NRL Round 26 Preview and Tips





Newcastle Knights v South Sydney Rabbitohs

Hunter Stadium, 7:35pm (local).

KNIGHTS: Darius Boyd, James McManus, Dane Gagai, Timana Tahu, Akuila Uate, Jarrod Mullen, Tyrone Roberts, Kade Snowden, Danny Buderus, Willie Mason, Chris Houston, Alex McKinnon, Neville Costigan. Interchange (from): Rob Rochow, Zeb Taia, Adam Cuthbertson, Zane Tetevano, Kevin Naiqama

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

THE RABBITOHS DID AWAY WITH PARRAMATTA easily last week and the back patting was running rife throughout the masses of Rabbitohs fans. So I’m going to play the role of ‘fun police’ and ask why beating the wooden spooners is so special? Personally I think the Rabbitohs may struggle in the finals considering they haven’t beaten a top 8 side since Round 12 (Raiders).

This week however, they should be more than strong enough off the back of the likes of Greg Inglis who is in career best form, and rookie halfback Adam Reynolds who like Daly Cherry-Evans last year, is quietly taking it all in his stride. The Rabbitohs forward pack is far superior to that of the Knights and provided they don’t fall victim to complacency, they should be able to send the Newcastle side off to mad Monday.

The head to head battle in recent times has been even stevens with both teams having won 4 games against each other going back to Round 5 2007. The Rabbitohs have only won once in Newcastle in the last 18 years.

Chance of winning: Knights 42%, Rabbitohs 57%, Draw 1%

Mike’s Tip: Rabbitohs

Mike’s Suggested Bet: Rabbitohs Head to Head @ $1.65 (Centrebet)


Brisbane Broncos v Penrith Panthers

Suncorp Stadium, 7:35pm (local).

BRONCOS: Josh Hoffman, Gerard Beale, Jack Reed, Justin Hodges, Dale Copley, Corey Norman, Peter Wallace, Ben Hannant, Andrew McCullough, Petero Civoniceva, Alex Glenn, Sam Thaiday, Corey Parker. Interchange: Ben Hunt, Josh McGuire, Ben Te’o, Matt Gillett

PANTHERS: Michael Gordon, Josh Mansour, Michael Jennings, Brad Tighe, David Simmons, Lachlan Coote, Luke Walsh, Sam Mckendry, Kevin Kingston, Tim Grant, Clint Newton, Cameron Ciraldo, Nigel Plum. Interchange (from): Dayne Weston, Mitch Achurch, Matt Robinson, Adam Docker, Ryan Simpkins

IT’S DO OR POSSIBLY DIE for the Broncos who are playing for a win that will confirm their place amongst the top 8 for 2012. If they lose, and the Tigers beat the Storm, then the curtains will come down on the Bronco’s season. In order to win they must best the 15th placed Panthers who have thrown caution to the wind in recent weeks and managed to put on a few tries, especially down their left wing.

The Broncos have been marked as $1.22 favourites early and the bookies are very confident that they can break their 6 game losing streak at Suncorp Stadium tonight.

The two sides haven’t met in over a year but the Broncos have been dominant in recent matches against the Panthers having won 5 and drawn 1 in the last 8 meetings.

Chance of winning: Broncos 70%, Panthers 29%, Draw 1%

Mike’s Tip: Broncos

Mike’s Suggested Bet: HT/NT Double – Brisbane/Brisbane @ $1.48 (Centrebet)




Gold Coast Titans v Manly Sea Eagles

Skilled Park, 5:30pm (local).

TITANS: William Zillman, Kevin Gordon, Jamal Idris, Steve Michaels, David Mead, Aidan Sezer, Scott Prince, Nate Myles, Beau Falloon, Luke Douglas, Greg Bird, Mark Minichiello, Ben Ridge. Interchange (from): Matt White, Ryan James, Brenton Lawrence, Luke O’Dwyer, Dominique Peyroux

SEA EAGLES: Brett Stewart, Jorge Taufua, Jamie Lyon, Steve Matai, Dean Whare, 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, Vic Mauro

THE SEA EAGLES SHOWED EVERYBODY that they are peaking perfectly for the finals when they beat the Broncos convincingly last week after turning in a scintillating first half performance.

