THE LONG HARD LOOK WITH MIKE WILSON
NRL ROUND 24 PREVIEW
Brisbane Broncos v Melbourne Storm
Suncorp Stadium, 7:35pm (local).
BRONCOS: Corey Norman, Gerard Beale, Jack Reed, Justin Hodges, Josh Hoffman, Ben Hunt, Peter Wallace, Ben Hannant, Andrew McCullough, Petero Civoniceva, Matt Gillett, Sam Thaiday, Ben Te’o. Interchange: Luke Capewell, Brendon Gibb, Mitchell Dodds, Dunamis Lui
STORM: Billy Slater, Sisa Waqa, Justin O’Neill, Will Chambers, Anthony Quinn, Gareth Widdop, Cooper Cronk, Jesse Bromwich, Cameron Smith, Jason Ryles, Sika Manu, Ryan Hoffman, Todd Lowrie. Interchange (from): Ryan Hinchcliffe, Bryan Norrie, Jaiman Lowe, Kevin Proctor, Rory Kostjasyn, Dane Nielsen
With each passing week we move closer to the finals and unfortunately the Broncos slip further and further down the ladder and are now on a four game losing streak. The unenviable statistic is currently the worst losing streak in the comp except for the Warriors who sit on 5 losses. The losing streak leaves them 7th on the ladder and another loss here could bring their position in the top 8 under threat from the teams sitting between 8th and 10th.
Their 8 point loss to competition leaders the Bulldogs last week was looking like a possible victory after they shot out to an early 14 point lead off the back of some quality attacking footy. But alas when they returned to the ground after half time they were a mere shadow of their first half team and were eventually run down. If they can tap into that first half effort and apply it this week against a shaky looking Storm outfit then they will give themselves every chance to win in front of their home ground. Plenty of lateral movement in attack will help to run the Storm forwards around in defence and maybe wear them out.
I’m confident they can make a good go of it so expect a close game.
Melbourne have won 5 of the last 6 games against the Broncos and the average margin of the 5 wins is just over a whopping 25 points.
Chance of winning: Broncos 38%, Storm 61%, Draw 1%
Mike’s Tip: Storm
Mike’s Suggested Bet: Storm -5.5 @ $1.99 (Centrebet)
Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs v Wests Tigers
ANZ Stadium, 7:35pm (local).
BULLDOGS: Ben Barba, Sam Perrett, Josh Morris, Krisnan Inu, Jonathan Wright, Josh Reynolds, Kris Keating, Aiden Tolman, Michael Ennis (c), Sam Kasiano, Frank Pritchard, Josh Jackson, Greg Eastwood. Interchange (from): James Graham, Dale Finucane, Corey Payne, David Stagg, Joel Romelo, Martin Taupau
TIGERS: Tim Moltzen, Matt Utai, Blake Ayshford, Beau Ryan, Marika Koroibete, Liam Fulton, Benji Marshall, Aaron Woods, Robbie Farah, Keith Galloway, Adam Blair, Gareth Ellis, Chris Heighington. Interchange (from): Junior Moors, Ray Cashmere, Matt Bell, Tim Simona, Ben Murdoch-Masila
The Tigers remain in 8th place this week and have managed to put a one win gap between themselves and 9th place and will be ultra motivated to beat the competition leaders and all but confirm their place in the finals series.
The Bulldogs will be going about their business as usual after last week increasing their winning streak to 11 wins. Of their 3 games against the Tigers this year and last year, the Bulldogs have won them all.
Despite their extra incentive to win I can’t bring myself to tip the Tigers. They simply have too many simple lapses through the course of a game whether it be in attack or defence and a team like the Bulldogs will take no prisoners when it comes to capitalising on their opposition’s weaknesses.
Chance of winning: Bulldogs 67%, Tigers 32%, Draw 1%
Mike’s Tip: Bulldogs
Mike’s Suggested Bet: Bulldogs -7.5 @ $1.96 (Centrebet)
Canberra Raiders v Sydney Roosters
Canberra Stadium, 5:30pm (local).
RAIDERS: Josh Dugan, Sandor Earl, Jarrod Croker, Blake Ferguson, Reece Robinson, Josh McCrone, Sam Williams, David Shillington, Travis Waddell, Dane Tilse, Josh Papalii, Joel Thompson, Shaun Fensom. Interchange (from): Shaun Berrigan, Joe Picker, Mark Nicholls, Sam Mataora, Jarrad Kennedy
ROOSTERS: Anthony Minichiello, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Tautau Moga, Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Adam Henry, Braith Anasta, Mitchell Pearce, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Jake Friend, Frank Paul Nuuausala, Jack Bosden, Mitchell Aubusson, Boyd Cordner. Interchange (from): Nafe Seluini, Lama Tasi, Martin Kennedy, Brad Takairangi, Tinirau Arona
The Raiders’ win against the Panthers last week has kept them within one win of the Top 8 and with the 7th (Brisbane) and 8th (Wests) placed teams playing the top 2 teams, it is a great chance for the ‘Green Machine’ to take an equal share of 8th place.
