NRL Round 20 Preview and Tips




North Queensland Cowboys v Brisbane Broncos

1300 Smiles Stadium, Townsville. Kick-off: 7:35pm.

Cowboys: 1. Matt Bowen 2. Kalifa Fai Fai Loa 3. Brent Tate 4. Kane Linnett 5. Antonio Winterstein 6. Johnathan Thurston 7. Michael Morgan 8. Matt Scott 9. Anthony Mitchell 10. James Tamou 11. Gavin Cooper 12. Glenn Hall 13. Dallas Johson.

Interchange: 14. Ray Thompson 15. Joel Reithmuller 16. Ricky Thorby 17. Ashton Sims 18. Scott Bolton 19. Jason Taumalolo. (Two to be omitted).

Coach: Neil Henry.

Broncos: 1. Josh Hoffman 2. Corey Oates 3. Alex Glenn 4. Justin Hodges 5. Lachlan Maranta 6. Scott Prince 7. Ben Hunt 8. Ben Hannant 9. Andrew McCullough 10. Josh McGuire 11. Sam Thaiday 12. Matt Gillett 13. Corey Parker.

Interchange: 14. Peter Wallace 15. David Stagg 16. Mitchell Dodds 17. Lama Tasi 18. Dunamis Lui.

Coach: Anthony Griffin.

You can make up your own mind as to what you want to call this game but it might as well be the Grand Final as far as the Cowboys and Broncos are concerned. Both sides are 3 wins outside the top 8 and a loss will all but guarantee not making the finals for 2013.

The Broncos are on the ropes and Coach Anthony Griffin has decided to drop Corey Norman for this clash and has moved Josh Hoffman to fullback where he prefers to play. I see this as a beneficial move.

The Cowboys have the advantage of the home crowd and always perform better than when playing on the road. Having Matt Bowen back in the team is a big boost and he showed plenty of zest in his return match against the Sea Eagles two weeks ago.

I’m going to tip the Cowboys but the Broncos have showed that they know how to dual right to the death and play out the full 80 minutes. If the Cowboys go to sleep at any stage they will be made to pay. I’m confident Johnathan Thurston’s return from State of Origin however will give the Cowboys the inspiration needed to play hard and avoid concentration lapses.

Mike’s Tip: Cowboys

Mike’s Suggested Bet: Cowboys Head to Head @ $1.56 (Pinnacle)

Mike’s Best Bet: None


Canterbury Bulldogs v Parramatta Eels

ANZ Stadium. Kick-off: 7:35pm.

Bulldogs: 1. Ben Barba 2. Mitch Brown 3. Josh Morris 4. Krisnan Inu 5. Sam Perrett 6. Josh Reynolds 7. Trent Hodkinson 8. Aiden Tolman 9. Michael Ennis (C) 10. James Graham 11. Frank Pritchard 12. Tony Williams 13. Greg Eastwood.

Interchange: 14. Dene Halatau 15. Josh Jackson 16. Sam Kasiano 17. Dale Finucane 20. Tim Browne.

Coach: Des Hasler.

Eels: 1. Jake Mullaney 2. Ken Sio 3. Ryan Morgan 4. Willie Tonga 5. Semi Radradra 6. Ben Roberts 7. Luke Kelly 8. Tim Mannah (C) 9. Matt Keating 10. Fuifui Moimoi 11. Reni Maitua 12. Daniel Harrison 13. Darcy Lussick.

Interchange: 14. Mitch Allgood 15. Peni Terepo 16. Joseph Paulo 17. Junior Paulo.

Coach: Ricky Stuart.

The pain continued for the Parramatta Eels last week when they suffered their 8th straight loss at the hands of the Canberra Raiders. It’s hard to predict where the run of losses will end but at least they showed some fight in miserable conditions to go down 14 points to 10 in the Nation’s Capital.

The Bulldogs are currently sitting in 6th on the ladder and could finish the round in 5th. They have only won 1 from their last 3 matches but with the return of Sam Kasiano and Frank Pritchard to the side, their ranks will be bolstered and they will become a much tougher force to be reckoned with.

The Bulldogs have been posted at odds of $1.08 making it difficult to find a bet of decent value. I won’t be suggesting a bet but if you want to place a wager, simply enjoy!

Mike’s Tip: Bulldogs

Mike’s Suggested Bet: None

Mike’s Best Bet: None


St George Illawarra Dragons v Canberra Raiders

WIN Stadium, Wollongong. Kick-off: 5:30pm.

