Knights v Tigers
The Knights at home to a faltering Wests outfit, but the home side has a makeshift halves pairing in Ben Rogers and Scott Dureau. Without Gidley and Mullen, the Knights do lack some top-line talent – but the unpredictable Rogers can create things from nothing. He might be a ‘diamons or stones’ style player, but he rarely dies wondering.
The Tigers have a more experienced lineup for this one and should be more desperate to redeem themselves. Wests were expected to make the Top 8 this year and if they don’t arrest their current form slum – they may as well kiss 2010 and their coach goodbye.
Tip: Wests Tigers
Eels v Sharks
While the Eels have been on the rise and the Sharks continuing to bottom feed – Cronulla have been a bogey team for the Eels for the past 18 months. The Sharks pipped the Eels in an ugly slugfest last year at Parramatta Stadium and this year defeated the Parramatta side to stop an NRL worst ever losing streak hanging over the Sharks head.
With Cuthbertson coming onto the Sharks bench for the Sharks, their subs do look better than in previous weeks. Aiton and Wright will add some starch. With several former Eels in the Cronulla side expect plenty of feeling.
The Eels at home even without Hayne and Tahu should still be too good. Debutant Humble will be playing for his future and won’t want to miss any chances and the returning Eric Grothe will want to put on a show to cement his position once more.
Warriors vs South Sydney
Another important home game for the NZ Warriors. If the Kiwi’s can out-muscle the big Souths forward pack and get a win, they are setting themselves on the path to finals entrance. If anyone can halt the Bunnies big-men its the Kiwi enforcers.
Souths are missing Asotasi which is a big void, but have enough depth to still look a classy side on paper.
The South Sydney bench swings things in their favour slightly – but still a tough tip here given the Bunnies don’t always travel well. NZ forwards lack the credentials of their opponents in this clash it seems.
Tip: Souths in a tight one.
Dragons v Raiders
If ever the Saints side looked vulnerable it’s in this match. Missing several key-men to Origin – despite this being at WIN Stadium, the Raiders should step up here.
A rookie fullback for the Dragons can expect plenty of testing from the boot of Campo and Co. The likes of Dragons hooker Luke Priddis will feel the heat from his younger, quicker opponents around the ruck.
Look for the creativity of Dugan to light the fuse for the Raiders side.
Panthers v Bulldogs
In what looks to be the match of the Round, the Dogs get a chance to prove themselves against the high-flying Panthers in their own backyard.
The only concern in this game is referee Ben Cummins ruining a spectacle. Arguably the worst ref in the NRL ranks – Cummins blows the pea out of the whistle and has a disrespectful manner with the captains at the best of times.
At CUA, the Panthers should turn on a show here. The home side needs to start well, if they can withstand the early Dogs pressure, they’ll romp home. No Ennis or Kimmorley, or even Idris outweighs the loss of Lewis and Waterhouse here.
Panthers could really put on a show here and go further up the NRL Ladder.