Brisbane Broncos vs Penrith Panthers
Broncos: 1. Jamayne Isaako 2. Xavier Coates 3. Richard Kennar 4. Jesse Arthars 5. David Mead 6. Brodie Croft 7. Tom Dearden 8. Matthew Lodge 9. Jake Turpin 10. Payne Haas 11. Alex Glenn 12. Tevita Pangai Junior 13. Patrick Carrigan 14. John Asiata 15. Thomas Flegler 16. Ethan Bullemor 17. Jordan Riki 18. Rhys Kennedy 19. Cory Paix 20. Keenan Palasia 21. Corey Oates
Anthony Milford has been unceremoniously dumped from the side with Brodie Croft coming in to join Tom Dearden in the halves. It is unlikely this combination will trouble the high-flying Panthers and it is difficult to see where the points will come from. There is not much you can say about how the Broncos are travelling at the moment other than very ordinary and the concern of their opponents putting on a cricket score at Suncorp.
Panthers: 1. Stephen Crichton 2. Charlie Staines 3. Paul Momirovski 4. Matt Burton 5. Brian To’o 6. Jarome Luai 7. Nathan Cleary 8. Moses Leota 9. Mitch Kenny 10. James Fisher-Harris 11. Viliame Kikau 12. Kurt Capewell 13. Isaah Yeo 14. Tyrone May 15. Spencer Leniu 16. Matthew Eisenhuth 17. Liam Martin 18. Scott Sorensen 19. Robert Jennings 20. J’maine Hopgood 21. Jaeman Salmon
There has been a lot said about the Panthers arrogance and cockiness and perhaps it is true and there may be a lack of professionalism within the playing group on-field. But what it also says is they are a very confident football side and a team cannot win a premiership without confidence. There is also a ruthlessness about them and no inkling of complacency coming up against weak opposition, they will be looking to rack up try after try against the Broncos.
Panthers by 40
Newcastle Knights vs Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks
Knights: 1. Kalyn Ponga 2. Brayden Musgrove 3. Enari Tuala 4. Bradman Best 5. Hymel Hunt 6. Kurt Mann 7. Blake Green 8. David Klemmer 9. Jayden Brailey 10. Daniel Saifiti 11. Tyson Frizell 12. Mitchell Barnett 13. Connor Watson 14. Sauaso Sue 15. Jacob Saifiti 16. Josh King 17. Brodie Jones 18. Simi Sasagi 19. Pasami Saulo 20. Phoenix Crossland 21. Gehamat Shibasaki
The Knights need to bounce back this weekend after they were trounced by the Titans last round. Ponga will be better for the run and Kurt Mann returns at five-eighth which is a huge boost for their attack. Attitude and effort needs major improvement with their defence. But despite their injury issues, they are not playing at the level they need to against the quality sides.
Sharks: 1. Will Kennedy 2. Mawene Hiroti 3. Connor Tracey 4. Jesse Ramien 5. Ronaldo Mulitalo 6. Matt Moylan 7. Chad Townsend 8. Braden Hamlin-Uele 9. Blayke Brailey 10. Aaron Woods 11. Briton Nikora 12. Teig Wilton 13. Toby Rudolf 14. Billy Magoulias 15. Aiden Tolman 16. Jack Williams 17. Siosifa Talakai 18. Braydon Trindall 19. Nene Macdonald 20. Franklin Pele 21. Jenson Taumoepeau
There has been another unceremonious dumping this week and it was now ex-coach of the Sharks, John Morris. Josh Hannay takes over as interim coach for the rest of the season and it will interesting to see if the players will get themselves up for this game. They really should have beaten the Roosters last round, but they have shown enough so far this season to suggest they are in better form than the Knights.
Sharks by 10
Melbourne Storm vs Sydney Roosters
Storm: 1. Ryan Papenhuyzen 2. George Jennings 3. Reimis Smith 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. Nelson Asofa-Solomona 14. Harry Grant 15. Tui Kamikamica 16. Tom Eisenhuth 17. Nicholas Hynes 18. Aaron Pene 19. Dean Ieremia 20. Chris Lewis 21. Brenko Lee
The reigning premiers were the first team this season to raise the bat after putting a half-century on the lowly bulldogs last round, but they face a much tougher test against arch rivals the Roosters. You could argue they are still adjusting to life with Cam Smith in some areas of their game, but with Harry Grant again named on the bench and could still be promoted to the starting side, experience in key positions could be the difference in a close one.
Roosters: 1. James Tedesco 2. Daniel Tupou 3. Josh Morris 4. Joseph Manu 5. Brett Morris 6. Drew Hutchison 7. Sam Walker 8. Isaac Liu 9. Benjamin Marsce 10. Siosiua Taukeiaho 11. Angus Crichton 12. Sitili Tupouniua 13. Victor Radley 14. Adam Keighran 15. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves 16. Nat Butcher 17. Lindsay Collins 18. Fletcher Baker 19. Matt Ikuvalu 20. Jesse Marschke 21. Daniel Suluka-fifita
The Roosters escaped with the two-points against the Sharks last round due to a Sam Walker inspired late comeback. They have a much tougher test this round against the Storm in Melbourne and although they are stacked with world class players, with the exception of James Tedesco at fullback, the inexperience of their spine could prove the difference between the two sides. 18-year-old, 78kg Sam Walker can expect traffic sent his way all game.
