NRL Round 20 Preview and Tips






Manly Sea Eagles v Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs

Brookvale Oval, 7:35pm (local).

SEA EAGLES: Dean Whare, Jorge Taufua, Steve Matai, Jamie Lyon, David Williams, Kieran Foran, Daly Cherry-Evans, Jason King, Matt Ballin, Brent Kite, Anthony Watmough, Tony Williams, Glenn Stewart. Interchange (from): Jamie Buhrer, Joe Galuvao, Darcy Lussick, George Rose, Daniel Harrison

BULLDOGS: Ben Barba, Sam Perrett, Josh Morris, Krisnan Inu, Jonathan Wright, Josh Reynolds, Kris Keating, Aiden Tolman, Michael Ennis, Sam Kasiano, Frank Pritchard, David Stagg, Greg Eastwood. Interchange (from): James Graham, Dale Finucane, Corey Payne, Josh Jackson, Martin Taupau

Some Rugby League pundits are touting this as the potential game of the season as coaches Des Hasler of the Bulldogs and Geoff Toovey of Manly go head to head. The significance for those who aren’t yet aware, is that last year, Hasler was the head coach at Manly and Toovey was the assistant when amazingly Hasler announced his defection to the Bulldogs just a week after the Sea Eagles claimed the 2011 premiership.

It’s Hasler’s first return to Brookvale Oval as a rival and the crowd will surely be throwing plenty a vengeful word into the Friday night sky!

The Bulldogs are the current form side of the comp and they sit equal first with the Storm thanks to some brilliant attacking footy that has resulted in a 7 game winning streak.

The Sea Eagles dropped to 7th last week following a shock defeat at the hands of Newcastle and they will be eager to bounce back.

Chance of winning: Sea Eagles 49%, Bulldogs 49%, Draw 2%

Mike’s Tip: Sea Eagles

Mike’s Suggested Bet: Halftime/Fulltime – Any Other Result @ $9.00 (Centrebet)


Gold Coast Titans v Brisbane Broncos

Skilled Park, 7:35pm (local).

TITANS: William Zillman, Kevin Gordon, Jamal Idris, Steve Michaels, David Mead, Aidan Sezer, Scott Prince, Luke Bailey, Matt Srama, Luke Douglas, Nate Myles, Mark Minichiello, Ashley Harrison. Interchange (from): Matt White, Ryan James, Luke O’Dwyer, Beau Falloon, Michael Henderson

BRONCOS: Josh Hoffman, Gerard Beale, Alex Glenn, Justin Hodges, Lachlan Maranta, Corey Norman, Peter Wallace, Josh McGuire, Andrew McCullough, Petero Civoniceva, Matt Gillett, Sam Thaiday, Corey Parker. Interchange (from): Ben Hunt, Ben Teo, Ben Hannant, Mitchell Dodds, Dunamis Lui

The Broncos make the 1 hour trip south down the M1 for their local derby of sorts on the Gold Coast against the Titans.

The Brisbane side and it’s fans received a major boost this week when on Wednesday, coach Anthony ‘Hook’ Griffin announced that he will be staying on as head coach until the end of 2015.

The Broncos currently sit 3rd on the ladder compared to the meekly placed Titans down in 11th however the Titans showed some fire last week against the Raiders and will certainly keep the Broncos honest in front of their home crowd.

Certain results last week have now put the Titans just two wins outside the top 8 and being that one step closer could provide the motivation that will be needed to get on top of one of the genuine competition contenders in the Broncos.

Another boost for the Titans is the return of back rower Ashley Harrison but also injured Greg Bird has all but ruled himself out of returning this week.

Chance of winning: Titans 30%, Broncos 69%, Draw 1%

Mike’s Tip: Broncos

Mike’s Suggested Bet: Broncos -6.0 @ $1.91 (Centrebet)




New Zealand Warriors v Newcastle Knights

Mt Smart Stadium, 7:30pm (New Zealand Time), 5:30 AEST.

WARRIORS: Kevin Locke, Bill Tupou, Ben Henry, Konrad Hurrell, Manu Vatuvei, James Maloney, Shaun Johnson, Russell Packer, Nathan Friend, Ben Matulino, Feleti Mateo, Simon Mannering, Elijah Taylor. Interchange (from): Lewis Brown, Sione Lousi, Jacob Lillyman, Steve Rapira, Omar Slaimankhel

KNIGHTS: Darius Boyd, Kevin Naiqama, Dane Gagai, Timana Tahu, Akuila Uate, Jarrod Mullen, Tyrone Roberts, Zane Tetevano, Danny Buderus , Willie Mason, Chris Houston, Joel Edwards, Neville Costigan. Interchange (from): Robbie Rochow, Zeb Taia, Adam Cuthbertson, Alex McKinnon, Marvin Filipo

With only seven rounds remaining in the comp the pressure and expectation of fans will start to build on teams as they hope to see their troops take their beloved teams to the top half of the competition ladder. Pressure is rarely felt more by teams other than those just outside the top 8 and the Warriors and Knights are just two of those teams.

