Can you smell that? It's the sweet scent of finals footy which is edging closer to us. 6 rounds remaining, arguably the Top 8 has been locked in and now those teams are just jostling for position. Round 14 provided us with some excellent matches, 1 major upset and plenty of drama, what will Round 15 deliver?
By ladder position, this is an absolute belter of a game. Soured somewhat of course by the injuries to some of the Storm's best. Despite the high profile injuries, Melbourne emphatically got the job done against the defending premiers last week. Now they lose Dale Finucane and Suliasi Vunivalu, with Jahrome Hughes also in doubt. Dear oh dear! Surely this injury toll will catch up with them or will Bellyache weave some more magic?
The Eels got beaten by a desperate Dragons team last week, I think they'll turn their fortunes around this week. I think it'll be really close, Eels might just win but the bet I want to have in this game is the total match score under 36.5 @ $1.90. I think it'll be a tight, low scoring contest. For the record, Eels by 6.
What a cracking 6pm Friday night game. Stability in both these sides, both coming off unconvincing wins last week against inferior opponents but boasting some good recent form. Panthers of course are the obvious here but surely they can't just keep winning? I am convinced this is a real danger game for them. Again, I am going to tip a close one, leaning slightly to the Panthers but wouldn't be surprised if the Sharks sprung a surprise. Panthers by 6.
Broncos are $3.50. How? Okay, they get back Milford, Bullemor and Jordan Kahu who will play his first game in a long while, but as 2020 would have it for Brisbane, they now lose Payne Haas, Jake Turpin and Thomas Flegler. It never ends!
The Dragons were terrific last week, upsetting the much more fancied Eels and keeping alive a faint hope of playing finals footy in October. How good is Zac Lomax!? Outstanding.
If the Broncos of the first half against Canberra were to show up, they'd win. But will they? Perhaps the Dragons got the standard win you get when you fire your coach last week for Paul McGregor. I can't believe I am going to do this, but tipping the Broncos by 1 in a famous victory, maybe that's why they're only $3.50!?
Jai Arrow and Dale Copley both out for the Titans, joining skipper Kevin Proctor on the sidelines having been suspended for his 'bite' on Shaun Johnson. I think the Raiders are far too good here, backing the green machine to make a nice run over these next 6 weeks. Raiders by 16.
Well, if you're not across the INS and OUTS for the Roosters this week, then just stay with me here. This week, they get back Brett Morris and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, whilst also recalling Kyle Flanagan. Further, they've added about another 5 blokes to their squad, some names we don't really know, but they'll be missing Luke Keary, Mitch Aubusson, Lachlan Lam and Christian Tuipulotu. I still don't know what their 1-17 will actually look like come Saturday evening.
The Tigers? Well they only just pipped a gallant Bulldogs side last week and look to be unchanged, perhaps veteran Chris Lawrence, who this week announced his retirement at the end of the 2020 season, might come into the 17.
What do you do here? I think there's too many unknowns and moving pieces for the Roosters, tipping the Tigers in an upset here. Tigers by 8.
Probably match of the round stuff here and Manly absolutely desperate for a win. The Sea Eagles welcome back Fonua-Blake, Taufua and Taupau. Big ins!
Danger game for the Bunnies, win here and you're just about cemented in the Top 8 you'd think, but if they give Manly a sniff, things could change really quickly! Not sure what to do here, think this will be an excellent game of rugby league, I'll tip Manly in a tight one again, perhaps this one even goes to golden point. Desperate, Manly won't give an inch and will take plenty of beating.
I normally hate the Bulldogs, but I am also one for charity and this is the weekend they get a W. I'm convinced this is the weekend! $2.18 are great odds!
The only problem is that the Broncos, according to my expert predictions, will also win and that will mean the Bulldogs remain on the bottom of the ladder. Another upset here, this could be a big weekend!
What about the Cowboys last week? Absolutely heartbreaking against the Bunnies but an improved performance for sure. The Knights have won back-to-back games and sit 6th on the ladder, a win here and they could climb to as high as 4th, albeit that is unlikely as the mighty Raiders will be winning.
Anyone who said Kalyn Ponga was out of form might have been right for a week or two but hasn't he turned that around now. 2 try assists and 2 line break assists last week, don't think the Cowboys can stop him or the Knights. Tight early, think the Knights will pull away late as the Cowboys pack loses its zest, Newcastle by 14.