Indigenous Round in the National Rugby League and things are really starting to heat up! Some teams in 'must-win' games this weekend, others flying high with sights set on a Top 4 spot.
Thursday night we kick things off with a really good clash, both teams desperate for this win. Souths welcome back Latrell Mitchell, who will no doubt be primed for a big performance, particularly in this round. The Dragons, unlucky not to beat the Sharks last week after another howler from the NRL Bunker. The Bunnies are short priced favourites but I like what the Dragons are doing at the moment, who also welcome back Tariq Sims into the back row. Ben Hunt is back at Halfback, how do we feel about that? Not sure. Regardless, I think this is going to be a great game of footy, I'm going to tip the Dragons in an upset. Dragons by 1, could even be a golden point job.
First of two-games on Friday night is a bit of a dour affair to be fair. Tigers are ridiculously short priced favourites, albeit they have been good over the past month. From the start of the season, this Warriors team is borderline unrecognisable! Now they get George Jennings and Daniel Alvaro into the match day 17, on loan from Parramatta. I think this is a danger game for Wests, the Warriors put up a great fight against the Roosters last week and they're due for one of those razzle-dazzle wins. I'll take the Warriors on the line here, +14.5 @ $1.88.
Normally, this would be an easy one. I'd tip the Sharks and move on to the next. But just hold up one minute, not so fast. I think the Broncos are a good chance here. I wasn't overly impressed with the Sharks last week and I know what you're going to say, are you overly impressed with what the Broncos have been doing recently? Of course not, but I like the return of Jake Turpin and Ethan Bullemor who comes back on to the bench. Darius Boyd back to fullback and Anthony Milford back into five-eight, hmmm I just don't know about it but let's hope they both find their best form. The Sharks welcome back Josh Dugan, but lose stalwart halfback Chad Townsend. I just think the Broncos can get the job done this week, tipping another upset, Broncos by 12.
Nasty. Titans improved last against the Panthers but this is no easier. I think this can really get out of hand, Roosters by 38.
Big game this for the Raiders, lose here and they fall away from the Top 4 race. They will be boosted by the suspension to Josh McGuire, in addition to welcoming back John Bateman and Corey Harawira-Naera. Normally I'd think a trip up to Townsville might be a danger game but I just can't see it happening here, Raiders too strong here and should be winning rather comfortably. Raiders by 16.
Match of the round is a Saturday Night clash at Lottoland in Sydney. Manly versus Penrith, 8th versus 1st. Huge game for Manly to cement themselves inside the Top 8, whilst Penrith look to maintain their position atop the NRL ladder. Des Hasler has named Dylan Walker in the extended squad, but I presume he will not play this week, we shall wait and see. Like the Dragons & Rabbitohs clash earlier in the weekend, I think this is going to be as close as they come, a great battle between two good forward packs, whilst arguably the best two halfbacks in the league and surely State of Origin adversaries in 2020 do battle. Close, tipping yet another upset, Manly by 4.
Great to see the Bulldogs get a win last week, we did call it as a danger game for the Knights, albeit I didn't expect Newcastle to lose both their Hookers to season ending injuries within 15 minutes of one another. Sadly, back to reality this week for the Dogs, they'll fight, they always do but Parra will be too strong here. If I was picking an Australian side right now, Nathan Brown wouldn't be far away from first man picked, jeez that bloke gets through some work! Canterbury do welcome back Tim Lafai to the club after leaving the Dragons, literally in the past week, but it won't be anywhere near enough. Eels by 26.
A week ago, this would have been a mouth watering clash to look forward to on Sunday afternoon. Sadly for the Knights, they've had their fair share of injuries and now face a Storm team that are seriously rolling. However, I don't think it will be as clear cut as the betting might suggest, but tipping the Storm in a close one. That bloke Cameron Smith, if the Broncos don't throw big money at him to resurrect their sinking ship, then they have rocks in their head. I digress, Storm by 8.
*Prices current at time of publishing and are subject to change.