NRL Round 24 Previews and Tips


Bulldogs v Tigers

Thu 21 Aug, 7:45PM, ANZ Stadium

Bulldogs:  1. Sam Perrett 2. Corey Thompson 3. Josh Morris 4. Tim Lafai 5. Mitch Brown 6. Moses Mbye 7. Trent Hodkinson 8. Aiden Tolman 9. Michael Ennis 10. James Graham 11. Josh Jackson 12. Tony Williams 13. Greg Eastwood
Interchange: 14. Reni Maitua 15. Dale Finucane 16. David Klemmer 17. Pat O’Hanlon 20. Harlan Alaalatoa
Tigers:  1. Kurtis Rowe 2. Jy Hitchcox 3. Blake Austin 4. Chris Lawrence 5. Cory Paterson 6. Mitchell Moses 7. Luke Brooks 8. Aaron Woods 9. Robbie Farah 10. Keith Galloway 11. Curtis Sironen 12. Bodene Thompson 13. Adam Blair
Interchange: 14. Ava Seumanufagai 15. Martin Taupau 16. Sauaso Sue 17. Jack Buchanan


Clearly the Tigers are disinterested with the rest of the 2014 season following another thrashing last week, this time at the hands of the Roosters.

I assume that at some stage the Tigers will decide to get their act together and at least have a crack at putting in some effort for their fans rather than capitulate when the going gets even the slightest bit tough.

The Bulldogs rallied last week when they were under threat of falling out of the top 8 to beat a determined Eels side. They scraped home by two points and finished the round in 6th position and more importantly put a valuable one win gap between themselves and 8th position.

Once again they face another game without five-eighth Josh Reynolds but Moses Mbye will again fill in and play his seventh game for the Bulldogs this year meaning Coach Hasler no doubt has faith in the 21 year old.

Looking at betting for this game and the money is on a one way course towards the Bulldogs and why wouldn’t it be? You’d have to have some special inside info in order to back the Tigers with any confidence and quite frankly I doubt that anyone has!

The $1.20 for the Bulldogs however is too short for my liking as I have the Bulldogs rated at least a $1.30 chance of winning and therefore I’ll steer clear of this encounter.

If you’re looking for an option to add some interest to this special edition of Thursday night footy, why not have a real outside crack at James Graham for first try scorer?

The Tigers are weak and very penetrable up the middle and if the Bulldogs get inside the Tigers’ 20m zone early, expect Graham to try and pull off a power play next to the posts.

At $31 I might even have a dabble myself!


Mike’s Tip: Bulldogs

Mike’s Best Bet: None

Mike’s Casual Bet: James Graham First Try Scorer @ $31 (Sportsbet)



Eels v Sea Eagles

Fri 22 Aug, 7:45PM, Pirtek Stadium

Eels:  1. Jarryd Hayne 2. Semi Radradra 3. William Hopoate 4. Ryan Morgan 5. Vai Toutai  6. Corey Norman 7. Chris Sandow 8. Tim Mannah 9. Isaac De Gois 10. Junior Paulo 11. Kenny Edwards 12. Tepai Moeroa 13. Joseph Paulo
Interchange: 14. Pauli Pauli  15. David Gower 16. Darcy Lussick 17. Ben Smith
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


Defeat the first placed team in the comp; that’s the challenge in front of the Eels following their narrow, controversial loss against the Bulldogs last Friday night which now sees them just outside the top 8 on differential points.

Despite the loss, the Eels were actually a bit fortunate in Round 23 that the Warriors and the Cowboys both lost their respective games, keeping the Eels much closer to a finals berth.

The Cowboys and Warriors have tough games against the 2nd and 4th placed sides respectively and if they both lose and he Eels snatch an upset win from the Sea Eagles then they will rocket from 9th to 7th on the ladder.

The Sea Eagles had a close game of their own winning by a mere three points against the struggling Titans with a relatively lacklustre performance by their standards. The win was achieved with that famous Manly defence but the attack was somewhat down on creativity and could certainly be improved this week.

And improve they no doubt will as they certainly seemed to play a few points short of their best footy last week as they have a bad habit of doing when they face lower ranked sides.

