South Sydney Rabbitohs vs Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs
Rabbitohs: 1. Corey Allan 2. Alex Johnston 3. Campbell Graham 4. Steven Marsters 5. Jaxson Paulo 6. Cody Walker 7. Adam Reynolds 8. Liam Knight 9. Damien Cook 10. Thomas Burgess 11. Jaydn Su’A 12. Bayley Sironen 13. Cameron Murray 14. Mark Nicholls 15. Jed Cartwright 16. Hame Sele 17. Keaon Koloamatangi 18. Tevita Tatola 19. Patrick Mago 20. Troy Dargan 21. Cory Denniss
Souths were fortunate to escape with the win last round against the Benji inspired Tigers, but they still looked potent in attack, even without Latrell. I expect Corey Allen to continue improving at fullback behind in-form halves Walker and Reynolds. I think they’ll put on a score against the Bulldogs.
Bulldogs: 1. Will Hopoate 2. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 3. Reimis Smith 4. Tim Lafai 5. Jayden Okunbor 6. Jake Averillo 7. Lachlan Lewis 8. Aiden Tolman 9. Jeremy Marshall-King 10. Luke Thompson 11. Josh Jackson 12. Raymond Faitala-Mariner 13. Chris Smith 14. Brandon Wakeham 15. Renouf To’omaga 16. Sione Katoa 17. Sauaso Sue 19. Dean Britt 20. Tuipulotu Katoa 21. Nick Meaney 23. James Roumanos
I thought the Bulldogs would have been able to knock over one of the lower-ranked sides in recent weeks to lift themselves off the bottom of the ladder, but unfortunately I think that ship has sailed and they’re now destined for the spoon. Without Foran, I don’t think they’ll have enough points in them to compete with Souths.
Rabbitohs by 16
North Queensland Cowboys vs Penrith Panthers
Cowboys: 1. Valentine Holmes 2. Kyle Feldt 3. Murray Taulagi 4. Esan Marsters 5. Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow 6. Scott Drinkwater 7. Jake Clifford 8. Corey Jensen 9. Reuben Cotter 10. Jordan McLean 11. Gavin Cooper 12. Mitchell Dunn 13. Francis Molo 14. Daejarn Asi 15. Emry Pere 16. Tom Gilbert 17. Ben Condon 18. Jason Taumalolo 19. Jake Granville 20. Peter Hola 21. Ben Hampton
The Cowboys looked dangerous in glimpses last round against the Storm, but ill-discipline and terrible defence cost them yet again. Taumalolo is an outside chance to return from injury, but even if he plays, I don’t think they’ll come close to ending the winning streak of the high-flying Panthers.
Panthers: 1. Dylan Edwards 2. Josh Mansour 3. Brent Naden 4. Stephen Crichton 5. Brian To’o 6. Jarome Luai 7. Nathan Cleary 8. Moses Leota 9. Mitch Kenny 10. James Fisher-Harris 11. Viliame Kikau 12. Liam Martin 13. Isaah Yeo 14. Tyrone May 15. Spencer Leniu 16. Kurt Capewell 17. Jack Hetherington 18. Dean Whare 19. Billy Burns 20. Matt Burton 21. Charlie Staines
Ivan Cleary has rested captain James Tamou and in-form rake Api Koroisau but they’ll still be taking a strong team to Townsville. I think Penrith’s defence might get a good workout from Drinkwater, Holmes and co, but I expect Luai and Nathan Cleary to put on a clinic against an ordinary Cowboys defence.
Panthers by 14
Parramatta Eels vs Brisbane Broncos
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. Ryan Matterson 12. Shaun Lane 13. Nathan Brown 14. Will Smith 15. Andrew Davey 16. Kane Evans 17. Oregon Kaufusi 18. Haze Dunster 19. Stefano Utoikamanu 20. George Jennings 21. Daniel Alvaro
Many have written the Eels off after their tryless effort against the panthers last round, but they still have two more games to get their attack right before the finals, starting with a struggling Broncos side. Apart from the flogging they received from South in round 16, their defence has held up OK for most of the season, so I’d like to see them focus on their attack and for Moses to regain his best form by taking on the line and perhaps chance his arm and play some ad-lib footy.
Broncos: 1. Darius Boyd 2. Corey Oates 3. Kotoni Staggs 4. Herbie Farnworth 5. Richard Kennar 6. Tyson Gamble 7. Tom Dearden 8. Joe Ofahengaue 9. Issac Luke 10. Ben Te’o 11. David Fifita 12. Alex Glenn 13. Patrick Carrigan 14. Cory Paix 15. Jamil Hopoate 16. Xavier Coates 17. Ethan Bullemor 18. Kobe Hetherington 19. Pride Petterson-Robati 20. Sean O’Sullivan 21. Jesse Arthurs
The Broncos return to Bankwest for the first time since their 58-0 drubbing at the hands of the Eels during last years finals series. It was regarded at the clubs darkest day, but things have only gotten worse since then. With their best forward Payne Haas unavailable and the selection of another rookie half in Tyson Gamble, I don’t think the Broncos will challenge a solid Eels defence.
