THE LONG HARD LOOK WITH MIKE WILSON
NRL ROUND 15 PREVIEW
St George Illawarra Dragons v Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs
WIN Stadium, 7:35pm (local).
DRAGONS: Brett Morris, Daniel Vidot, Kyle Stanley, Matt Cooper, Jason Nightingale, Jamie Soward, Ben Hornby (c), Dan Hunt, Mitch Rein, Trent Merrin, Beau Scott, Ben Creagh, Dean Young. Interchange (from): Nathan Fien, Jeremy Latimore, Leeson Ah Mau, Jake Marketo, Chase Stanley.
BULLDOGS: Ben Barba, Luke MacDougall, Josh Morris, Krisnan Inu, Jonathan Wright, Josh Reynolds, Kris Keating, Aiden Tolman, Michael Ennis, Sam Kasiano, Frank Pritchard, Dene Halatau, Greg Eastwood. Interchange (from): James Graham, Martin Taupau, Corey Payne, David Stagg, Dale Finucane
It’s always a classic matchup between these two sides and it’s a fierce rivalry that stems back to the 70’s and 80’s without any sign of letting up. A small side contest that will be well and truly on everyone’s radar is the one between brothers Brett Morris (Dragons fullback) and Josh Morris (Bulldogs centre). Brett has had a stellar year for the red V since moving to fullback and his brother Josh has gone from strength to strength, not only for the Bulldogs but for NSW as well.
The Dogs and the Dragons have already met once this year back in Round 2 and that day belonged to the Canterbury side when they drilled the Dragons 30-4 giving them their first win over the Dragons in the previous seven games against them. If anything, it would appear that the Bulldogs have improved since then and the Dragons have only gotten worse making it easy for me to tip the Bulldogs to win the Friday night opener.
Chance of winning: Dragons 40%, Bulldogs 59%, Draw 1%
Mike’s Tip: Bulldogs
Mike’s Suggested Bet: Bulldogs head to Head
North Queensland Cowboys v Brisbane Broncos
Dairy Farmers Stadium, 7:35pm (local).
COWBOYS: Matthew Bowen, Ashley Graham, Brent Tate, Kane Linnett, Antonio Winterstein, Johnathan Thurston, Ray Thompson, Matthew Scott, Aaron Payne, James Tamou, Gavin Cooper, Glenn Hall, Dallas Johnson. Interchange (from): Michael Morgan, Ricky Thorby, Ashton Sims, Jason Taumalolo, Scott Bolton, Cory Paterson, Kalifa Faifai Loa
BRONCOS: Josh Hoffman, Lachlan Maranta, Jack Reed, Gerard Beale, Dale Copley, Corey Norman, Peter Wallace, Josh McGuire, Andrew McCullough, Ben Hannant, Alex Glenn, Ben Te’o, Dunamis Lui. Interchange: Ben Hunt, Matt Gillett, Mitchell Dodds, Brendon Gibb
Townsville hosts a battle of two QLD sides in the second instalment of Friday Night Footy and State of Origin game 2 has certainly affected the line ups.
Sam Thaiday was ruled out of Origin in the first place and fellow Bronco Corey Parker took his place. Unfortunately for Parker he was ushered from the field on Wednesday night with a nasty gash on the front of his lower leg that had cut him right down to the bone, subsequently ruling him out of this match.
Cowboys front rowers James Tamou and Matt Scott are backing up along with backs Brent tate and Johnathan Thurston. At this stage its unknown if Thurston is at 100% following his relatively subdued performance for QLD on Wednesday night.
The Cowboys are more than aware that the Broncos are one of the teams to beat in 2012 and now is the perfect time to strike them whilst they are in a weakened state.
In Brisbane’s favour is the stat showing that they have 4 wins from the last 4 matches against the Cowboys at Dairy Farmers Stadium but in their most recent encounter, back in Round one, the Cowboys were victorious in the final minutes of the game.
I’m sticking with what will be a highly motivated Cowboys side to take the chocolates in a high scoring match.
Chance of winning: Cowboys 52%, Broncos 47%, Draw 1%
Mike’s Tip: Cowboys
Mike’s Suggested Bet: Cowboys Head to Head, Over/Under betting take the ‘Over’ option.
Cronulla Sharks v New Zealand Warriors
Toyota Stadium, 5:30pm (local).