The Sea Eagles will be well aware that the Eels can be quite the force when playing at home and the Parramatta boys will no doubt be motivated knowing that a loss will make acquiring a finals berth so much more difficult.

Manly will up the tempo and grind the Eels into eel stew.


Mike’s Tip: Sea Eagles

Mike’s Best Bet: Sea Eagles Head to Head @ $1.58 (Pinnacle Sports)



Broncos v Knights

Sat 23 Aug, 5:30PM, Suncorp Stadium

Broncos: 1. Lachlan Maranta 2. Daniel Vidot 3. Jack Reed 4. Justin Hodges 5. Dale Copley 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. Jarrod Wallace 15. Martin Kennedy 16. Ben Hannant 17. Corey Oates
Knights: 1. Kurt Gidley 2. Chanel Mata’utia 3. Dane Gagai 4. Joey Leilua 5. Sione Mata’utia 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


The Broncos were wiped off the park by the Rabbitohs on Thursday suggesting they are currently far from the form required to win the competition.

But before they start considering winning the Grand Final, the Broncos must first work on making the top 8 in time for September.

This week’s match against the Knights provides them with an excellent opportunity to close the gap between themselves and the teams occupying the lower positions.

That’s not to suggest that the Knights are easy beats. Contrary to their low position on the ladder, the Knights have been producing a tough brand of footy that has caused the higher ranked teams a bit of grief.

At the time of writing this preview (Thursday) there is strong speculation that the Knights could lose Jeremy Smith and Kade Snowden as part of the outcome from ASADA’s investigations into illegal substance abuse by players from the 2011 Sharks team.

Whether this happens or not, the Broncos look a good thing here as they must win to keep their finals hopes alive and will have the home crowd well and truly behind them on a Saturday afternoon.


Mike’s Tip: Broncos

Mike’s Best Bet: Broncos Head to Head @ $1.33 (Ladbrokes)



Rabbitohs v Cowboys

Sat 23 Aug, 7:30PM, ANZ Stadium

Rabbitohs: 1. Greg Inglis 2. Alex Johnston 3. Dylan Walker 4. Kirisome Auva’a  5. Lote Tuqiri 6. Luke Keary 7. Adam Reynolds 8. Luke Burgess 9. Issac Luke 10. David Tyrrell 11. Kyle Turner 12. Chris McQueen 13. Sam Burgess
Interchange: 14. Jason Clark 15. Ben Lowe 16. Joe Picker 17. Thomas Burgess 18. Bryson Goodwin 19. Chris Grevsmuhl
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. Ashton Sims 11. Tariq Sims 12. Jason Taumalolo 13. Glenn Hall
Interchange: 14. Ray Thompson 15. Scott Bolton 16. Gavin Cooper 17. Sam Hoare


In the last seven meetings between the Rabbitohs and the Cowboys, the South Sydney team holds the advantage with four wins. All four have been at ANZ Stadium with all three losses being in Townsville. Add that stat to their current five win streak and the Bunnies look the goods on Saturday night.

The Cowboys have only beaten the Sharks and Bulldogs in away games this year, with the rest of their wins happening at home and I do not like their chances on this road trip either.

You’d have to tip the Rabbitohs here; they look sharp and have no doubt been the form team in the last fortnight although they have suffered a minor setback this week with the loss of Ben Teo to suspension. Teo won’t return to the side until week two or three of the finals, depending on how his side fares in the first week of the finals.

The form, although obviously not the only indicator, points towards a Rabbitohs 12+ victory and backing them to cover the line is a more than handy option.

You better get a move on if you are going to capitalise on the -8.0 that is currently available for the Rabbitohs as that line has been steadily drifting in the last six days.


