• THE LONG HARD LOOK WITH MIKE WILSON
NRL ROUND 23 PREVIEW
Rabbitohs v Sea Eagles
Friday, 16/08, 7:35PM, Bluetongue Stadium
Rabbitohs: Greg Inglis, Nathan Merritt, Bryson Goodwin, Matt King, Dylan Farrell, John Sutton, Adam Reynolds, Luke Burgess, Issac Luke, Roy Asotasi, Chris McQueen, Ben Te’o, Ben Lowe. Interchange: Luke Keary, Jeff Lima, George Burgess, Tom Burgess, Jason Clark, Justin Hunt
Sea Eagles: Brett Stewart, Jorge Taufua, Jamie Lyon, Steve Matai, David Williams, Kieran Foran, Daly Cherry-Evans, Brenton Lawrence, Matt Ballin, Brent Kite, Jamie Buhrer, Justin Horo, Glenn Stewart. Interchange: Richie Fa’aoso, David Gower, James Hasson, George Rose
An early warning for punters looking to have a wager on this game; Check the team lists come kick off as we can’t be too sure at this early stage exactly who will take the field for the Rabbitohs. John Sutton has been named but could still be a 50/50 prospect to play. Greg Inglis was almost playing last week and will most likely return for this week’s match, much to the delight of his fans.
One person that we know won’t be taking the field is Sam Burgess who copped a two week ban for ‘contrary conduct’, or in layman’s terms, ‘grabbing an opponent’s testicles.’
Manly have suffered a loss of their own with star forward Anthony Watmough out with a knee injury. The second rower’s work ethic will be missed as the Sea Eagles try to claim a victory that would put them just 1 point behind the Rabbitohs on the ladder, and more importantly one point out of the top 2.
The game has been move to Bluetongue Stadium where Manly now hold a record of 8 wins from 10 games and they always perform strongly at the venue. I’ll be tipping them to win and the head to head odds should be sufficient value for what should be a bottler of a game, and a physical one at that.
Mike’s Tip: Sea Eagles
Mike’s Suggested Bet: Sea Eagles Head to Head @ $1.84 (Betfair)
Mike’s Best Bet: None
Broncos v Eels
Friday, 16/08, 7:35PM, Suncorp Stadium
Broncos: Josh Hoffman, Corey Oates, Jack Reed, David Stagg, Jordan Kahu, Scott Prince, Ben Hunt, Ben Hannant, Andrew McCullough, Josh McGuire, Sam Thaiday, Matt Gillett, Corey Parker. Interchange: Peter Wallace, Dunamis Lui, Lama Tasi, Nick Slyney, Scott Anderson, Jarrod Wallace
Eels: Jake Mullaney, Ken Sio, Ryan Morgan, Ben Roberts, Vai Toutai, Jarryd Hayne, Luke Kelly, Tim Mannah, Matt Keating, Fuifui Moimoi, Reni Maitua, Mitch Allgood, Darcy Lussick. Interchange: Joseph Paulo, Peni Terepo, Pat O’Hanlon, Junior Paulo, Brayden Wiliame, Daniel Harrison
The Eels claimed just their 4th scalp for this season in last week’s victory over the Tigers. The win may give the players a bit of a confidence boost. One of their 4 scalps this season for the Eels was the Broncos when they met back in Round 9. The Eels have actually beaten the Broncos in the last 2 meetings and have also won the last two meetings when played at Suncorp Stadium. The major factor of last week’s win however was the inclusion of Jarryd Hayne in the side after he had spent numerous weeks on the sideline with a hamstring injury. When Hayne is in the side there is clearly a higher level of confidence instilled in his team mates.
The Broncos, for the 3rd week now, cannot afford to lose if they want to keep their slim finals hopes alive. Their pilgrimage towards the finals was made all the more difficult when Justin Hodges suffered an Achilles injury that could see him out of the game for at least 9 months. David Stagg will move into the centres.
Even with that set back, I have to tip the Broncos to win at home against the 16th placed side.
