. Raymond Faitala-Mariner 13. Aiden Tolman 14. Jake Averillo 15. Renouf To’omaga 16. Matt Doorey 17. Luke Thompson 19. Sauaso Sue 20. Jack Cogger 21. Reimis Smith 22. Tim Lafai
I feel as if most weeks the Bulldogs get themselves in a position where they can win games, but lack the class to close them out. They’re not the worst team in competition so I don’t believe they deserve to be last. This game is a prime opportunity to lift themselves off the bottom of the ladder, but they’ll need to put in an 80-minute performance against an improved Gold Coast.
Titans: 1. AJ Brimson 2. Corey Thompson 3. Brian Kelly 4. Young Tonumaipea 5. Phillip Sami 6. Ashley Taylor 7. Jamal Fogarty (c) 8. Jarrod Wallace 9. Mitch Rein 10. Jaimin Joliffe 11. Sam Stone 12. Beau Fermor 13. Tyrone Peachey 14. Erin Clark 15. Moeaki Fotuaika 16. Keegan Hipgrave 17. Sam Lisone 18. Tanah Boyd 19. Jai Arrow 20. Anthony Don 21. Jai Whitbread
The Titans are $1.80 favourites to win this one. I can’t remember the last time they would have went into a game as favourites to win, but it will be different test for Holbrook’s side, coming into a game they’re expected to win. This will be a test of their attitude and professionalism, but I think they’re being very well coached at the moment and should edge out the Dogs to make it 2 in-a-row.
Titans by 8
Manly Warringah Sea Eagles vs Wests Tigers
Sea Eagles: 1. Tevita Funa 2. Jorge Taufua 3. Brad Parker 4. Albert Hopoate 5. Abbas Miski 6. Cade Cust 7. Daly Cherry-Evans 8. Addin Fonua-Blake 9. Danny Levi 10. Martin Taupau 11. Jack Gosiewski 12. Curtis Sironen 13. Jake Trbojevic 14. Lachlan Croker 15. Corey Waddell 16. Sean Keppie 17. Taniela Paseka 18. Josh Schuster 19. Morgan Harper 20. Morgan Boyle 21. Haumole Olakau’atu
It’s been a tough few months for the injury-ravaged Sea Eagles and they’ve now lost two more with Joel Thomson and their goal kicker Reuben Garrick suffering season-ending injures. They’re now out of finals contention but will be looking to build for next season starting with the fractured and out-of-form Wests Tigers.
Tigers: 1. Moses Mbye 2. David Nofoaluma 3. Joseph Leilua 4. Adam Doueihi 5. Asu Kepaoa 6. Benji Marshall 7. Luke Brooks 8. Josh Aloiai 9. Harry Grant 10. Thomas Mikaele 11. Luke Garner 12. Luciano Leilua 13. Alex Twal 14. Matt Eisenhuth 15. Elijah Taylor 16. Jacob Liddle 17. Sam McIntyre 18. Chris Lawrence 19. Tommy Talau 20. Josh Reynolds 21. Russell Packer
I think the positional switch between Mybe and Doueihi is a move that should have been made a long time ago. Doueihi is an out-and-out centre in my opinion, and Mbye has the running, passing and kicking game to do well at fullback. Their defence has been their main concern but they come up against a Manly side that has struggled with their attack. I think the Tigers will win this one.
Tigers by 10
Canberra Raiders vs Sydney Roosters
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. Ryan Sutton 11. John Bateman 12. Elliott Whitehead 13. Joseph Tapine 14. Tom Starling 15. Dunamis Lui 16. Hudson Young 17. Corey Harawira-Naera 18. Sam Williams 19. Matthew Timoko 20. Kai O’Donnell 21. Semi Valemi
The grand final rematch, but the headlines will be dominated by the return of Sunny Bill Williams. I don’t think he’ll play too many minutes, but when he’s on, I expect Bateman and Papalii to take it upon themselves to be SBW’s own personal welcoming committee. The winner claims outright 4th spot on the ladder and Canberra will need a vastly improved performance compared to their last round effort against the last-placed Bulldogs.
