Scout Report: Round 25 teams wrap
It's grand final week for a lot of head-to-head Holden NRL Fantasy leagues, meaning every decision matters when it comes to picking your 17 and naming your skipper. The same goes for the overall rankings as well, obviously. And for any of you out there lucky enough to still have some trades in the bank, they could make or break your season right now.
All that being said, here are the big ins, outs, movers and shakers in Fantasy this week.
Bulldogs v Rabbitohs, Thursday night at ANZ Stadium
Bulldogs: The Bulldogs are unchanged after thumping the Tigers last week. Tim Lafai's two-try 86-point haul from that win makes him the Bulldogs' most in-form Fantasy scorer at the moment, ahead of lookalike props Aiden Tolman and James Graham and all-action back-rower Josh Jackson. If you take out last week's concussion-affected 7, Jackson has averaged almost 63 over his past four games.
Rabbitohs: Adam Reynolds has been named and is confident of playing despite an injury scare against the Cowboys, which is great news for Fantasy coaches as he's been in top form. The same goes for Sam Burgess and Issac Luke, who is stringing together consistent mid-50s scores these days. George Burgess's return from suspension is more good news, with all four Burgess brothers in the Rabbitohs' 17 this week.
Broncos v Dragons, Friday night at Suncorp Stadium
Broncos: There were a lot of good scorers for Brisbane in their walloping of Newcastle on the weekend, without any clear standouts, although Justin Hodges got plenty of involvement with three try assists from fullback. He's been named there officially this week, with Lachlan Maranta to again play on the wing.
Dragons: Josh Dugan and Benji Marshall have both been named after being cleared of ankle injuries from the weekend. It was good to see Trent Merrin bounce back to scoring form with 58 against the Titans, while Leeson Ah Mau is actually the club's form Fantasy player with an average of 50 over the past three weeks.
Knights v Eels, Saturday afternoon at Hunter Stadium
Knights: The Knights were in off-season mode already during their thumping loss to Brisbane, and it's hard to recommend buying any of their players at the moment. On the positive side Jarrod Mullen is back at five-eighth, replacing Michael Dobson, while veteran club favourite Timana Tahu gets his first game of the season off the interchange.
Eels: The golden streak is over at last. His team may have brought down the first-placed Sea Eagles but Jarryd Hayne failed to make it five straight 80+ scores, instead slumping to a paltry 52. He's still the best winger/fullback in Fantasy by a mile and could dominate again this week. Try-scorers Semi Radradra, Ken Edwards and Will Hopoate have all racked up big scores in recent weeks but are no guarantees to repeat the trick in Newcastle. The Eels are unchanged as you'd expect after stunning the league leaders last Friday.
Raiders v Wests Tigers, Saturday at GIO Stadium
Raiders: Mitch Cornish finally gets his start at halfback, with Josh McCrone dropped to the bench and Terry Campese left in the NSW Cup. Cornish's halves partner Anthony Milford scored twice in the club's rare win over a decimated Sharks side to notch 59 points – just the second time he's passed the 50-point mark since May – while Paul Vaughan remains solid as a rock coming off the bench.
Tigers: Pat Richards is back on the wing, with forward-turned-utility Cory Paterson named in the centres, while Blake Austin replaces the injured Luke Brooks in the halves. Robbie Farah and Aaron Woods are the Tigers' only Fantasy guns these days, hitting 69 and 70 respectively last week.
Roosters v Storm, Saturday night at Allianz Stadium
Roosters: Sonny Bill Williams is back in the starting side, bumping Aidan Guerra to lock and Frank-Paul Nuuausala to the bench. Jake Friend played about 50 minutes in his return to the side last week, scoring 43, with Boyd Cordner (67, including a try) the only forward to play the full game. Friend's minutes should go up in the coming weeks as the only fit specialist hooker in the side.
Storm: Gun prop Jesse Bromwich returns to the side in a massive boost for his Fantasy owners, bumping Jordan McLean to the bench. Cheapie Dayne Weston was a late inclusion last week and actually did OK with 28 points, and he's a chance of playing again after being named in jersey 16 this week.
Warriors v Titans, Sunday afternoon at Mt Smart Stadium
Warriors: Dominique Peyroux and Sam Rapira are back, with Feleti Mateo and the injured David Fusitua out. Ngani Laumape will play on the wing while Sione Lousi replaces Mateo at lock. Simon Mannering was held to just 22 points in 80 minutes in last week's thumping at the hands of the Roosters but should improve markedly against the Titans, while Shaun Johnson and Sam Tomkins could also light it up in attack.
Titans: David Mead joins the side in the only change, and could slot into the centres with Brad Takairangi moving into the forwards. David Taylor is another week away and Nate Myles won't be back this year. No Titans player is averaging more than 40 Fantasy points a game this season.
Sea Eagles v Panthers, Sunday afternoon at Brookvale Oval
Sea Eagles: Manly are unchanged and will be fired up after being humbled by the Eels last week. Daly Cherry-Evans, Jamie Lyon and Anthony Watmough are really the only Fantasy-relevant names at the Sea Eagles these days, although Jamie Buhrer remains a solid contributor with 40 points a week.
Panthers: Star hooker James Segeyaro missed last week's match after the death of his father and has not been included this week either, with Ivan Cleary naming an unchanged side – but a potential season-ending injury to Kevin Kingston will probably see Segeyaro move straight back into the No.9. Jamal Idris is hitting his stride in the centres with two 55s in the past three weeks, while rookie winger Dallin Watene-Zelezniak notched his first Fantasy 50 on the weekend.
Cowboys v Sharks, Monday night at 1300 Smiles Stadium
Cowboys: Jason Taumalolo has been named at lock after playing in the middle of the park in the past few weeks, with Gavin Cooper moved to the second row in North Queensland's only change. Matt Scott is in great touch with recent scores of 46, 58 and 69, while Taumalolo himself isn't going too badly in his new role. Johnathan Thurston has been in great footy form but has only been able to translate that to good – rather than great – Fantasy scores.
Sharks: Jonathan Wright (suspended) and Fa'amanu Brown (knee injury) join several other Sharks in being ruled out for the season, with Blake Ayshford named at centre, Daniel Holdsworth at five-eighth and Tinirau Arona in the second row. The absence of star men Paul Gallen, Andrew Fifita and Wade Graham should give the likes of Arona plenty of scoring opportunities, but there's not a lot on offer for Fantasy coaches at Cronulla these days.