Another week, another tipping round. Last week was marginally easier but tipping accurately this year is getting increasingly harder given the even nature of many teams. Here to help, though, is our tipping guide, Tipping Point. His help will potentially be the difference between a perfect round and a low-scoring round.
Round 21 Tips
Season: 91/151 (60%) Last week: 5/8
At a glance: Storm, Roosters, Sharks, Cowboys, Broncos, Dragons, Souths, Titans
Tigers v Storm, Leichardt Oval
Channel 9 viewers are treated to another Tigers Friday night game as they head to one of their traditional home grounds to take on the Storm, who have flown under the radar to sit just two points outside the top four. Leichardt has been a miserable ground for the Tigers this season, copping three defeats to the Panthers, Raiders and Titans â€“ all non-top eight sides. While they welcome back Robbie Farah, they lose one of their better forwards in Marty Taupau and I expect them to be fairly ruthlessly dealt with by a thoroughly professional Storm outfit.
Roosters v Bulldogs, Allianz Stadium
Two Sydney rivals and premiership heavyweights square off in what ought to be a willing encounter. The Dogs will be seething after a pretty poor effort against the Sharks last Sunday so the Chooks will be in for a battle. This strikes me as the kind of game where the Dogs really fire up and Dessie will have them primed, but the Roostersâ€™ form and credentials are hard to ignore: theyâ€™ve only lost one game since round nine and knocked over the Dogs fairly easily in round 10. Theyâ€™re still very much in the hunt for the minor premiership and they wonâ€™t want to let this game slip.
Warriors v Sharks, Mount Smart Stadium
This fixture has had me completely flummoxed since last weekend. Put simply, itâ€™s a nightmare. The Warriors are always haunting tipsters, and the loss of Shaun Johnson makes them more unreliable. Theyâ€™ll also be without Bodene Thompson who has been one of their best this year; they do however welcome back Hurrell, Vatuvei and Hoffman. The Sharkies on the other hand have actually been ticking along nicely, and find themselves firmly in the eight with three straight wins. In fact, theyâ€™ve actually won 10 of their last 13 games so if you excuse their shocking start to the season â€“ where they opened with four losses â€“ theyâ€™re one of the form sides of the competition. But the loss of Fifita and Luke Lewis, two of their best players, is significant. Coming off a tough Sunday afternoon game thereâ€™s a strong case for picking the Warriors â€“ but their poor record against top-eight sides makes me reluctant to pick them. Iâ€™ll take the Sharks but Iâ€™m already having doubts.
Cowboys v Raiders, 1300Smiles Stadium
Iâ€™m really looking forward to this clash which features the NRLâ€™s second- and third-most prolific attacking sides. Both sides are coming off last-round wins with the Raiders jagging a critical victory against the Panthers at Pepper Stadium whereas the Cowboys played twenty minutes of football last Monday against the Eels and walked away with a 46-4 victory. The Cowboys are in a rich vein of form and I think theyâ€™ll be too good for the Raiders who, despite having a great away record this season with six wins from nine, may suffer in the humid conditions.
Manly v Broncos, Central Coast Stadium
After such a torrid week the Manly side and their embattled coach will be keen to focus on footy for a day. Unfortunately, they take on the competition leaders Brisbane who are sitting on an eight-game winning streak and playing an exciting brand of footy that has seen them pegged as near premiership favourites. Manly will be no easy-beats though: they won against-the-odds against the Warriors last week and with their season on the line they will be bringing their A-game. But I just canâ€™t see them knocking off the competition leaders, especially away from Brookie. Manly will also be without Symonds, Sao and Burgess which sees their forward stocks tested even further. Iâ€™m sure the Silvertails will rally for Tooves, but the Broncos will whether the storm and come home strongly.
Dragons v Knights, Jubilee Oval
Talk about embattled clubs â€“ the Knights are probably the only ones doing it tougher than Manly. Theyâ€™ve just punted Rick Stone for a second time, and a cavalcade of former players and personalities have been bagging them deluxe all week about a poor culture. The Dragons arenâ€™t going real flash either, losing seven straight and free-falling out of the top eight. Iâ€™m sure Buderus will give the Novocastrians a rev-up â€“ and Iâ€™d expect some late changes to the 17 â€“ but the Dragons will win this game. They simply must win to save their season.
Souths v Panthers, ANZ Stadium
Iâ€™m not going to mince words: the Bunnies win this game. Penrithâ€™s loss to the Raiders last week ended their faint finals hopes and the injury to Wallace pretty makes the rest of the year a write-off. Theyâ€™ll also be without the underrated Dean Whare and Nigel Plum against Souths, but they do welcome back Josh Mansour. The Bunnies on the other hand have started a run: theyâ€™ve put back-to-back wins together and with their key players back on deck theyâ€™ll make short work of the undermanned Panthers. Itâ€™s a shame for Penrith because I thought theyâ€™d be a real contender in 2015, but theyâ€™ve just had shocking luck from the outset.
Gold Coast v Parramatta, Cbus Stadium
This game could be close to the least-anticipated match of all-time, and there may well be more match officials in attendance than actual fans. With that said, games between sides with nothing to lose are often quite entertaining with plenty of points: and I reckon the Titans might just get a few more than the Eels. With Sezer and Elgey back and James Roberts due for a big one, I think Gold Coast will get up in a game where defence will not be a priority: a 40-34 scoreline would not surprise.
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