Mike’s Tip: Rabbitohs

Mike’s Best Bet: Rabbitohs -8.0 @ $2.01 (Pinnacle Sports)



Warriors v Roosters

Sun 24 Aug, 12:00PM, Mt Smart Stadium

Warriors: 1. Sam Tomkins 2. David Fusitu’a 3. Konrad Hurrell 4. Ngani Laumape 5. Manu Vatuvei 6. Chad Townsend 7. Shaun Johnson 8. Jacob Lillyman 9. Thomas Leuluai 10. Ben Matulino  11. Ben Henry 12. Simon Mannering 13. Sebastine Ikahihifo
Interchange: 14. Feleti Mateo 15. Suaia Matagi 16. Sione Lousi 17. Nathan Friend 18. Jayson Bukuya 20. Sam Rapira  21. Dominique Peyroux
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. Mitchell Aubusson 10. Sam Moa 11. Boyd Cordner 12. Aidan Guerra 13. Frank-Paul Nu’uausala
Interchange: 14. Remi Casty 15. Isaac Liu 16. Dylan Napa 17. Kane Evans 19. Jackson Hastings


Be advised Australian readers that Sunday footy starts early on Sunday with the Warriors hosting the Roosters at 2pm NZ time which equates to 12pm AEST.

The Warriors are another team that are in amongst the log jam of sides vying for a coveted finals position. They sit in 8th and amazingly if results go their way they can possibly end the round in 5th on the ladder.

I doubt the Warriors will be too concerned with where they finish the round as long as they win and they will have their work cut out for them against the defensively strong Roosters.

The Roosters occupy 4th place on the ladder but haven’t exactly blown my socks off despite maintaining their position as one of the tops sides. Its their attack that is the element that really seems to be letting them down, which is not to say they aren’t good enough to beat teams outside the top 4, but if they really want to make a dint on the upcoming finals series, the Roosters will need to step up to the next level of attacking creativity.

The Roosters have won four of their last seven games but when you cast your eyes over the teams they have beaten, it doesn’t convince me about their claims any further.

The Tigers, Titans, Dragons and Panthers were the scalps and amongst those losses were failures against the Sharks and Knights.

This leads me to tip the Warriors head to head. Halfback Shaun Johnson should have a bit more improvement under his belt after returning seemingly a week early from injury last week. I can understand his Coach Andrew McFadden wanting him back in the team as soon as possible as he is a valuable link between the ruck and the outside backs but last week was too early for the return. Expect improvement.


Mike’s Tip: Warriors

Mike’s Best Bet: Warriors Head to Head @ $2.20 (Pinnacle Sports)



Sharks v Raiders

Sun 24 Aug, 2:00PM, Remondis Stadium

Sharks: 1. Michael Gordon 2. Sosaia Feki 3. Jonathan Wright 4. Ricky Leutele 5. Valentine Holmes 6. Fa’amanu Brown 7. Jeff Robson 8. Tim Robinson 9. Michael Lichaa 10. Matt Prior 11. Chris Heighington 12. Anthony Tupou 13. Paul Gallen
Interchange: 14. Pat Politoni 15. Junior Roqica  16. Tupou Sopoaga 17. Blake Ayshford 18. Sione Masima
Raiders: 1. Jack Wighton 2. Bill Tupou 3. Jarrod Croker 4. Jeremy Hawkins 5. Edrick Lee 6. Anthony Milford 7. Josh McCrone 8. Shannon Boyd 9. Glen Buttriss 10. Dane Tilse 11. Josh Papalii 12. Jarrad Kennedy 13. Joel Edwards
Interchange: 14. Mitch Cornish 15. Matt McIlwrick  16. Kyle O’Donnell 17. Paul Vaughan


ASADA have finally thrown down their offer to Sharks players and without going into that, I’ll simply discuss briefly the effect it will have on the Sharks side this week. Most players took their offers of a reduced sentence and as a result the Sharks side for this week’s game has been slashed of talent which has seen them go from $1.70 favourites to $2.30 outsiders.

Unfortunately for supporters of these two teams, this game serves as nothing other than a battle to avoid the wooden spoon.

The Sharks have struggled all year to overcome injuries and it seems like a long time ago that they were touted as pre season specials to make the top 8 in 2014.

The Raiders have simply struggled with a lack of form this year. They have carried their halfback Terry Campese for most of the year and it’s hard to achieve good results when your chief playmaker isn’t putting in.

Poor decisions by Coach Ricky Stuart have also attributed to the clubs poor results and this week the excuse is his team will continue to struggle until they pick up some representative players.

