NRL Round 24 Preview and Tips







Centrebet Stadium, 7.35pm

PANTHERS: Lachlan Coote, Josh Mansour, Lewis Brown, Dean Whare, David Simmons, Isaac John, Luke Walsh, Sam McKendry, Kevin Kingston (capt), Tim Grant, Clint Newton, Sika Manu, Ryan Simpkins. Interchange: James Segeyaro, Nathan Smith, Jeremy Latimore, Mose Masoe, Matt Moylan (one to be omitted).

BRONCOS: Josh Hoffman, Corey Oates, Jack Reed, David Stagg, Jordan Kahu, Scott Prince, Ben Hunt, Ben Hannant, Andrew McCullough, Josh McGuire, Sam Thaiday (capt), Matt Gillett, Corey Parker. Interchange: Peter Wallace, Dunamis Lui, Lama Tasi, Jarrod Wallace, Scott Anderson, Nick Slyney (two to be omitted).

After their gritty upset win over the Warriors on Sunday, the Panthers are one of the 4 teams that sit within 1 win of the top 8 and a home game this week is a timely one.

The Broncos are also one of the 4 teams within striking distance of the top 8 and have known the importance of winning lately now that they have managed to go 4 weeks without a loss and still sit outside finals positions.

So the bottom line is a simple one; a loss here ends your team’s season.

The Broncos have been put up as $1.75 favourites by most bookies; a price which lengthened a tad after some early support for the Panthers who are now at $2.12. Some bookies opened the Panthers at $2.40 on Monday night.

I for one think the support is justified and I will also be backing the Panthers. They looked very good last week against the Warriors once they got going and proved that they have the mental and physical strength to compete in the dying stages of a game when under immense pressure.

The Broncos have had 4 weeks of games that they have not been able to afford to lose, and while they have been able to survive so far, they are getting tired. A trip down to Penrith might be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. (Or the Bronco’s back in this case)

Mike’s Tip: Panthers

Mike’s Best Bet:



ANZ Stadium, 7.35pm

RABBITOHS: Greg Inglis, Nathan Merritt, Bryson Goodwin, Dylan Walker, Dylan Farrell, John Sutton, Adam Reynolds, Luke Burgess, Issac Luke, Roy Asotasi, Chris McQueen, Ben Te’o, Ben Lowe. Interchange: Luke Keary, Jason Clark, George Burgess, Tom Burgess, Dave Tyrrell, Justin Hunt, Matt King (three to be omitted).

BULLDOGS: Josh Morris, Mitch Brown, Krisnan Inu, Tim Lafai, Sam Perrett, Josh Reynolds, Trent Hodkinson, Aiden Tolman, Michael Ennis (capt), James Graham, Frank Pritchard, Tony Williams, Dale Finucane. Interchange: Dene Halatau, Josh Jackson, Tim Browne, Martin Taupau, Lachlan Burr (one to be omitted).

This game shapes as an ideal test for the Bulldogs just 3 weeks out from the first week of finals. They have managed to rack up enough wins to keep themselves in 5th spot at this stage of the season but have not been completely convincing when facing up to the top 4 teams. This contest against one of the benchmark teams will let them know exactly where they stand.

The wheels appeared to be falling off the Rabbitohs wagon over the last few weeks when the team’s key players suffered some injuries but all concerns were put to rest when they put Manly to the sword in fantastic fashion last Friday night.

The Rabbitohs know what they’re capable of and so does the rest of the Rugby League world which makes it difficult to tip against them when they are up against any side sitting in outside the top 4.

Mike’s Tip: Rabbitohs

Mike’s Suggested Bet: Rabbitohs -3.5 @ $1.52 (Centrebet)

Mike’s Best Bet: None





SCG, 3.00pm

DRAGONS: Jason Nightingale, Brett Morris, Chase Stanley, Charly Runciman, Daniel Vidot, Adam Quinlan, Nathan Fien, Jack Stockwell, Mitch Rein, Ben Creagh (capt), Tyson Frizell, Leeson Ah Mau, Jack de Belin. Interchange: Matt Prior, Michael Weyman, Will Matthews, Bronson Harrison, Craig Garvey (one to be omitted).

TIGERS: James Tedesco, David Nofoaluma, Bodene Thompson, Tim Simona, Lote Tuqiri, Benji Marshall, Braith Anasta, Keith Galloway, Joel Luani, Adam Blair, Liam Fulton, Ben Murdoch-Masila, Suaso Sue. Interchange: Ava Seumanufagai, Jack Buchanan, Matt Bell, Curtis Sironen, Masada Iosefa, Shaun Spence (two to be omitted).