Mike’s Tip: Broncos
Mike’s Suggested Bet: Broncos 1-12 (Sportsbet)
Mike’s Best Bet: None
Raiders v Bulldogs
Saturday, 17/08, 3:00PM, Canberra Stadium
Raiders: Anthony Milford, Sandor Earl, Jarrod Croker, Blake Ferguson, Jack Wighton, Terry Campese, Josh McCrone, David Shillington, Glen Buttriss, Dane Tilse, Josh Papalii, Joel Thompson, Joel Edwards. Interchange: Shaun Berrigan, Jake Foster, Brett White, Paul Vaughan, Reece Robinson
Bulldogs: Sam Perrett, Mitch Brown, Josh Morris, Timoeteo Lafai, Krisnan Inu, Josh Reynolds, Trent Hodkinson, Aiden Tolman, Michael Ennis, James Graham, Frank Pritchard, Tony Williams, Dale Finucane. Interchange: Dene Halatau, Josh Jackson, Tim Browne, Martin Taupau, Lachlan Burr
This game could turn out to be one of the games of the round with many bookies installing the Raiders as slight favourites to beat the Bulldogs at Canberra Stadium in a special edition of Saturday afternoon footy.
The Raiders have lost just one game at home this year and were almost good enough to roll competition leaders the Roosters last week. Round 22 ended with the Titans displacing the Raiders from the top 8 and they will be desperate to reclaim their spot in the finals positions.
The good for them, but not so good for Bulldogs fans is that Sam Kasiano and Greg Eastwood are unlikely to play due to injuries sustained in Monday night’s game against the Titans. Kasiano in particular is a big loss to the Bulldog’s forward pack and that will be part of the reason that I’ll be tipping the Raiders.
The other part is a certain enigma by the name of Tony Williams. Williams must be very frustrating to watch for Bulldogs fans. He is a man mountain who was recruited by the Bulldogs to utilise his mammoth size by having him charge at defensive lines. He clearly isn’t doing that or much at all really. The team are carrying Williams and in the modern game, you need every man you can muster with no room for dead weights.
Mike’s Tip: Raiders
Mike’s Suggested Bet: Tri-bet – Either team under 6.5 @ $2.79 (Sportsbet)
Mike’s Best Bet: None
Cowboys v Titans
Saturday, 17/08, 5:30PM, 1300SMILES Stadium
Cowboys: Matthew Bowen, Kyle Feldt, Brent Tate, Kane Linnett, Antonio Winterstein, Johnathan Thurston, Robert Lui, Matthew Scott, Ray Thompson, James Tamou, Gavin Cooper, Glenn Hall, Joel Riethmuller. Interchange: Rory Kostjasyn, Tariq Sims, Ricky Thorby, Ashton Sims
Titans: David Mead, Kevin Gordon, Brad Takairangi, Jamie Dowling, Anthony Don, Ashley Harrison, Aidan Sezer, Luke Douglas, Beau Falloon, Nate Myles, Ben Ridge, Mark Minichiello, Greg Bird. Interchange: David Taylor, Ryan James, Luke O’Dwyer, Sam Irwin
An away game for your team in Townsville is usually considered a pretty tough task. Yet this year we’ve seen the Cowboys flounder their way to 12th on the ladder after 22 rounds and usually impregnable 1300SMILES Stadium has become a good place for opponents to pick up a couple of competition points. This week it’s the Titans turn to venture to the far north on the back of a confidence building victory over the Bulldogs on Monday night. The win took them up to 8th spot and keeps them right in the finals hunt.
Their win was full of strength and vigour, both in attack and defence, and the overall performance was of a high calibre. If they can back it up with a similar performance this week, they will give themselves every chance of nabbing another upset and 2 more competition points.
The Cowboys can still make the finals even if their chances of doing so are slimmer than the width of a tally ho. Their chances of winning this match however are about 75% according to the bookies and judging by the way they have played in the last fortnight I’d have to agree.