The Warriors are currently 9th, just one win outside the top 8 and the Knights are 12th just two wins outside the Top 8.

The Warriors took the Broncos right down to the wire last week in wet conditions and this week they get the chance to make amends on home soil.

The Knights advanced up the ladder following a solid trouncing of the Sea Eagles but it won’t mean much if they can’t back it up for a second week running.

The Warriors have the better of recent clashes winning the last 5 games against the Knights and the last 6 games against the Knights in New Zealand.

It’s hard to go past the Warriors at home against a lower ranked side.

Chance of winning: Warriors 63%, Knights 39%, Draw 1%

Mike’s Tip: Warriors

Mike’s Suggested Bet: First Points and Win Match – NZ Score first and win @ $1.85 (Centrebet)


Parramatta Eels v Melbourne Storm

Parramatta Stadium, 7:30pm (local).

EELS: Jake Mullaney, Luke Burt, Ryan Morgan, Willie Tonga, Ken Sio, Joseph Paulo, Chris Sandow, Tim Mannah, Nathan Smith, Fuifui Moimoi, Nathan Hindmarsh, Ben Smith, Reni Maitua. Interchange (from): Ben Roberts, Taulima Tautai, Justin Poore, Matthew Ryan, Mitchell Allgood

STORM: Gareth Widdop, Sisa Waqa, Dane Nielsen, Justin O’Neill, Anthony Quinn, Rory Kostjasyn, Cooper Cronk, Jesse Bromwich, Cameron Smith, Jason Ryles, Sika Manu, Ryan Hoffman, Todd Lowrie. Interchange: Ryan Hinchcliffe, Kevin Proctor, Bryan Norrie, Jaiman Lowe       

It’s a rare instance where the 1st placed side meets the last placed side and both are coming off a loss. Amazing still is the fact that Melbourne have lost 4 of their last 5 games and are still placed 1st on the ladder!

Another stat that most of you may not believe is that of the last 6 encounters between these two sides, the record stands at 3 apiece.

There’s every chance that the Storm could get out to a comfortable lead by half time and take their foot off the pedal before the end of the game which makes predicting the score a bit of a tough prospect and why I won’t be bothering to place any money near this game.

Chance of winning: Storm 80%, Eels 19%, Draw 1%

Mike’s Tip: Storm

Mike’s Suggested Bet: None


South Sydney Rabbitohs v St George Illawarra Dragons

ANZ Stadium, 7:30pm (local).

RABBITOHS: Greg Inglis, Nathan Merritt, Matt King, Dylan Farrell, Andrew Everingham, John Sutton, Adam  Reynolds, Luke Burgess, Nathan Peats, Sam Burgess, Chris McQueen, Dave Taylor, Michael Crocker. Interchange (from): Jason Clark, Eddy Pettybourne, George Burgess,  Ben Lowe, Dave Tyrrell

DRAGONS: Jason Nightingale, Brett Morris, Chase Stanley, Matt Cooper, Daniel Vidot, Jamie Soward, Ben Hornby, Dan Hunt, Mitch Rein, Trent Merrin, Beau Scott, Ben Creagh, Dean Young. Interchange (from): Nathan Fien, Josh Miller, Jack de Belin, Matt Prior, Jake Marketo

In case you missed last week’s action at ANZ stadium, here it is in a nutshell: The Rabbitohs were down by 10 points against the Roosters before scoring 2 tries in the last 2 minutes to win. Yes! 2 tries in the last 2 minutes!

After this miracle the Rabbitohs will no doubt be on a high and ready to blow the Dragons away if the ‘Red V’ don’t turn up prepared.

And I have my doubts on just how prepared the Dragons can be. They did away with the Sharks last week and showed they were prepared to throw caution to the wind when it comes to attack, but a close inspection of their overall game plan and execution tells me that a team like Souths might be able to put a 12 point margin on top of them.

Souths will need to play some top footy as the Dragons are ever solid in defence and they regardless of how exciting it was, they won’t want to be finding themselves in situations where they are having to come from behind in the dying minutes of matches.

These two met earlier in the year and the Rabbitohs just scraped home in that encounter too with a golden point, field goal victory. I’m confident they can do it again.

Chance of winning: Rabbitohs 64%, Dragons 35%, Draw 1%

Mike’s Tip: Rabbitohs

Mike’s Suggested Bet: Rabbitohs -1.5 @ $1.63 (Centrebet)




Cronulla Sharks v Canberra Raiders

Toyota Stadium, 2:00pm (local).