Storm by 2
Manly Warringah Sea Eagles vs Gold Coast Titans
Sea Eagles: 1. Tom Trbojevic 2. Jason Saab 3. Brad Parker 4. Morgan Harper 5. Reuben Garrick 6. Kieran Foran 7. Daly Cherry-Evans 8. Taniela Paseka 9. Lachlan Croker 10. Martin Taupau 11. Haumole Olakau’atu 12. Josh Schuster 13. Jake Trbojevic 14. Cade Cust 15. Toafofoa Sipley 16. Sean Keppie 17. Josh Aloiai 18. Tevita Funa 19. Zac Saddler 20. Christian Tuipulotu 21. Ben Trbojevic
Daly Cherry-Evans again proved why he is one of the best clutch players in the competition with his field goal on the fulltime siren to secure Manly their first win of the season against the Warriors last round. He will also be buoyed by the return of star fullback Tom Trbojevic. However, it should not be expected that they will instantly improve with ‘Tommy Turbo’ back in the side and the Titans will pose a much bigger threat to their leaky defence.
Titans: 1. Alexander Brimson 2. Phillip Sami 3. Brian Kelly 4. Patrick Herbert 5. Corey Thompson 6. Ashley Taylor 7. Jamal Fogarty 8. Jarrod Wallace 9. Mitch Rein 10. Tino Fa’asuamaleaui 11. Kevin Proctor 12. David Fifita 13. Tyrone Peachey 14. Moeaki Fotuaika 15. Sam Lisone 16. Jaimin Jolliffe 17. Erin Clark 18. Beau Fermor 19. Herman Ese’ese 20. Sam McIntyre 21. Jonus Pearson
The Titans continue to improve and they are playing with some confidence after laying on 40 points against the Knights last round. With their two big recruits David Fifita and Tino Fa’asuamaleaui in destructive form, they have given confidence to their teammates who have also stepped up in recent weeks. They should have plenty of points in them to knock off the Sea Eagles.
Titans by 12
South Sydney Rabbitohs vs Wests Tigers
Rabbitohs: 1. Latrell Mitchell 2. Alex Johnston 3. Dane Gagai 4. Campbell Graham 5. Josh Mansour 6. Cody Walker 7. Adam Reynolds 8. Thomas Burgess 9. Damien Cook 10. Tevita Tatola 11. Jacob Host 12. Jaydn Su’A 13. Cameron Murray 14. Benji Marshall 15. Mark Nicholls 16. Patrick Mago 17. Jai Arrow 18. Hame Sele 19. Liam Knight 20. Troy Dargan 21. Jaxson Paulo
The Rabbitohs welcome back five-eighth Cody Walker and they are expected to continue on their merry way with their attacking game against a struggling Tigers defence. Latrell Mitchell has taken his game to another level as a fullback and their forward pack should dominate the middle-third battle, giving their spine and slick outside backs plenty of time and space to put on a score against the Tigers.
Tigers: 1. Daine Laurie 2. David Nofoaluma 3. James Roberts 4. Asu Kepaoa 5. Tommy Talau 6. Adam Doueihi 7. Luke Brooks 8. James Tamou 9. Jake Simpkin 10. Stefano Utoikamanu 11. Joe Ofahengaue 12. Luciano Leilua 13. Alex Twal 14. Moses Mbye 15. Luke Garner 16. Thomas Mikaele 17. Zane Musgrove 18. Jacob Liddle 19. Alex Seyfarth 20. Tom Amone 21. Michael Chee-Kam
That abysmal first-half performance against the lowly Cowboys at Leichhardt last round was so embarrassing, it led to their own supporters booing them off the field at halftime. We can only hope the players were hurt with that response from the fans and they show up with the right attitude this week and make-amends with an admirable performance that will at least make the Rabbitohs have to earn their victory.
Rabbitohs by 18
Canberra Raiders vs Parramatta Eels
Raiders: 1. Caleb Aekins 2. Bailey Simonsson 3. Jarrod Croker 4. Curtis Scott 5. Jordan Rapana 6. Jack Wighton 7. George Williams 8. Josh Papali’i 9. Josh Hodgson 10. Iosia Soliola 11. Hudson Young 12. Elliott Whitehead 13. Joseph Tapine 14. Tom Starling 15. Ryan Sutton 16. Siliva Havili 17. Emre Guler 18. Sebastian Kris 19. Matt Frawley 20. Corey Harawira-Naera 21. Dunamis Lui
The Raiders started fast last round against the Panthers but would be ruing missed opportunities. The loss of fullback Charze Nicoll-Klockstad certainly did not help their cause as some of their players struggled with the positional reshuffles. They are evenly matched against the Eels this round, with both sides coming off losses, but coach Ricky Stuart will be expecting a much more clinical performance at home on a cold Saturday night.