Dragons: 1. Josh Dugan 2. Brett Morris 3. Chase Stanley 4. Daniel Vidot 5. Jason Nightingale 6. Adam Quinlan 7. Nathan Fien 8. Jack de Belin 9. Mitch Rein 10. Michael Weyman 11. Bronson Harrison 12. Ben Creagh 13. Trent Merrin.

Interchange: 14. Matt Prior 15. Leeson Ah Mau 16. Tyson Frizell 17. Jack Stockwell.

Coach: Steve Price.

Raiders: 1. Anthony Milford 2. Reece Robinson 3. Jarrod Croker 4. Joel Thompson 5. Sami Sauiluma 6. Terry Campese 7. Josh McCrone 8. David Shillington 9. Glen Buttriss 10. Dane Tilse 11. Josh Papalii 12. Joel Edwards 13. Shaun Fensom.

Interchange: 14. Shaun Berrigan 15. Jarrad Kennedy 16. Brett White 17. Paul Vaughan.

Coach: David Furner.

The Dragons showed us something a bit different on Monday night after they defeated the top of the table Rabbitohs with an unbelievable comeback and ultimately a golden point victory. The big question now is, can they back it up for a second week? They host the Raiders in Wollongong, which is normally a good place for the Dragons to start, but the fact is they have played 3 games there so far this year against the Broncos, Cowboys and Eels who are currently 12th, 13th and 16th respectively on the ladder, and only won once. (32-12 over the Eels)

The Raiders sit in 8th on the ladder and it’s obvious that a loss here will put them on the back foot heading towards the finals series.

The big talk surrounding this game has been the return of Blake Ferguson to the Raiders following a lay off due to off field indiscretions. His return sees him go up against his friend and former team mate Josh Dugan who takes on the Raiders for the first time since he was sacked after the first round of the season.

Despite the Dragon’s impressive win I’m tipping the Raiders who certainly have better attacking abilities compared to the Dragons. If the weather is dry I’m expecting some exciting things from Raiders fullback Anthony Milford.

Mike’s Tip: Raiders

Mike’s Suggested Bet: Raiders Head to Head @ $1.77 (Sportsbet)

Mike’s Best Bet: None


Gold Coast Titans v South Sydney Rabbitohs

Skilled Park, Robina. Kick-off: 7:30pm.

Titans: 1. Jordan Rankin 2. Kevin Gordon 3. Brad Takairangi 4. Jamie Dowling 5. David Mead 6. Aidan Sezer 7. Albert Kelly 8. Luke Bailey 9. Matt Srama 10. Nate Myles 11. Greg Bird 12. Mark Minichiello 13. Ashley Harrison.

Interchange: 14. David Taylor 15. Luke Douglas 16. Ben Ridge 17. Beau Falloon 18. Ryan James 19. Luke O’Dwyer (Two to be omitted).

Coach: John Cartwright.

Rabbitohs: 1. Justin Hunt 2. Nathan Merritt 3. Dylan Walker 4. Bryson Goodwin 5. Andrew Everingham 6. John Sutton 7. Adam Reynolds 8. Dave Tyrrell 9. Issac Luke 10. Roy Asotasi 11. Chris McQueen 12. Ben Te’o 13. Sam Burgess.

Interchange: 14. Nathan Peats 15. Ben Lowe 16. Jeff Lima 17. George Burgess.

Coach: Michael Maguire.

After last week’s shock loss to the Dragons many Rabbitohs supporters are wondering if their team is capable of holding on to the minor premiership if Greg Inglis happens to be out of the side with injury until the finals. Obviously the side is weaker in his absence but it’s only fair to apportion some of the blame of Monday night’s loss to laziness. I’d say that the Bunnies may have thought they had the game in control with a lead of 12-0 and probably felt they were about to run away with it when complacency set in. The player’s minds will no doubt be back on the job for this one so if another loss ensues then it will be fair to say the Rabbitohs struggle majorly without Inglis.

The Titans are on a downward spiral out of the top 8 and travelling at a million miles an hour. They have lost their last 3 games and have conceded an average of over 41 points per game to find themselves in 10th place.

Origin reps Nate Myles and Greg Bird return to the side after having last week off and this will bolster the forwards immensely. The home ground advantage is a bonus and they definitely have a chance at turning the tables and delivering the Rabbitohs a second consecutive loss.