The Titans fate was at the bottom end of the spectrum when they lost to the 15th placed Panthers which put an abrupt end to their 2012 campaign.

Manly are now on a 5 game winning streak but need to be on their game against a Titans side playing their last game of the year in front of the Gold Coast home crowd.

Sea Eagles fullback Brett Stewart has hit electrifying form and will be the man the Titans need to shut down if they are to salvage a consolation victory.

Despite being rank outsiders this time around, the Titans hold the upper hand in the last 6 matches with the Sea Eagles having won 4 of them going back to Round 9 2011.

Chance of winning: Sea Eagles 75%, Titans 24%, Draw 1%

Mike’s Tip: Sea Eagles

Mike’s Suggested Bet: Sea Eagles -11.5 @ $1.93 (Centrebet)


Wests Tigers v Melbourne Storm

Leichhardt Oval, 7:30pm (local).

TIGERS: Tim Moltzen, Matt Utai, Blake Ayshford, Beau Ryan, Marika Koroibete, Chris Lawrence, Benji Marshall, Aaron Woods, Masada Iosefa, Keith Galloway, Adam Blair, Gareth Ellis, Chris Heighington, Interchange: Junior Moors, Ben Murdoch-Masila, Matt Bell, Tom Humble

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

MELBOURNE USED THEIR ‘GET OUT OF JAIL FREE’ CARD last week when they pulled off two tries in the final 3 minutes of their match to beat the Sharks. The miracle win has all but secured their place in the top 2 and keeps their hopes alive of winning the minor premiership if they are successful tonight and the Bulldogs lose their match.

The Tigers are skating on thin ice as they sit in 9th and must win this along with praying for a Broncos loss. However without hooker Robbie Farah who is out with a broken hand, the Tigers seem to be struggling majorly.

It’s another case of even stevens in the last 8 matches between the opposing sides with both the Tigers and Storm having won 4 each.

There is a risk that Storm coach Craig Bellamy may rest some of the players before this game but either way I can’t see the Storm putting on a massive attacking performance whereas the Tigers are hardly capable of putting on big scores when it counts. The Storm’s defence should be too superior and this makes it a good scenario to back a low scoring match.

Chance of winning: Storm 64%, Tigers 35%, Draw 1%

Mike’s Tip: Storm

Mike’s Suggested Bet: In Under/Over betting take the ‘Unders’ option. (Centrebet)


Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs v Sydney Roosters

ANZ Stadium, 7:30pm (local).

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

ROOSTERS: Anthony Minichiello, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Tautau Moga, Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Daniel Tupou, Braith Anasta, Mitchell Pearce, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Jake Friend, Martin Kennedy, Aidan Guerra, Mitchell Aubusson, Frank Paul Nuuausala. Interchange: Nafe Seluini, Tinirau Arona, Brad Takairangi, Boyd Cordner

THE ROOSTER SHOWED THEY ARE CAPABLE of putting on a big score somedays after they racked up 44 points against the Tigers side last week that were supposed to be playing for their season. It will be interesting to see how the Roosters go about taking on the 1st placed Bulldogs although with no finals berth to play for.

The Bulldogs will be looking to get the job done early and if they manage to get out to a 12+ lead by half time then we will probably see them just ease off the gas a tad and attempt to cruise to the finish which puts me off taking them to win 13+.

It’s the 3rd match in this round where in the last 8 games head to head, both sides have won 4 each.

Chance of winning: Bulldogs 70%, Roosters 29%, Draw 1%

Mike’s Tip: Bulldogs

Mike’s Suggested Bet: Highest Scoring Half: 1st Half @ $2.30 (Centrebet)




Cronulla Sharks v North Queensland Cowboys

Toyota Stadium, 3:00pm (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. Interchange (from): Andrew Fifita, Mark Taufua, John Morris, Jayson Bukuya, Tyson Frizell

COWBOYS: Matthew Bowen, Ashley Graham, 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, Jason Taumalolo, Ashton Sims, Scott Bolton, Joel Riethmuller, Blake Leary, James Segeyaro

THERE IS STILL HOPE OF THE COWBOYS MAKING THE TOP 4 but they must win this game and hope for other results to go their way.

The Nth Qld players are performing like a well oiled machine at present and will be a tough proposition for any side that faces them, including the Sharks today. Australian and QLD five-eighth Johnathan Thurston is playing near perfect footy and is steering his side around the park superbly.