SHARKS: Matthew Wright, Isaac Gordon, Ben Pomeroy, Colin Best, Nathan Stapleton, Todd Carney, Jeff Robson, Bryce Gibbs, Isaac De Gois, Ben Ross, Jeremy Smith, Jayson Bukuya, Paul Gallen (c). Interchange (from): Andrew Fifita, Wade Graham, John Morris, Mark Taufua, Sam Tagataese, Chad Townsend
WARRIORS: Kevin Locke, Bill Tupou, Ben Henry, Konrad Hurrell, Manu Vatuvei, James Maloney, Shaun Johnson, Russell Packer, Lewis Brown, Ben Matulino, Elijah Taylor, Simon Mannering (c), Feleti Mateo. Interchange: Steve Rapira, Sione Lousi, Jacob Lillyman, Micheal Luck
Todd Carney and Paul Gallen return to the Sharks line up following their big success for NSW on Wednesday night and will surely be on a massive high. It was clear that Carney still had a slight bout of nerves during NSW’s 16-12 win and a return to club footy should seem like a piece of cake.
The Warriors are coming off the back of a win against the Panthers in which they demonstrated some pieces of high intensity rugby league that had a genuine quality about it. They may need all of this and more to shut down the Sharks halves and centre who have been causing opponents some real trouble of late.
The bookmakers have installed the Warriors as favourites despite being on enemy soil and this represents great value if you’re backing the Sharks to rack up back to back wins.
Chance of winning: Sharks 53%, Warriors 46%, Draw 1%
Mike’s Tip: Sharks
Mike’s Suggested Bet: Sharks +2.5 @ $1.91
Parramatta Eels v South Sydney Rabbitohs
ANZ Stadium, 7:30pm (local).
EELS: Jarryd Hayne, Luke Burt, Ryan Morgan, Cheyse Blair, Ken Sio, Ben Roberts, Chris Sandow, Tim Mannah, Matthew Keating, Justin Poore, Nathan Hindmarsh (c), Matt Ryan, Joseph Paulo. Interchange (from): Reni Maitua, Fuifui Moimoi, Mitchell Allgood, Ben Smith, Taulima Tautai
RABBITOHS: Greg Inglis, Nathan Merritt, Andrew Everingham, Dylan Farrell, Justin Hunt, John Sutton, Adam Reynolds, Scott Geddes, Issac Luke, Luke Burgess, Chris McQueen, Dave Taylor, Michael Crocker. Interchange (from): Ben Lowe, Dave Tyrrell, Jason Clark, Nathan Peats, Shaune Corrigan, George Burgess.
Well it’s only the second time this year I’ve been able to say it, but…..The Eels are coming into this round off the back of a win! Yes they had a bye last week, but the week before they sent the Cronulla Sharks packing to the tune of 29-20. With such an odd score line it’s amazing that the Eels’ only other win this year was also by 29-20 over the Sea Eagles in Round 5.
Being a side laden with deficiencies, the Eels are going to have their work well and truly cut out for them in containing the likes of Greg Inglis and Dave Taylor who are returning to the Rabbitohs from State of Origin. Inglis is still showing electrifying form as the Rabbitohs fullback and the Dave Taylor steam train continues to roll on and flatten anyone who dares to get in his way!
Whilst it seems like an eternity ago, this is the first time that Chris Sandow will face up to his old club following and slightly bitter departure at the end of 2011. Sandow’s motivation to win will be sky high but I’ve always had my doubts about him when he is playing for a cause.
Chance of winning: Eels 38%, Rabbitohs 61%, Draw 1%
Mike’s Tip: Rabbitohs
Mike’s Suggested Bet: none
Gold Coast Titans v Penrith Panthers
Skilled Park, 2:00pm (local).
TITANS: William Zillman, Kevin Gordon, Jamal Idris, Beau Champion, David Mead, Aidan Sezer, Scott Prince, Luke Douglas, Matt Srama, Nate Myles, Greg Bird, Mark Minichiello, Ashley Harrison. Interchange (from): Matt White, Brenton Lawrence, Ben Ridge, Luke O’Dwyer, Michael Henderson, Ryan James
PANTHERS: Josh Mansour, Etu Uaisele, Michael Jennings, Brad Tighe, Sandor Earl, Travis Burns, Luke Walsh, Sam Mckendry, Kevin Kingston, Tim Grant, Clint Newton, Cameron Ciraldo, Luke Lewis. Interchange (from): Nigel Plum, Danny Galea, Dayne Weston, Ryan Simpkins, Chris Armit, Geoff Daniela, Matt Robinson
The Titans put up a gallant effort against the Sharks last week minus their Origin stars and injured halfback Scott Prince who was ruled out of the game just hours before kickoff. Prince has been named to play this week and Greg Bird, Nate Myles and Ashley Harrison return from State of Origin duties. Bird showed his worth by notching up a man of the match performance on Wednesday night and Myles in my opinion was the best of the QLD’ers.
