Penrith Panthers vs Newcastle Knights
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. Apisai Koroisau 21. Dylan Edwards
The Panthers had to grind out a win over a brave Broncos last round but Nathan Cleary is turning into a real clutch player of Thurston-ilk, nailing a two-point field goal and a solo effort to score a try when the game was on the line. All the momentum is with Penrith and they will be looking for a more clinical performance against the Knights. They should win comfortably.
Knights: 1. Kalyn Ponga 2. Starford To’a 3. Enari Tuala 4. Bradman Best 5. Brayden Musgrove 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. Gehamat Shibasaki 21. Phoenix Crossland
The Knights have been inconsistent at best in the opening six rounds but they certainly look a better side when young stars Kalyn Ponga and Bradman Best are fit and firing. Still missing a few key names to injury, the Knights will have to be near flawless if they are to challenge the high flying Panthers. But it is that inconsistency that could be see them be competitive, or blown off the park.
Panthers by 12
Gold Coast Titans vs South Sydney Rabbitohs
Titans: 1. AJ Brimson 2. Anthony Don 3. Brian Kelly 4. Patrick Herbert 5. Corey Thompson 6. Ashley Taylor 7. Jamal Fogarty 8. Jarrod Wallace 9. Mitch Rein 10. Moeaki Fotuaika 11. Kevin Proctor 12. David Fifita 13. Tyrone Peachey 14. Erin Clark 15. Jaimin Jolliffe 16. Sam Lisone 17. Sam McIntyre 18. Beau Fermor 19. Herman Ese’ese 20. Jonus Pearson 21. Phillip Sami
The Titans were handed a lesson in humility and copped a huge reality check in the 36-zip thrashing at the hands of Manly last round. One could argue they are a young side who got caught up in their own hype and went into last weekends game expecting to win against a struggling side, without having to put in the work. At their best, they can certainly upset the Rabbitohs this round, but the jury is still out as to whether they are at the level they need to be to compete with the top sides.
Rabbitohs: 1. Alex Johnston 2. Dane Gagai 3. Steven Marsters 4. Campbell Graham 5. Jaxson Paulo 6. Cody Walker 7. Adam Reynolds 8. Thomas Burgess 9. Damien Cook 10. Tevita Tatola 11. Keaon Koloamatangi 12. Jaydn Su’A 13. Cameron Murray 14. Benji Marshall 15. Mark Nicholls 16. Liam Knight 17. Jai Arrow 18. Jacob Host 19. Patrick Mago 20. Dean Hawkins 21. Hame Sele
The Rabbitohs lose Latrell Mitchell to suspension for the next month but they have a more than capable replacement in Alex Johnston. They will lose some spark with their attack but if the backend of last season is anything to go by, they cruised to a preliminary final without Latrell and should cruise past the Titans this weekend.
Rabbitohs by 10
Parramatta Eels vs Brisbane Broncos
Eels: 1. Clinton Gutherson 2. Maika Sivo 3. Tom Opacic 4. Marata Niukore 5. Blake Ferguson 6. Dylan Brown 7. Mitchell Moses 8. Reagan Campbell-Gillard 9. Reed Mahoney 10. Junior Paulo 11. Shaun Lane 12. Isaiah Papali’i 13. Nathan Brown 14. Oregon Kaufusi 15. Viliami Penisini 16. Wiremu Greig 17. Bryce Cartwright 18. Haze Dunster 19. Jordan Rankin 20. Keegan Hipgrave 21. Ryan Matterson
After their shock loss to the Dragons in round five, the Eels were back to their best when they easily disposed of premiership heavyweights the Raiders in Canberra last round. They will be looking to build some consistency with their performances with another strong showing against the Broncos.
Broncos: 1. Jamayne Isaako 2. Xavier Coates 3. Herbie Farnworth 4. David Mead 5. Corey Oates 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. Danny Levi 15. Thomas Flegler 16. Ethan Bullemor 17. Jordan Riki 18. Rhys Kennedy 19. Tyson Gamble 20. John Asiata 21. Jesse Arthars
The Broncos showed a lot of courage last round against the Panthers, almost pulling off a stunning upset. It is the first time in a very long time that we have seen such effort and resilience, but unfortunately it was still another loss and the challenge for them is whether they can get themselves up again mentally and emotionally against the Eels, who have been a real bogey side for them for the past few years.
Eels by 20
Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks vs Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs
Sharks: 1. Will Kennedy 2. Mawene Hiroti 3. Josh Dugan 4. Jesse Ramien 5. Connor Tracey 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. Shaun Johnson 16. Jack Williams 17. Siosifa Talakai 18. Braydon Trindall 19. Will Chambers 20. Franklin Pele 21. Jenson Taumoepeau
The Sharks will be ruing missed opportunities in the opening six rounds and will be looking to get back on track against the winless Bulldogs. Shaun Johnson makes his return after a long injury layoff from the bench and new signing Will Chambers has been named on the extended reserves list. Despite the off-field dramas that have plagued the club in recent weeks, it has been business as usual for the playing group and they should win comfortable against the Bulldogs.
Bulldogs: 1. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 2. Nick Cotric 3. Will Hopoate 4. Corey Allan 5. Tuipulotu Katoa 6. Jake Averillo 7. Kyle Flanagan 8. Dylan Napa 9. Sione Katoa 10. Luke Thompson 11. Adam Elliott 12. Chris Smith 13. Corey Waddell 14. Bradley Deitz 15. Renouf Atoni 16. Ava Seumanufagai 17. Matt Doorey 19. Lachlan Lewis 20. Joe Stimson 21. Nick Meaney 23. Ofahiki Ogden
What can be said about the poor Bulldogs? Currently in last place and yet to register a victory this season, you can see that coach Trent Barret has a plan for this team, it is just going to take them a long while to get there. The effort will be there again this weekend, but they do not have the cattle or the class to cause an upset against the Sharks.