The Sharks went oh so close to knocking off the Storm last week and how their five-eighth Todd Carney performs is crucial to their hopes of victory, not to mention their progress through the finals series.

This game could provide us with a mouth watering showpiece that will have the opposing five-eighths leading the way.

Away from home the Cowboys are always seemingly at a slight disadvantage and I’m backing the Sharks to grind their way to victory off the back of their forwards with some finishing touches from Carney.

This is the 4th match in this round where in the last 8 games head to head, both sides have won 4 a piece.

Chance of winning: Sharks 52%, Cowboys 47%, Draw 1%

Mike’s Tip: Sharks

Mike’s Suggested Bet: Sharks Head To Head @ $1.73 (Centrebet)


New Zealand Warriors v Canberra Raiders

Mt Smart Stadium, 4:00pm (local)

WARRIORS: Carlos Tuimavave, Bill Tupou, Ben Henry, Konrad Hurrell, Manu Vatuvei, Feleti Mateo, Pita Godinet, Jacob Lillyman, Alehana Mara, Ben Matulino, Elijah Taylor, Simon Mannering, Micheal Luck. Interchange (from): Russell Packer, Sione Lousi, Ukuma Ta’ai, Lewis Brown, James Maloney, Sam Lousi, Sebastine Ikahihifo

RAIDERS: Josh Dugan, Sandor Earl, Jarrod Croker, Blake Ferguson, Reece Robinson, Josh McCrone, Sam Williams, David Shillington, Glen Buttriss, Dane Tilse, Josh Papalii, Joel Thompson, Shaun Fensom. Interchange: Shaun Berrigan, Joe Picker, Mark Nicholls, Tom Learoyd-Lahrs

THE RAIDERS HAVE CONTINUED THEIR RUN into the finals having made their way from 13th a month ago to 7th after last week’s massive upset against the Bulldogs.

Despite not being able to have a bearing on this year’s finals series, one of the big talking points to come out of this game surrounds the sacking of the Warriors’ halves pairing of Shaun Johnson and James Maloney. Maloney has been relegated to the bench whilst stand in Coach Tony Iro has sent young Johnson right down to the NSW cup. A seemingly harsh decision with a single game left in the season.

The Warriors’ defence has been their major weakness all year and there’s no reason to see how they are going to do any better when their minds are likely already focused on mad Monday celebrations.

The Raiders have won 5 of their last 8 against the Warriors including a 20 point drubbing which was played out in Round 6 this year and look the goods to keep up their hot run of form heading into week 1 of the finals.

Chance of winning: Warriors 27%, Raiders 72%, Draw 1%

Mike’s Tip: Raiders

Mike’s Suggested Bet: Raiders -5.5 @ $1.93 (Centrebet)


Parramatta Eels v St George Illawarra Dragons

ANZ Stadium, 6:30pm (local).

IT’S A SPECIAL EDITION OF SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTY in a game that means nothing when it comes to the outcome of the finals series, but means so much to the loyal followers of both these teams as they each farewell a duo of club stalwarts.

For the Eels it’s goodbye to Luke Burt who debuted back in 1999 (ironically against the Dragons) and Nathan Hindmarsh who is playing his 330th and last NRL game.

The Dragons farewell captain Ben Hornby who debuted with the club back in 2000 along with Dean Young who debuted in 2003. Both collected a premiership with the side in 2010.

The game has been especially moved to ANZ Stadium to accommodate a large and emotional crowd and with this game having no bearing on the finals, it will be a nice calm before the finals storm that is looming.

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, Casey McGuire, Matthew Ryan, Taniela Lasalo

DRAGONS: Jason Nightingale, Brett Morris, Chase Stanley, Matt Cooper, Bronx Goodwin, Jamie Soward, Ben Hornby, Dan Hunt, Mitch Rein, Trent Merrin, Will Matthews, Ben Creagh, Dean Young. Interchange (from): Josh Miller, Leeson Ah Mau, Matt Prior, Jack de Belin, Jack Stockwell, Cameron King

Chance of winning: Eels 42%, Dragons 57%, Draw 1%

Mike’s Tip: Dragons

Mike’s Suggested Bet: None

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