Mike’s Tip: Cowboys
Mike’s Suggested Bet: None
Mike’s Best Bet: None
Dragons v Sharks
Saturday, 17/08, 7:30PM, WIN Stadium
Dragons: Jason Nightingale, Brett Morris, Chase Stanley, Daniel Vidot, Charly Runciman, Adam Quinlan, Nathan Fien, Jack Stockwell, Mitch Rein, Ben Creagh, Tyson Frizell, Leeson Ah Mau, Jack de Belin. Interchange: Matt Prior, Michael Weyman, Will Matthews, Josh Drinkwater
Sharks: Michael Gordon, Sosaia Feki, Ben Pomeroy, Jonathan Wright, Beau Ryan, Todd Carney, Jeff Robson, Andrew Fifita, John Morris, Bryce Gibbs, Luke Lewis, Jayson Bukuya, Paul Gallen. Interchange Isaac De Gois, Chris Heighington, Sam Tagataese, Anthony Tupou, Ben Ross
The Dragons may not have a finals berth to play for but you can see they are still hungry to please their fans with victories. They went oh so close to beating the Broncos at Suncorp last week and were impressive in the way they fought until the death before going down by a mere 2 points.
Their assignment this week is to stop the Cronulla Sharks who will be in ‘bounce back’ mode after suffering a shock loss in the dying minutes of their clash with the Knights on Saturday night.
The Sharks are doing what they need to so far to stay wedged in the Top 8 and five eighth Todd Carney is really hitting his straps at the right time. Last week’s loss appears to have been nothing more than a bump in the road and I’m sure they will turn up this week ready to grind.
I’m liking the look of a Sharks 1-12 victory.
Mike’s Tip: Sharks
Mike’s Suggested Bet: Sharks 1-12 @ $3.00 (Sportsbet)
Mike’s Best Bet: None
Warriors v Panthers
Sunday, 18/08, 2:00PM, Mt Smart Stadium
Warriors: Kevin Locke, Ngani Laumape, Dane Nielsen, Konrad Hurrell, Manu Vatuvei, Thomas Leuluai, Shaun Johnson, Sam Rapira, Nathan Friend, Ben Matulino, Feleti Mateo, Simon Mannering, Elijah Taylor. Interchange: Suaia Matagi, Jacob Lillyman, Todd Lowrie, Dominique Peyroux, Jerome Ropati
Panthers: Matt Moylan, Josh Mansour, Lewis Brown, Dean Whare, Dave Simmons, Isaac John, Luke Walsh, Sam McKendry, Kevin Kingston, Tim Grant, Clint Newton, Sika Manu, Ryan Simpkins. Interchange: James Segeyaro, Lachlan Coote, Jeremy Latimore, Mose Masoe
I’m sure Warriors fans would remember vividly that when these two sides met back in round 10 that their side was on the wrong end of a 62 – 6 scoreline. But they would also remember that the embarrassing loss was the catalyst for mid season revival for the team that has seen them go from 15th on the ladder in Round 11 to their current position of 10th and just 2 points outside the top 8. With this being the 4th last round, wins are priceless and the log jam of teams still able to make the finals is getting hectic.
The Panthers went through a mid season revival of their own but unfortunately have not been able to maintain their streak and in the last month have fallen victim to 4 straight losses. As a result they sit 2 wins outside the Top 8 which essentially means the Panthers’ grand final has come early. A loss here will end their season.
Are the Panthers capable of beating the Warriors? If their game were played in Penrith I would give them a chance but seeing as they are making the trip to New Zealand, one would find it difficult to back them. The Panthers have alarmingly lost their last 4 games by 32, 36, 28 and 18 points respectively so it’s only fair to expect another large margin to give them a 5th consecutive loss.