SHARKS: Matthew Wright, Isaac Gordon, Ben Pomeroy, Colin Best, Nathan Stapleton, Todd Carney, Jeff Robson, Bryce Gibbs, Isaac De Gois, Ben Ross, Anthony Tupou, Jayson Bukuya, Wade Graham. Interchange (from): Andrew Fifita, Tyson Frizell, John Morris, Mark Taufua, Jon Green

RAIDERS: Reece Robinson, Sandor Earl, Jarrod Croker, Blake Ferguson, Edrick Lee, Josh McCrone, Sam Williams, David Shillington, Travis Waddell, Tom Learoyd-Lahrs, Josh Papalii, Joel Thompson, Shaun Fensom. Interchange (from): Shaun Berrigan, Joe Picker, Mark Nicholls, Sam Mataora, Jarrad Kennedy

Both teams enter this match off the back of a loss and motivation for both to win is very high.

The Sharks have struggled the last two weeks without main man Paul Gallen who isn’t due back until next week and without him they find themselves hard pressed getting points.

The Raiders appear to have no one to blame but themselves as their inconsistency reflects their lowly 13th position on the ladder; two wins outside the top 8.

The green machine is more than capable of acquiring points during matches but ill discipline at various times of matches results in too many leaked points and without a strict attitude adjustment, they are becoming a hard team to predict.

Earlier in the year, Cronulla managed to beat the Raiders on their own turf and the home ground advantage should be enough to help edge the Sharks over the line in first place today.

Watch out for Wade Graham – Graham has taken on the captaincy role and passed all tests with flying colours and is more than aware of personal scoring opportunities when they present themselves to him.

Chance of winning: Sharks 59%, Raiders 40%, Draw 1%

Mike’s Tip: Sharks

Mike’s Suggested Bet: Sharks -5.5 @ $1.79 (Centrebet)


Penrith Panthers v Sydney Roosters

Centrebet Stadium, 3:00pm (local).

PANTHERS: Lachlan Coote, Josh Mansour, Michael Jennings, Brad Tighe, David Simmons, Travis Burns, Luke Walsh, Sam Mckendry, Kevin Kingston, Tim Grant, Clint Newton, Cameron Ciraldo, Luke Lewis. Interchange (from): Shane Shackleton, Dayne Weston, Matt Robinson, Nigel Plum, Mitch Achurch

ROOSTERS: Anthony Minichiello, Joseph ‘BJ’Leilua, Mitchell Aubusson, Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Tautau Moga, Braith Anasta, Mitchell Pearce, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Jake Friend, Martin Kennedy, Aidan Guerra, Boyd Cordner, Frank Paul Nuuausala. Interchange (from): Nafe Seluini, Tinirau Arona, Mose Masoe, Lama Tasi, Brad Takairangi

As you may, or may not have read in an earlier preview, the Roosters were on the end of a Rabbitohs comeback on Monday night when they seemingly had the game won. The loss had to have cut them deeply and it’s imperative they turn up to this game fired up because a loss here will all but end their 2012 campaign. Their opponents are the 15th placed Panthers who are at a loss for attacking prowess that carries teams to wins.

The Panthers did manage to take the Tigers to a pretty close game last week but I didn’t rate it as one of the Tiger’s best performances and thus hardly a gauge of how good/bad the Panthers were playing.

I think the bottom line is a simple one; if the Roosters can’t win this match then quite frankly they don’t deserve to be in the finals anyway.

The last 8 encounters between these two show 4 wins to each team with Penrith having the most recent success after notching up an 18-0 win earlier this season.

With the Roosters having a lot more to play for I can’t go past them here.

Chance of winning: Roosters 55%, Panthers 44%, Draw 1%

Mike’s Tip: Roosters

Mike’s Suggested Bet: Roosters @ $2.05 (Sportingbet)




North Queensland Cowboys v Wests Tigers

Dairy Farmers Stadium, 7:00pm (local).

COWBOYS: Matthew Bowen, Kalifa Faifai Loa, Brent Tate, Kane Linnett, Antonio Winterstein, Johnathan Thurston, Michael Morgan, Matthew Scott, Aaron Payne, James Tamou, Gavin Cooper, Glenn Hall, Dallas Johnson. Interchange (from): Anthony Mitchell, Ricky Thorby, Ashton Sims, Scott Bolton, Cory Paterson

TIGERS: Tim Moltzen, Matt Utai, Blake Ayshford, Chris Lawrence, Beau Ryan, Curtis Sironen, Benji Marshall, Aaron Woods, Robbie Farah, Adam Blair, Gareth Ellis, Liam Fulton, Chris Heighington. Interchange (from): Junior Moors, Ben Murdoch-Masila, Matt Bell, Ray Cashmere, Joel Reddy

The Cowboys claimed a massive scalp of competition leaders Melbourne last week and look to be timing their run to the finals perfectly with 3 wins from their last 4 games.

The Tiger’s turn towards the finals has been quite the opposite having only beaten the 15th placed Panthers in their last 4 games.

Nth QLD are $1.65 favourites but if its history that interests you you’d be interested to know that the Tigers have won 8 of the last 9 games against the Cowboys.

Based on 2012 form I can’t go against the Cowboys.


Chance of winning: Cowboys 65%, Tigers 34%, Draw 1%

Mike’s Tip: Cowboys

Mike’s Suggested Bet: Cowboys 13+ @ $3.40 (Sportsbet)

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