NRL Round 22 Preview and Tips


Rabbitohs v Sea Eagles

Fri 8 Aug, 7:45PM, Sydney Cricket Ground

Rabbitohs: 1. Greg Inglis 2. Alex Johnston 3. Dylan Walker 4. Kirisome Auva’a  5. Lote Tuqiri 6. Luke Keary 7. Adam Reynolds 8. George Burgess 9. Issac Luke 10. David Tyrrell 11. Kyle Turner 12. Ben Te’o 13. Sam Burgess
Interchange: 14. Jason Clark 15. Ben Lowe 16. Chris McQueen 17. Thomas Burgess 18. Luke Burgess 19. Bryson Goodwin 20. Joe Picker
Sea Eagles: 1. Brett Stewart 2. Jorge Taufua 3. Jamie Lyon 4. Steve Matai 5. Peta Hiku 6. Kieran Foran 7. Daly Cherry-Evans 8. Josh Starling 9. Matt Ballin 10. Brenton Lawrence 11.Anthony Watmough 12. Tom Symonds 13. Jamie Buhrer
Interchange: 14. Jesse Sene-Lefao 15. Justin Horo 16. James Hasson 17. Jason King


It’s a promoter’s dream having the top two sides of the NRL meet in Round 22 for a showdown at none other than the Sydney Cricket Ground.

The Sea Eagles are perched at the apex of the ladder and deservedly so having done nearly everything right throughout 2014 and surpassing all teams in all facets of the game.

It’s unlikely that Wayne Bennett would be heard labelling the Sea Eagles ‘predictable’ as he did of the Rabbitohs last week.

I thought it was Gorden Tallis who summed up the Sea Eagles well on Monday night when he highlighted their flexibility in adapting to whatever their opposition throws at them.

If they are thrust into a free flowing attacking match, they attack relentlessly either with Daly Cherry Evans toying with the defence on the right, or with Kieran Foran and Brett Stewart (who is effectively a second five-eighth) terrorising opponents on the left edge.

If the game goes into a grinding mode then the Sea Eagles seem capable of plugging away forever, simply hanging in the contest until the opposition folds under fatigue.

The Rabbitohs, who were labelled predictable by supercoach Wayne Bennett (despite being unable to predict his side’s 50-10 belting), have made great inroads in 2014 since Coach Maguire moved John Sutton back to five-eighth, but will have to do without the Souths’ journeyman for a few more weeks as he recovers from injury.

I seriously hope for the Rabbitohs’ sake that when Sutton returns to the fray that Maguire places him back in the number 6 jersey as I’m convinced they cannot win the comp with him playing lock as his talent wasted, and exhausted when wearing 13.

So who wins this clash? It’s a tough choice if Sutton was playing and I would have gone towards the Rabbitohs head to head much easier with the Sea Eagles seemingly showing some signs of tiredness after a few tough weeks that was dissected by a trip across the Tasman followed by a short five day turnaround before taking on the Broncos in a tough encounter.

The Rabbitohs will be out to prove a point by beating the top placed side and look like the team to deliver Manly that loss that many call ‘the loss a team has to have’ before the Sea Eagles start their run into the finals.


Mike’s Tip: Rabbitohs

Mike’s Best Bet: None

Mike’s Casual Bet: Rabbitohs +2.5 @ $1.91 (Centrebet)



Broncos v Bulldogs

Fri 8 Aug, 7:30PM, Suncorp Stadium

Broncos: 1. Josh Hoffman 2. Daniel Vidot 3. Dale Copley 4. Jack Reed 5. Lachlan Maranta 6. Ben Barba 7. Ben Hunt 8. Josh McGuire 9. Andrew McCullough 10. Corey Parker 11. Alex Glenn 12. Matt Gillett 13. Sam Thaiday
Interchange: 14. Jake Granville 15. Todd Lowrie 16. Ben Hannant 17. Corey Oates 18. Martin Kennedy 19. Jarrod Wallace
Bulldogs:  1. Sam Perrett 2. Corey Thompson 3. Josh Morris 4. Tim Lafai 5. Mitch Brown 6. Josh Reynolds 7. Trent Hodkinson 8. Sam Kasiano 9. Michael Ennis 10. James Graham 11. Josh Jackson 12. Tony Williams 13. Greg Eastwood
Interchange: 14. Aiden Tolman 15. Dale Finucane 16. David Klemmer 17. Lloyd Perrett 19. Moses Mbye 20. Reni Maitua


It feels like the Bulldogs are due to bounce back from their three consecutive losses sometime soon but they have a tough task in front of them if they are to do it this week.

