THE LONG HARD LOOK WITH MIKE WILSON
NRL ROUND 16 PREVIEW
St George Illawarra Dragons v Gold Coast Titans
WIN Stadium, 7:35pm (local).
DRAGONS: Brett Morris, Daniel Vidot, Chase Stanley, Matt Cooper, Jason Nightingale, Jamie Soward, Ben Hornby, Dan Hunt, Mitch Rein, Trent Merrin, Beau Scott, Ben Creagh, Dean Young. Interchange: Nathan Fien, Jack de Belin, Matt Prior, Jake Marketo
TITANS: William Zillman, Kevin Gordon, Jamal Idris, Steve Michaels, David Mead, Aidan Sezer, Scott Prince, Luke Douglas, Matt Srama, Matt White, Nate Myles, Mark Minichiello, Ashley Harrison. Interchange (from): Michael Henderson, Brenton Lawrence, Ben Ridge, Luke O’Dwyer
The Dragons and Titans 11th and 10th on the ladder respectively but their recent form lines are far from similar. The Dragons have won only one game in their last six whereas the Titans seem to have found an extra leg and have won four from their last five. However, my money is going on the Dragons to take the chocolates in Wollongong on the back of some improved attack. A sever lack of attacking flair has hindered the Dragons ad nauseum this year and their defensive efforts are the only reason they aren’t sitting even lower on the ladder.
Last week when they felt they couldn’t win, the Dragons suddenly threw every set play out the window and started to play some quality ad-lib footy which produced some results. Expect more of that from the outset here.
Since the Titans joined the comp in 2007 they have won only 3 out of 10 against the Dragons.
Chance of winning: Dragons 62%, Titans 37%, Draw 1%
Mike’s Tip: Dragons
Mike’s Suggested Bet: Either team under 6.5 points
Brisbane Broncos v South Sydney Rabbitohs
Suncorp Stadium, 7:35pm (local).
BRONCOS: Josh Hoffman, Dale Copley, Jack Reed, Justin Hodges, Gerard Beale, Corey Norman, Peter Wallace, Josh McGuire, Andrew McCullough, Petero Civoniceva, Alex Glenn, Sam Thaiday, Corey Parker. Interchange (from): Ben Hunt, Ben Te’o, Matt Gillett, Dunamis Lui, Mitchell Dodds
RABBITOHS: Greg Inglis, Nathan Merritt, Justin Hunt, Andrew Everingham, Dylan Farrell, 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
Expecting to be out of the game for a few more weeks after he sustained a bone-deep gash on his leg, Broncos workhorse Corey Parker is a good chance of facing the Rabbitohs at Suncorp Stadium. Sam Thaiday also rejoins the team after deciding his necessary shoulder surgery can wait until the end of the season.
These inclusions of the two QLD representatives add more quality to this battle of two teams that sit in the top 4 and are looking to well and truly embed themselves there.
Another QLD rep that will have a good portion of the spotlight on him is Rabbitohs second rower Dave Taylor who has attracted plenty of headlines following his lacklustre performance in Origin game 2. Taylor could very well be playing for his QLD jersey in game 3 and he will be champing at the bit to impress selectors.
Brisbane have won 4 out of the last 5 games played between the two sides at Suncorp Stadium but Souths were hardly a competitive force in the years those 5 games were played out. This will prove to be probably their best chance since 2007 to beat the Broncos at Suncorp. Regardless, I’m tipping the Broncos to be too strong and to continue building on their consistent first half of the season.
