NRL Round 26 Preview and Tips – Saturday Fixtures

New Zealand Warriors v North Queensland Cowboys

Mt Smart Stadium, 5:30pm.

Warriors $1.45, Cowboys $2.80 (Sportingbet)

Warriors: Kevin Locke, Bill Tupou, Joel Moon, Shaun Berrigan, Krisnan Inu, James Maloney, Shaun Johnson, Sam Rapira, Alehana Mara, Jacob Lillyman, Feleti Mateo, Simon Mannering (c), Micheal Luck. Interchange (from): Lance Hohaia, Russell Packer, Ben Matulino, Ukuma Ta’ai, Lewis Brown

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, Glenn Hall, Dallas Johnson. Interchange (from): James Segeyaro, Scott Bolton, Jason Taumalolo, Ashton Sims, Cory Paterson

THE COWBOYS HEAD TO NEW ZEALAND to take on the Warriors in a game that will once again alter the fabric of the top 8. The Warriors are without Aaron Heremia for this one and he is replaced by Alehana Mara. The Warriors have only won 2 from their last 4 but they have put in 4 super impressive efforts that have them in good stead for the finals. The two losses were: a narrow, one-point loss to the Broncos in Brisbane whilst the second loss was last week against the Dragons on the road.

The Cowboys on the other hand have looked a bit off colour despite their star playmaker Johnathan Thurston having returned to the ranks. They barely got away with a victory against the Sharks last week and will have to lift their game if they are going to get close to the Warriors.

Mike’s Best Bet: None


Cronulla Sharks v Wests Tigers

Toyota Stadium, 7:30pm.

Sharks $4.25, Tigers $1.21 (Sportingbet)

Sharks: Isaac Gordon, Stewart Mills, Dean Collis, Colin  Best, John Williams, Albert Kelly, Wade Graham, Kade Snowden, John Morris, Luke  Douglas, Jeremy  Smith, Anthony Tupou, Paul Gallen (c). Interchange (from): Sam Tagataese, Taulima Tautai, Paul Aiton, Josh Cordoba, Ben Pomeroy

Tigers: Tim Moltzen, Beau Ryan, Blake Ayshford, Matt Utai, Lote Tuqiri, Benji Marshall, Rob Lui, Bryce Gibbs, Robbie Farah (c), Keith Galloway, Liam Fulton, Gareth Ellis, Chris Heighington. Interchange (from): Mitch Brown, Mark Flanagan, Matt Groat, Aaron Woods, Ben Murdoch-Masila

STRANGELY ENOUGH both of these teams are on a 7 game streak with the Tigers having won their last 7 and the Sharks having lost their last 7. With the form the Tigers have shown in those 7 wins there’s nothing to suggest the streak won’t stretch to 8. The Tigers have a top 4 place in the finals up for grabs and will be playing at their best to obtain it. But once again the bookies have frustratingly put the line at a hefty amount, in this case being 14.5 points making it tempting but I could easily see the Tigers leading by 16 or 18 before perhaps letting in a late try.

Mike’s Best Bet: None


Gold Coast Titans v Parramatta Eels

Skilled Park, 7:30pm.

Titans $2.00, Eels $1.80 (Sportingbet)

Titans: Jordan Rankin, Steve Michaels, Esi Tonga, Clinton Toopi, David Mead, William Zillman, Preston Campbell (c), Luke Bailey, Matt Srama, Matthew White, Anthony Laffranchi, Mark Minichiello, Greg Bird. Interchange: Brenton Lawrence, Will Matthews, Bodene Thompson, Luke O’Dwyer

Eels: Luke Burt, Ryan Morgan, Justin Horo, Ben Smith, Chris Hicks, Jarryd Hayne, Casey  McGuire, Tim Mannah, Matt Keating, Fuifui Moimoi, Nathan Hindmarsh (c), Taniela Lasalo, Reni Maitua. Interchange: Shane Shackleton, Mitchell Allgood, Pat O’Hanlon, Justin Poore

THE BATTLE TO AVOID THE WOODEN SPOON takes place on the sunny Gold Coast tonight and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a great game. The Eels amazingly suffered their 3rd golden point loss of the season last week which made it 7 losses in a row.

The Titans will not only play in the hope of avoiding the spoon but also in the hope of sending their inspirational veteran Preston Campbell out on winner as he plays his last NRL game.

Mike’s Best Bet: None

Starting Bank: $2000, Current Bank $2744.73

(Team lists sourced from

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