They take on the Broncos at Suncorp Stadium who have suffered two losses of their own in the last couple of weeks which has seen them drop out of the top 8. A loss here could spell the end of their season with teams above them looking likely to advance further up the table.

The Bulldogs possess desperation of their own with a loss for them meaning a potential plunge down to 8th on the ladder, which will no doubt leave Coach Des Hasler scratching his head as to how to get his side out of their form slump.

Personally I think a lot of the problems for the Bulldogs lie in the laps of their outside backs who make some head scratching decisions in defence which allow other teams an open corridor in which to simply run around them.

Thankfully this week, NSW and Kangaroo representative Josh Morris returns to the side and will play a big part in organising the left hand side defence into a more efficient machine.

The Bulldogs middle men have been doing a great job and will be able to assist their outside backs in defence by shutting down any second phase plays the Broncos look to engage. And when it comes to second phase plays, the man to stop is Corey Parker.

Teams know what he is capable of but still find it so difficult to shut him down.

I’m tipping the Bulldogs to throw an upset here. Their record against top 8 sides is far superior to the Broncos and any outside price seems like overs to me.


Mike’s Tip: Bulldogs

Mike’s Best Bet: Bulldogs +2.0 @ $2.00 (Bet with Ladbrokes within 2 hours of kick off.)



Cowboys v Tigers

Sat 9 Aug, 7:30PM, 1300SMILES Stadium

Cowboys: 1. Michael Morgan 2. Tautau Moga 3. Matthew Wright 4. Kane Linnett 5. Antonio Winterstein 6. Robert Lui  7. Johnathan Thurston 8. Matt Scott 9. Rory Kostjasyn 10. James Tamou 11. Tariq Sims 12. Jason Taumalolo 13. Glenn Hall
Interchange: 14. Ray Thompson 15. Scott Bolton 16. Ashton Sims 17. Sam Hoare 18. John Asiata
Tigers:  1. Mitchell Moses 2. Keith Lulia 3. Tim Simona 4. Bodene Thompson 5. Pat Richards 6. Blake Austin 7. Luke Brooks 8. Aaron Woods 9. Robbie Farah 10. Keith Galloway 11. Curtis Sironen 12. Dene Halatau 13. Adam Blair
Interchange: 14. Ava Seumanufagai 15. Martin Taupau 16. Sauaso Sue 17. James Gavet


The Cowboys will come across another great chance at collecting competition points when they face the embattled Wests Tigers who once again have suffered another week of intense media scrutiny.

Video of Robbie Farah running from Campbelltown Stadium via a back exit in a hasty bid to avoid the media, simply shows that the club captain still has enough on his mind to affect his on field performance.

As I mentioned last week, when Farah doesn’t play at 100% then the whole team suffers performance-wise and it looks set to happen again.

The Cowboys chance to collect competition points doesn’t just come at the expense of the Tigers’ struggles but can also be attributed to their own improved performances in recent weeks that has seen them fight their way into the top 8.

Halfback Johnathan Thurston is thriving at first receiver which is a double edged sword for any opposition side as it also takes Robert Lui out of the decision making process where he is seemingly incapable of producing anything constructive.

The choice here is a simple one: The Cowboys will win off the back of heavy running up the middle that will ultimately lead to speedy play the balls and bring Johnathan Thurston straight into proceedings where he will punish the Tigers for their lapses in defence.

If you are going to use this match as a betting prospect, I would highly recommend waiting until kick off to see if Tigers’ halfback Luke Brooks takes the field.

Brooks was absent last week which ended up helping the Tigers lose by 22 points. If Brooks becomes a late omission once more then backing the Cowboys to cover the line will become a genuine option. Tread warily though as no doubt the line will grow under such circumstances.

If you avoid this option, simply use the Cowboys head to head to boost your multis.


Mike’s Tip: Cowboys

Mike’s Best Bet: None

Mike’s Casual Bet: Use the Cowboys head to head @ $1.19 to boost your multis.