Mike’s Tip: Warriors
Mike’s Suggested Bet: Warriors -13.5 @ $1.79 (Centrebet)
Mike’s Best Bet: None
Knights v Storm
Sunday, 18/08, 3:00PM, Hunter Stadium
Knights: Darius Boyd, James McManus, Dane Gagai, Joey Leilua, Akuila Uate, Jarrod Mullen, Tyrone Roberts, Kade Snowden, Danny Buderus, Zane Tetevano, Robbie Rochow, Chris Houston, Jeremy Smith. Interchange: Kurt Gidley, David Fa’alogo, Neville Costigan, Alex McKinnon, Craig Gower
Storm: Billy Slater, Sisa Waqa, Will Chambers, Justin O’Neill, Mahe Fonua, Brett Finch, Cooper Cronk, Jesse Bromwich, Cameron Smith, Bryan Norrie, Kevin Proctor, Ryan Hoffman, Ryan Hinchcliffe. Interchange: Jason Ryles, Tohu Harris, Jordan McLean, Kenneath Bromwich, Slade Griffin
The Knights host the Storm at their hallowed hunting ground of Hunter Stadium. They return following a gutsy win over the Sharks on the road last Saturday with their quest for a finals position is back on track after a previous draw and a loss saw them drop out of the top 8.
The question to ask of them now is; where are their heads at? The Knights players have competed in 3 gruelling grinds in the last 3 weeks, including a golden point encounter and they must be feeling a bit worn out…..wouldn’t they? I thought the same thing of them last week yet they hung in against the Sharks until the last minutes to snatch an emphatic victory from the jaws of defeat. It might appear that the legendary Wayne Bennett influence may be finally engrained in the players and that they are becoming a real force. What better way to find out if it’s the case than by taking on the reigning premiers? The Knights went very close when the two sides met back in 14 and only lost by 2 points. If they can defeat the Storm this time then they will have to be considered as one of those teams that could beat any side on their day.
In the betting department, a bit of fun might lie in the 40/20 prospects. Cooper Cronk has kicked 4 this season, Jarrod Mullen 3 and Cam Smith 2. Let’s have a lash!
Mike’s Tip: Storm
Mike’s Suggested Bet: Will There Be a 40/20? – Yes @ $3.75 (Sportsbet)
Mike’s Best Bet: None
Tigers v Roosters
Monday, 19/08, 7:00PM, Allianz Stadium
Tigers: James Tedesco, David Nofoaluma, Blake Ayshford, Tim Simona, Lote Tuqiri, Benji Marshall, Braith Anasta, Kieth Galloway, Joel Luani, Adam Blair, Liam Fulton, Ben Murdoch-Masila, Jesse Sue. Interchange: Ava Seumanufagai, Jack Buchanan, Bodene Thompson, Curtis Sironen, Masada Iosefa, Shaun Spence
Roosters: Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Daniel Tupou, Michael Jennings, Mitchell Aubusson, Shaun Kenny-Dowall, James Maloney, Mitchell Pearce, Jared Wearea-Hargreaves, Jake Friend, Sam Moa, Aidan Guerra, Sonny Bill Williams, Frank-Paul Nuuausala. Interchange: Daniel Mortimer, Isaac Liu, Tinirau Arona, Dylan Napa
Through the week I heard one bookie describe the Tiger’s recent form as ‘despicable’, and I’d have to agree. Whilst some of the Wests players are certainly having a dig each week, there are a few that aren’t interested in bringing their A-game. One of those players in particular is Benji Marshall.
I’d hate to be a parent of a young child who idolises Marshall and having to explain his recent behaviour. Many keep pointing out all of the great things Marshall has done for the game in the past, and yes I agree he was once a great ambassador, but there are going to be many in the future who will remember Marshall as ‘that guy who acted like a common lout on his way to Rugby Union.’
Tigers fans are disgusted at having to watch their team run around in the remaining few rounds with Marshall in the side. He turns up, plays with little to no vigour and heads home. Last week he put more effort into his poxy 1 minute video of himself sitting in his kitchen in an Auckland Blues jumper, than he did on the field.
With a dead weight like Marshall in the halves, how could I possibly tip the Tigers to anyone? The club is a shambles on and off the field and I genuinely feel sorry for the fans. I’ve spoken to a few throughout the last few weeks and to put it succinctly, they are ‘over it’.
My apologies to those who are reading this and taking in little about the actual game to be played out tomorrow night, but unfortunately it’s all the off field activity that’s funnelling its way into poor on field defeats for the Wests Tigers.
Mike’s Tip: Roosters
Mike’s Suggested Bet: Sydney Roosters total points over 36.5 @ $1.97 (Sportsbet)
Mike’s Best Bet: None