Matt Trodden, NRL.com
Brisbane Broncos v Canterbury Bulldogs
The Broncos’ season ended last week, but they’re still playing for pride, while the Bulldogs want to hit September in form after securing their finals spot. The Bulldogs have had the wood on the Broncos recently, winning four of their past five clashes, and that includes three of the last four at Suncorp. Ben Barba could be a late inclusion for the visitors.
If you think...the Broncos can get some pride back and finish a disappointing season on a high note, tip Brisbane.
If you think...the return of Ben Barba will provide the attacking spark Canterbury have lacked in the past month, tip the Bulldogs.
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South Sydney Rabbitohs v Sydney Roosters
The biggest game of the year so far is upon us, with the J.J.Giltinan Shield on the line as the NRL’s two oldest clubs battle. The Rabbitohs have hit form after a mid-season slump, while the Roosters are coming off shock back-to-back losses and are in need of a win to gain some momentum leading into the finals. Souths have won three of the last four between the sides, but were defeated in their last ANZ Stadium meeting.
If you think...the Rabbitohs got their wake up call against the Tigers last week and won’t be fooled again, tip Souths.
If you think...the Tricolours aren’t the kind of team to be losing three in a row at this time of year, tip the Roosters.
St George Illawarra Dragons v Warriors
St George Illawarra fell to their lowest point of the season on Monday night, a four point loss to the Eels, while the Warriors showed what they are truly capable of, putting 50 on the hapless Raiders. All signs point to a Kiwi victory here, however they haven’t defeated the Dragons since 2007, and have never won in Wollongong in nine attempts. One win in the last 12 meetings isn’t good news for the visitors, but don’t all things have to come to an end?
If you think…the Dragons will show us what has been lacking all year with some fair in the final game, tip St George Illawarra.
If you think…the Kiwi boys will keep the pressure on the Titans and Cowboys with an attacking masterclass, tip the Warriors.
Melbourne Storm v Gold Coast Titans
The Storm were completely off their game last week and were punished by the Sea Eagles, and it doesn’t get any easier as they face a Titans side who shocked the Roosters at home. Melbourne have won four of the last five meetings between the two, but the Titans were successful on the Gold Coast in Round 15 when both teams had Origin players missing. The Titans have never won at AAMI Park, but were successful in Melbourne last in 2009.
If you think...the Storm will enter the finals in a clinical manner and end the Titans’ season, tip Melbourne.
If you think...Gold Coast’s season still has a flicker of light amidst the great form of Aidan Sezer and Dave Taylor, tip the Titans.
North Queensland Cowboys v Wests Tigers
A Cowboys win would secure them what looked like an unlikely finals berth six weeks ago, while the Wests are looking to avoid finishing the regular season just one spot above last position. The 2005 Grand Final combatants used to regularly trade wins, but it’s been the Tigers with the upper hand recently, winning 10 of 14 games since that historic night, including two of the last three in Townsville.
If you think...the Cowboys can lift themselves into the semis and send Matt Bowen away from home with a win, tip North Queensland.
If you think...Benji Marshall has one good game left in him and Robbie Farah will help send him out a winner and get a World Cup spot, tip the Tigers.
Manly Sea Eagles v Penrith Panthers
Manly were back to near their best against the Storm last Saturday night, but are missing two key players as they face the Panthers at Brookvale. Penrith’s season is over, but they could certainly cause a stir with a win here and Ivan Cleary will have them firing against the club that gave him a start as a player. They’ve won just three times of the last 10 meetings, but did win their last game in Round 12, 2012.
If you think...Manly’s fill in players will still be too clinical for the Panthers at Brookvale, tip the Sea Eagles.
If you think…the Panthers can end their season on a high and build towards finals football in 2014, tip Penrith.
Newcastle Knights v Parramatta Eels
It’s Old Boys day at Hunter Stadium, and that usually means a Newcastle win. They face a Parramatta side fresh off a win over the Dragons, but need a victory to secure their spot in the finals. The Knights have won the last four meetings, all of which have been relatively low scoring, and rarely have a loss in their last home game of the year.
If you think...the Knights will send Danny Buderus out a winner in his final home game, and secure their spot in the eight, tip Newcastle.
If you think...Parramatta are starting to play the carefree footy which saw them run to the 2009 Grand Final, tip the Eels.
Canberra Raiders v Cronulla Sharks
Canberra’s season was ended last Saturday at the hands of the Warriors, but they’ll want to put a dent in the Sharks’ confidence as they fight for position in the bottom half of the top eight. Cronulla were successful in their Round 10 meeting this year, but the Raiders have an unknown entity in Mitch Cornish on debut and will bring back memories of last year’s semi final win in Canberra over Cronulla.
If you think…the Raiders will end the season with a win on the back of a dominant display over the wounded Sharks, tip Canberra.
If you think...Andrew Fifita can lead Cronulla to a victory by dominating the sizeable Raiders forward pack, tip the Sharks.