Knights v Storm

Sat 9 Aug, 5:30PM, Hunter Stadium

Knights: 1. Kurt Gidley 2. Chanel Mata’utia 3. Dane Gagai 4. Joseph Leilua 5. Akuila Uate 6. Jarrod Mullen 7. Tyrone Roberts 8. Kade Snowden 9. Adam Clydsdale 10. Willie Mason 11. Beau Scott 12. Robbie Rochow 13. Jeremy Smith
Interchange:  14. Travis Waddell 15. Korbin Sims 17. Adam Cuthbertson 18. David Fa’alogo 19. Chris Houston
Storm:  1. Billy Slater 2. Sisa Waqa 3. Will Chambers 4. Mahe Fonua 5. Marika Koroibete 6. Ben Roberts 7. Cooper Cronk 8. Jesse Bromwich 9. Cameron Smith 10. Bryan Norrie 11. Kevin Proctor 12. Ryan Hoffman 13. Ryan Hinchcliffe
Interchange: 14. Tim Glasby 15. Tohu Harris 16. Kenneath Bromwich 17. Jordan McLean 18. Dayne Weston 19. Kurt Mann


There was no quarter given to the Knights last week when the Rabbitohs met them in Cairns and promptly trounced them by 40 points.

It would appear that the Knights have given up on the season to an extent which makes sense given they have about a 1 in a million chance of making the finals with a team that the coach has pretty much left along with their marquee player Darius Boyd.

The Storm on the contrary have everything to play for since they have attacked the post Origin period with full force, reviving their shaky season and moving into 6th on the ladder thanks to three consecutive wins in the last three weeks. points out an interesting stat from last week’s game that Storm halfback Cooper Cronk made just 6 metres in attack from 44 touches of the ball yet set up four of the Storm’s five tries and created two further line breaks.

When in that kind of form Cronk is no doubt very difficult to stop and I don’t think the Knights are the ones to do it.

It won’t surprise many that I’m tipping the Storm here; the big three are firing on all cylinders and the enthusiasm amongst the players as they approach finals time is becoming infectious.

The $1.25 available for the Storm seems about spot on so rather than tackle it head on I’ll be using it to boost my multis for the week.


Mike’s Tip: Storm

Mike’s Best Bet: None

Mike’s Casual Bet: Use the Storm head to head @ $1.25 to boost your multis.



Eels v Raiders

Sat 8 Aug, 8:30PM, TIO Stadium

Eels:  1. Jarryd Hayne 2. Semi Radradra 3. William Hopoate 4. Ryan Morgan 5. Bureta Faraimo 6. Corey Norman 7. Chris Sandow 8. Tim Mannah 9. Isaac De Gois 10. Fuifui Moimoi 11. Kenny Edwards 12. Tepai Moeroa 13. Joseph Paulo
Interchange: 14. Peni Terepo  15. Pauli Pauli 16. Ben Smith 17. Junior Paulo
Raiders: 1. Jordan Rapana 2. Bill Tupou 3. Jarrod Croker 4. Jack Wighton 5. Edrick Lee 6. Anthony Milford 7. Josh McCrone 8. Shannon Boyd 9. Glen Buttriss 10. Brett White 11. Josh Papalii 12. Jarrad Kennedy 13. Matt McIlwrick
Interchange: 14. Mitch Cornish 15. Joel Edwards 16. Dane Tilse 17. Paul Vaughan 18. Mark Nicholls


This time the NRL heads to Darwin for the matchup between the Eels and the under fire Raiders. And speaking of fire, or heat anyway, the temperature at kick off is predicted to be a balmy 27 degrees which is a far cry from the subzero numbers that Mother Nature has been tossing up in Canberra lately.

One must wonder if Raiders Coach Ricky Stuart has been trying to converse with Mother Nature or some other godly entity, praying for cyclones to put premature ends to some of the floggings his side has copped.

Let us not mince words over how ordinary the Raiders have been; the left side defence seemingly parts like the Red Sea for opponents and the rot doesn’t look like stopping anytime soon.

Parramatta will no doubt look to exploit this weakness and you can expect to see Jarryd Hayne loitering around the right edge in attack trying to sniff out a gap and ultimately some tries.

