THE LONG HARD LOOK WITH MIKE WILSON
Melbourne Storm v Penrith Panthers
AAMI Park, 5:30pm
Storm $1.20, Panthers $5.70 (Betfair)
Storm: Billy Slater, Justin O’Neill, Dane Nielsen, Beau Champion, Sisa Waqa, Maurice Blair, Cooper Cronk, Jesse Bromwich, Cameron Smith (c), Bryan Norrie, Adam Blair, Kevin Proctor, Ryan Hinchcliffe. Interchange: Robbie Rochow, Atelea Vea, Adam Woolnough, Jaiman Lowe
Panthers: David Simmons, Ryan Walker, Michael Jennings, Brad Tighe, Adrian Purtell, Harry Seijka, Luke Walsh, Tim Grant, Kevin Kingston, Petero Civoniceva (c), Trent Waterhouse, Nigel Plum, Luke Lewis. Interchange (from): Nafe Seluini, Nathan Smith, Matthew Bell, Sam McKendry, Masada Iosefa
The Storm are coming off the back of a comeback victory against the Eels last week where they would have been happy to walk away with 2 points after they looked a bit shaky throughout. They were also on the raw end of a large penalty count and will surely be in the referee’s ears early this week to ensure a fair distribution of advantage.
The Panthers are struggling to find any sort of consistency and find themselves falling away from the top 8. Victory tonight is going to be absolutely crucial and they could be playing their grand final already.
The Storm are aiming for 10 in a row and they will be out to make sure they don’t end up in the same position as they did last week; having to come from behind. At home, a Storm victory looks the goods.
Mike’s Best Bet: None
Cronulla Sharks v Gold Coast Titans
Toyota Stadium, 7:30pm
Sharks $1.44, Titans $3.25
Sharks: Isaac Gordon, Matthew Wright, Ben Pomeroy, Ricky Leutele, Nathan Stapleton, Wade Graham, Chad Townsend, Josh Cordoba, John Morris, Luke Douglas, Jeremy Smith, Taulima Tautai, Paul Gallen (c). Interchange (from): Kade Snowden, Sam Tagataese, Paul Aiton, Anthony Tupou, Johnny Mannah, Nathan Gardner, Tyson Frizell
Titans: Jordan Rankin, Steve Michaels, William Zillman, Dominique Peyroux, David Mead, Beau Henry, Scott Prince, Luke Bailey, Matt Srama, Matt White, Anthony Laffranchi, Mark Minichiello, Luke O’Dwyer, Interchange: Brenton Lawrence, Will Matthews, Bodene Thompson, Preston Campbell
Paul Gallen looks likely to return to the Sharks line up but Tyson Frizell has been named on an extended bench in case Gallen is deemed not able to play. The two teams met earlier in the year and on that day Paul Gallen was the man to put the Titans to the sword, racking up two tries along the way. Depending on whether or not Gallen plays could be the difference between two sides struggling to make any sort of an impact in the NRL. The Sharks have lost their last 3 in a row whereas the Titans have lost 6, going down last week by a massive 50-20 against Newcastle.
Mike’s Best Bet: None
Brisbane Broncos v New Zealand Warriors
Suncorp Stadium, 7:30pm
Broncos $1.54, Warriors $2.82
Broncos: Josh Hoffman, Gerard Beale, Jack Reed, Justin Hodges, Jharal Yow Yeh, Darren Lockyer (c), Peter Wallace, Ben Hannant, Andrew McCullough, Scott Anderson, Alex Glenn, Sam Thaiday, Corey Parker. Interchange: Matt Gillett, Ben Hunt, Ben Te’o, Josh McGuire
Warriors: Kevin Locke, Bill Tupou, Joel Moon, Shaun Berrigan, Manu Vatuvei, James Maloney, Shaun Johnson, Russell Packer, Aaron Heremaia, Jacob Lillyman, Feleti Mateo, Simon Mannering (C), Micheal Luck. Interchange (from): Pita Godinet, Sam Rapira, Ben Matulino, Elijah Taylor, Lewis Brown
Suncorp Stadium comes alive tonight in a game that looks like it’s going to be a hard fought battle. The odds would suggest Brisbane are truly favourites for this one, but I think we are going to be in for a close contest.
The talk from the Brisbane camp all week has been about stopping Manu Vatuvei and young Broncos winger and Australian international Jharal Yow Yeh is the man charged with the task. The Warriors have now won their last four and are really looking like a top football side as they take down teams with a good mixture of hard running from the forwards and plenty of composure from the play makers.
Warriors captain is named in the team after being in doubt following a leg injury sustained in last week’s victory against the Raiders which is a massive boost to his troops.
Brisbane will be riding high on emotion as Darren Lockyer pulls on the boots for a record equalling 349th career game.
Mike’s Best Bet: None
Starting Bank: $2000, Current Bank $2484.59
(Team lists sourced from nrl.com.au)