Their opponents are the Roosters and should be ripe for the picking following their loss to the 16th placed Eels last week which simply highlighted the Rooster’s lack of consistency which has plagued them all season.
In front of their home crowd and with so much to play for against poor opposition, the Raiders look the goods here.
Chance of winning: Raiders 67%, Roosters 32%, Draw 1%
Mike’s Tip: Raiders
Mike’s Suggested Bet: Raiders -5.5 @ $1.80 (Centrebet)
Cronulla Sharks v South Sydney Rabbitohs
Toyota Stadium, 7:30pm (local).
SHARKS: Matthew Wright, John Williams, Ricky Leutele, Colin Best, Nathan Stapleton, Todd Carney, Jeff Robson, Bryce Gibbs, Isaac De Gois, Ben Ross, Jeremy Smith, Anthony Tupou, Paul Gallen (c). Interchange (from): Andrew Fifita, Mark Taufua, John Morris, Jayson Bukuya, Tyson Frizell
RABBITOHS: Greg Inglis, Nathan Merritt, Matt King, Dylan Farrell, Andrew Everingham, John Sutton, Adam Reynolds, Luke Burgess, Issac Luke, Sam Burgess, Chris McQueen, David Taylor, Michael Crocker. Interchange (from): Jason Clark, Ben Lowe, Eddy Pettybourne, Nathan Peats, Roy Asotasi, Justin Hunt
It’s the moment that South Sydney fans have been waiting for; the return of Greg Inglis after his dubious 3 week suspension. The Rabbitohs will be looking to rebound from their loss to an impressive Sea Eagles outfit and prove to their fans that they can compete with the sides embedded in the top 8.
The Sharks on a less fine point need to simply show their fans that they can win a game and that they haven’t lost their impressive early season form.
Two weeks ago they looked as though they had returned to form after thumping the Warriors upon the return of Captain Paul Gallen but it promptly fell to pieces against the Knights on Monday night.
They looked like a bunch of men that had just met for the first time as their passes didn’t stick and the 5th tackle options were offensive to watch.
I have faith that the Sharks’ poor performance was a one off but I’m tipping the Rabbitohs with the return of Greg Inglis and Isaac Luke to the starting 13.
Chance of winning: Sharks 35%, Rabbitohs 64%, Draw 1%
Mike’s Tip: Rabbitohs
Mike’s Suggested Bet: Rabbitohs -6.0 @ $1.91 (Centrebet)
Gold Coast Titans v Parramatta Eels
Skilled Park, 2:00pm (local).
TITANS: William Zillman, Kevin Gordon, Jamal Idris, Steve Michaels, David Mead, Aidan Sezer, Scott Prince, Nate Myles, Matt Srama, Luke Douglas, Greg Bird, Ben Ridge, Ashley Harrison. Interchange: Matt White, Mark Minichiello, Luke O’Dwyer, Beau Falloon
EELS: Jake Mullaney, Luke Burt, Ryan Morgan, Cheyse Blair, Ken Sio, Ben Roberts, Chris Sandow, Tim Mannah, Nathan Smith, Fuifui Moimoi, Nathan Hindmarsh, Justin Horo, Reni Maitua. Interchange: Joseph Paulo, Taulima Tautai, Justin Poore, Taniela Lasalo
The Titans put in a solid effort against the Storm last week but were unable to take victory leaving them with nothing but shattered hopes of reaching the finals. However a win this week against the cellar dwelling Eels would keep their slim hopes of finals alive.
The Eels, who saw their finals hopes shattered somewhere closer to the start of the season, managed to nab a win last week albeit against the 14th placed Roosters but have shown in recent weeks a bit of attacking flare coupled with some glaring leaks in defence.
The Titans have it all to play for but the Eels are determined to be a speed hump and will throw the ball around in attack.
Chance of winning: Titans 66%, Eels 33%, Draw 1%
Mike’s Tip: Titans
Mike’s Suggested Bet: Titans Head to Head @ $1.48 (Centrebet)
New Zealand Warriors v Penrith Panthers
Mt Smart Stadium, 2:00pm (local). 12:00pm AEST.
