NRL Tipping: Round 16 - what the experts are saying
With the representative round now in the rear-view mirror, attention returns to the Telstra Premiership. Read Steve Turner's previews and see who the rest of the NRL.com experts think will prevail this weekend.
Dragons v Eels
The Dragons will be hoping their Test and Origin stars take the field on Thursday night. It was a great start to the season for the Red V, but this period will challenge them physically and mentally. The Eels just need to win and they need an almighty effort from the 17 that take the field.
Tip: Dragons by 10
Warriors v Sharks
Both teams have won three of their past five matches, but the Warriors will benefit from Shaun Johnson and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck having missed the Denver Test. This is the time of year where they need to be making a statement. The Sharks love a grind and in an arm wrestle they will turn to their forwards to lead the way on Friday night. It will be a big test for Cronulla, but they can win in a close one.
Tip: Sharks by 4
Roosters v Storm
The game of the round. Cooper Cronk returns to face his old mates and the Roosters are looking for their fifth win in a row. The Tricolours have been impressive over the past month, with Cronk and halves partner Luke Keary steering the ship. It will be a mental challenge for their Origin stars who are backing up. The Storm have been impressive of late, with Cameron Smith the key to their success in 2018. The No.9 will once again be called upon to be the difference on Friday.
Tip: Storm by 4
Panthers v Sea Eagles
The Panthers will be hoping Nathan Cleary and James Maloney are ready to go after guiding NSW to a series win. The Panthers were poor during their last outing against the Roosters and need to improve to continue to stay a top-four side. Manly will look to Daly Cherry-Evans and the Trbojevic brothers to spark them, but they are busted and down on troops and the task will be too big.
Tip: Panthers by 10
Knights v Bulldogs
Kalyn Ponga is a star, but he can't do it on his own. The Knights halves need to provide more in attack and they need to help the fullback out. The Bulldogs need to go up the F3 and get the job done. They need to turn around their poor performance at Belmore and show their fans what they're capable of. The side needs to block the outside noise and win.
Tip: Bulldogs by 6
Broncos v Raiders
The Broncos sit in eighth position and are four points clear of the Raiders. It's a huge game for Brisbane to keep themselves in the eight and after a tough win against the Sharks in Round 15, the Broncos will have a point to prove. The Raiders were superb against the Wests Tigers thanks to the returning Josh Hodgson. Hodgson has brilliant in his first game back from a knee injury. His composure and game management helped the Raiders halves and ultimately changed the way Canberra played. The No.9 is key to their finals push.
Tip: Raiders by 6
Wests Tigers v Titans
It's a new look Wests Tigers this weekend. Moses Mbye's first outing in his new colours and the return of Robbie Farah. The two additions will provide plenty of options in attack for the Tigers and provide much-needed help for Luke Brooks. The Titans come into the fixture with plenty of confidence after their impressive win over the Bulldogs. Ash Taylor and AJ Brimson have been impressive and their partnership will only get better. They will be up against on Sunday the Gold Coast, but the only way to shut the crowd out is score more points and worry about themselves.
Tip: Tigers by 4
Rabbitohs v Cowboys
The Rabbitohs are genuine title contenders in 2018. Their attack is the best in the competition and a lot of it is generated down their left side. Anthony Seibold has changed the way they play this year and they have benefited from a fit and healthy spine. The Cowboys have been disappointing. Their attack looks slow at times and very predictable. An injured Michael Morgan doesn't help, but the two JTs can't always be the ones to get them out of trouble. You can never write the Cowboys off, but it's just been one of those years for the 2017 grand finalist.
Tip: Rabbitohs by 10