Eels by 12
Manly Warringah Sea Eagles vs Gold Coast Titans
Sea Eagles: 1. Tevita Funa 2. Albert Hopoate 3. Brad Parker 4. Morgan Harper 5. Abbas Miski 6. Lachlan Croker 7. Daly Cherry-Evans 8. Addin Fonua-Blake 9. Danny Levi 10. Martin Taupau 11. Jack Gosiewski 12. Curtis Sironen 13. Jake Trbojevic 14. Morgan Boyle 15. Corey Waddell 16. Sean Keppie 17. Taniela Paseka 18. Haumole Olakau’atu 19. Reuben Garrick 20. Ben Trbojevic 21. Tom Trbojevic
With Manly’s season officially over, it’ll be interesting to see if the energy they showed last round against the Bulldogs, will be there again this week. Tom Trbojevic has been named on the extended bench and is a good chance of making his return but if he doesn’t play, I don’t think they’ll beat a Titans side that is striving for future success, whereas Manly will be looking to get their injury-ravaged season over with.
Titans: 1. AJ Brimson 2. Anthony Don 3. Treymain Spry 4. Young Tonumaipea 5. Corey Thompson 6. Ashley Taylor 7. Jamal Fogarty 8. Jarrod Wallace 9. Mitch Rein 10. Moeaki Fotuaika 11. Kevin Proctor 12. Sam Stone 13. Tyrone Peachey 14. Tanah Boyd 15. Jai Arrow 16. Sam Lisone 17. Jai Whitbread 18. Darius Farmer 19. Brian Kelly 20. Toby Sexton 21. Nathan Peats
The Titans are riding high knowing they’ll finish the season as Queensland’s best club, but they’re also on the back of a 3-game winning streak. Their attitude has already shifted to building for a finals tilt in 2021 and they look hungry to continue improving and racking up the wins. On current form, I think they’ll make it 4-straight against a struggling Sea Eagles.
Titans by 6
Melbourne Storm vs Wests Tigers
Storm: 1. Nicholas Hynes 2. Suliasi Vunivalu 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. Kenneath Bromwich 13. Nelson Asofa-Solomona 14. Ryley Jacks 15. Tino Fa’asuamaleaui 16. Tom Eisenhuth 17. Tui Kamikamica 18. Brandon Smith 19. Isaac Lumelume 20. Max King 21. Paul Momirovski
The Storm cruised past the Cowboys last round and look to be heading into the finals series at their clinical best. Papenhuyzen is still out injured, but Brandon Smith has been named on the extended bench and is a chance of returning. I expect the Storm to withstand a Benji assault and comfortably outclass the Tigers.
Tigers: 1. Adam Doueihi 2. David Nofoaluma 3. Joseph Leilua 4. Chris Lawrence 5. Asu Kepaoa 6. Josh Reynolds 7. Benji Marshall 8. Josh Aloiai 9. Harry Grant 10. Thomas Mikaele 11. Sam McIntyre 12. Luciano Leilua 13. Alex Twal 14. Zane Musgrove 15. Matt Eisenhuth 16. Russell Packer 17. Luke Garner 18. Tommy Talau 19. Michael Chee-Kam 20. Jock Madden 21. Jacob Liddle
With their finals aspirations up i smoke, all that’s left to play for is sending Wests Tigers legends Benji Marshall and Chris Lawrence out as winners in their final two games for the club. Josh Reynolds returns to the halves with Brooks out suspended, he’ll bring energy and will be looking to make up for the walk-out controversy from a couple of weeks ago. They’ve fought hard the past couple of rounds, but unfortunately the Storm are a class above.
Storm by 10
Sydney Roosters vs Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks
Roosters:1. Joseph Manu 2. Daniel Tupou 3. Josh Morris 4. Mitchell Aubusson 5. Brett Morris 6. Luke Keary 7. Kyle Flanagan 8. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves 9. Jake Friend 10. Lindsay Collins 11. Boyd Cordner 12. Sitili Tupouniua 13. Isaac Liu 14. Freddy Lussick 15. Angus Crichton 16. Nat Butcher 17. Sonny Bill Williams 18. Poasa Faamausili 19. Drew Hutchison 20. Daniel Fifita 21. Matt Ikuvalu
The reigning premiers were at their clinical best last round against the Knights, and they’re looking primed for another dominant run to the grand final. Tedesco has been rested, with the skillful Joey Manu shifting to fullback. The big talking point for this game will be Mitchell Aubusson making his record-breaking 303rd appearance for the club. I expect the Roosters to comfortably brush past the Sharks.