It’s always nice watching the games that are taken to the Sydney Cricket Ground and I hope that’s the case this time. I hope the game isn’t overshadowed by another pathetic showing by Benji Marshall as he turns up to collect another weekly pay check for doing less than a dole bludger.

The Dragons have shown touches of improvement over the last month, albeit too late to make the finals, but it means they have become a bit of a thorn in the sides of teams that are vying for finals positions. Their overall defensive game has been solid all year but a complete lack of attacking strategy has been their weakness. Coach Steve Price has named the same side as last week when they suffered a last minute defeat from the Sharks after leading for 99% of the game, and it most certainly is a team good enough to beat the Tigers in their current form, or lack of. But then again, which team isn’t?

Mike’s Tip: Dragons

Mike’s Suggested Bet: HalfTime/Fulltime – Dragons/Dragons @ $1.79 (Luxbet)

Mike’s Best Bet: None



Skilled Park, 5.30pm

TITANS: William Zillman, Kevin Gordon, Brad Takairangi, Jamie Dowling, David Mead, Aidan Sezer, Albert Kelly, Luke Douglas, Beau Falloon, Nate Myles, Greg Bird, Mark Minichiello, Ashley Harrison. Interchange: David Taylor, Ryan James, Ben Ridge, Matt Srama.

WARRIORS: Kevin Locke, Jerome Ropati, Dane Nielsen, Konrad Hurrell, Manu Vatuvei, Thomas Leuluai, Shaun Johnson, Sam Rapira, Nathan Friend, Suaia Matagi, Elijah Taylor, Simon Mannering (capt), Todd Lowrie. Interchange: Ben Matulino, Jacob Lillyman, Feleti Mateo, Dominique Peyroux, Ngani Laumape (one to be omitted).

The Titans were pretty lucky to come out of round 23 still in the top 8 and have a good chance to maintain their spot as they head into Round 24 to take on the 13th placed Warriors.

Yes they are playing a lower ranked side but the Titans form has been a bit sketchy and many had expected a better performance from them last week after coming off an impressive win against the 5th placed Bulldogs. Now is the time to deliver with the finals drawing near.

The Warriors can still make the finals but a loss in this match ends it all. A desperate effort will be required to keep the dream alive but 3 losses in the last 3 weeks suggests they simply have run out of steam at the wrong time but I’m not so sure. Can they buck the recent trend?  I think they are capable of beating the Titans on the Gold Coast but it’s going to take 100% of their efforts. Any lapses and they can kiss this season goodbye.

Mike’s Tip: Warriors.

Mike’s Best Bet:



1300SMILES Stadium, 7.30pm

COWBOYS: Matthew Bowen, Kyle Feldt, Brent Tate, Kane Linnett, Antonio Winterstein, Johnathan Thurston (capt), Robert Lui, Matthew Scott (capt), Ray Thompson, James Tamou, Gavin Cooper, Glenn Hall, Joel Riethmuller. Interchange: Rory Kostjasyn, Tariq Sims, Scott Bolton, Ricky Thorby, Ethan Lowe (one to be omitted).

KNIGHTS: Darius Boyd, James McManus, Dane Gagai, Joey Leilua, Akuila Uate, Jarrod Mullen (capt), Tyrone Roberts, Kade Snowden, Danny Buderus, Zane Tetevano, Robbie Rochow, Beau Scott, Alex McKinnon. Interchange: Kurt Gidley, Chris Houston, Neville Costigan, David Fa’alogo.

The bookies have the market sitting at Cowboys $1.57 and the Knights $2.45 which to me seems a bit of a contrast to how these teams have been performing on a deeper seeded level. The Knights with a points start seems enough to sway this outcome into a winning result.

The Cowboys have the home ground advantage which is obviously a big bonus and the Knights have struggled a bit during away games. However the Newcastle side has become more of a force in recent weeks and have obtained that real ‘Wayne Bennett’ touch.

The Cowboys have shown some improvement but I think their results may hold some deceit. Even last week in the Cowboys victory over the Titans they only managed to complete 23 of 39 sets. Such a poor strike rate won’t go unpunished by the Knights who completed 30 of 40 sets in their Round 23 match against none other than the Melbourne Storm.

Expect the Knights to cure the minor missed tackle problem they suffered last week and hopefully snatch a handy upset heading into the finals.

Mike’s Tip: Knights

Mike’s Best Bet:





Canberra Stadium, 2.00pm

RAIDERS: Reece Robinson, Sandor Earl, Jarrod Croker, Bill Tupou, Sami Sauiluma, Anthony Milford, Josh McCrone (capt), David Shillington (capt), Shaun Berrigan, Brett White (capt), Josh Papalii, Joel Thompson, Paul Vaughan. Interchange: Glen Buttriss, Joel Edwards, Dane Tilse, Tom Learoyd-Lahrs, Sam Williams (one to be omitted).