And when it comes to tries I’m expecting lots of them, so if you plan on downing a beer with your mates every time a try is scored, I’m tipping you’ll be on the floor in no time.

Which leads me to my best bet; the line for total match points currently sits at 45.5 and although that might seem like a lot to the average joe, I’m predicting it won’t be enough and I won’t be surprised if around 60 points are scored in this encounter.

The match is going to be played out on a fast, dry-ish track and humidity isn’t expected to be high enough to create much moisture in and around the playing surface.

Jump on the overs and don’t be surprised when the Eels hand the Raiders yet another belting.

Make sure you get on the Eels -11.5 @ $1.87 on Bet365 before the price firms.


Mike’s Tip: Eels

Mike’s Best Bet:

1. Total match points over 45.5 @ $1.91 (Bet365)

2. Eels -11.5 @ $1.87 (Bet365)



Warriors v Sharks

Sun 10 Aug, 2:00PM, Mt Smart Stadium

Warriors: 1. Sam Tomkins 2. Tuimoala Lolohea 3. Ngani Laumape 4. Dane Nielsen 5. Manu Vatuvei 6. Chad Townsend 7. Thomas Leuluai 8. Jacob Lillyman 9. Nathan Friend 10. Suaia Matagi 11. Sione Lousi 12. Simon Mannering 13. Sebastine Ikahihifo
Interchange: 14. Feleti Mateo 15. Ben Matulino 16. Sam Rapira 17. Jayson Bukuya 18. Ben Henry
Sharks: 1. Michael Gordon 2. Sosaia Feki 3. Jonathan Wright 4. Ricky Leutele 5. Valentine Holmes 6. Fa’amanu Brown 7. Jeff Robson 8. Andrew Fifita 9. Michael Lichaa 10. Sam Tagataese 11. Chris Heighington 12. Tupou Sopoaga 13. Paul Gallen
Interchange: 14. Pat Politoni 15. Junior Roqica  16. Tinirau Arona 17. Matt Prior 18. Tim Robinson


Sharks’ Captain Paul Gallen is said to be returning to the fray as the team makes their way across the ditch to take on the Warriors as their new campaign (the one to avoid the wooden spoon) begins.

Is Gallen the difference that the Sharks need? Well they certainly need him but I highly doubt he is going to spur the team into a sudden victory over one of the better performing teams of the competition.

Many may have forgotten that when these two sides met in round 5 that the Sharks were eventual 31 point winners in what seemingly turned out to be one of the best things to happen to the New Zealand side all year.

As a result of their farcical belting that became their 3rd loss in 5 games, the Warriors dropped their then Coach Matt Elliott and appointed Andrew McFadden as caretaker in his absence. Fast forward to round 22 and the Warriors enter the round inside the top 8 as one of the more favoured teams to challenge the top sides for the premiership.

With all factors considered the Warriors will take the field as very short $1.18 favourites but if you were to base the odds on recent match ups between these two sides then it very well might be the Sharks who are favourites having not lost to the Warriors since 2011.

And here’s one for the statistics hoarders: there has been a field goal kicked in four of the last seven games between these two teams and in three of those four, the margin has been over 27 points.

I can’t really see this one being too close a match either, even with the Warriors missing chief points scoring protagonist Shaun Johnson.

The total match points line has been set at 46.5 and I expect the score to be under this amount. The Sharks’ defence won’t be as easily penetrable for the Warriors as the Raiders’ was last week and power plays will yield less points than before.

No Shaun Johnson will also cost the Warriors a few points and will weaken the side’s productivity from 5th tackle options.


Mike’s Tip: Warriors

Mike’s Best Bet:

1. Total match points under 46.5 @ $1.90 (Sportsbet)

2. Warriors 13+ @ $1.83 (Sportsbet)




Dragons v Panthers

Sun 10 Aug, 3:00PM, WIN Stadium

Dragons: 1. Adam Quinlan 2. Brett Morris 3. Josh Dugan 4. Gerard Beale 5. Jason Nightingale 6. Gareth Widdop 7. Benji Marshall 8. Ben Creagh (c) 9. Mitch Rein 10. Mike Cooper 11. Leeson Ah Mau 12. Joel Thompson 13. Jack de Belin.
Interchange: 14. Bronson Harrison 15. Trent Merrin 16. Will Matthews 17. Jack Stockwell 18. Shane Pumipi 19. Dan Hunt