Stuart’s comments seemed like a bit of a slap in the face to some of the existing squad including past rep players such as Brett White and David Shillington. Not to mention that lock Shaun Fensom is no doubt one of the best players going around not to have played representative football.

I’m not overly keen to bet here as we can’t be too sure what either side might produce on the day, but one would have to lean towards the Raiders in light of Friday’s events.
If you’re going to bet and you think the Raiders can do the job, you might want to back them to cover the line.

If you believe the Sharks will capitulate and you’re after a real long shot, why not have a crack at the Raiders -17.5 @ $4.80 on Centrebet?


Mike’s Tip: Raiders

Mike’s Best Bet:

Mike’s Casual Bet: Raiders -4.0 @ $1.95 (Bet365) or Raiders -17.5 @ $4.80 (Centrebet)



Dragons v Titans

Sun 24 Aug, 3:00PM, WIN Jubilee Oval

Dragons: 1. Gerard Beale 2. Brett Morris 3. Josh Dugan 4. Peter Mata’utia 5. Jason Nightingale 6. Gareth Widdop 7. Benji Marshall 8. Mike Cooper 9. Mitch Rein 10. Jack de Belin 11. Leeson Ah Mau 12. Joel Thompson 13. Trent Merrin
Interchange: 14. Tyson Frizell  15. Will Matthews 16. Jack Stockwell 17. Kyle Stanley 18. Bronson Harrison
Titans:  1. William Zillman 2. Kalifa Faifai Loa 3. James Roberts 4. Brad Takairangi  5. Anthony Don 6. Aidan Sezer 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. Cody Nelson 17. Paul Carter 18. Tom Kingston


You almost wouldn’t know it but as a result of their indifferent form, the Dragons still have a glimmer of hope at making the finals thanks to their win against the Raiders which saw them break a 14 year hoodoo.

The win came as a result of the Dragons committing to the contest for the full 80 minutes, even when things got tough, which was something they failed to do a fortnight ago against the Panthers.

They are a good enough side to beat the Titans this week, especially whilst playing at their home ground of Jubilee Oval.

The Titans put in a spirited performance against the top of the table Sea Eagles last week regardless of the fact that they can’t make the finals and are mostly playing for pride.

That was on their home turf and I wonder if their motivation to win may drop a bit when taking to the road for an away game.

In the wake of Coach John Cartwright’s sacking, many of the fringe players will be aware that they are playing for a spot in next year’s line up and will still be ever keen to impress new Coach Neil Henry.

Either way, I’m sticking with the Dragons here as I expect them to have learned a thing or two from the effort they put in against Raiders last week. That coupled with the strong motivation to stay in touch with the top 8 should be a recipe for victory.

No best bets for me however and I’m happy just to observe this match.


Mike’s Tip: Dragons

Mike’s Best Bet: None

Mike’s Casual Bet: Dragons -7.5 @ $1.95 (Pinnacle Sports)



Panthers v Storm

Mon 25 Aug, 7:00PM, Centrebet Stadium

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
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. Junior Moors 17. Jordan McLean


Melbourne are looking the goods here but will have to work hard if they are to beat the Panthers in Sydney and make it 5 wins from their past six games.

The Storm have made a sharp improvement in performance since the State of Origin period has ended and a win here will be a vital step towards wrapping up a place in the finals.

If there is one man that is going to be a thorn in the Storm’s side it will be Jamie Soward.

Soward has continued to thrive since joining the Panthers and has no problems dealing with everything his opponents throw at him. There seems to be little doubt that Soward will produce the goods for his side as he has all year and if the rest of the team can keep their missed tackles to a minimum then the Panthers will give themselves the best possible chance of capitalising on Soward’s work.

The defence will have to keep an extra eye on the Storm’s right side attack where Will Chambers and Sisa Waqa have been causing a great deal of carnage in the last few weeks. It seems that when Proctor links up with Chambers on his outside, the opposition defenders are always left scrambling to make the correct decisions. One wrong choice ends with the Storm creating an overlap for Sisa Waqa to take advantage of. I think we just might see this happen once again.

It’s the Storm for me.


Mike’s Tip: Storm

Mike’s Best Bet: Storm Head to Head @ $1.45 (Ladbrokes)



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