The Tipping Insider: Round 14
St George Illawarra Dragons v North Queensland Cowboys
The Dragons scraped home in a tight one against the Knights last week thanks to some individual brilliance by Josh Dugan, but they’ll need more than that against the Cowboys. They’ve won just once in the last three meetings between the two sides, but crucially won two of the last three in Wollongong.
The Cowboys sit in 15th for the first time since 2010 at the halfway point in the season after another home loss, this time to the Bulldogs. They do welcome captain Johnathan Thurston back this week, who has never lost a game at WIN Stadium when scoring a try, alongside Ashley Graham and Rory Kostjasyn..
If you think...the form of Josh Dugan will drive the Dragons to another win in Wollongong, tip St George Illawarra.
If you think...there may be an upset on the cards and you need a big difference maker in your tips, take the Cowboys.
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Manly Sea Eagles v Canterbury Bulldogs
The Sea Eagles lost for the first time in six starts against the Warriors last week in Auckland, falling away after racing to a 12-0 lead early. They return to fortress Brookvale on Friday night where they’ve lost just twice this season, but only four of their last ten clashes with Canterbury there.
Canterbury have turned their season around in the past six weeks, with just one loss and five important wins to catapult them into the top eight. They took down the Cowboys in Townsville last week, and will be searching for back-to-back wins at Brookvale Oval for the first time since 2004/05 in their first Round 14 fixture since 2009.
If you think...the Sea Eagles can continue their run of no back-to-back losses in 2013, take Manly at Fortress Brookvale.
If you think...big T-Rex will wreak havoc at his old home and the Bulldogs will repeat last year’s enthralling win, tip Canterbury.
Canberra Raiders v Penrith Panthers
Canberra showed exactly how threatening and vulnerable they can be last week, all in an 30-18 victory over the Broncos at Canberra Stadium. Edrick Lee’s broken arm sees him out for 8-12 weeks, but can be supremely confident without a loss at Canberra Stadium since Round 21 last year.
The Panthers led a depleted Tigers 18-4 last week, but switched off and paid the price big time to fall 20-18 and end their three-match winning streak. Matt Moylan has been cleared to return at fullback, and having won six of the past nine games against Canberra, should provide the mountain men with an added boost.
If you think...the Raiders will win their ninth straight home game and get revenge for a Round One ambush, tip Canberra.
If you think...Matt Moylan really is the x-factor in the Panthers side and will be the difference, tip Penrith on the road.
Cronulla Sharks v Parramatta Eels
The Sharks impressive run of victories without skipper Paul Gallen came to an end last Sunday, humbled 38-6 by the Storm in Melbourne, and despite falling to Parramatta in an emotional Round Five encounter, will enter this clash as firm favourites. They’re back to full strength and will be hoping to make it four wins from their last five over the Eels at Sharks Stadium.
There hasn’t been much joy for Parramatta this year, and after a controversial week off the field they showed some promising signs in a 38-24 point loss to the Roosters last Friday night. They lost enigmatic fullback Jarryd Hayne however, and with another week of big personnel changes can only take some confidence in two underdog victories the last two times they faced the Sharks.
If you think...with Gal back in the second row the Sharks must be morals at home, tip Cronulla.
If you think...the Eels have the ability to pull a win out of anywhere and this might as well be the week, tip Parra.
South Sydney Rabbitohs v Gold Coast Titans
The two teams who had the Round 13 bye travel north to Cairns, with the Rabbitohs welcoming back superstar Greg Inglis and back-rowers Ben Te’o and Chris McQueen. They’ve never beaten the Titans more than twice in a row, but are shooting for their third straight victory over the Gold Coast this Sunday and have never lost after a bye under Michael Maguire.
The youthful Titans welcome back three important forwards for this clash after taking down the Cowboys without their Origin stars two weeks ago. The Gold Coast are after three in a row for the second time this year, but will have a tough time of it having only beaten Souths once outside of Sydney since 2007.
If you think...the ladder leaders will not have any issues staying atop the premiership after Round 14 for the first time since 1989 at their adopted home ground of Barlow Park, tip Souths.
If you think...the young Titans backs can spring an upset and need a point of difference for your tips this week, take the Gold Coast.
Melbourne Storm v Newcastle Knights
Even with four players backing up from Origin and the rest coming off a week off, the Storm were clinical against Cronulla last week, scoring a big 38-6 win to shake off any doubts about their premiership credentials. They will enter this game supremely confident having won 11 of the last 13 against Newcastle, and the last six straight.
The Knights have been disappointing in recent weeks, losing at home to St George Illawarra last Saturday night, and need a win to get their season back on track. They’ve lost their last three and haven’t won in Melbourne since 2004, but records are made to be broken right?
If you think...the Storm will be too clinical at AAMI Park again, tip Melbourne.
If you think...all things must come to an end and it’s time for Wayne Bennett to win one in Melbourne, tip the Knights.
Sydney Roosters v Warriors
The Roosters are back at Allianz Stadium against the Warriors after getting the job done against the Eels last Friday night. With all their State of Origin representatives on board, they’ll be after their fourth win in five clashes with the Warriors and a repeat of their 2002 grand final win.
The erratic Warriors have strung three straight wins together lately, with some brilliant attacking football. They came from behind to take down Manly last Sunday, and will be looking to their great record of nine from the last 14 against the Roosters.
If you think...the form of the James Maloney and Mitchell Pearce guiding the Roosters around will keep the pressure on the Rabbitohs at the top of the ladder, tip the Tricolours.
If you think...the Warriors can ride the wave of momentum and take down the Roosters on the road, tip the Kiwis.
Brisbane Broncos v Wests Tigers
A lot has changed since the last time these two sides met, with the Broncos winning just one game and suffering a couple of heavy losses. They were blown off the park early by the Raiders last Monday night, but will be buoyed by an imposing record of 16-4 against the Tigers, as well as a draw in the joint venture’s inaugural NRL game.
The Tigers have strung together a couple of grinding wins recently under a heavy injury toll, but are still stuck just two points off the bottom of the ladder with the worst points differential in the competition. They will miss Robbie Farah again this week, and have never beaten the Broncos without recently departed back-rower Chris Heigington, however their only regular season wins over Brisbane have come at Suncorp.
If you think...the Broncos will jump back towards the top eight at home with all their Origin stars back in the side, tip Brisbane.
If you think...the understrength Tigers can put their torrid injury times behind them and start playing consistent football, tip the Black, Gold and Whites.