Manly Sea Eagles v Wests Tigers
The clinical Sea Eagles fell to the wayside last week against the Titans, making multiple errors on the road to drop their first points of the year. Only Richie Fa’aoso drops out this week, but they face a side who they’ve had a number of close battles with in recent years.
Wests Tigers improved again to defeat the Eels at a packed Leichhardt, with captain Robbie Farah and five-eighth Benji Marshall starring in the win, but they were still not their best. Marika Koroibete is out with a foot injury, but Matt Utai returns as Wests look for a repeat of their classic victory in 2011.
If you think...Manly will return to form and roll through the Tigers smaller forward pack, tip the Sea Eagles at their adopted Bluetongue home.
If you think...Benji Marshall and Robbie Farah are building towards something special, take the Tigers for an upset.
Canterbury Bulldogs v South Sydney Rabbitohs
The Bulldogs fell to Melbourne at AAMI Park, but never gave up the fight, scoring two late tries. The big news this week is the return of Ben Barba, who replaced Drury Low at fullback, while Frank Pritchard is back on the bench. They couldn’t rise in last year’s Good Friday clash, but with a preliminary final victory last year, this game has some added spice.
The Rabbitohs took apart the Panthers in the first half last week, but showed signs of their old defensive lapses in the second half, something they can’t afford to do with Barba in the team. They welcome back Roy Asotasi to the side, while Michael Crocker and Jeff Lima will start to add some extra starch to the centre of the park.
If you think...Ben Barba’s return will add the required spark to the Bulldogs’ attack, take the home side on Good Friday.
If you think...the Easter Bunnies will find a new gear after back-to-back close calls, tip Souths in this ‘away’ game.
Brisbane Broncos v Melbourne Storm
Brisbane couldn’t find a way across the line against the Roosters last week, and return home to Suncorp looking to get their season back on track. Justin Hodges returns after missing last week with a hamstring injury, and will be vital to their attack which has been very hit and miss.
The Storm continue to be clinical despite a tough schedule, last week defeating the Bulldogs at home. They are unchanged from that victorious side, and plenty of their stars will feel at home in Brisbane thanks to Queensland’s Origin domination.
If you think...the Broncos can make a winning return to Suncorp on the back of some Justin Hodges magic, tip Brisbane.
If you think...the big three will continue a five match unbeaten run together at Suncorp Stadium, tip Melbourne.
Cronulla Sharks v St George Illawarra Dragons
It’s derby time in the Shire, with Cronulla again at home against old rivals St George Illawarra. They defeated the Warriors 28-4 last week, although weren’t anywhere near as clinical as their best. The return of fan favourite Ben Pomeroy and Isaac De Gois to the side will be a boost as they look to entrench themselves in the top four.
The Dragons remain winless after the Canberra hoodoo continued on Sunday night, but their attack showed signs of improvement. Daniel Vidot moves to the centres, but St George Illawarra will want to improved on their 4-9 record at Sharks Stadium.
If you think...the return of Shane Flanagan will deliver the results the Shire has been craving, tip the Sharks.
If you think...the Dragons can end their winless start to the season by getting up for the big derby clash, tip St George Illawarra.
Penrith Panthers v Gold Coast Titans
Penrith were on the back-foot from the beginning against South Sydney on Sunday, but showed plenty of fight and flair in the second half to almost pull off an remarkable victory. Cameron Ciraldo replaced Nathan Smith in their only change, but the combination of Kevin Kingston and James Segeyaro as dual dummy-halves will be something the Titans have to contain.
Gold Coast fought out a tough win over Manly at home, with halves Aidan Sezer and Albert Kelly again controlling the game well. They have named an unchanged squad with an extended bench, but will require an extra effort to grab their first points on the road in 2013.
If you think...the dynamic Panthers will again pile on the points at Centrebet Stadium, tip Penrith at home.
If you think...the Titans young halves pairing are exactly what they require to compliment the experienced pack, tip the Gold Coast.
Newcastle Knights v Canberra Raiders
Back at Hunter Stadium Newcastle felt....well, back at home in their demolition of North Queensland on Monday night. Jarrod Mullen, Tyrone Roberts and Akuila Uate were untouchable, and the return of Danny Buderus adds some composure and stability to middle of the park.
Canberra put a couple of nightmare weeks behind them to continue the hoodoo on Sunday night, with Reece Robinson classy at fullback. Blake Ferguson was recalled to the centres, and will be a handful for Alex McKinnon or Timana Tahu on the right edge.
If you think...Newcastle are too hot at home to be beaten by the Raiders, tip the Knights.
If you think...Reece Robinson at fullback is the answer to the Raiders issues in attack, tip Canberra in an upset.
Warriors v North Queensland Cowboys
The Warriors struggled again in Round 3 against Cronulla after improving in Round 2, and will want a strong showing in their first game at Mt Smart Stadium for 2013. Sam Rapira and Glen Fisiiahi return to the side, while Ngani Laumape retains a spot on the wing after debuting last week.
The Cowboys were very disappointed by their loss to Newcastle on Monday, with Johnathan Thurston not having a happy 200th game. They’re unchanged from last week, but haven’t got a great record at Mt Smart Stadium, having won only once there since 2005.
If you think...the Warriors will finally click back at their normal home ground, tip the Kiwi side here.
If you think...the Cowboys can shake off their poor Round 3 performance and get back towards the top eight, take North Queensland.
Sydney Roosters v Parramatta Eels
The Roosters produced a tremendous defensive display to defeat the Broncos at home last week, and will want a repeat against one of the most unpredictable attacks in the NRL. Aidan Guerra returns on the bench, but Sonny Bill Williams has been the star for the Tricolours, slowly finding his way back in the NRL.
The Eels shot themselves in the foot multiple times against the Tigers, but they were in the game until a late field goal from Jacob Miller. Luke Kelly is back at five-eighth and will add some structure to their attack, while Ken Sio replaces Cheyse Blair on the wing. They need a victory here to get their season back on track, but face a tough opposition.
If you think...Trent Robinson has added a new defensive steel to the Roosters that will repel Parramatta, take the Roosters at home.
If you think...the Hayne Train/Plane will set forth to Bondi and the Eels will take all their chances, tip Parramatta in an upset.