Matt Trodden, NRL.com
Brisbane Broncos v South Sydney Rabbitohs
The Broncos were clinical in their victory over the depleted Wests Tigers, with Justin Hodges and Matt Gillett wreaking havoc on the right edge. They’re unchanged this week, with Josh McGuire back for his second start since a hamstring injury.
South Sydney got the better of the Sea Eagles in a match-of-the-year candidate. Coming out of a brutal encounter, they surprisingly have no major injuries and are also 1-17, although Justin Hunt and Jeff Lima have been added to the bench, with Lima a good chance to play.
If you think...Brisbane may have turned a corner against the Tigers and will dominate the right edge, tip the Broncos at home.
If you think...the Cardinal and Myrtle are clicking into gear for a Premiership run, take Souths on the road.
Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs v Wests Tigers
The Bulldogs weren’t perfect against the Sharks in Gosford last Sunday, but most importantly they got the two points, and regaining that winning feeling is vital to their top eight chances. The return of James Graham is a big boost for them, with Tim Browne on an extended bench and Frank Pritchard starting ahead of Josh Jackson.
Last Saturday night couldn’t have been much worse for the Tigers, losing 20-10 to the Broncos and losing three players to medium-to-long term injuries. Marika Koroibete and Jacob Miller return to the lineup, while there are a number of backline and forward pack shuffles to plug holes. However, there is talk of an early return of Benji Marshall.
If you think...the Bulldogs found that winning touch last week and will continue their good record when Benji is missing for the Tigers, tip Canterbury-Bankstown.
If you think...you need a difference-maker in your tips this weekend and the Tigers might just conjure up a miracle, tip Wests.
Melbourne Storm v Canberra Raiders
The Storm continue to roll along in the Telstra Premiership this season, having a slight scare against the Warriors before taking them down on ANZAC Day. Justin O’Neill returned in that game, and retains his spot in the centres this week, while Kenneath Bromwich is added to an extended bench.
The Raiders were very disappointing in their loss to North Queensland, especially considering their form at home leading into the game, but will be incredibly confident considering their good recent record in Canberra. Terry Campese starts at five-eighth, while Jack Wighton partners Blake Ferguson in the centres, replacing Jarrod Croker who is out with a knee injury. Boom rookie Anthony Milford also finds a spot on the bench in the utility role, and is one to look out for.
If you think...nobody will be stopping Melbourne, at least not until the Origin period, tip the Storm.
If you think...the Raiders could have size and unstructured play to disrupt Melbourne at home, tip Canberra.
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Parramatta Eels v North Queensland Cowboys
Parramatta were embarrassed 44-12 by the Penrith Panthers in the battle of the west last Monday, and will be out for retribution here. They’ve lost Tim Mannah (leg) and Jacob Loko (ankle) to injury, as well as dropping Ben Roberts and Ben Smith, while welcoming three debutants (Api Pewhairangi, Kaysa Pritchard and Peni Terepo) alongside Fuifui Moimoi in the side.
The Cowboys were clinical against the Raiders, but there’s still room for improvement particularly when they’re on the road. Dallas Johnson is back after pulling out late last week, pushing Joel Riethmuller back to the bench alongside Ashton Sims and Jason Taumalolo.
If you think...the Eels will return with fire as they did following their last thrashing, tip Parramatta at home.
If you think...North Queensland can turn around their poor away form and continue Parramatta’s woes, tip the Cowboys.
Warriors v Gold Coast Titans
The Warriors pushed the Storm all the way on ANZAC Day, but were outdone by the class of Cronk and Slater in the dying minutes. They welcome captain Simon Mannering and Manu Vatuvei back to the starting side, but have pushed Konrad Hurrell and Ngani Laumape out of the side after impressive stints.
Gold Coast were struck down by injuries during their clash with the Knights last Sunday, leaving them with only one bench player as they fell 30-6. Matt Srama, Ashley Harrison and Luke O’Dwyer are all out, with Brad Takairangi, Sam Irwin and debutant Mark Iaone taking their spots in the side.
If you think...the Warriors are playing too well to not start winning games, tip the home side in this one.
If you think...the changes to the lineup and last week’s loss will not impact the Titans’ momentum, tip the Gold Coast.
Newcastle Knights v Cronulla Sharks
The Knights ran wild on the Gold Coast last Sunday, beating a decimated Titans team 30-6 to push towards the top four. There are no personnel changes, although there are three positional changes as Kurt Gidley moves back to hooker, Tyrone Roberts to halfback and Travis Waddell back to the bench.
The Sharks looked promising but couldn’t take advantage of their opportunities and suffered another loss to the Bulldogs in Gosford in Round 7. Despite all the off-field distractions, they’re unchanged this week, with Chris Heighington and Wade Graham again swapping positions between the second row and the bench.
If you think...the Knights imposing home record will be too much for the Shire boys to overcome, tip Newcastle.
If you think...the Sharks can take advantage of the opportunities they wasted last week, tip Cronulla on the road.
Sydney Roosters v Penrith Panthers
The Roosters produced another extremely impressive win over the Dragons on ANZAC Day, their first win in six years on that big stage. They named an unchanged squad, and you can’t blame them considering the form of Sonny Bill Williams, James Maloney and former Panther Michael Jennings, who faces his junior club for the first time.
A new look Penrith team produced their best performance of 2013, taking down western Sydney rivals Parramatta 44-12 on Monday night in Rd 7. They are unchanged, with Matt Moylan retaining his fullback spot, while Mose Masoe held onto his bench spot alongside Nathan Smith and Adam Docker.
If you think...the Roosters quality on either edge will be too good for the inexperienced Panthers side, tip the Tricolours.
If you think...Penrith can back up last week’s big win with a repeat of the 2003 grand final win 10 years on, tip the Panthers.
St George Illawarra Dragons v Manly Sea Eagles
The Dragons were blown off the park by the Roosters on ANZAC Day last round, but have a long turnaround to regroup. Michael Weyman and Damien Cook both return to the extended bench after missing out last week.
The Sea Eagles fell to Souths in a brutal Friday night game last round, and are certainly counting the cost of their aggression in that game. Steve Matai and Richie Fa’aoso are both suspended, while Jason King is out through injury, meaning Tom Symonds moves to the centres and Peta Hiku, Jesse Sene-Lefao, Esi Tonga and George Rose join the bench.
If you think...the Dragons can get back on track with a rejuvenated Jamie Soward kicking Manly around the park, tip St George Illawarra.
If you think...the Sea Eagles will take plenty from last week and Glenn Stewart will be better for the run, tip Manly at Kogarah.