Matt Trodden, NRL.com
Melbourne Storm v Brisbane Broncos
The Storm return to AAMI Park bruised and battered after being convincingly by the Tigers at Leichhardt last Saturday, but they won’t be worried about a clash with the Broncos, having won eight of the last 10, including the last five, against Brisbane. The Broncos last win was in Melbourne, at AAMI Park in 2010, meaning coach Anthony Griffin has never beaten former Broncos colleague Craig Bellamy in their five meetings.
The Broncos return to form hit a stumble across the ditch last Sunday, falling to the Warriors in a match of the year candidate. If they can come out this week with the same intensity and focus, they can definitely challenge the defending premiers. Their record in Melbourne isn’t that flash however, with just one win at AAMI Park, and three in 13 games across all Victorian venues.
If you think...the Storm will rebound from last week’s loss with Cameron Smith back in the side, tip Melbourne.
If you think...Brisbane turned a corner with their performance in Auckland and can cause the upset here, tip the Broncos.
Cronulla Sharks v Wests Tigers
The Sharks left 1300SMILES Stadium on Sunday night with anything but, suffering a disappointing loss on the road, putting them in danger of falling out of the eight with another loss this week. Their record against the Tigers isn’t pretty either, having only had two wins in their past 15 clashes, and not beaten the Tigers at Sharks Stadium since 2003. They will take some confidence from their 30-6 win in Round 9 however.
The Tigers showed some great control to take down the Storm at Leichhardt last Saturday, and enter this game on the back of four wins from their past five games, although only one was against a top eight team. Their record against the Sharks is phenomenal in recent times, but with six former Wests’ players in the opposition ranks, two of whom have only been on the losing side once in meetings between these clubs, the tide may be starting to turn.
If you think...the Sharks can beat the Tigers twice in a season for the first time since 2002 and get their season back on track, tip Cronulla at home.
If you think...Wests’ record against Cronulla is too good to look beyond, tip the Tigers.
St George Illawarra Dragons v Sydney Roosters
The Dragons have struggled to gel as a team all year, and that was no more evident than last Saturday when they fell to the Panthers. They’ve won just two of their last nine and one of the last four games against the Roosters. St George Illawarra will take some solace from winning the only clash between the clubs at WIN Jubilee, however meet a Roosters side in hot form.
The Tricolours have won eight of their last 10, and are coming off a hard fought 18-12 victory over the Sea Eagles at home on Monday night. James Maloney’s return will be key for the visitors, however his only win against St George Illawarra in the top grade was on ANZAC Day this year.
If you think...you need a major difference maker in your tips this week, and think WIN Jubilee Oval may just help the Dragons fire up, tip St George Illawarra.
If you think...Sydney are morals on the return of James Maloney and the form of SBW, tip the Roosters.
Gold Coast Titans v Penrith Panthers
The Titans were decimated by the Knights last week, trailing 36-0 at halftime, and losing Jamal Idris and William Zillman through injury. Jarhome Hughes and Hymel Hunt have been named to make their debuts this week at TIO Stadium in Darwin, and the Titans will need to break the trend to win, with neither side having experienced two wins over the other in the same season.
Penrith were impressive in their win over St George Illawarra, and will travel north to Darwin confident on the back of four wins from their last six games. The halftime lead will be crucial, with neither side able to grab victory against the other when trailing at the break, while the Panthers will be looking for a third win in four of matches played outside of Sydney.
If you think...there might be an upset on the cards from a young and enthusiastic Titans side, tip the Gold Coast.
If you think...last week’s horror first half in Newcastle could be repeated and the Panthers will run rampant, tip Penrith.
Canberra Raiders v North Queensland Cowboys
The Raiders fell to pieces in the rain last Friday night, struggling to break-down the Rabbitohs defensive wall and not able to handle their red hot attack. It was a concerning performance on the back of a flat game the week before, and this week’s opposition won’t help that confidence as they haven’t beaten North Queensland in their last five meetings. They are however shooting for eleven straight home victories.
The Cowboys simply got the job done at home against Cronulla, shifting away from the bottom of the ladder in the process. Two straight wins grows the confidence in this group, and having won their past two in the nation’s capital, North Queensland can be looking forward to the trip on Sunday afternoon.
If you think...the Raiders home form this year has been irresistible, and can’t be ignored, tip Canberra.
If you think...North Queensland have found their mojo after a slow start to the year, tip the Cowboys.
Canterbury Bulldogs v Newcastle Knights
The Bulldogs annual trip to Mackay this year welcomes the Knights, and coming off the bye, the Canterbury boys are sure to be well refreshed. These two have traded wins recently, however the Bulldogs won’t quickly forget the 44-8 thrashing handed out by Newcastle in Round 10 this season, and will hope that their adopted home up north can deliver another win.
The Knights are flying high after disposing of the Gold Coast 46-16 last Sunday afternoon, leading 36-0 at the break. That win was their first in five rounds, however the nature of it means they can’t be written off in this one. The experienced squad won’t be daunted by the trip to Mackay, and will hope for back-to-back wins over the Bulldogs in a season for just the third time.
If you think...Ben Barba will fire again in front of his home crowd, as he did last year, tip the Bulldogs.
If you think...Newcastle’s big win last week has clicked them into gear heading to the finals, tip the Knights.
South Sydney Rabbitohs v Warriors
The Rabbitohs continue to push aside each side that is put in front of them, with last week’s victims being the Raiders. They’ve taken this home game to Perth, where they’re 2-2 in previous visits, but will be back to a full strength side for the clash. Their win over the Warriors in Round Five was the first since 2010, but surely their form is too hard to ignore.
The Warriors have hit a purple patch, stringing together five wins on the trot in fine fashion, and coming off a match-of-the-year win over Brisbane. The form of Shaun Johnson and Elijah Taylor has been very good in the past month, and they will be important, both having only experienced their first loss to Souths this year.
If you think...a trip west won’t halt the momentum of the Rabbitohs, tip Souths.
If you think...the Kiwi boys can again rise against the odds and get the upset, and you need a killer difference maker that could come off, tip the Warriors.
Manly Sea Eagles v Parramatta Eels
Despite still sitting pretty in fourth place, the Sea Eagles have won just one of their past six games, and looked disjointed in the absence of Kieran Foran last Monday night. They’ve won four of the past five against Parramatta, but haven’t had a great time on Monday nights this year, with just the single victory.
The Eels will be looking for the bye to refresh their season, having not won in their past five matches, and not away from home all season. In the past 28 games at Brookvale Oval since 1980, the Eels have won just seven games, however they did get a victory their on a Monday night in 2010.
If you think...the Sea Eagles can get back in the winners circle at Brookvale Oval and keep the pressure on the top three, tip Manly.
If you think...the Eels will relish the return of Jarryd Hayne and can finally get the win this week, tip the upset with Parramatta.