Eels: 1. Clinton Gutherson 2. Maika Sivo 3. Tom Opacic 4. Marata Niukore 5. Blake Ferguson 6. Will Smith 7. Mitchell Moses 8. Reagan Campbell-Gillard 9. Reed Mahoney 10. Junior Paulo 11. Shaun Lane 12. Ryan Matterson 13. Nathan Brown 14. Oregon Kaufusi 15. Isaiah Papali’i 16. Keegan Hipgrave 17. Bryce Cartwright 18. Joey Lussick 19. Haze Dunster 20. Wiremu Greig 21. Jordan Rankin
The Eels suffered a shock loss to the in-form Dragons last round at Bankwest Stadium and it will be interesting to see if the confidence they played with in the opening month has been knocked out of them. They have to travel to Canberra and play in what is expected to be a frosty 5 degrees against a Raiders side also looking to bounce back from a loss. This game is a toss of the coin, but it could be a tough road trip for Parramatta.
Raiders by 4
St George Illawarra Dragons vs New Zealand Warriors
Dragons: 1. Matthew Dufty 2. Cody Ramsey 3. Jack Bird 4. Zac Lomax 5. Mikaele Ravalawa 6. Corey Norman 7. Adam Clune 8. Blake Lawrie 9. Andrew McCullough 10. Paul Vaughan 11. Josh Kerr 12. Tariq Sims 13. Tyrell Fuimaono 14. Kaide Ellis 15. Trent Merrin 16. Daniel Alvaro 17. Brayden Wiliame 18. Jackson Ford 19. Billy Burns 20. Josh Mcguire 21. Jordan Pereira
The Dragon are the surprise packets so far this season, but they are playing with a lot of belief at the moment and they are executing a simple game plan very well. Currently sitting fourth on the ladder, they are playing with confidence and toughness, even without in-form captain Ben Hunt. It is good to see Matt Dufty at his dangerous best and Corey Norman playing to his potential. On current form, it is hard to tip against them against the Warriors.
Warriors: 1. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck 2. Peta Hiku 3. Adam Pompey 4. Marcelo Montoya 5. Ken Maumalo 6. Kodi Nikorima 7. Sean O’Sullivan 8. Leeson Ah Mau 9. Wayde Egan 10. Tohu Harris 11. Josh Curran 12. Jack Murchie 13. Jazz Tevaga 14. Ben Murdoch-Masila 15. Bunty Afoa 16. Kane Evans 17. Paul Turner 18. Rocco Berry 20. Tom Ale 21. Jamayne Taunoa-Brown 22. Taniela Otukolo
The Warriors attack has stifled in the past two weeks and they need more from their halves if they are to get past the Dragons. Addin Fonua-Blake has proven to be a huge loss, so the rest of the forward pack needs to step up against an in-form Dragons pack to give their spine enough time and space to create more scoring opportunities. They are not far off the pace with the better sides in the competition, but there is still plenty of improvement required.
Dragons by 8
North Queensland Cowboys vs Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs
Cowboys: 1. Valentine Holmes 2. Kyle Feldt 3. Justin O’Neill 4. Connelly Lemuelu 5. Murray Taulagi 6. Scott Drinkwater 7. Ben Hampton 8. Coen Hess 9. Reece Robson 10. Jordan McLean 11. Shane Wright 12. Ben Condon 13. Jason Taumalolo 14. Jake Granville 15. Lachlan Burr 16. Francis Molo 17. Corey Jensen 18. Esan Marsters 19. Mitchell Dunn 20. Peter Hola 21. Jake Clifford
The Cowboys attack unexpectedly swung into gear in a first-half ambush against the Tigers last round, winning their first game at Leichhardt since 2000. But despite the pressure relieving victory, they almost surrendered a 22-point lead as their shoddy defence was again exposed. This is a game where defence is key against a largely ineffectual Bulldogs attack and with the return of captain Jason Taumalolo, there is no excuses for them not winning this one.
Bulldogs: 1. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 2. Nick Cotric 3. Will Hopoate 4. Corey Allan 5. Tui Katoa 6. Jake Averillo 7. Kyle Flanagan 8. Dylan Napa 9. Sione Katoa 10. Jack Hetherington 11. Adam Elliott 12. Corey Waddell 13. Luke Thompson 14. Jackson Topine 15. Renouf Atoni 16. Chris Smith 17. Ofahiki Ogden 19. Brandon Wakeham 20. Dean Britt 21. Joe Stimson 22. Matt Doorey
The Bulldogs finally broke the points-scoring drought last round against the Storm, but they still let in an unacceptable 52-points. The Bulldogs have a chance to build on the combinations and get their attack going against a weak Cowboys defence, but their own defence is another issue. Another coin toss game, but momentum after a win is with the Cowboys.
Cowboys by 6