With State of Origin 2 next week, this round sees a few teams, especially Melbourne and Brisbane, missing many of their star players. This is a good week for some teams such as St George/Illawarra and Wests to grab a couple of “bonus” points for the season.
Warriors vs Rabbitohs
As usual, the Warriors are expected to win at home. With Steve Price missing again, this time for Origin duty, their go forward may be blunted. The Rabbitohs have a fair few Kiwis in their side and might treat this as a home coming. I’m tipping an upset, for no real reason.
Rabbitohs by 10
Dragons vs Broncos
This is without doubt the top billing match of the round. The Broncos are missing 6 players through Origin commitments and Justin Hodges is suspended. For the Dragons, Hornby has been overlooked for NSW this time around but Gasnier and Cooper are out again on rep duties. This opens the way for Wendell Sailor to make his return to the NRL after a seven year absence. He looks just as big and strong as he did when he switched codes and I am sure he will turn in a great performance against his old club and mentor, Wayne Bennett.
Dragons by 10
Bulldogs vs Knights
The Bulldogs look marginally stronger on paper than the side that got a 46 – 0 hiding from Melbourne last week. Newcastle are missing three through Origin call ups including Kurt Gidley, arguably the best fullback in the competition.
Bulldogs by 16
Tigers vs Cowboys
The Tigers are showing a lot of promise lately with a narrow last round defeat to competition leaders, the Roosters, and a win in the previous round to the then front running Titans. Matthew Head has been able to stay injury free so far and is building a good combination with Benji Marshall whose confidence increases from week to week. The Cowboys are missing key players through Origin and suspension including Johnathan Thurston and Luke O’Donnell.
Tigers by 20
Eels vs Raiders
Eels will be buoyed by a great showing against Brisbane last Friday night. Although defensively it was a poor effort, they regained some of their attacking ability and put on some great tries. The Raiders, as usual, will struggle on the road.
Eels by 16
Panthers vs Sharks
Without Petero Civoniceva you would expect the Panthers to struggle to get much momentum in the forwards. I just don’t think the others are capable of lifting without him on the paddock. Cronull are missing Gallen and Bird once again but won last time they were without the Bash Brother.
Sharks by 10
Sea Eagles vs Roosters
Manly are again largely unaffected by rep duties and will field a near full strength side. The Roosters though are missing a heap of their regular forwards and Mark O’Meley will be left to shoulder much of the burden. on the upside for them though, Anthony Minichiello makes a return once again from injury and will be busting at the seems to get out and put in a big game.
Sea Eagles by 6
Titans vs Storm
The Gold Coast are once again lightly represented in Origin. Lucky for them, Scott Prince is not one of them. They have plenty of points in them and face a Storm outfit missing a massive TEN players on Origin duty. After their loss to the Dragons in similar circumstances during the lead up to Origin 1, only a brave person would put their money on the reigning premiers. Titans will put plenty on them.
Titans by 24+
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