Matt Trodden, NRL.com
South Sydney Rabbitohs v Canberra Raiders
South Sydney take on the Raiders at home riding a wave of momentum, with just one loss in their last eight games, and with their full complement of Origin players available. Souths have won the past four meetings, last losing to Canberra in 2009, while fullback Greg Inglis has lost just once to the Raiders in 13 games, having scored at least once in his last eight games against them.
The Raiders struggles on the road continued last week against the Tigers, making it just one win from eight games away from home this year, and haven’t won in almost 12 months (Round 23, 2012) or at ANZ Stadium since 2010. Terry Campese’s presence will provide some confidence though, having only lost to the Rabbitohs just once in his four clashes with them.
If you think...the Rabbitohs will maintain their spot atop the NRL ladder on the back of spectacular form by Adam Reynolds, tip Souths.
If you think...the Raiders ANZ Stadium hoodoo can be broken and they can cause the upset of the round on the road, tip Canberra.
Wests Tigers v Melbourne Storm
The Tigers roared back to life at Campbelltown on Saturday, coming from behind to beat the Raiders. It was just their fifth win of the year, but they return to Leichhardt this week where they’re two from two in 2013. Their record against Melbourne isn’t as rosy however, with just eight wins from 23 meetings with the Storm.
An understrength Melbourne went down to the Titans last Monday night, with the loss of Gareth Widdop to a dislocated hip, and then Cameron Smith to a cut above his eye following State of Origin. They were the last team to defeat the Tigers at Leichhardt, in Round 26 last year, but will know that of Wests’ eight victories over them, six have come at the old suburban ground.
If you think...an upset could be on the cards with the Tigers welcoming back Robbie Farah and Aaron Woods, tip the home side.
If you think...the Storm need a win to stay in touch with the Rabbitohs at the top of the ladder and will roll through the middle of the Tigers, tip Melbourne.
Penrith Panthers v St George Illawarra Dragons
Coming off the bye the Panthers have rung in the changes after injury struck again, but with a 19-0 victory already recorded over St George Illawarra this season, they’ll like their chances. Penrith have won three of the last four clashes between the sides, and haven’t lost to the Dragons since 2009.
St George Illawarra look a different team since Josh Dugan’s arrival, but need revenge for their Kogarah ‘ambush’ to start gaining some momentum. It will be Dugan’s second trip to Centrebet Stadium this year, a place where he’s won two of the last three games. Interestingly, St George Illawarra have never lost to Penrith twice in the same season.
If you think...the Panthers home form has been good lately and they will relish the return from injury of Tim Grant, tip Penrith.
If you think...St George Illawarra can turn their from around off the back of a bye and move away from the bottom of the ladder, tip the Dragons.
Newcastle Knights v Gold Coast Titans
The Knights enter this game having lost their last four and in desperate need of a victory to stay ahead of the chasing pack in the bottom half of the table. They’ve traded wins with the Titans throughout their history, holding a slender 6-4 advantage over their 10 meetings, and similarly have three wins from five meetings at Hunter Stadium.
Gold Coast had an important win over Melbourne last Monday night to stay in touch of the top four, but will need to back that up in Newcastle. Only once has either side had two wins over the other in a season (2008), but the Titans are yet to defeat the Knights in Newcastle after last playing them on the Gold Coast.
If you think...the bye will help freshen up the older Knights squad and help them take down the Gold Coast, tip Newcastle.
If you think...the return of Greg Bird and Nate Myles will add the required grunt to the Titans’ forward pack to take down the experienced Newcastle, tip the Titans.
Warriors v Brisbane Broncos
After an indifferent start to the year, the Warriors have surged into finals contention on the back of four straight wins, one of which was a 56-18 Monday Night Football win over Brisbane just four weeks ago. The Warriors last four match winning streak (in 2011) was ended by the Broncos, as was one in 2006, but since 2003 they haven’t had a winning streak of four or more games ended in Auckland.
The Broncos will be confident of success here after getting their season back on track with a win over the Tigers two weeks ago before the bye last round. Their last win in Auckland was back in 2009, but the inclusion of Justin Hodges after Origin on Wednesday night will be a boost, with the centre having beaten the Warriors on five of the last seven meetings.
If you think...the Warriors form can roll back into Mt Smart Stadium where they haven’t lost since Round 5, tip the home side.
If you think...the Broncos will be a much stronger side with their Origin players available and can stay in touch with the top eight, tip Brisbane.
North Queensland Cowboys v Cronulla Sharks
A last-start win in Wollongong (their first in six weeks) has helped the Cowboys stay away from the foot of the ladder, however they’ll need a win at home to stay in touch with the top eight chasers. They lost to the Sharks last year in Townsville, and have a less than impressive 6-10 record against them at home.
The Sharks are also coming off the bye and a win in Round 14, but will be without captain Paul Gallen due to a foot injury suffered in Origin. That could be crucial, as the Sharks haven’t beaten the Cowboys without Gallen since 2003, but they have won 10 of 16 games in Townsville between the sides.
If you think...the Cowboys can grab their first win at home since Round 7, tip North Queensland.
If you think...the Sharks can overcome the loss of Gallen and get another stirring win, tip Cronulla.
Sydney Roosters v Manly Sea Eagles
The Roosters put aside a disappointing loss to the Warriors to take down the Bulldogs last start, without their Origin trio. They have lost James Maloney for this game with a broken eye-socket, however they’re boosted by the return of Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, who has been missing with suspension since the last time these two met in Round 9. The Roosters have won just once in the last five clashes between the two, and not at Allianz Stadium since 2010.
The Sea Eagles have won just one of their last five games, and not on the road since Round 8. They thrashed the Tricolours 52-14 in this round at Allianz Stadium last season, and will want a repeat performance to cut the margin between the two sides in third and fourth respectively. The Sea Eagles haven’t lost back-to-back games against the Roosters since 2003/4, and not twice in the season since 2003.
If you think...the return of Waerea-Hargreaves will add some starch to the Roosters forward pack and some spark to the game in their favour, tip the Tricolours.
If you think...the Sea Eagles can put together a repeat performance of 2012 in Round 16 and thrash the Roosters, tip Manly.