Nearing the business end of the season, tipping is still no easier but our Tipping Guru, Tipping Point, is here to help. His strike-rate is climbing and with positions up for grabs and clubs jostling for positions, he can help you pick the winners.
Round 23 Tips
Season: 101/167 (60%) Last week: 4/8
At a glance: Cowboys, Broncos, Tigers, Panthers, Roosters, Manly, Bulldogs, Sharks
Cowboys v Rabbitohs, 1300Smiles Stadium
The Cowboys dropped just their fifth match of the season last weekend with a loss against the Sharkies and blew a golden opportunity to take the outright competition lead. While it may have been the proverbial â€œloss they needed to haveâ€, they now have the Roosters breathing down their neck and a loss could see the Cowboys fall out of the top two at the end of this round. With a potential home final up for grabs and with Matt Scott returning, I canâ€™t see the Cowboys dropping this game. Souths have been lacklustre of late, and have a poor record over North Queensland with four straight losses; they also havenâ€™t won in Townsville since 2008. The defending premiers look a tired side, although Auvaâ€™a makes a return to spark their backline and I reckon we might see Titansâ€™ castaway Paul Carter make his club debut.
Broncos v Dragons, Suncorp Stadium
The Broncos were caught napping last week with an upset loss to the Doggies at home, making it back-to-back defeats. They were definitely troubled by Canterburyâ€™s big pack and theyâ€™ll welcome the return of Adam Blair who will tighten up their middle third. The Dragons have strung two wins together after dropping seven straight, but they were up against two of the worst sides of the comp in Newcastle and the Warriors. As such, their form is misleading. Coming up against the Broncos at home and looking to get their season back on track, I think the Dragons are going to get completely shut out. Interestingly, the Dragons knocked over the Broncos in round seven, but before that theyâ€™d lost eight straight.
Tigers v Knights, Campbelltown Stadium
Itâ€™s truly desperation stations at Campbelltown with both sides looking for a win and, crucially, a step away from the dreaded wooden spoon. With consecutive wins the Tigers definitely look more likely. Theyâ€™ve knocked over the Raiders and the Storm and look to be playing with some confidence, in particular James Tedesco who is mounting a strong argument to be wearing the sky blue in 2016 with some truly spectacular play. Amidst all the controversy, thereâ€™s no doubt that the Knights are having a crack, and with Snowden returning I think they can give the Tigers a scare. I also worry about backing the Tigers when theyâ€™re favourites because Iâ€™ve seen them play horribly against sides they were expected to beat over the years. While they are very nervous favourites, I think theyâ€™ll get home but I wouldnâ€™t be betting the farm on it.
Panthers v Warriors, Pepper Stadium
I thought these sides both had top eight written all over them this year, but instead they find themselves well outside of the eight and with plenty of time to plan for Mad Monday. The Panthers have been cruelled by injury in 2015 whereas the Warriors have just been indifferent, with the injury to Shaun Johnson sending them on a pretty epic downward spiral. Their capitulation to the Dragons was something to behold last week, and although I think the line is overly generous in this match I just canâ€™t bring myself to tip them. I feel like the Panthers have one or two good performances in them and I think theyâ€™ll have a dig at home to snap their five-game losing streak.
Roosters v Eels, Allianz Stadium
Just a few weeks after heading to North Queensland as $8 outsiders, the Eels find themselves at even longer odds against the Roosters. Theyâ€™ll be giving away 20 points at the line which reflects the large gulf between these sides: the Roosters are the best side in the comp and they ought to demolish an error-riddled and stretched side. The Roosters though lack a bit of killer instinct, and weâ€™ve seen them bumble their way to wins against the Titans, Tigers and Knights in recent memory. Theyâ€™ll win this game, but it wonâ€™t be all one-way traffic.
Raiders v Sea Eagles, GIO Stadium
Itâ€™s been an odd year for the Green Machine. For so long theyâ€™ve been known as a team that are solid at home, but canâ€™t travel; in 2015, but theyâ€™ve been the complete opposite, chalking up just two wins from 10 at home while picking up six road wins. Should they lose to Manly this weekend, theyâ€™ll break the record for the lowest number of home wins in a season by a Raiders team, a record held by their inaugural squad. Judging by their respective performances for the last two weeks, itâ€™s hard to see anything but a Manly victory. Theyâ€™re coming home with a wet sail and with a top eight spot in sight I think theyâ€™ll be too good for the Raiders. Manly also have a good record over the Raiders, with nine wins from their past 11 clashes.
Bulldogs v Titans, ANZ Stadium
After a gutsy two-point win against the Broncos in Suncorp, the Bulldogs snapped a two-game losing streak and reminded everyone that they are still a threat to the competition. The Titans are an awkward opponent though; they play well on the road and with Sezer fit and firing theyâ€™re always a chance of an upset. In fact, the Titans have won the last four against the Dogs, including a golden point win in round 26 which was a massive upset. I just canâ€™t see them doing it this time though: with a finals spot on the line and in front of their home crowd, the Dogs ought to get the job done.
Sharks v Storm, Remondis Stadium
Round 23 concludes with the fifth-ranked Sharks taking on the six-ranked Storm. With five straight wins and 12 from their last 16, the Sharks are in hot form and a win on Monday night could see them land in the top four. And after knocking off the Cowboys last week in such impressive style, you have to take them against a Storm side which without Slater looks to fairly middling. The only thing that worries me is whether or not the Sharks players have been reading the papers: thereâ€™s been plenty written about the top four and even a few references to a maiden premiership, so thereâ€™s every chance theyâ€™ll put in a stinker. Plus, the Storm have won four straight against the Sharks, although strangely enough the Storm havenâ€™t played in the Shire since 2012 (hello to all our Shire-based Storm fans). Iâ€™ll be taking the Sharks but a Storm win wouldnâ€™t surprise.