Holden Cup Round 9 previews
The players to watch and predicted results for Round 9 of the National Youth Competition.
Broncos v Panthers
This should be a ripping contest between two sides flying high after eight rounds.
The Broncos were too classy for the Rabbitohs last week with prop Payne Haas scoring twice and breaking nine tackles to go with 163 running metres.
They will face a much sterner test from the table-topping Panthers who are riding a seven-game unbeaten streak. The mountain men outlasted the Eels in a high-scoring contest at ANZ Stadium with Daniel Brown bagging a first-half hat-trick.
Penrith's season is starting to mirror their 2016 campaign in more ways than one, but of most note is the fact they drew with Cronulla last year, beat the Eels the following week and then downed Brisbane at Suncorp. Will history repeat?
Tip: Panthers by 6
Rabbitohs v Sea Eagles
The Rabbitohs have been gutsy in games this year but only have one win to show for their efforts two months into the Holden Cup season.
They will fancy their chances against their fellow bottom-four strugglers, with Manly coming off a heavy loss in Canberra despite leading at half-time. The Sea Eagles' classy backs should be the difference on Friday night.
Tip: Sea Eagles by 8
Cowboys v Eels
The Cowboys piled on the points to thrash Newcastle last week with Michael Carroll claiming a hat-trick in the 42-point win. Parramatta are coming off a narrow loss to the Panthers and are playing better than a side that is only in the top eight on for and against. On paper, this should be match of the round, especially if the Eels use Reed Mahoney and Denzal Tonise to full effect.
Tip: Cowboys by 6
Titans v Knights
This is the second meeting between the sides in 2017, with the Titans claiming a thrilling 44-40 win in Round 2 in a match that saw defence go out the window.
Very little separates them with both teams on eight competition points after eight rounds, although the Titans have a game in hand.
The Knights were thrashed in Townsville last week while Gold Coast were blown off Shark Park in what was their most disappointing performance of the year.
Tip: Titans by 2
Bulldogs v Raiders
The Bulldogs will be ruing several missed opportunities following their 20-all draw with the Tigers last week. The blue and whites led for most of the match but needed a late penalty goal to salvage a point.
The Raiders continued their impressive record at GIO Stadium to move 4-1 at home courtesy of a big win over Manly. Skipper Kalani Going was the hero with two second-half tries, but he won't be there this weekend in a cruel blow to the Green Machine.
Tip: Raiders by 10
Wests Tigers v Sharks
It's hard to see anything but a huge Sharks win on Saturday evening. Cronulla have scored the most points (312) through eight rounds, while the Tigers have leaked more points (298) than any other side.
Expect Cronulla's right edge to have a field day at Leichhardt Oval.
Tip: Sharks by 38
Warriors v Roosters
The Warriors remain winless after eight rounds but will give themselves a real chance against a Roosters side that has to travel across the ditch on a short turnaround.
The defending premiers traded tries for an hour against the Dragons on Anzac Day but were overrun 35-26 in the end. They desperately need a win to get their season back on track.
Tip: Roosters by 8
Dragons v Storm
Both teams are coming off solid wins, with the Dragons showing plenty of class to get past the Roosters in an absorbing contest at Allianz Stadium. The Red V boast threats across the park, with hooker Reece Robson in particularly good form.
The Thunderbolts bounced back from a rough patch to easily account for the Warriors 36-20. The margin would have been bigger had Melbourne taken their kicking boots to Sunshine Coast Stadium, with Jesse Arthars and Scott Drinkwater landing just two from eight attempts.
Tip: Dragons by 7
Last week's tipping results: 7/8
Season results: 41/63