NRL 1 year ago

NRL Telstra Premiership: Round 14 Preview

  • NRL Telstra Premiership: Round 14 Preview

    BATHURST, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 30: Jamie Soward of the Panthers watches on during the round nine NRL match between the Penrith Panthers and the Canberra Raiders at Carrington Park on April 30, 2016 in Bathurst, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Looking at the tipping sheet ahead of this weeks round the only team I could confidently ink in was the Storm V Roosters.  For the rest of the games, well, close your eyes and swing for the fences and see where you come out the other end.  

Broncos V Raiders (Thu 09/06, 7:50pm)

This match is a case of the Raiders climbing up the mountain while the Broncos are sliding down, and they are going to meet somewhere in the middle.  Brisbane are doing their 'mid-year Origin Plateau' thing, and to be quite frank looked ordinary against the Warriors.  They are certainly missing McCullough and their young halves look flat. Has their massive 2015 season finally caught up with them?.  The Raiders are going from strength to strength and now they have added Paulo to their already big rumbling pack they are a scary prospect.  Nothing signified Paulo's settling into the club more than him turning Buhrer into a human speed bump last week. The big test for Canberra will be putting in an 80 minute performance, something they have failed to do this year. Although Broncos are the favourites at home, if Canberra can stay in the contest, I sniff an upset. 

Tigers V Rabbitohs (Fri 10/06, 7:50pm)

Taylor put the Farah saga to bed (for now), naming him in the number 9. Time will tell if he starts, or if he even gets a full game. With Tedesco back and getting match fitness under his belt (and vying for an Origin spot) I expect him to try and get his hands on the ball,  a lot. For the Rabbitohs, Sam Burgess is finding form and will look to make life tough for Woods and Co.  It is reported that Luke Keary may be in doubt for this clash and in recent weeks his spark off the bench is what has kept Souths in their games.  It's no secret Inglis is also a little out of sorts.  The key for Souths is Reynolds. He had a really good Origin 1 and needs to ride that form for the bunnies through the rep period.  Another tough game to pick.  I think Reynolds and Inglis too experienced for Moses and Brooks. And Inglis to finally get some form back ahead of Origin 2.  Souths to get home.


Knights V Warriors (Sat 11/06, 3:00pm)

I feel for the Newcastle Knights.  They are like a little league team playing against giants. And the worrying thing for them is that Shaun Johnson ripped the Broncos to shreds last week.  In turn the Warriors have decided (and for some reason they always do this at Origin time) to start playing Rugby League.  The positive for the Knights is they get Sims back and Gagai is playing well for them.  Also the Warriors don't travel all that well, and their record at Newcastle isn't great. It's hard to know what you will get with NZ.  It seems like some weeks they just don't want to play.  However all things considered Warriors should win.

Eels V Titans (Sat 11/06, 5:30pm)

The titans continue to squeeze every ounce of talent, guts and determination out of their roster.  Much has been written about their up and coming half back, and for the sake of all the Titans fans hopefully he keeps his head screwed on, stays away from reading the hype and sticks to doing what he does best.  Greg Bird continues to be the glue that holds the side together.  With Parramatta depleted in the halves they have had to name Kenny Edwards in place of Foran and with their season slipping away and their administration still in tatters they just don't look the goods.  Titans in a close one.

Roosters V Storm (Sat 11/06, 7:30pm)

Everyone thought that when Pearce returned and the Roosters got their win against the knights they might be on the up.  But lets look at this without rose coloured glasses.  The win was against Newcastle and their only other wins this year have been against the (at the time)  terribly out of form Rabbitohs and the Tigers, who last week played a lock as their hooker.  Parity this with the Storm who have Bromwich (arguably the best prop in the game at the moment).  And two of the modern era's best players in Cooper Cronk and Cameron Smith.  At the back they have Billy Slater's clone  Cameron Munster playing out of his skin.   No win is a certainty, but for Melbourne this could be as close as it gets to one.

Sea Eagles V Panthers (Sun 12/06, 4:00pm)

While everyone was talking about every other thing that goes on in Rugby League, Anthony Griffin out of nowhere landed a bombshell headline.  Jamie Soward dropped a grade for this weeks clash.
Speculation is running rife that Soward's days are numbered.  I suspect it is a little less dire than that.  Yes when it comes time for contract negotiations Soward might find himself 'up the creek' as it were. He is an ageing player and it's time Penrith started building for the future. But the next set of halves coming through are in no position to fill Soward's boots right here and now.  I think we just need to see this for what it is. The Sea Eagles are without Lyon and DCE, without Matai and without Lawrence.  Put that together with a Penrith coach who likes to give his first graders time back in the  reserve ranks to regain some form. Griffin did it at the Broncos and he has done it at the Panthers.  It's just one of his coaching tools. And more than anything I think Griffin looked at Manly's team sheet, and saw this as an opportunity to blood some young talent and give Soward a rest and a confidence rebuild. Nothing more.  What it does do, is give Manly a good fighting chance when 5 days ago they had none. Still Penrith have got too much class across the paddock. Panthers to win.

Dragons V Bulldogs (Mon 13/06, 4:00pm)

When you look at the Bulldogs list, on paper you say 'that's a top 4 side'.  They have Jackson, Klemmer and Morris (NSW), Graham (English national team prop), and Josh Reynolds, playing better than he has in 2 years.  But they are just so hard to get a read on you don't know what they will produce.  This week presents a really interesting match up in the halves with Reynolds/Mbye so evenly matched against Marshall /Widdop.  I think this is where the contest will be decided.  Frizell will be pushing hard to get Cordner's vacant blue jumper and Nightingale has been doing a job while Dugan rehab's his elbow.  In this match all I can say is that if the Bulldogs show up to play they get the win,  too big too fast(if they show up to play).

Sharks V Cowboys (Mon 13/06, 7:00pm)
In 2016 I have been reviewing the Cowboys bid for back to back titles in depth.  See my full review by clicking here.
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