Mike’s Tip: Rabbitohs

Mike’s Suggested Bet: Have a bit on both teams to win by 1-12 points.

Mike’s Best Bet: None


New Zealand Warriors v Melbourne Storm

Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland. Kick-off: 2pm (Local Time).

Warriors: 1. Kevin Locke 2. Ngani Laumape 3. Dane Nielsen 4. Konrad Hurrell 5. Manu Vatuvei 6. Thomas Leuluai 7. Shaun Johnson 8. Sam Rapira 9. Nathan Friend 10. Ben Matulino 11. Feleti Mateo 12. Simon Mannering (C) 13. Elijah Taylor.

Interchange: 14. Suaia Matagi 15. Jacob Lillyman 16. Todd Lowrie 17. Dominique Peyroux.

Coach: Matt Elliott.

Storm: 1. Billy Slater 2. Sisa Waqa 3. Will Chambers 4. Maurice Blair 5. Justin O’Neill 6. Brett Finch 7. Cooper Cronk 8. Jesse Bromwich 9. Cameron Smith (C) 10. Bryan Norrie 11. Kevin Proctor 12. Ryan Hoffman 13. Ryan Hinchcliffe.

Interchange: 14. Jordan McLean 15. Tohu Harris 16. Siosaia Vave 17. Slade Griffin 18. Tim Glasby 19. Ben Hampton (Two to be omitted).

Coach: Craig Bellamy.

This is the contest that I’m expecting to be the match of the round. The Warriors have been holding a solid form line for over a month and have been relishing playing in front of their home crowd. In recent head to head match ups with the Storm they have won 3 of the last 8 and 3 of their losses have been by 10 points or less. They have what it takes to win this time around but we all know that the Storm are capable of beating anyone on their good days.

Ideally the Storm should be settled as a team now that their Origin reps have returned to the side, but a trip across the Tasman can be just as disruptive to team preparations.

Regardless I’m fairly confident the Storm can get the job done and take a victory that will help embed them further into the top 4 on the ladder.

Mike’s Tip: Storm

Mike’s Suggested Bet: Storm Head to Head @ $1.83 (Centrebet)

Mike’s Best Bet: None


Cronulla Sharks v Penrith Panthers

Remondis Stadium. Kick-off: 2pm.

Sharks: 1. Michael Gordon 2. Sosaia Feki 3. Ben Pomeroy 4. Jonathan Wright 5. Nathan Stapleton 6. Todd Carney 7. Jeff Robson 8. Andrew Fifita 9. John Morris 10. Bryce Gibbs 11. Jayson Bukuya 12. Wade Graham (C) 13. Chris Heighington.

Interchange: 14. Issac De Gois 15. Tyrone Peachey 16. Sam Tagataese 17. Ben Ross 18. Stewart Mills 19. Mark Taufua.

Coach: Shane Flanagan.

Panthers: 1. Matt Moylan 2. James Roberts 3. Lewis Brown 4. Dean Whare 5. David Simmons 6. Isaac John 7. Luke Walsh 8. Jeremy Latimore 9. Kevin Kingston 10. Tim Grant 11. Clint Newton 12. Sika Manu 13. Adam Docker.

Interchange: 14. James Segeyaro 15. Ryan Simpkins 16. Cameron Ciraldo 17. Sam Anderson.

Coach: Ivan Cleary.

I haven’t mentioned the ‘bounce back factor’ for a while but this game seems to fit that category nicely. The Sharks were thrashed by the Roosters last week to the tune of 40-0 and now they return to their home ground, Remondis Stadium to try and regain themselves in preparation for the run to the finals. They welcome back halfback Jeff Robson,  second rower Wade Graham and three-quarter Ben Pomeroy. Jeff Robson takes so much pressure off five eighth Todd Carney when the Sharks are in their opposition 20. This in turn makes the Sharks worth an extra 6 points in attack per game if you ask me. Wade Graham provides the captaincy in Paul Gallen’s absence and an extra force in the forwards.

The Panthers are coming off a comprehensive loss to the Knights which in my opinion really showed us where they are at in comparison to other top 8 teams.

Interestingly, the Panthers have played 8 games in the day this year and only won one of them which was back in Round 1 against a dismal Raiders side.

