As we get into the business end of the season, tipping does not get any easier. Luckily, our man, Tipping Point, is here to help out and guide you.
Round 19 Tips
Season: 80/135 (59%) Last week: 5/6
At a glance: Bulldogs, Storm, Raiders, Titans, Rabbitohs, Roosters, Broncos, Cowboys
Eels v Bulldogs, ANZ Stadium
Heritage week kicks off with two of the gameâ€™s biggest rivals slugging it out in what should be an epic Friday night encounter. Itâ€™s important to note that while this is an Eels game, it will be played at the Olympic Stadium which tilts the scales heavily in the Dogsâ€™ favour. Interestingly, the Eels go into this game with three straight wins, having knocked off the Tigers, Dragons and Storm with the Dogs winning just two of their past four. While the Eels have looked the goods in recent weeks, the Dogs pose a massive challenge and with eight wins from their last nine against Parramatta I think Canterbury will get home. Time is running out for the Dogs to assert themselves on this competition and with close to a full strength side theyâ€™ll have too much class.
Storm v Panthers, AAMI Park
The second Friday night game sees the Panthers head south looking to return to the winners circle while the Storm will be hoping celebrations for Cameron Smithâ€™s 300th first grade game can snap their four-game losing streak and cement their spot in the eight. This will be a real arm wrestle. Neither side is noted for its attacking prowess and on a dewy night in Melbourne this could be a real grind. Melbourne have struggled during the Origin period, and the turnaround from Sunday games in Auckland is always testing (especially a Friday night fixture), but I think theyâ€™ll get the job done for their skipper. They also boast an imposing record over Penrith, particularly in Melbourne where the Panthers havenâ€™t won a game in a decade.
Raiders v Sharks, GIO Stadium
Saturday afternoon football heads to the Nationâ€™s capital for what looms as a do-or-die fixture for two finals bolters. Both sides will fancy their chances, especially the Sharks who have notched four wins from their past five. These sides met in round one and the Raiders got the chocolates that night, albeit with some controversy as two players sin-binned for punching. I lean slightly to the Raiders at home, but the loss of Sam Williams shouldnâ€™t be underestimated. Theyâ€™re far more clinical with him at halfback and their winning record without him in 2015 is not great. That said, Blake Austin is playing out of his skin at the moment and should carry the team to a close victory in what will no doubt be a high-scoring encounter. The betting and tipping trend heavily favours the Raiders so the Sharks are a shrewd point of difference tip noting the Raidersâ€™ poor record as home favourites.
Knights v Titans, Hunter Stadium
This will be a game for the diehards with two of the NRLâ€™s genuine strugglers coming together in a game that could decide the wooden spoon. Difficult to read this game; the Knights have been terrible with just one win since round five and they look completely out of sorts. The Titans on the other hand have acquitted themselves reasonably well all year considering the off-field dramas, and welcome back a few key players such as Bird, Falloon and Elgey. Itâ€™s for this reason that I lean to the Titans. They have an uncanny knack of coming up with wins on the road, and I think with some reinforcements they might just have more of an edge than Newcastle, who look a long way off a win.
Dragons v Rabbitohs, SCG
What better way to celebrate heritage weekend than with two traditional clubs going head-to-head at the SCG. These sides came up against each other in round nine with the Bunnies coming up trumps that night, which was ironically the last game that featured both Reynolds and Inglis and that has shown in their results, posting just four wins over that period. The Dragons are in freefall and havenâ€™t had a win since round 12. While they welcome Dugan, Marshall, Thompson and possibly Frizell, theyâ€™re still without their two best forwards in Merrin and De Belin, so for that reason I like the look of the Bunnies. Itâ€™s time for the reigning premiers to step up and coming off a bye and a poor loss to the Panthers theyâ€™ll be primed for a big game.
Roosters v Warriors, Allianz Stadium
This game will be awesome, and I might even pull out my DVD of the 2002 grand final just to get warmed up for it (Stacey Jonesâ€™ try was one of the best individual efforts). Iâ€™m not quite sure how but the Warriors have found themselves in the top four despite a pretty poor record over top eight sides. With a few wins on the trot they loom as a dark horse for the title, but I can see the Roosters spoiling their party at Allianz given their good record over the Warriors. The Chooks are starting to get their groove on in 2015 and I think theyâ€™ll win this game comfortably.
Broncos v Tigers, Suncorp Stadium
Only the most ardent Tigers fan would take them in this game because everything is stacked against them. The Broncos have been near flawless at home this year, they lead the competition and have all their Origin players back on deck. The Tigers on the other hand are avoiding the spoon only by points differential, and could well find themselves in outright last when this round is done.
Manly v Cowboys, Brookvale Oval
And here we arrive at the toughest tip of the round and the only genuine 50/50 this weekend. This is the fixture you really want to get right, but itâ€™s a deadset coin flip. Iâ€™ve found myself picking both sides at various stages this week but I think the Cowboys are slightly ahead. Manly are definitely on the improve and with their season on the line theyâ€™re really going to bring their A-game to Fortress Brookvale: but the Cowboysâ€™ consistency â€“ especially on the road â€“ is hard to ignore. Theyâ€™ve won twice as many games as Manly and with their Origin players back (bar Tamou), I think theyâ€™ll get home.
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