Holden Cup Round 17 previews
The players to watch and predicted results for Round 17 of the National Youth Competition.
Eels v Bulldogs
The Eels will be desperate to get their season back on track after losing three of their past four matches to tumble down to sixth spot on the ladder. While not at full strength, they should get the job done against a Bulldogs side that is just three points clear of the last-placed Warriors.
The Bulldogs have now lost five on the trot and were embarrassed 36-6 in New Zealand last week. They'll be without star back-rower Jayden Okunbor who picked up a shoulder injury in the 30-point defeat.
Tip: Eels by 18
Titans v Dragons
The Titans maintained their hold on eighth spot with a comfortable win over the Wests Tigers and are set to welcome back Tyronne Roberts-Davis in the No.1 jersey which will force last week's two-try hero, Phillip Sami, to centre.
Things weren't so easy for the Dragons who produced a trademark second-half surge to topple the Knights to move up to second spot on the ladder and within one point of the Sharks.
Tip: Dragons by 8
Broncos v Storm
This shapes as one of the most important games of the season thus far with the Broncos and Storm separated by just eight points on for and against and only one win outside the top eight.
Brisbane's backs ran riot in the nation's capital last week as they secured an important win on the road while five-eighth Braydon Trindall was the hero with a field goal as the Thunderbolts claimed a high-scoring 35-34 win over the defending premiers.
The Broncos have managed just two wins at home this season but deserve slight favouritism on Friday night against a Melbourne side that has won all seven matches against Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium.
Tip: Broncos by 4
Roosters v Sharks
The Roosters' premiership defence is on life support and faces the toughest challenge in the NYC when they take on the table-topping Sharks on Saturday morning.
Cronulla marched on with a closer-than-expected 34-30 win over the Sea Eagles while the Roosters went down in a thriller to the Storm.
Currently four points outside the top eight, the last thing the Roosters needed was to come up against a side that will be keen to avenge last year's finals defeat that saw them bundled out in Week Two of the playoffs at the hands of the Tricolours.
Tip: Sharks by 12
Sea Eagles v Warriors
They might have lost last week but the Sea Eagles gained plenty of admirers as they took it to the Sharks for the full 80 minutes at Southern Cross Group Stadium.
Hooker Manase Fainu was unstoppable with three tries, 37 tackles and eight tackle breaks while Tom Wright continues to go from strength to strength in the halves.
The Warriors produced their best performance of the season with the New Zealanders playing the free-flowing footy that we've come to expect from them over the years.
Tip: Sea Eagles by 10
Raiders v Cowboys
Canberra's season goes on the line this weekend with the Green Machine in need of the two points to stay in touch with the playoff race.
The Raiders were well beaten by the Broncos at home last week and welcome another Queensland side to GIO Stadium on Saturday evening.
The Cowboys flexed their muscles with a stirring win over the Panthers led by halfback Jake Clifford and the dummy-half pairing of Calum Gahan and Duarne Dempsey.
Tip: Cowboys by 7
Knights v Wests Tigers
Newcastle dropped out of the top four after blowing a half-time lead in their 21-16 loss to the Dragons. The Knights struggled to win the battle through the middle but should bounce back against the struggling Tigers.
The Tigers were good in patches last week with their outside backs scoring all three tries, but they will be rank outsiders to return to winning ways on the road.
Tip: Knights by 16
Rabbitohs v Panthers
Sunday afternoon's clash will tell us plenty about where these two teams are placed going forward.
The Bunnies have recovered from a horror start to the year and are currently on a five-game winning streak, while the Panthers slipped out of the top two following a tight loss in Townsville.
Penrith won earlier in the year courtesy of a huge second-half fightback and you get the feeling the Rabbitohs want revenge.
Tip: Panthers by 2
Last week's tipping results: 4/7
Season results: 79/118