Round 16 of the NRL kicks off on Friday night with two huge matches.

Things should get exciting with the St George Illawarra Dragons at home to the Wests Tigers and while Wests have been successful in their last 4 matches – the bookies don’t give them a chance against the well drilled and defensive Dragons.

Despite Saints being the pace-setters, the Tigers style could upset them here. If Wests get a positive early start, anything could happen.

Despite being perched high on the NRL Ladder, plenty of critics refuse to believe the Penrith Panthers are the real deal. With a Top 8 spot all but confirmed for them – they get a chance to put on a show at home against the Sea Eagles.

Playing at CUA Stadium and the loss of Jamie Lyon for Manly gives Penrith all the ace cards here.

On Saturday the Eels do battle with the Broncos in the battle for a position in the eight – with both sides having indifferent form in 2010. The Broncos had a horror early run but came good, only to get patchy around Origin time.

The Eels have shown they have the ability, turning in good performances when they are ‘motivated’ such as their outing against the Storm – but at times they look disinterested.

This game is crucial for both sides who are slipping out of the range of Top 4 spots.

The battle of the strugglers also takes place Saturday night, with the Cowboys and Sharks doing battle. While plenty of folks might choose to wash their hair during this match – the reality is, that with some luck these sides might flook 8th spot if they start their run now.

A good matchup on Saturday night is the Rabbitohs and the Storm who will do battle in Perth, Western Australia. This is a great test for the ‘Bunnies’ and a strong win here consolidates their ladder positions.

Melbourne understandably are struggling for motivation, still playing for nothing – its hard to tell what kind of performance they’ll turn in.

On Sunday the Roosters have a chance to upset the Warriors at home and certainly need to get a win here to show some sort of consistency. Brian Smith has touched on the fitness of Todd Carney, suggesting the key man is back to his best and Smith expects some quality touches.

The Warriors have been hard to pick all season, the bookies don’t like their chances this week – but it’s a lottery with NZ it seems. They could pull off an upset here, despite it being away from home.

The Titans face the plucky Knights and will be nervous without Scott Prince. After a dramatic win last week, Newcastle could get back into the thick of it with another victory over the Gold Coast.

A win for the Titans without Price would do wonders for their confidence and would be ideal, cementing their Top Ladder position.

Monday night Football sees the Raiders do battle with the Bulldogs and despite being inconsistent they should put paid to the Dogs who have been on a horror slide in 2010.

The Canberra outfit are often forgotten, but for them – this is an ideal chance to jump an out of form team and get themselves a chance of making the NRL finals.

By ricky

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