North Queensland Cowboys v Brisbane Broncos
Dairy Farmers Stadium, 7:35pm
Cowboys $1.95, Broncos $1.87 (Sportsbet)
Cowboys: Matthew Bowen, Ashley Graham, Brent Tate, Willie Tonga, Kalifa Faifai Loa, Ray Thompson, Johnathan Thurston (c), Matthew Scott (c), Aaron Payne, James Tamou, Gavin Cooper, Tariq Sims, Dallas Johnson. Interchange (from): James Segeyaro, Glenn Hall, Scott Bolton, Ashton Sims, Cory Paterson
Broncos: Josh Hoffman, Gerard Beale, Jack Reed, Justin Hodges, Jharal Yow Yeh, Darren Lockyer (c), Peter Wallace, Josh McGuire, Andrew McCullough, Scott Anderson, Alex Glenn, Sam Thaiday, Corey Parker. Interchange: Matt Gillett, Ben Hunt, Ben Te’o, David Hala
It’s the battle for QLD bragging rights as the teams from north and south QLD go head to head in what looks to be a cracker. This game will also mark Darren Lockyer’s record breaking 350th first grade game, the most ever played by a single player in the NRL.
The big news of course is that Cowboys co-captains Johnathan Thurston and Matt Scott have returned to the side after injury layoffs and these two can make all the difference. Some may question whether or not Thurston needs a week to get back in the swing of things but personally I think he’ll do fine in front of the North QLD home crowd.
The latest news coming out of the Broncos camp is that Jharal Yow Yeh is having problems with a sore ankle and it’s yet to be determined if he will take the field.
When these two sides met in Round 1, the Cowboys were successful in taking away the two points on enemy territory and should be feeling confident about their chances for this one.
Mike’s Best Bet: None
Penrith Panthers v Wests Tigers
Centerbet Stadium, 7:35pm
Panthers $3.00, Tigers $1.40 (Centrebet)
Panthers: Michael Jennings, David Simmons, Brad Tighe, Junior Vai Vai, Adrian Purtell, Harry Seijka, Luke Walsh, Tim Grant, Nafe Seluini, Petero Civoniceva (c), Trent Waterhouse, Nigel Plum, Nathan Smith. Interchange: Kevin Kingston, Dayne Weston, Sam McKendry, Matthew Bell
Tigers: Tim Moltzen, Beau Ryan, Blake Ayshford, Mitch Brown, Matt Utai, Benji Marshall, Robert Lui, Bryce Gibbs, Robbie Farah (c), Keith Galloway, Liam Fulton, Gareth Ellis, Chris Heighington. Interchange: Wade McKinnon, Todd Payten, Matt Groat, Aaron Woods
The Tigers have become giant killers in the last two weeks and look to have started their charge to the finals at the right time. This week they play the Panthers who are not in the Top 8, but it could be just what the doctor ordered. The Tigers have the chance to prove to their fans that they can turn up against the lower ranked sides as well as the giants. It will be all about proving that they have the motivation.
The Panthers however, are now playing for pride and hopefully they have enough spirit to end the season on a good note in the remaining 4 rounds. The Panthers played hard against the competition leaders, the Storm, last week and really took it to them in the first half. If they can dig deep and find that kind of grit once more then they will be in with a great shot at victory.
Mike’s Best Bet: None
Starting Bank: $2000, Current Bank $2549.39
(Team lists sourced from nrl.com.au)