Chance of winning: Broncos 59%, Rabbitohs 40%, Draw 1%
Mike’s Tip: Broncos
Mike’s Suggested Bet: Broncos Head to Head
North Queensland Cowboys v Canberra Raiders
Dairy Farmers Stadium, 5:30pm (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, Scott Bolton, Jason Taumalolo, Cory Paterson
RAIDERS: Reece Robinson, Dimitri Pelo, Jarrod Croker, Blake Ferguson, Edrick Lee, Josh Dugan, Josh McCrone, David Shillington, Travis Waddell, Tom Learoyd-Lahrs, Josh Papalii, Joel Thompson, Shaun Fensom. Interchange (from): Matt McIlwrick, Bronson Harrison, Sam Mataora, Dane Tilse, Trevor Thurling
The Cowboys put any doubts to rest about them being serious title contenders after they managed to keep the Broncos to nil in last week’s match. Plenty of attempts were made at breaking the Cowboy’s line and all of them were shut down over the full 80 minutes.
The Cowboys have since had a full 8 days rest and if they produce more of the same this week, it’s hard to see how an average side like the Raiders can do enough to beat them.
The Raiders sit 13th on the ladder and have struggled to find any sort of consistency all year. They have three wins from seven away from home and in the last five games against the Cowboys the Raiders only have one win to their name.
Rightly so, the Cowboys are at very short odds for this one and as long as they don’t take their opposition too lightly, will be able to pick up another two competition points.
Chance of winning: Cowboys 64%, Raiders 35%, Draw 1%
Mike’s Tip: Cowboys
Mike’s Suggested Bet: Cowboys 13+
Penrith Panthers v Parramatta Eels
Centrebet Stadium, 7:30pm (local).
PANTHERS: Lachlan Coote, Etu Uaisele, Michael Jennings, Geoff Daniela, Josh Mansour, Harry Siejka, Luke Walsh, Dayne Weston, Kevin Kingston, Tim Grant, Clint Newton, Cameron Ciraldo, Luke Lewis. Interchange (from): Nigel Plum, Chris Armit, Ryan Simpkins, Blake Austin, Arana Taumata
EELS: Jarryd Hayne, Luke Burt, Ryan Morgan, Cheyse Blair, Ken Sio, Ben Roberts, Chris Sandow, Tim Mannah, Matt Keating, Justin Poore, Nathan Hindmarsh, Matthew Ryan, Ben Smith, Interchange (from): Joseph Paulo, Fuifui Moimoi, Mitchell Allgood, Taulima Tautai, Taniela Lasalo
It’s last versus second last.
But not for the first time this year I’d like to say that despite the calibre of the opponents, that we could have a close game on our hands.
The two sides have met already this year and it was an effortless victory for the Panthers to the tune of 39-6. Penrith won both matches against the Eels last year and I’m tipping they will make it a fourth win in a row against the Eels.
The Eels haven’t won away from home this year and the pressure has been building on halfback Chris Sandow to live up to the expectations of the NRL world. You’d have to think that if Sandow can’t pull out a half decent performance against a team that are second-last on the ladder, the future will be looking pretty bleak for him.
Chance of winning: Panthers 49%, Eels 49%, Draw 2%
Mike’s Tip: Panthers
Mike’s Suggested Bet: Panthers -1.5
Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs v Melbourne Storm
Virgin Australian Stadium, (Mackay) 2:00pm (local).
BULLDOGS: Ben Barba, Luke Macdougall, Josh Morris, Krisnan Inu, Jonathan Wright, JoshReynolds, Kris Keating, Aiden Tolman, Michael Ennis, Sam Kasiano, FrankPritchard, Dene Halatau, Greg Eastwood. Interchange (from): James Graham, DaleFinucane, Corey Payne, David Stagg, Josh Jackson, Martin Taupau
STORM: Gareth Widdop, Matt Duffie, Dane Nielsen, Justin O’Neill, Anthony Quinn, Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk, Jesse Bromwich, Ryan Hinchcliffe, Jason Ryles, Sika Manu, Ryan Hoffman, Todd Lowrie. Interchange: Rory Kostjasyn, Bryan Norrie, Siosaia Vave, Kevin Proctor
The first game following the battle of last v second-last is Bulldogs v Storm who sit 2nd and 1st respectively on the ladder.