Sharks by 16
North Queensland Cowboys vs Canberra Raiders
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. Lachlan Burr 14. Jake Granville 15. Mitchell Dunn 16. Francis Molo 17. Corey Jensen 18. Esan Marsters 19. Peter Hola 20. Jake Clifford 21. Tom Gilbert
The Cowboys have recorded back-to-back wins and have racked up over 60 points in the past two rounds. But their leaky defence, poor completion rates and their inability to wrestle back momentum when the opposition gets on a role remains a concern. They are still a long way off where they need to be with their performances if they are to challenge for a finals spot and will need to show plenty of improvement if they are to knock off the Raiders at home.
Raiders: 1. Caleb Aekins 2. Sebastian Kris 3. Jarrod Croker 4. Curtis Scott 5. Jordan Rapana 6. Jack Wighton 7. George Williams 8. Ryan James 9. Tom Starling 10. Emre Guler 11. Hudson Young 12. Elliott Whitehead 13. Ryan Sutton 14. Siliva Havili 15. Corey Harawira-Naera 16. Corey Horsburgh 17. Josh Papali’i 18. Matthew Timoko 19. Iosia Soliola 20. Matt Frawley 21. Joseph Tapine
Ricky Stuart was not messing around when he said changes will be made after two poor losses, with top players dropped from the starting 17 and a number of positional changes made. The injury to fullback Charnze Nicoll-Klockstad has proven difficult to overcome but most concerning is the attitude shown by this team who should be going much better than what they currently are. On paper, they still have a much stronger side than the Cowboys.
Raiders by 8
Wests Tigers vs Manly Warringah Sea Eagles
Tigers: 1. Daine Laurie 2. David Nofoaluma 3. James Roberts 4. Michael Chee-Kam 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. Alex Seyfarth 17. Zane Musgrove 18. Jacob Liddle 19. Thomas Mikaele 20. Tom Amone 21. Joseph Leilua
Another side reeling from a few tough losses is the West Tigers. Only one win on the board when they could easily have had four. But that is water under the bridge now and they must focus on getting their season on track against Manly. The key to winning this game is showing up with the right attitude with their defence and if they do, they should edge out the Sea Eagles.
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. Josh Aloiai 16. Sean Keppie 17. Toafofoa Sipley 18. Zac Saddler 19. Tevita Funa 20. Christian Tuipulotu 21. Ben Trbojevic
Manly’s attack, defence, attitude and confidence all clicked with the return of Tom Trbojevic last round against the Titans. The halves played with a lot more freedom, their defensive line was organized and they looked like a different team to the one getting flogged every week for the first month. The question is whether they can back it up. This game is a coin toss against two evenly matched sides, it will come down to which team is more resilient in defence.
Tigers by 4
Sydney Roosters vs St George Illawarra Dragons
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. Sam Verrills 10. Siosiua Taukeiaho 11. Angus Crichton 12. Sitili Tupouniua 13. Victor Radley 14. Benjamin Marsce 15. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves 16. Nat Butcher 17. Lindsay Collins 18. Fletcher Baker 19. Matt Ikuvalu 20. Egan Butcher 21. Tukupa Hau Tapuha
Traditional Anzac Day clash and the Roosters will be looking to bounce back from a tough loss against the Storm last round. Injuries have brought the Roosters back into the pack of teams around the middle of the ladder and on current form, this should be a close game. It will be another tough test for the Roosters young halves against another quality opposition.
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. Josh Mcguire 16. Daniel Alvaro 17. Brayden Wiliame 18. Billy Burns 19. Poasa Faamausili 20. Jordan Pereira 21. Ben Hunt
The Dragons will also be looking to bounce back after a loss to the Warriors last round. Ben Hunt has been named on the extended bench and is a chance of an early return. They are a team playing a tough brand of football and there will be a belief in this group that they can upset the Roosters on the big stage. They will be emotionally up for this one and will have the enthusiasm to grind out a close win.
Dragons by 2
Melbourne Storm vs New Zealand Warriors
Storm: 1. Nicholas Hynes 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. Dale Finucane 18. Dean Ieremia 19. Ryley Jacks 20. Trent Loiero 21. Aaron Pene
The other traditional Anzac Day clash between the Storm and the Warriors should be a highly entertaining game. The Warriors will prove to be a tough challenge with the loss of star fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen. But with the likes of Munster and Harry Grant in top form, another clinical performance should be expected from the reigning premiers.
Warriors: 1. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck 2. David Fusitu’a 3. Marcelo Montoya 4. Jack Murchie 5. Ken Maumalo 6. Kodi Nikorima 7. Sean O’Sullivan 8. Jamayne Taunoa-Brown 9. Wayde Egan 10. Kane Evans 11. Josh Curran 12. Ben Murdoch-Masila 13. Tohu Harris 14. Jazz Tevaga 15. Bunty Afoa 16. Leeson Ah Mau 17. Bayley Sironen 18. Rocco Berry 20. Tom Ale 21. Reece Walsh 22. Taniela Otukolo
The Warriors are an improved side so far this season. Captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck is playing like a man possessed and is leading the side through his actions on the field. The Warriors will be out to hold their spot in the top eight but might be lacking some class in key positions to knock off the Storm in Melbourne.
Storm by 8