Panthers: 1. Matt Moylan 2. Josh Mansour 3. Dean Whare 4. Jamal Idris 5. David Simmons 6. Will Smith 7. Jamie Soward 8. Nigel Plum 9. James Segeyaro 10. Sam McKendry 11. Sika Manu 12. Isaah Yeo 13. Adam Docker
Interchange: 14. Lewis Brown 15. Jeremy Latimore 16. Matt Robinson 17. Tim Grant 18. Kevin Kingston 20. Sam Anderson 21. Ryan Simpkins


It’s do or die for the Dragons with their finals hopes hanging by a burning thread and they need to turn recent history on its head if they are to resuscitate their dying 2014 campaign.

The Dragons haven’t beaten the Panthers since 2011 and have lost 5 of the last 6 match ups.

It’s been unfortunate for the Panthers just how many injuries their key players have acquired and there’s no doubt Dragons Coach Paul McGregor realises what a big opportunity this is for his troops to strike the weakened enemy.

Panther’s halfback Jamie Soward is the glue holding the side together at the moment and although it’s trendy these days for players and coaches to claim they don’t target certain players, the Dragons would be mad not to try and impose themselves on Soward in an attempt to throw him off, or prevent him from playing his natural game.

The Dragons have been posted as favourites in this one which is no doubt mainly down to the Panthers’ injury list and the Dragons’ home ground advantage when playing at WIN Stadium.

I won’t be betting on either side in particular but points will be at a premium for these two and the total match points under 43.5 is the way to go.


Mike’s Tip: Dragons

Mike’s Best Bet: Total match points under 43.5 @ $1.90 (Sportsbet)



Roosters v Titans

Mon 11 Aug, 7:00PM, Allianz Stadium

Roosters: 1. Anthony Minichiello 2. Nene Macdonald 3. Michael Jennings 4. Shaun Kenny-Dowall 5. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck 6. James Maloney 7. Mitchell Pearce 8. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves 9. Heath L’Estrange 10. Sam Moa 11. Boyd Cordner 12. Aidan Guerra 13. Frank-Paul Nu’uausala
Interchange: 14. Mitchell Aubusson 15. Isaac Liu 16. Dylan Napa 17. Remi Casty 18. Kane Evans 19. Kurt Kara
Titans:  1. William Zillman 2. Kevin Gordon 3. James Roberts 4. Dave Taylor 5. Kalifa Faifai Loa 6. Brad Takairangi 7. Daniel Mortimer 8. Luke Bailey 9. Beau Falloon 10. Luke Douglas 11. Mark Minichiello 12. Nate Myles 13. Greg Bird

Interchange: 14. Matt White 15. Mark Ioane 16. Paul Carter 17. Maurice Blair 18. Cody Nelson


There’s a bit of a whisper that Aidan Sezer might be making a late entry into the Titans line up for this match which would certainly make a world of difference to the fabric of this game.

It’s obvious that the Roosters look most likely to win this encounter given just how ordinary the Titans have been of late, but you certainly can’t rule them out.

The Titans have a little habit of winning these Monday night matches when they are on the road and outsiders in betting but that doesn’t mean however I’ll be running to throw my money behind them just because they caused a few upsets in recent times.

On the flip side, I won’t be backing the Roosters either thanks to their inconsistent defensive efforts of late which has cost them a spot inside the top 4.

The Roosters have lost 3 of their last 5 matches which included a loss to the 14th and 16th ranked sides and despite beating the Dragons last week, Coach Trent Robinson would be disappointed that his side still managed to leak 22 points against a team outside the top 8.

These stats may have you asking ‘why not back the Titans with a 12.0 start?’ but the fact is, they are getting beaten by too big a margins and I have little trust in their commitment.

Just sit back and watch this one, don’t invest serious dollars on it.

If you’re keen for some fun bets to add some interest, have a bet on Anthony Minichiello to score a try at anytime during the game @ $2.00. He didn’t score a try last week and could be due!


Mike’s Tip: Roosters

Mike’s Best Bet:

Mike’s Casual Bet: A. Minichiello to score a try at anytime during the game @ $2.00 (Sportsbet)



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