Sharks: 1. Will Kennedy 2. Sione Katoa 3. Josh Dugan 4. Jesse Ramien 5. Ronaldo Mulitalo 6. Connor Tracey 7. Shaun Johnson 8. Braden Hamlin-Uele 9. Blayke Brailey 10. Aaron Woods 11. Briton Nikora 12. Siosifa Talakai 13. Toby Rudolf 14. Teig Wilton 15. Jack Williams 16. Andrew Fifita 17. Royce Hunt 18. Scott Sorensen 19. Bryson Goodwin 20. Braydon Trindall 21. Billy Magoulias
The Sharks edged out the Warriors last round to cement a spot in this year’s finals series. Still missing key players to suspension, a lot of responsibility falls on the shoulders of stand-in captain Shaun Johnson. Even if he has a decent game, I don’t think the Sharks defence will withstand the speed and silkiness of the Roosters attack.
Roosters by 18
Canberra Raiders vs New Zealand Warriors
Raiders: 1. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad 2. Semi Valemi 3. Jarrod Croker 4. Jordan Rapana 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. Joseph Tapine 14. Tom Starling 15. Ryan Sutton 16. Hudson Young 17. Corey Harawira-Naera 18. Sam Williams 19. Matt Frawley 20. Matthew Timoko 21. Iosia Soliola
The Raiders comfortably disposed of the Dragons last round and look to be finding top form heading into the finals. Although the top 8 is already settled, the Raiders are still an outside chance of stealing a top 4 spot but they must win their final two games to give themselves a chance. I think they’ll be motivated and edge out the Warriors.
Warriors: 1. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck 2. Adam Pompey 3. Adam Keighran 4. Peta Hiku 5. Hayze Perham 6. Kodi Nikorima 7. Chanel Harris-Tavita 8. Lachlan Burr 9. Karl Lawton 10. Isaiah Papali’i 11. Jack Murchie 12. Tohu Harris 13. Jazz Tevaga 14. Wayde Egan 15. Adam Blair 16. Eliesa Katoa 17. Tom Ale 18. Josh Curran 20. Paul Turner 21. Gerard Beale 22. Rocco Berry
Despite missing out on a dream finals appearance after their tough loss to the Sharks last round, I’m still expecting the Warriors to continue playing with the same fighting spirit they’ve shown for most of the season. RTS is in great form and their halves pairing of Nikorima and Harris-Tavita is developing nicely for next season. They won’t make it easy for Canberra, but i don’t think their forwards can match it with the Raiders pack in the middle-third battle.
Raiders by 8
Newcastle Knights vs St George Illawarra Dragons
Knights: 1. Kalyn Ponga 2. Edrick Lee 3. Enari Tuala 4. Hymel Hunt 5. Starford To’a 6. Tex Hoy 7. Mitchell Pearce 8. David Klemmer 9. Chris Randall 10. Daniel Saifiti 11. Lachlan Fitzgibbon 12. Aidan Guerra 13. Mitchell Barnett 14. Phoenix Crossland 15. Jacob Saifiti 16. Herman Ese’ese 17. Sione Mata’utia 18. Josh King 19. Pasami Saulo 20. Mason Lino 21. Tautau Moga
The Knights were walloped by the Roosters last round and they are a team looking battered and bruised heading into the finals. Kalyn Ponga returns to fullback after being rested and Tex Hoy gets his chance at five-eighth. This is a danger game for Newcastle. Their attitude has been brought into question a few times this season after poor performances against the lower teams and they need to build momentum and confidence. I expect them to win, but I’m not confident.
Dragons: 1. Matthew Dufty 2. Jordan Pereira 3. Euan Aitken 4. Zac Lomax 5. Cody Ramsey 6. Corey Norman 7. Adam Clune 8. Kaide Ellis 9. Ben Hunt 10. Paul Vaughan 11. Tyson Frizell 12. Jackson Ford 13. Cameron McInnes 14. Tariq Sims 15. Josh Kerr 16. Blake Lawrie 17. Max Feagai 18. Eddie Blacker 19. Tyrell Fuimaono 20. Brayden Wiliame 21. Jayden Sullivan
The Dragons were terrible against the Raiders last round. The shining light for them was Cody Ramsey scoring two tries on debut. 19-year-old Max Feagai is set to make his debut from the bench. With all the changes set for next season, there’s not much to play for apart from a few individuals pushing for Origin selection and others looking to impress the incoming coach. After last weeks effort, they look done with 2020 so I don’t they will beat the finals-bound Knights.
Knights by 6