NRL 10 months ago

NRL Telstra Premiership: Round 24 Preview

  • NRL Telstra Premiership: Round 24 Preview

    CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 15: Blake Austin of the Raiders looks on during the round 23 NRL match between the Canberra Raiders and the Melbourne Storm at GIO Stadium on August 15, 2016 in Canberra, Australia. (Photo by Brett Hemmings/Getty Images)

Most of the favourites visited 'upset city' in Round 23 and with top 4 and top 8 spots still up for grabs this regular season is far from over.

Broncos v Bulldogs (Thu 18/08)

This has got to be the toughest of the round to pick.  The Broncos ground out against the Dragons two weeks ago.  And then last week they were at their scintillating best as Milford found his running game.  The issue is the Broncos are still not proven against a top 4 team since Origin.  The Bulldogs had a tough show against the Sea Eagles last week and the extra football plus the travel to the 'cauldron' could be their undoing.  If the Broncos go on a run they are a top 4 outside chance.  Milford to fire again at home and the Broncos to win in a close one.

Panthers v West Tigers (Fri 19/08)

The question on everyones lips: 'Can Taylor's Tigers triumph without Teddy?'.  Although in excellent form in recent weeks it has to be said Tedesco has probably been the player to shine for them.  Without Tedesco in the side they will be able to cover the fullback spot, but it remains to be seen if they have the depth to cover it for 80 minutes.  Nathan Cleary goes from strength to strength for the Panthers and looks like a 10 year veteran in his rookie season.  He is linking two wide with Peachy really well, and expect see more of that on the weekend. In the Tigers favour is the desperation to stay in the top 8 hunt, for the Panthers a win will see them almost lock away at least 8th spot.  I just can't see the Tigers winning without Tedesco.  Panthers by 8.


Knights v Titans (Sat 20/08)

'This is my house' he shouted with bravado after kicking the winning field goal.  To deliver that only a couple of weeks back in the competition now makes the Titans a very dangerous prospect.  I was one of the skeptics who was worried that Hayne would upset the Titans rhythm so close to the back end of the season, but far from that, Hayne is playing his hand perfectly.  He is not getting in the way of structures and popping up into the play when needed.  The Knights unfortunately probably wont show much against an in form Titans.  It has been a long season for a very young Newcastle team.  I can't see them staying within 16 point of the Titans.

Sea Eagles v Storm (Sat 20/08)

Canberra proved to everyone on Monday knight that you can beat the Melbourne on nothing more than pure effort.  The trip to Canberra is one of the toughest in the competition so no one would be writing off the Storm just yet. The worry for the Sea Eagles is that their season is dead and buried and it's  wonder if they will stay in the contest for a full 80 minutes.  To win against the Storm that's what you have to do.  The key match up is DCE v Cronk, and it will be interesting to see DCE's ad-lib play vs the structure Cooper brings to a game plan.  Melbourne's left edge is the most concerning, expect traffic to go that way.  Storm will do enough to get the 2 points and get on a plane back home.

Cowboys v Warriors (Sat 20/08)

Both of these sides are desperate for a win.  For the Cowboys to go back to back top 4 has to be on the agenda.  While the Warriors are still in a 4 way running for for 7th and 8th spot. The Cowboys should lift at home after looking very flat against the Roosters.  They will keep the contest to the middle third and try and get the early run of play.  The Warriors weakness is that if you crack them early they switch off.  So Thurston will be looking for early pressure and points.  Granville out is still a massive loss for the Cowboys and this is Isaac Luke's chance to pounce.  The Warriors in the contest for 60, but the Cowboys should run away with it late.  Cowboys by 14.

Raiders v Eels (Sun 21/08)

Well how about the 'Green Machine'. The have beaten the Sharks and the Storm in the last two weeks and of Croker and Leilua aren't the most destructive centre pairing in the competition I don't know who is?.  Hodgson has taken a no contest on his charge and will sit the week out.  However the Raiders don't lose too much bringing Baptiste into the mix.  The Eels now look like a side that has enough of 2016 and are looking for 2017.  They will have a new CEO by next season and hopefully a cultural clean up of the club will bring brighter days ahead.  The Raiders very much look like going three in a row.  Crocker to put on plenty of points again and Austin will try and carve the Eels up the middle.  Raiders by plenty!.

Roosters v Dragons (Sun 21/08)

Where have the Roosters been?.  Phil Gould pointed out in in commentary agains the Cowboys that they are to a side placed 15th.  It's hard to know what went wrong for them in 2016 (with the list they have) it does prove how vital to the set up Pearce is. He is still one of the best halfbacks in the game and the key this week is Pearce vs Marshall.  Marshall still without a home for 2017 will be keen to stamp his authority on the last few games for the Dragons.  And they are still a very slim (mathematical) chance of semi finals. Most had them finishing 8th this year and they are a little off the mark.  Dragons with more to play for.  Dragons in golden point.

Rabbitohs v Sharks (Mon 22/08)

The Rabbitohs are in the same boat as the Roosters. An excellent list but they have come good way too late in the year.  Put it down to them missing Inglis who was below his best for the better part of the year, then suspended after Origin.  Reynolds has found a bit of spark.  This battle though will be in the forwards. Both sides with big packs.  If Gallen can prove his fitness his inclusion will go a long way to the Sharks getting back on track.  Now is not the time for a slump after been up for most of the season.  I have the Rabbitohs in an upset on my tipping sheet, I think the Sharks have another loss in the regular season before coming good for September.  Rabbitohs by 8.
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