WARRIORS: Carlos Tuimavave, Bill Tupou, Lewis Brown, Konrad Hurrell, Manu Vatuvei (c), James Maloney, Shaun Johnson, Sione Lousi, Nathan Friend, Jacob Lillyman, Feleti Mateo, Ben Henry, Elijah Taylor. Interchange (from): Russell Packer, Sebastine Ikahihifo, Micheal Luck, Steve Rapira, Pita Godinet
PANTHERS: Michael Gordon, Josh Mansour, Travis Robinson, Brad Tighe, David Simmons, Lachlan Coote, Luke Walsh, Sam McKendry, Kevin Kingston, Tim Grant, Clint Newton, Matt Robinson, Cameron Ciraldo. Interchange: Dayne Weston, Nigel Plum, Danny Galea, Mitch Achurch
The Warriors fell to their 5th straight loss last week after they virtually failed to show up against the Cowboys and were comprehensively and deservedly flogged.
The Panthers are still in danger of finishing the year in last place and are only currently off the bottom of the table by 7 for-and-against points.
It’s a game being played for pride and the Warriors at home are my tips but I’m not betting on a team that is second last nor a Warriors team that simply capitulates at any given opportunity.
Chance of winning: Warriors 60%, 39%, Draw 1%
Mike’s Tip: Warriors
Mike’s Suggested Bet: None
Manly Sea Eagles v Newcastle Knights
Brookvale Oval, 3:00pm (local).
SEA EAGLES: Brett Stewart, 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): George Rose, Jamie Buhrer, Joe Galuvao, Vic Mauro, Dean Whare
KNIGHTS: Darius Boyd, Kevin Naiqama, Dane Gagai, Timana Tahu, Akuila Uate, Jarrod Mullen, Tyrone Roberts, Kade Snowden, Danny Buderus (c), Willie Mason, Chris Houston, Alex McKinnon, Neville Costigan. Interchange (from): Robbie Rochow, Zeb Taia, Adam Cuthbertson, Zane Tetevano, Joel Edwards
There is plenty for both sides to play for in Sunday afternoon footy with the Sea Eagles fighting to hold onto a coveted top 4 position and the Knights desperate to stay in touch with the finals.
The Knights seemingly had little trouble disposing of the Sharks last week and it looks as if Coach Wayne Bennett has timed his team’s run into the finals pretty well now that they have hit season best form, but is it all too late? To find out if they are good enough to contend for the premiership, there aren’t too many better tests for the Knights than playing the Sea Eagles at the ‘Fortress’ Brookvale Oval.
The Sea Eagles showed that they are a real chance of going back to back this year after a comprehensive shut out of the Rabbitohs last week which demonstrated that they are also peaking at the perfect time of the season.
I expect the Knights to put up a big effort in defence but Manly should be too classy in a low scoring game.
Chance of winning: Sea Eagles 69%, Knights 30%, Draw 1%
Mike’s Tip: Sea Eagles
Mike’s Suggested Bet: Take the ‘Under’ option in Under/Over betting (Centrebet)
St George Illawarra Dragons v North Queensland Cowboys
WIN Stadium, 7:00pm (local).
DRAGONS: Jason Nightingale, Brett Morris, Chase Stanley, Matt Cooper, Daniel Vidot, Jamie Soward, Ben Hornby, Dan Hunt, Mitch Rein, Trent Merrin, Matt Prior, Ben Creagh, Dean Young. Interchange: Josh Miller, Will Matthews, Jack Stockwell, Jack de Belin
COWBOYS: Matthew Bowen, Ashley Graham, Brent Tate, Kane Linnett, Antonio Winterstein, Johnathan Thurston (c), Michael Morgan, Matthew Scott (c), Aaron Payne, James Tamou, Gavin Cooper, Glenn Hall, Dallas Johnson. Interchange (from): Ray Thompson, Joel Riethmuller, Ashton Sims, Scott Bolton, Anthony Mitchell
The Dragons always prove to be tough adversaries at WIN Stadium and tonight they will need to be at their best as a loss will signal the end of their finals hopes. Their recent form has been less than impressive and 3 losses from their last 4 games is how they have managed to land themselves in such a precarious position on the ladder.
The Cowboys have a particular motivation of their own tonight as a win will move them up to 5th on the ladder and keep their hopes alive of finishing inside the top 4 at the end of the home and away season. They have struggled throughout the last few seasons when playing away from home and it’s 50/50 between these two teams with both having taken 11 wins from the 22 encounters played out since the Cowboys joined the comp in 1995.
I have to tip the Cowboys tonight. They probably won’t have it all their own way but they have shown all year that they are a much classier act this time around and the Dragons simply struggle to contain any of the top 8 sides.
Chance of winning: Dragons 39%, Cowboys 60%, Draw 1%
Mike’s Tip: Cowboys
Mike’s Suggested Bet: Cowboys Head to Head @ $1.60 (Centrebet)