Holden Cup Round 13 previews
The players to watch and predicted results for Round 13 of the National Youth Competition.
Eels v Warriors
Round 13 kicks off on Friday evening with the Eels keen to bounce back from a thrilling loss to the Rabbitohs against a Warriors side that will be riding high after their first win of the season.
Parramatta's two-point loss to the Bunnies saw them drop out of the top eight, and their cause won't be helped with wrecking-ball winger Greg Leleisiuao promoted to the Intrust Super Premiership bench.
The Junior Warriors snapped an 11-game losing streak to start the season with what turned out to be a comfortable win over an understrength Broncos team. Friday will be a step up in class and should prove too much for them to handle.
Tip: Eels by 12
Storm v Knights
Melbourne's impressive start to the year seems a distant memory following three heavy defeats on the trot. The Thunderbolts have conceded 46, 44 and 44 points in those losses to slip out of the Holden Cup top eight.
It's a different story for the Knights who are on a three-game winning streak which included a stirring six-point win over the Panthers before last week's bye. Their potent attack should be enough to get them over the line.
Tip: Knights by 10
Dragons v Wests Tigers
The bye came at the perfect time for the Dragons who were just starting to falter after a dream start to the season. A heavy loss to the Sharks was followed by a scrappy win over the Warriors, but expect them to come out fresh and firing against a side they overcame 30-22 in Round 5.
The Tigers enjoyed a shock win over the Broncos before the bye but they'll be hard-pressed to go back-to-back against a bigger-bodied team like the Dragons.
Tip: Dragons by 18
Bulldogs v Panthers
It looked like the Bulldogs were building a bit of momentum a few weeks ago, but heavy losses to the Roosters and Sharks has them in the NYC bottom four midway through the season.
Their job won't get any easier against a Penrith side that will be smarting after their Round 11 loss to Newcastle. The Panthers will be without Jarome Luai who has been named at fullback for the ISP team, but you can still expect them to return to winning ways.
Tip: Panthers by 16
Roosters v Broncos
Talk about a couple of teams in desperate need of a win!
The Roosters blew a 20-point lead against the Raiders last week while the Broncos suffered the ignominy of being the first team to fall to the Warriors in 2017.
It'll be interesting to see who backs up from under-20s State of Origin, while it's worth mentioning last year's hat-trick hero for the Maroons, Bernard Lewis, is set to play his first game since the Round 6 loss to Brisbane.
Tip: Roosters by 6
Cowboys v Titans
Desperate times call for desperate measures, with the Cowboys shifting Kalyn Ponga to halfback for Saturday evening's clash. The superstar fullback spent plenty of time in the halves during the Round 11 loss to the Sharks and the Cowboys will need him to fire if they want to snap a four-game losing streak.
One of those losses was to the Titans in their make-up match in Kingscliff a few weeks ago which kick-started a three-game winning streak for Ben Woolf's men. They look more settled on paper and could move into the top four if results go their way.
Tip: Titans by 6
Sea Eagles v Raiders
This will just about be the match of the round with the winner of this one likely to finish the week in eighth spot. Manly will head into the game clinging on to the final playoff berth, but the Raiders are hot on their heels with points differential the only thing separating them.
Canberra claimed bragging rights with a runaway victory at home in Round 8 but the Sea Eagles have a good record at Lottoland and won't be affected by the early start, unlike their travelling foes.
Tip: Sea Eagles by 10
Last week's tipping results: 3/4
Season results: 60/92