Holden Cup Round 7 previews
The players to watch and predicted results from Round 7 of the National Youth Competition.
Bulldogs v Rabbitohs
Round 7 kicks off with a couple of bottom-four sides desperate to gain some momentum after underwhelming starts to the Holden Cup season.
The Bulldogs dominated last week's game against Newcastle for long stretches but found themselves trailing 18-0 at the break before they mounted a second-half comeback that ultimately fell short. Like their first-grade counterparts, goal-kicking appears to be an issue for the blue and whites.
It was a different story for the Bunnies who raced out to a 24-6 lead over the high-flying Panthers, only to concede four unanswered tries in the final 20 minutes to lose their fifth game of the season.
Tip: Bulldogs by 4
Knights v Roosters
Only a conversion separates these two teams on points differential, with the loser likely to drop out of the top eight by the end of the round.
The Knights jumped out of the blocks with two early tries against the Bulldogs and were able to grind their way to a 10-point win at home. Their spine continues to lead the way as one of the form combinations in the NYC.
The Roosters will be desperate to bounce back after they were ambushed by the Broncos at Suncorp Stadium. Prop forward Luke Chalker bagged a double and was a workhorse in the 14-point loss. Sean O'Sullivan returns to the side in the No.7 jersey while Victor Radley assumes the captaincy.
Tip: Roosters by 8
Broncos v Titans
This looms as one of the most intriguing games of the round with both teams coming off impressive last-start victories.
The Broncos dominated the defending premiers with Kotoni Staggs scoring a hat-trick inside the opening 15 minutes while Patrick Corrigan chimed in with 199 metres and 37 tackles.
Gold Coast's halves were the difference against Canberra with Ethan Roberts and AJ Brimson combining for five try assists in the eight-point win. The Titans have suffered a setback with fullback Tre Williams missing through injury.
Tip: Broncos by 6
Sea Eagles v Storm
The Sea Eagles showed signs of improvement against the Dragons last week, but in the end they fell six points short to slump to their fourth loss in a row.
Melbourne bounced back from a poor first half to snatch the lead against Cronulla midway through the second stanza before the Sharks overran them with 18-unanswered points.
Tip: Storm by 16
Raiders v Warriors
The Raiders will welcome their return to GIO Stadium which they have turned into a mini fortress with both of their wins this year coming at home. They looked good in patches against the Titans but will miss winger Harry van Dartel who scored a try and ran for 162 metres last week.
It's been a difficult season for the Warriors who remain winless after six rounds. They have been finishing games strongly but have often left themselves needing to do too much at the backend of matches.
Tip: Raiders by 12
Dragons v Cowboys
Ordinarily a clash between top-four sides would be the game of the round, but this one takes second billing thanks to the match at the foot of the mountains.
The Dragons marched on with another impressive win against Manly with Zac Lomax contributing 20 points in the 32-26 result. The Red V sit in equal first but will face a stern test against a Cowboys side smarting after their first loss of the season.
North Queensland led midway through the second half but three tries in the space of 10 minutes proved the difference as the Wests Tigers held on for the upset of the season. Coach Aaron Payne will be desperate to see some improvement from his troops.
Tip: Dragons by 2
Panthers v Sharks
The top-ranked Panthers host the third-placed Sharks in one of the games of the season on Sunday afternoon.
Penrith pulled off the great escape to beat the Rabbitohs last week with Caleb Aekins scoring in the right corner to complete the stunning comeback. They will need to up their game if they want to match it with a Sharks side capable of scoring from anywhere on the field.
Cronulla passed their sternest test of the season with an impressive win away from home against the Storm. Halfback Kyle Flanagan was the hero with two tries, a couple of assists and six goals.
Tip: Sharks by 4
Eels v Wests Tigers
The Eels produced their best attacking performance of the season to win across the ditch, but they will be without star halfback Troy Dargan who has been promoted to the ISP.
Confidence is high amongst the Tigers' playing group following their shock win in Townsville and they'll fancy themselves to go back-to-back on Easter Monday.
Tip: Eels by 6
Last week's tipping results: 6/8
Season results: 30/47