Eight games, eight chances to improve your tipping record. Let’s get stuck into Round 21.
Knights v Broncos - Hunter Stadium 7:45pm Friday
Big game for the Knights at home... bigger game for the travelling Broncos. Newcastle could jump into as high as 5th with a victory, while Brisbane have to win otherwise they’ll be 6 points out of the Top 8 with 5 games to play. Brisbane currently have a 4 game winning streak against the Knights - and they play again in Round 25.
If you think... There’s a good reason Newcastle are 8th and Brisbane are 12th - pick the Knights.
If you think... Brisbane’s last gasp win in North Queensland re-stoked the fire in the Broncos’ playoff belly - pick Brisbane.
Who are you tipping? Play Jim Beam NRL Tipping for your chance to win $10,000. Click here to tip now!Panthers v Roosters - Centrebet Stadium 7:45pm Friday
There are a number of reasons Penrith should be up for this game - Michael Jennings returning to the foot of the mountains for the first time as a Rooster is one - but staying alive in the playoff race should be the main one. Beating the 2nd placed Sydney Roosters is a rather large task though, even at home on a Friday night. The Roosters won easily 30-8 in Round 8 but there’s no Sonny Bill Williams this week.
If you think... Penrith can cause a major upset and keep in touch with the Top 8 - pick the Penny Panthers.
If you think... The Roosters have a Minor Premiership in their sights and will rip the Panthers apart - pick the Chooks.
Warriors v Sharks - Mt Smart Stadium 5:00pm Saturday
Cronulla have won 3 in a row against the Warriors but this is only the second game at Mt Smart since early 2010. The home team is coming off an impressive 30-22 win over the Storm, while Cronulla bounced back from a shellacking at the hands of the Roosters to punish the Panthers 38-10. The Warriors are on the outside looking in at the Top 8 (they are 9th on differential behind the Knights) but victory over the Sharks would make it 8 wins from their last 9 games.
If you think... The Warriors have proven they are the real deal and deserve favouritism at home - pick the Warriors.
If you think... Cronulla can overcome a tough road trip with Gallen in the lineup - pick the Sharks.
Eels v Sea Eagles - Parramatta Stadium 7:30pm Saturday
It’d be nice to give Parramatta a chance in this clash but Manly haven’t been troubled in the 3 games since they crushed Parramatta 50-10 at Brookvale in Round 17 and are now 3rd. The Eels are dead last and need to win 4 of their last 6 games to avoid the wooden spoon. Getting Jarryd Hayne back on the field would be handy right about now for Parramatta, while Manly are just about at full strength.
If you think... Parramatta can conjure up a miracle - pick the Eels.
If you think... Manly will keep brushing aside non-playoff teams with ease - pick the Sea Eagles.
Cowboys v Rabbitohs - Mt Smart Stadium 7:30pm Saturday
North Queensland fell out of playoff contention with their 4th straight loss at home to the Broncos last Friday and they enter their clash with South Sydney having lost 4 straight to the Bunnies. Earlier this season Souths won 28-10 at ANZ Stadium, but there is some good news statistically given the last time these sides played in Townsville: the Cowboys won 46-12... in 2009.
If you think... North Queensland will aim up after it was announced coach Neil Henry’s time at the club is coming to an end - pick the Cowboys.
If you think... South Sydney are back on course after crushing the Titans and will do the same to the Cowboys - pick the Rabbitohs.
Raiders v Storm - Canberra Stadium 2:00pm Sunday
Canberra have produced the goods the last 2 times they have played the Storm - but that is tempered somewhat by the fact the Storm have lost just once in Canberra since 2003 (and that was back in 2009). Up until late 2012 when the Raiders won 40-12 in Melbourne - this was the Storm’s ‘gimme’ on the schedule, winning all but that aforementioned Canberra home game since 2003. If Canberra win they will stay in the Top 8, while a loss for Melbourne puts their Top 4 spot under a little bit more pressure.
If you think... Canberra’s current two game winning streak against Melbourne isn't a statistical anomaly - pick the Raiders.
If you think... Melbourne’s Big 3 won’t allow their team to lose three in a row - pick the Storm.
Titans v Tigers - Skilled Park 3:00pm Sunday
Gigantic game for the Titans if John Cartwright’s men want to break back into the playoffs after missing out for the past 2 seasons. A strong start to 2013 is now in danger of being wasted after dropping games to Souths, Manly, Penrith and Newcastle in the last month - meaning the Titans simply have to beat their 15th placed opponents. The Tigers on the other hand have dropped 3 straight and are no longer in the playoff picture. A day game might produce a quality game of football despite the recent struggles of both teams.
If you think... The Gold Coast can keep their playoff dream alive and arrest a 4 game losing skid - pick the Titans.
If you think... The Tigers will thrive in a day game on the Gold Coast - pick the Tigers.
Dragons v Bulldogs - WIN Jubilee Oval 7:00pm Monday
Canterbury won 16-14 in Round 12 at ANZ Stadium, extending their current winning streak over the Dragons to 3 games (Saints had won 6 in a row before that). The Bulldogs have dragged themselves back into the playoff mix after a poor start to the season and now sit 5th on 24 points - 8 points clear of the Dragons who sit 14th.
If you think... St George Illawarra can play like they did against Souths rather than how they did against Canberra - pick the Dragons.
If you think... Canterbury will overcome the loss of Ben Barba and rack up a score against Saints - pick the Bulldogs.