Roosters: 1. James Tedesco 2. Daniel Tupou 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. Sitili Tupouniua 13. Isaac Liu 14. Freddy Lussick 15. Lindsay Collins 16. Nat Butcher 17. Sonny Bill Williams 18. Angus Crichton 19. Mitchell Aubusson 20. Poasa Faamausili 21. Drew Hutchison
The return of SBW aside, the reigning premiers welcome back Luke Keary from injury and look to be getting close to full strength. Their 58-12 mauling of the Broncos last round will give the side plenty of confidence with their attack and will look to build on that momentum and cement 4th spot. I think they’ll be too clinical for the Raiders to overcome.
Roosters by 12
New Zealand Warriors vs Parramatta Eels
Warriors: 1. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck 2. Adam Pompey 3. Hayze Perham 4. Peta Hiku 5. Gerard Beale 6. Kodi Nikorima 7. Chanel Harris-Tavita 8. Jamayne Taunoa-Brown 9. Karl Lawton 10. Lachlan Burr 11. Jack Murchie 12. Tohu Harris 13. Jazz Tevaga 14. Wayde Egan 15. Adam Blair 16. Josh Curran 17. Isaiah Papali’i 18. Paul Turner 20. Tom Ale 21. Adam Keighran
Amazing what the Warriors have done when you consider the circumstances they’ve had to endure, and they’re still a chance to qualify for the finals. They have to keep winning though, and hope the Sharks drop their bundle. RTS and Kodi Nikorima are in great form and I think they’re primed to cause another upset against the struggling Eels.
Eels: 1. Clinton Gutherson 2. Maika Sivo 3. Michael Jennings 4. Waqa Blake 5. Blake Ferguson 6. Jai Field 7. Mitchell Moses 8. Reagan Campbell-Gillard 9. Reed Mahoney 10. Junior Paulo 11. Shaun Lane 12. Ryan Matterson 13. Nathan Brown 14. Ray Stone 15. Marata Niukore 16. Kane Evans 17. Oregon Kaufusi 18. Haze Dunster 19. Andrew Davey 20. Brad Takairangi 21. Stefano Utoikamanu
Parramatta look cooked. It looks as if they peaked two months ago. Many are writing them off but the good thing for them is, the form slump is happening now instead of 1-2 weeks from finals. I still believe they’ll finish in the top 4 and they still have a month of football to right the wrongs and find form before the finals, but based on current form I think they might struggle to beat a confident Warriors outfit.
Warriors by 6
North Queensland Cowboys vs St George Illawarra Dragons
Cowboys: 1. Valentine Holmes 2. Kyle Feldt 3. Justin O’Neill 4. Esan Marsters 5. Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow 6. Scott Drinkwater 7. Jake Clifford 8. Francis Molo 9. Reuben Cotter 10. Jordan McLean 11. Gavin Cooper 12. Mitchell Dunn 13. Josh Mcguire 14. Daejarn Asi 15. John Asiata 16. Tom Gilbert 17. Corey Jensen 18. Shane Wright 19. Jake Granville 20. Peter Hola 21. Ben Hampton
The Cowboys have made another host of changes with Holmes switched back to fullback, Drinkwater to five-eighth and Clifford returns to halfback to replace the luckless Michael Morgan. When you look at their side on paper, it’s hard to fathom that they’ve lost 9-straight matches and it’s hard to see that streak ending, even against the lowly Dragons.
Dragons: 1. Matthew Dufty 2. Jordan Pereira 3. Euan Aitken 4. Zac Lomax 5. Mikaele Ravalawa 6. Corey Norman 7. Adam Clune 8. Blake Lawrie 9. Ben Hunt 10. Josh Kerr 11. Tyson Frizell 12. Jacob Host 13. Cameron McInnes 14. Billy Brittain 15. Jackson Ford 16. Tyrell Fuimaono 17. Kaide Ellis 18. Eddie Blacker 19. Tristan Sailor 20. Jayden Sullivan 21. Max Feagai
The brutal loss in the dying minutes of their last round clash against the Titans all but ended their faint finals chances. Their might be a few players playing for their future during the final 4 rounds and their interim coach Dean Young will also be looking to finish strong as he looks to win the race to become head coach for 2021. Despite the long flight to Townsville, I think the Dragons will come away with the 2-points.
Dragons by 8