Round 14, already! Just 7 weeks remaining of the revised season and some big games this weekend and next in terms of finals implications. An absolute shocker last week after pinning the ears back and tipping some upsets. Look, it didn't end well. Let's get some back this week!
It kicks off on Thursday night with what would normally be an absolute belter of a match but with the Storm missing their two Camerons, Smith & Munster, you'd think the Roosters will be hard to beat, albeit they haven't been overly convincing in the past month. Melbourne, well they just always seem to find a way and they do get the services of Ryan Papenhuyzen back this week, but this is as hard a challenge as they've had in many weeks and missing those two key players, it will be the Roosters here and they may well do it with a bit in hand. Roosters by 14.
Could get ugly here, maybe? The Warriors have certainly hit their straps of late but Penrith are just playing irresistible football and flying high atop the ladder. Stability in both sides with limited changes, the betting suggests the Panthers get their job here pretty easily. I think they will but I, like most people, are loving what the Warriors are doing at the moment. This will be entertaining but ultimately Penrith look too strong and will pull away late. Penrith by 16.
Parramatta on the quick turn around after Sunday's game of water polo against Cronulla. If they haven't all got hyperthermia, they'll go around the short priced favourites to beat the Dragons. Ryan Matterson returns for the Eels whilst the Red V and coach Paul McGregor have recalled Corey Norman to the starting side. Hopefully the kick up the arse he needed in getting dropped has done the trick. Ben Hunt pushes back to Hooker, arguably his best position, in fact I think that is pretty much confirmed now and skipper Cameron McInnes will lock the scrum. The Dragons have lost plenty of experience this week with Tariq Sims and Trent Merrin both set to miss the match. St George desperate here to stay in finals contention, think they'll put a big fight, maybe it is an Eels 1-12 job against a gallant Dragons side. Eels by 8.
The Sharks get an extra day to thaw out after last week. Last time they met the Titans was on the Gold Coast and it was a convincing victory. Can't see it being any different here as Cronulla tries to cement a spot inside the Top 8. The Titans, who are improving, there's no doubt about that and will put a better fight this time around but ultimately the Sharks should have too much fire power. Bring on 2021 if you're a Titans fan! Cronulla by 8.
With uncle Wayne still in quarantine, the Bunnies head to Townsville for a Saturday evening showdown with the Cowboys. Jaydn Su'A returns for Souths, whilst the Cowboys lose Justin O'Neill and Tom Gilbert. Danger game this for Souths, sitting 7th but a loss could move them outside the 8 by the end of the weekend, they should be hungry. Did enough against the Broncos last week but name me a team that hasn't, sorry Canterbury fans. North Queensland were poor against the Titans but something tells me they'll improve out of sight here and really stick it to the Bunnies. Tipping the upset and a real big disruption to the finals run of the Rabbitohs, Cowboys by 10 and Jason Taumalolo to lead the way.
What more do you say? Canberra.
Probably match of the round with plenty riding on it in terms of finals footy. Manly sitting in 9th position and needing a win after a couple of shocking losses whilst the Knights patchy form has continued in recent weeks with a few indifferent performances followed by a fair old touch up of Wests. Kalyn Ponga has found his mojo, he's back. Manly will be hoping they find theirs as well, or maybe just a better attitude. The smart man, based on last week's form at least, probably says Newcastle here and probably fairly comfortably, I don't think so. I think this is going to be a belter and I am going to say it is a Daly Cherry-Evans field goal in Golden Point that separates these two teams. Manly by 1. What will the score be you ask? 17-16.
This game couldn't have come around a better time for the Tigers, taking on the blokes with a mortgage on the wooden spoon, albeit Brisbane are giving them a good run for it. The Tigers need this, oh boy do they need this after last weeks shellacking at the hands of Newcastle. Canterbury are like every VCR I ever hired from Blockbuster, they are due, they are well overdue. I foolishly tipped the Dogs last week to break their run of outs and that spectacularly blew up in my face, let's see, what should we do? Just don't know here, both teams likely not playing finals, although the Tigers could certainly still make it. Let's tip the Doggies in an upset, let's give them another chance to climb above the Broncos on the ladder! Canterbury by 8.