The Panthers will receive a much needed representative boost of their own in Luke Lewis, Tim Grant and Michael Jennings. This will be Jennings first game for Penrith since coach Ivan Cleary dropped him down to NSW cup for alleged poor discipline. It will be more than a little interesting to see just how keen Jennings will be to show the coach his true worth.
I think this will be a closely fought game and although both teams sit outside the top 8, this could turn out to be the game of the round and I’m leaning towards the Titans to snatch a tight victory on home soil.
Chance of winning: Titans 55%, Panthers 44%, Draw 1%
Mike’s Tip: Titans
Mike’s Suggested Bet: Titans 1-12
Wests Tigers v Sydney Roosters
Leichhardt Oval, 3:00pm (local).
TIGERS: Tim Moltzen, Matt Utai, Beau Ryan, Chris Lawrence, Lote Tuqiri, TBA, Benji Marshall, Aaron Woods, Robbie Farah, Keith Galloway, Adam Blair, Liam Fulton, Chris Heighington. Interchange (from): Masada Iosefa, Blake Ayshford, Matt Bell, Ben Murdoch-Masila, Joel Reddy
ROOSTERS: Anthony Minichiello, Adam Henry, Joseph ‘BJ’ Leilua, Tautau Moga, Sam Perrett, Braith Anasta, Mitchell Pearce, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Jake Friend, Martin Kennedy, Aidan Guerra, Boyd Cordner, Frank Paul Nuuausala. Interchange (from): Mitchell Aubusson, Lama Tasi, Mose Masoe, Daniel Mortimer, Anthony Mitchell, Justin Carney
There wasn’t a lot happening for the Tigers two months ago. They were falling massively short of expectations and were languishing at the bottom of the ladder with only two wins to their name from their first six matches. Fast forward to now and they are 4th on the ladder and have amassed a seven match winning streak and are looking to strike down the Roosters to make it eight wins in a row. The Roosters have amassed a streak of their own albeit a less envied four losses in a row and another loss this week could potentially see them drop to second-last on the ladder.
This particular Tigers home game is played at Leichhardt Oval which has become a traditional venue for Sunday afternoon Tigers games and has proven to be a tough arena to walk onto for opposing sides.
These two sides have only met at Leichhardt once before and that was last year with the Tigers running out eventual winners 19-12.
Chance of winning: Tigers 59%, Roosters 40%, Draw 1%
Mike’s Tip: Tigers
Mike’s Suggested Bet: Tigers 1-12
Manly Sea Eagles v Melbourne Storm
Brookvale Oval, 7:00pm (local).
SEA EAGLES: Brett Stewart, Michael Oldfield, Jamie Lyon, Dean Whare, Jorge Taufua, Kieran Foran, Daly Cherry-Evans, Jason King, Matt Ballin, Brent Kite, Anthony Watmough, Daniel Harrison, Glenn Stewart. Interchange (from): Jamie Buhrer, Joe Galuvao, Darcy Lussick, George Rose, Vic Mauro
STORM: TBA, Matt Duffie, Dane Nielsen, Justin O’Neill, Anthony Quinn, Gareth Widdop, Cooper Cronk, Jesse Bromwich, Cameron Smith, Jason Ryles, Ryan Hinchcliffe, Ryan Hoffman, Todd Lowrie. Interchange (from): Rory Kostjasyn, Bryan Norrie, Siosaia Vave, Jaiman Lowe, Maurice Blair, Sika Manu
It’s the modern day rivalry that continually intensifies year after year and hopefully we are treated to another hardcore battle tonight at ‘The Fortress’ Brookvale Oval.
Last year gave us one of the more memorable moments in the last quarter century when Glen Stewart and Adam Blair went toe to toe after they had already been sent to the sin bin by the referee. Blair has since moved on to the Tigers so there will be no chance of that encounter again but who knows what else may transpire.
As we now know, QLD Origin representative Billy Slater has done his PCL in his knee and might be out of action for around 4-6 weeks and will not fill his fullback role tonight.
Slater’s exclusion from the game has seen Manly crunched into $1.56 in the betting and they are always tough to beat at their home ground. But I’m taking the Storm to win in a match that should be closer than many expect. The Storm were brutally efficient against the Broncos after the first State of Origin and their stars were impressive in backing up and should be able to do so again tonight.
Chance of winning: Sea Eagles 46%, Storm 53%, Draw 1%
Mike’s Tip: Storm
Mike’s Suggested Bet: Storm Head to Head