Matt Trodden, NRL.com
Brisbane Broncos v Parramatta Eels
The Broncos season is on the line as they meet the travelling Eels, but they’ll need to reverse the trend, having not beaten Parramatta at Suncorp since 2009. On the other side, Jarryd Hayne’s naming at five-eighth is a trend the Eels will want to reverse, having lost the last seven games with Hayne in the number 6 jersey. The Eels ended their 10 match losing streak against the Tigers last week, however the last time they won back-to-back games, the Broncos were the second victim, a 42-22 triumph at Suncorp last season.
If you think...Brisbane’s season can stay alive for another week at least, despite losing Justin Hodges, tip the Broncos at home.
If you think...the Eels have found a new confidence and attitude after Jarryd Hayne’s return last week, tip Parramatta.
Souths Sydney Rabbitohs v Manly Sea Eagles
Both teams have taken different trajectories since their bruising battle at Brookvale in Round 7, with the Rabbitohs dropping three of their last four, and the Sea Eagles on a six game winning streak. Greg Inglis and John Sutton return for the Bunnies, who have lost just twice this year when both are playing. They also haven’t beaten the Sea Eagles back-to-back since 1988-89, and haven’t beaten them twice in a season since 1986.
If you think...the Rabbitohs can stay in the minor premiership race with Inglis and Sutton back, tip Souths.
If you think...Manly can keep the pressure on Souths for a top two finish, tip the Sea Eagles.
Canberra Raiders v Canterbury Bulldogs
Saturday afternoon footy returns to Canberra this week, and in regard to the forming of the bottom half of the eight, it couldn’t get more important. The Raiders ambushed the Bulldogs last time they met down in Canberra, winning 34-6 in Round 25, 2012, but the visitors won’t underestimate their opponents this time, who have lost just the once in 13 games previous at home. Victories between the two sides have been split recently and both were last start losers.
If you think...the Raiders can get their home record back on track after the Storm thrashing they received two weeks ago, tip Canberra.
If you think...Canterbury will get the win needed to secure their spot in finals football despite injury concerns, tip the Bulldogs.
North Queensland Cowboys v Gold Coast Titans
For the home side there is a slim chance of finals football, for the visitors a loss could prove fatal to their momentum. The latest Queensland derby has many sub-plots, but the Titans good recent record against the Cowboys could prove vital. They’ve won the the past three meetings, including one at 1300SMILES Stadium, and their last two this season, however North Queensland have taken down the Rabbitohs and Panthers since Neil Henry was told he wasn’t required beyond this year, and Johnathan Thurston is in ominous form.
If you think...North Queensland will continue to fire and look to send out Neil Henry in positive fashion, tip the Cowboys.
If you think...the Titans run towards the finals has gathered enough momentum and they will win on the road for the second straight week, tip the Gold Coast.
St George Illawarra Dragons v Cronulla Sharks
Another southern Sydney derby awaits at WIN Stadium this Saturday night, but bragging rights is all that is on the line for the Dragons. The Sharks need to gain momentum ahead of the finals, but it won’t be an easy task, having won just twice in the last nine clashes between the sides, and none away from Remondis Stadium since 2008. St George Illawarra have won just one of their past seven, but did take down the Sharks in Round 4 at Remondis, while the Sharks are coming off a loss after back-to-back wins.
If you think...the Dragons will be able to fire up for a local derby even without Josh Dugan and Trent Merrin, tip St George Illawarra.
If you think...Cronulla can cement their position in the top eight with all their stars back, tip the Sharks.
Newcastle Knights v Melbourne Storm
Both teams were last start winners, but they’re both delicately poised in either half of the top eight. The Storm have won back-to-back games after a mid-season slump, but will be weary of the Knights, who have only lost once since their 16-14 defeat at the hands of Melbourne in Round 14. Ironically, the Knights haven’t defeated the Storm since Round 23, 2009, but could that be the omen they need for another Hunter Stadium win?
If you think...Wayne Bennett’s men are starting to fulfil their potential and can cement their spot in the top eight, tip the Knights
If you think...Melbourne are over their mid-season slump and are starting to thrown down the gauntlet to the rest of the competition, tip the Storm.
Warriors v Penrith Panthers
A loss here effectively ends the season for either side, but you wouldn’t think we’d be in that position after the last time these sides met in Round 10. The Panthers ran out winners 62-6, just their second win in six against the Warriors, and started a run towards the top eight. The Warriors also clicked into gear, winning seven of eight games before back-to-back losses leading into this one. Penrith’s record in Auckland isn’t bad, sitting at seven wins, seven losses, and they’ve won two of the last three between the sides at the venue.
If you think...the boys from across the ditch can keep their season alive with some typically entertaining football, tip the Warriors.
If you think...Penrith will get the job done at Mt Smart in a last gasp bid to play finals football this year, tip the Panthers.
Wests Tigers v Sydney Roosters
There isn’t a side the Tigers dislike playing as much as the Roosters, having won just once against them since their classic golden point semi final in 2010, and even that win was somewhat controversial. In the ultimate contrast, the Tigers have lost their last five games, while the Roosters have won their last seven. In theory, there shouldn’t be an easier game to tip all year, but Monday night football is known to throw an upset or two each year, and this one would be the ultimate upset.
If you think...you need a game changer in your tips this week and think the Monday night curse could strike again, tip the Tigers.
If you think...the Roosters defence will be too strong for a Tigers side struggling for answers in attack, tip the Tricolours.