Bulldogs v Wests (ANZ Stadium)
This one makes for an interesting match-up, the improving defence of the Bulldogs and their gritty, grinding forwards and the razzle dazzle attack of the plucky Wests Tigers. Both forward packs have been doing well so far in 2009, the return of Chris Heighington should see him fresher and more potent for Wests.
The key to this game is the battle of the halves. Kimmorley v Benji, along with the influence of John Morris for the Tigers and Benny Roberts for the Dogs. I see Kimmorley having the better more precise kicking game and the creativity of Roberts could carve the Tigers sometimes mis-firing defence.
Bulldogs to win.
Manly v Storm (Brookvale Oval)
The grand-final rematch just isn’t the same without the likes of Brett Stewart, Steve Menzies, Steve Bell, Mark Bryant for Manly and of course Issy Folau, Mick Crocker, Antonio Kafusi for the Storm. Manly disappointed a little against the Cows last week, bombing several chances but they face a real out of sorts Storm side.
Should be fairly physical, but the crowd and cauldron atmopshere of Brooky will get the locals home.
Manly to win.
Eels v Cowboys (Parramatta Stadium)
The Eels will be glad to get a home game in their current state of affairs, however the victory of the rebel party at the Leagues club may have them in lifted spirits. Without an experienced half however, they will struggle to get points.
The Cowboys have been played into form by Manly and if they can cope with the flight to the wild west of Parramatta, they should be fine. Expect to see their forwards doing plenty of work, with the Eels tipped to inject plenty of second phase to keep them working. No Hindmarsh for the Parramatta side spells real trouble here.
Cows could really turn it on here and notch up a cricket score.
Money is running strong to Cowboys on this one, around the 1.45 head to head mark.
Cows to win.
Titans v Souths (Skilled Park)
With the in-form Rogers returning and Luke Bailey arriving to stake claims for Origin, expect to see a fired up Titans side. Will be well prepared for this and are always strong at home. Showed good signs against Penrith last week, although it was always going to be a tough road trip for them.
Souths are doing it tough and their current state of affairs was hidden by a woeful Cronulla outfit last week. Need early points and bounce to go their way to be any chance. Improvement need in defence for Bunnies and their lineup seems to keep changing personnel wise and position wise – lacking stability.
Money heavily leaning to Titans of course. Hard to tip against.
Titans to win.
Cronulla v Roosters (Toyota Park)
Now this one will have some feeling. Shire v Bondi, Ricky v Gus and two forms certainly out of sorts. The Roosters forwards have really been disappointing of late, their efforts against the Dragons last week were well below par.
There is a sniff of upset here, the Sharks getting Gallen back will be feeling better and Stuart will have them in siege mode.Â The bookies look to be unsure also, with the Roosters around 1.75 and Sharks around $2. Take the Sharks with a 1-12 margin in this one, their situation is more desperate than the Roosters and playing at home, they should upset the apple cart here.
Sharks to win.
Knights v Broncos (EnergyAustralia)
Probably the hardest one to pick of this Round. The Knights at home, but without Jarrod Mullen. They have a ready made replacement in Dureau and certainly won’t be overawed here. Loss of focus against the Tigers last week was concerning for Newcastle and they would have been worked hard this week by coach Smith.
Broncos had an easy hitout against the Eels last week and should be much fresher. While an away game, they should be OK here and get home. Bookies have Knights as biggest outsiders of the weekend.
Broncos to win.
Raiders v Penrith (Canberra Stadium)
They are exciting to watch the Raiders, and will be keen to re-establish their strong fortress home ground. The Panthers were flying high Monday night and have re-signed their once maligned coach – but can they back up quickly?
It will be tough for the Penny boys, they tend to lift much more at home / night games. This road trip could throw them out of sync and the Raiders are playing with nothing to lose most of the time.
Will be hard for Luke Walsh to do what he did or better this week, too many eyes on him. Raiders will relish conditions and the bookies agree, Canberra strong favourites in their eyes.
Raiders should get this one.
Dragons v Warriors (WIN Stadium)
High anticipated game this one, the battle of the forwards will be key here. Price the workhorse and rookie Packer has been in great form off the bench, they will certainly test the likes of Weyman, Smith and Poore.
While the return of Wade McKinnon is a massive boost for the Warriors, as is Stacey Jones’ form – the bench for the Dragons just offers too much impact. With Costigan, Nightingale and Saffy all able to be thrown in – thats big depth and should hurt NZ.
WIN is always a tough venue and the Dragons should continue their run here. Bookies have the Dragons at super slim odds, and this is one to just follow the money on.
Dragons to win.