SEA EAGLES: Brett Stewart, Jorge Taufua, Jamie Lyon (capt), Steve Matai, David Williams, Kieran Foran, Daly Cherry-Evans, Brenton Lawrence, Matt Ballin, Brent Kite, Anthony Watmough, Justin Horo, Glenn Stewart. Interchange: Richie Fa’aoso, Jamie Buhrer, David Gower, George Rose, James Hasson (one to be omitted).

It’s the first time these two sides have met in the nation’s capital since 2008 and the Raiders head into the game surrounded by off field dramas. Earlier in the week coach David Furner was ousted from his position, alledgedly by a player revolt. Many a footy fan likes subscribing to the theory that when a team aquires a new coach following the sacking of the predecessor, that they will go on to win their first game. Andrew Dunemann is the caretaker for the Raiders for the rest of 2013 but I’m not sure if he can inspire the players to a victory here. The Raiders are on 3 straight losses at the moment and are likely to be without playmaker Terry Campese who will probably join Blake Ferguson and Shaun Fensom on the sidelines. Together they are arguably the 3 best players that the Raiders posess and without them you wouldn’t like to be up against a Sea Eagles side that loves to punish teams lower down the ladder.


Mike’s Tip: Sea Eagles

Mike’s Best Bet:




AAMI Park, 3.00pm

STORM: Billy Slater, Sisa Waqa, Will Chambers, Maurice Blair, Justin O’Neill, Brett Finch, Cooper Cronk, Jesse Bromwich, Cameron Smith (capt), Bryan Norrie, Kevin Proctor, Ryan Hoffman, Ryan Hinchcliffe. Interchange: Jason Ryles, Tohu Harris, Jordan McLean, Kenneath Bromwich.

EELS: Jake Mullaney, Ken Sio, Ryan Morgan, Vai Toutai, Semi Radradra, Ben Roberts, Luke Kelly, Tim Mannah (capt), Matt Keating, Fuifui Moimoi, Reni Maitua, Mitch Allgood, Darcy Lussick. Interchange: Junior Paulo, Joseph Paulo, Peni Terepo, Pat O’Hanlon, Daniel Harrison (one to be omitted).

The Parramatta Eels will acquire the dubious record for the biggest points start in head to head betting in 2013. The 30.5  head start could be enough in my opinion if you look at the way the Storm like to approach the so called ‘easy’ games.

Now I must stress, this isn’t the type of game I like to bet on, so if you’re going to back the Eels with the line, do so at your own risk, but I’m anticipating that if the Storm get out to a big lead with about 15 minutes to go, players like Cronk and Smith will get pulled to the bench to avoid injuries. If it does happen then the point scoring should also slow down and the Storm’s efforts could roll into conservation mode.

Plus as an indication factor that shows how easy teams like to take it in their games against the Eels, you’ll see that Parramatta players have scored the last try in their last 4 consecutive matches.

So if you’re going to have a wager, I’ll recommend going with the record 30.5 start.

Mike’s Tip: Melbourne

Mike’s Suggested Bet: Eels +30.5 @ $1.90 (Sportsbet)

Mike’s Best Bet: None





Remondis Stadium, 7.00pm

SHARKS: Michael Gordon, Sosaia Feki, Ben Pomeroy, Jonathan Wright, Beau Ryan, Todd Carney, Jeff Robson, Andrew Fifita, John Morris, Bryce Gibbs, Luke Lewis, Wade Graham, Paul Gallen (capt). Interchange: Isaac De Gois, Chris Heighington, Jayson Bukuya, Anthony Tupou, Sam Tagataese (one to be omitted).

ROOSTERS: Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Daniel Tupou, Michael Jennings, Mitchell Aubusson, Shaun Kenny-Dowall, James Maloney, Mitchell Pearce, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Jake Friend, Sam Moa, Aidan Guerra, Sonny Bill Williams, Frank-Paul Nuuausala. Interchange: Daniel Mortimer, Luke O’Donnell, Isaac Liu, Dylan Napa.

This game represents the Sharks’ opportunity to lock in a finals berth with a victory but they are going to have to overcome arguably the best team in the competition to do so. A loss won’t mean they are out of the finals, but the Sharks will be doing all they can to avoid missing out on 2 competition points on offer.

The Roosters are after the win in order to maintain their hold on the minor premiership with the Rabbitohs breathing down their necks in 2nd place. I hope they turn up with their A game if they expect to win because I get the feeling the Sharks are going to turn it on for this match just like they have done successfully in some of their recent Monday night matches in the last few years. Will it be enough?

Mike’s Tip: Roosters

Mike’s Suggested Bet: Roosters 1-12 @ $2.88 (Sportsbet)

Mike’s Best Bet: None

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