It’s a Bulldogs home game which they have opted to take way up north to sunny Mackay, the home of their fullback Benjamin Barba. I’m not sure if it was such a great move to take the Storm up to Queensland for a home game when the Storm side possesses two current QLD representatives in Cam Smith and Cooper Cronk, and one former rep in Dane Nielsen. Not to mention all fans who love Billy Slater who unfortunately won’t be playing due to a knee injury.
The Storm are currently three games clear of the Bulldogs at the top of the ladder and kept up their awesome form last week against a formidable Sea Eagles side.
It’s hard to tip against the Storm in any game this year and just because the Bulldogs are their nearest competitor on the ladder, doesn’t mean I’m about to start now.
Chance of winning: Bulldogs 43%, Storm 56%, Draw 1%
Mike’s Tip: Storm
Mike’s Suggested Bet: Storm Head to Head
Sydney Roosters v Manly Sea Eagles
Allianz Stadium, 3:00pm (local).
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, Mitchell Aubusson, Frank Paul Nuuausala. Interchange (from): Anthony Mitchell, Boyd Cordner, Lama Tasi, Mose Masoe, Tom Symonds, Tinirau Arona, Daniel Mortimer
SEA EAGLES: Brett Stewart, Dean Whare, Jamie Lyon, Steve Matai, Jorge Taufua, Kieran Foran, Daly Cherry-Evans, Jason King, Matt Ballin, Brent Kite, Anthony Watmough, Daniel Harrison, Jamie Buhrer. Interchange: Vic Mauro, Joe Galuvao, Darcy Lussick, George Rose
It was fortunes of different kinds for the Roosters and the Sea Eagles last round when the Roosters pulled off a victory to stop the Tigers 7 game winning streak whilst the Sea Eagles lost to their modern day rivals the Storm which saw them drop to 8th on the ladder. To make matters worse for the Sea Eagles they lost one of their key players in Glen Stewart to a knee injury and they are set to struggle a bit without him.
Despite all this the Sea Eagles are hotly tipped to bounce back at Allianz Stadium and have been installed as $1.55 favourites in the betting. The stat that favours Manly is that they have won 4 matches in the last 5 encounters with the Roosters including a win as recent as Round 11 without their State of Origin stars.
Manly for mine in a pretty close match.
Chance of winning: Roosters 43%, Sea Eagles 56%, Draw 1%
Mike’s Tip: Sea Eagles
Mike’s Suggested Bet: First scoring play: Sea Eagles try.
Newcastle Knights v Wests Tigers
Hunter Stadium, 7:00pm (local).
KNIGHTS: Darius Boyd, James McManus, Dane Gagai, Timana Tahu, Akuila Uate, Jarrod Mullen, Tyrone Roberts, Kade Snowden, Danny Buderus, Willie Mason, Chris Houston, Joel Edwards, Neville Costigan. Interchange (from): Chris Adams, Zeb Taia, Adam Cuthbertson, Alex McKinnon, Zane Tetevano
TIGERS: Tim Moltzen, Matt Utai, Beau Ryan, Chris Lawrence, Lote Tuqiri, Blake Ayshford, Benji Marshall, Aaron Woods, Robbie Farah, Keith Galloway, Adam Blair, Matt Bell, Chris Heighington. Interchange (from): Masada Iosefa, Ben Murdoch-Masila, Joel Reddy, Ray Cashmere, Tom Humble, Junior Moors
The Tigers impressive 7 game winning streak came to a halt last week at the hands of the Roosters but they were ever threatening with their freestyle attacking plays which constantly keep the defence guessing.
The Knights on the other hand are coming off the bye and whereas the overall picture spells out another Tigers victory against them, their for and against shows that the Knights have only conceded 8 more points in defence compared to the Tigers throughout the entire 2012 season so far.
The Tigers have won the last 4 games against the Knights and 5 out of the last 6 and whilst I’m expecting the Tigers to bounce back from last week, I’m looking at a close victory and will be taking the Knights with the points start.
Chance of winning: Knights 36%, Tigers 63%, Draw 1%
Mike’s Tip: Tigers
Mike’s Suggested Bet: Knights +6.5