Holden Cup Round 24 previews
The players to watch and predicted results for Round 24 of the National Youth Competition.
Eels v Titans
Round 24 kicks off with a rare trip to Ringrose Park for a game that has plenty of top eight implications. The Eels are in the enviable position of knowing they can't fall from fifth place even if they lose, but they can jump into the top four should they win and results go their way.
It's a different story for the tenth-placed Titans who can jump into seventh with a win or could fall three points out of the finals race with a loss.
The Eels won the corresponding clash back in Round 3 and will start warm favourites at home against a Titans side that has named skipper Ethan Roberts on an extended bench.
Tip: Eels by 10
Broncos v Dragons
This is another vital game in relation to the make-up of the top eight. The Broncos sit in ninth but are just one successful shot at goal behind the Rabbitohs in terms of for and against.
The Red V are in equal second at the moment, but due to their weak points differential, they could slip out of the top four if things go awry this weekend.
If the Dragons can bring the same intensity that we saw in last week's win over the Titans then they should be too strong, but make sure you follow the late changes because the Red V have left a lot of their stars on the extended bench.
Tip: Dragons by 4
Bulldogs v Sea Eagles
While the Bulldogs are playing for pride, there's plenty on the line for the Sea Eagles as they look to recover from back-to-back losses.
Stuck in a logjam at the bottom of the eight, Manly must arrest their slow starts of late and they'll have to do it without Cade Cust who has been suspended.
Tip: Sea Eagles by 6
Knights v Storm
Newcastle will be looking for some breathing space when they take on the Thunderbolts on Saturday morning. Currently in sixth spot, the Knights need to bounce back after they were hammered by the Eels last week.
They'll fancy their chances against a Melbourne side that has lost three on the trot and went down to the Knights 27-20 earlier in the season.
Tip: Knights by 14
Rabbitohs v Warriors
Written off by most after nine rounds, the resurgent Rabbitohs have completed the turnaround of the season to sit in eighth spot after a tougher than expected win over the Bulldogs last week.
They can now look to do further damage against a Warriors side that is anchored to the foot of the table and has conceded 58, 70 and 70 points in their past three trips to Australia.
Tip: Rabbitohs by 22
Roosters v Wests Tigers
Their premiership defence has looked shaky all year, but back-to-back wins have the Roosters in with a slim chance of somehow sneaking into the top eight if they can win their remaining fixtures and the teams above them slip up.
The Tricolours can't get ahead of themselves and must contend with a Tigers outfit that claimed an impressive win over the Sea Eagles to all but ensure they won't finish last in 2017.
Tip: Roosters by 12
Cowboys v Sharks
If Kalyn Ponga hadn't been promoted to the NRL side then this would have been the game of the round, if not the season. The Cowboys have won four on the trot and have scored 190 points in those games – including a 40-16 victory over the second-placed Panthers last week – but will start rank outsiders against the premiership favourites.
Cronulla's convincing win over the Broncos last week saw them claim their 14th victory in a row – a competition record – and it's growing increasingly likely that they won't lose again in 2017.
Tip: Sharks by 14
Raiders v Panthers
Penrith will be desperate to rediscover their form heading into the finals after they were blown off the park by North Queensland last week.
They should get their season back on track against a hot and cold Canberra side that is coming off a comfortable win across the ditch.
Tip: Panthers by 12
Last week's results: 7/8
Season results: 118/168