My word, a season flies quickly. Rd 26 already and the last round for most official tipping comps. As usual, our man Tipping Point is here to help you if you’re struggling, or if you want a jag a surprise tip and take out your tipping competition.
Round 25 Tips
Season: 116/191 (61%) Last week: 6/8
At a glance: Storm, Roosters, Knights, Tigers, Cowboys, Eels, Sharks, Bulldogs
It seems like only yesterday we were at Suncorp Stadium for Season 2015 kick-off, but fast-forward six months and 184 club games and here we are at round 26! On the whole itâ€™s been a pretty unkind year for tipsters, with plenty of upsets and bizarre results to leave us with plenty of headaches and torn-up form guides. Across the whole season the favourites have been batting a few ticks under 60% which indicates just how tough the year has been. Congratulations if youâ€™re in with a chance of taking out a prize in your comp, and if youâ€™re like me and just on the cusp of the podium then youâ€™ll be going full throttle this weekend to try and jag a perfect round and win some coin. I hope youâ€™ve enjoyed the weekly previews and tips and look forward to doing it all again next year.
Broncos v Storm, Suncorp Stadium
If youâ€™re planning on rolling the dice this weekend in a last-ditch effort to make up ground, then this is the game to do it. I reckon 90% of tipsters will take the Broncos but I give the Storm plenty of hope. Not only do they have a great all-time record over the Broncos with 24 wins from their 37 matches, but they also have a great recent record at Suncorp with four straight wins. The Broncos will also be without Ben Hunt, Alex Glenn and Jordan Kahu and realistically they are little hope of winning the minor premiership considering the red-hot Roosters are taking on a depleted Souths team. As such, Coach Bennett may well opt to rest more players, or give some of his forwards extended spells on the bench. The Storm have a real shot of making the top four, and should they win the only thing stopping them from finishing fourth is a Sharks victory over Manly which is no sure thing. In short, this could be a sneaky point of difference. Itâ€™s not without risk though; the Storm are coming off yet another short turn-around and the Broncos are difficult to beat at home, but Iâ€™m prepared to take a punt.
Roosters v Rabbitohs, Allianz Arena
Iâ€™ve made a fool of myself the last two weeks by tipping against the Roosters, thinking their long-overdue loss was on the cards. But Iâ€™ve learned my lesson: the Chooks are the real deal and they absolutely annihilated Manly last week, not missing a beat despite the absence of Michael Jennings, Mitchell Pearce and JWH. They come up against a Bunnies outfit down on form and down on troops with Issac Luke and John Sutton joining GI on the injured list. With the JJ Giltnan Shield on the line the Roosters will deliver some payback to the side that knocked them over in the prelim last year, and pulled off a remarkable comeback win in round two. Based on what the Chooks have delivered for the past few months, we might be waiting until season 2016 for their long-overdue loss.
Panthers v Knights, Pepper Stadium
Thereâ€™s nothing more exciting than a final-round wooden spoon face-off! Amazingly, both of these sides were undefeated after the first two weeks of the comp â€“ Newcastle in fact won their first four â€“ but a combination of injuries and form has sent both clubs into freefall. I actually really like Newcastle in this game. Theyâ€™ve been fantastic since Coach Bedsy took over the reins, knocking over the Storm and the Tigers, and they were unlucky to go down to the Dogs last week. Thereâ€™s more stability around their line-up and a bit more of a spring in their step than the Panthers, who will be fair dinkum scraping the barrel to field a side this weekend. I donâ€™t expect Jamie Soward or Bryce Cartwright to play and even though theyâ€™re playing at home, I think theyâ€™ll lose the match and pick up their first wooden spoon since 2007.
Dragons v Tigers, ANZ Stadium
This is an awkward tip. Really awkward. The Dragons are going like busteds with just three wins from their last 12 games and those wins came against the Warriors, Knights and Panthers. They look nothing like a top-eight side should, and with reports of Gareth Widdop being a late withdrawal the Tigers are suddenly a big chance of springing an upset at what is essentially a neutral venue. The Tigers knocked over the Dragons in round two and I can see them putting a few points on the Red V. Also, a win could see the Tigers finish as high as 11th whereas the Dragons canâ€™t really improve or worsen their position (barring some kind of implosion from the Sharks). Theyâ€™ll be riding high on last weekâ€™s performance and Iâ€™m sure Robbie has another big game in him â€“ more importantly I just canâ€™t bring myself to tip St George after they were so diabolical against the Titans last week.
Cowboys v Titans, 1300Smiles Stadium
You have to hand it to the Titans: theyâ€™ve been to hell and back this season but theyâ€™re still putting in each week, and amazingly find themselves on a two-game winning streak despite being without their skipper Greg Bird and halfback Aidan Sezer. They wonâ€™t be easy-beats for the Cows who head into the final round in patchy form with just one win from their past four games. Theyâ€™re still without Michael Morgan and with no other outcome other than 3rd place after this weekend, you may see a few players given a sneaky rest. This gives the Titans a big chance in this game, but I think itâ€™s a pretty big risk to tip them. The Cows will be keen to head into the finals on the back of a win and I think they can turn their form around.
Eels v Raiders, Pirtek Stadium
This is an awkward tip. With nothing really on the line we can expect plenty of points; interestingly, the two sides have both conceded exactly 545 points this year, placing them in equal-12th place for defence. In short, itâ€™ll be tries galore and Iâ€™m leaning slightly to the Eels, despite only one win from their past six matches against the Raiders. The loss of Austin and Wighton is significant for the Green Machine, and the Eels have shown enough in their past few games to give them the nod. In a quirk of the NRL draw, this is the first time the sides will square off all year, and just the second time since 2011 that theyâ€™ve played at Pirtek.
Sharks v Manly, Remondis Stadium
In the event of a Dragons loss, Manly are mathematically some hope of making the finals, but I canâ€™t see them knocking over the Sharks to the tune that would be required. With Willie Mason suspended the Sharkies definitely have the edge in the forwards as well as all of the momentum. Crucially, they have plenty to play for with a spot in the top four up for grabs. I donâ€™t see Manly offering much in this game after the Roosters and Eels have taken the wind out of their sails so comprehensively in the last two rounds, but itâ€™s interesting to note that Manly have won 10 of the last 11 matches between the two sides. Could be close, but the Sharks should be too good and celebrate a return to the top four for the first time since 2008.
Bulldogs v Warriors, ANZ Stadium
The regular season wraps up with the Dogs and Warriors squaring off on a Sunday night in a game which has the potential to decide fourth spot, should the Sharks and Storm both get knocked over. The Warriors head into this game on a seven-game losing streak; their last victory was the incredible win over the Storm (with â€œtheâ€ Nathan Friend assist) and havenâ€™t times changed since then. They have been woeful in recent weeks and the Dogs will be hoping to get the win, get through the game unscathed and hopefully lock up a home semi, if not a top four spot. With four straight wins over the Warriors the Dogs will get the job done.