Mike’s Tip: Sharks

Mike’s Best Bet:


Newcastle Knights v Sydney Roosters

Hunter Stadium, Newcastle. Kick-off: 3pm.

Knights: 1. Darius Boyd 2. James McManus 3. Dane Gagai 4. Joey Leilua 5. Akuila Uate 6. Jarrod Mullen 7. Tyrone Roberts 8. David Fa’alogo 9. Danny Buderus 10. Willie Mason 11. Robbie Rochow 12. Beau Scott 13. Jeremy Smith.

Interchange: 14. Craig Gower 15. Chris Houston 16. Neville Costigan 17. Korbin Sims 18. Zane Tetevano.

Coach: Wayne Bennett.

Roosters: 1. Anthony Minichiello 2. Daniel Tupou 3. Michael Jennings 4. Shaun Kenny-Dowall 5. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck 6. James Maloney 7. Mitchell Pearce 8. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves 9. Jake Friend 10. Luke O’Donnell 11. Boyd Cordner 12. Sonny Bill Williams 13. Frank-Paul Nuuausala

Interchange: 14. Daniel Mortimer 15. Mitchell Aubusson 16. Aidan Guerra 17. Sam Moa 19. Isaac Liu

Coach: Trent Robinson.

Many supporters and punters alike are giving the Knights a big chance in this one and why shouldn’t they? Last week the Knights were clinical when they disposed of the Panthers by 18 points in an effort that rather impressed me. Their attack was smooth with a good dose of persistence that saw them grind the Panthers out of the game in a rapid, Wayne Bennett fashion.

A lot of the same punters and supporters I have spoken to are also convinced that the Roosters must lose at least one game before the finals and ask ‘Why shouldn’t it be this one?’

For Knights fans in particular, I’m going to be the spoil sport and ask ‘Why should the Roosters lose one?’ Their form has been impeccable of late and with Sonny bill Williams returning to join the team’s top try scorer Michael Jennings on the left flanks, Knights players such as Dane Gagai are going to have to bring their A game in defence.

We know the Knights are a much tougher opponent when playing in Newcastle but I’m tipping that Rooster’s coach Trent Robinson will have his side using this match as a good test for the finals. That should be enough for them to get up, albeit in a closer match than the odds might suggest.

Mike’s Tip: Roosters

Mike’s Suggested Bet: Half Time/Full Time – Roosters/Roosters @ $1.98 (Centrebet)

Mike’s Best Bet: None


Wests Tigers v Manly Sea Eagles

Campbelltown Stadium. Kick-off: 7:00pm.

Tigers: 1. James Tedesco 2. David Nofoaluma 3. Blake Ayshford 4. Chris Lawrence 5. Tim Simona 6. Benji Marshall 7. Curtis Sironen 8. Jack Buchanan 9. Robbie Farah 10. Adam Blair 11. Liam Fulton 12. Bodene Thompson 13. Suaso Sue.

Interchange: 14. Ava Seumanafagai 15. Shaun Spence 16. Ben Murdoch-Masila 17. Braith Anasta.

Coach: Mick Potter.

Manly: 1. Brett Stewart 2. Jorge Taufua 3. Jamie Lyon (c) 4. Steve Matai 5. David Williams 6. Kieran Foran 7. Daly Cherry-Evans 8. Brenton Lawrence 9. Matt Ballin 10. Brent Kite 11. Anthony Watmough 12. Justin Horo 13. Glenn Stewart

Interchange: 14. Richie Fa’aoso 15. Jamie Buhrer 16. James Hasson 17. George Rose 21. David Gower

Coach: Geoff Toovey.

This is it for the Wests Tigers. Win and keep the dream of making the finals alive. Lose, and it’s curtains for 2013. Standing in their way are the Manly Sea Eagles.

Manly haven’t exactly faced the best teams in the last 3 weeks, but when you do face some ordinary opposition you’re expected to thrash them. Manly have done just that and have really made a point of smashing cellar dwellers, racking up 122 points in the process.

Playing at Campbelltown is a bonus for the Tigers who have won 11 of their last 14 games at the venue but in this case I think the home ground advantage may only serve to keep the Tigers losing margin down.

Manly to win by 12 or more looks very achievable.

Mike’s Tip: Sea Eagles

Mike’s Suggested Bet: Sea Eagles -11.5 @ $1.81 (Centrebet)

Mike’s Best Bet: None

Share this:


Post Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.