NRL Round 26 Previews and Tips


Roosters v Rabbitohs

Thu 4 Sep, 7:45PM, Allianz Stadium

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. Mitchell Aubusson 10. Sam Moa 11. Boyd Cordner 12. Sonny Bill Williams 13. Aidan Guerra
Interchange: 14. Heath L’Estrange 15. Isaac Liu 16. Dylan Napa 17. Remi Casty
Rabbitohs: 1. Greg Inglis 2. Alex Johnston 3. Dylan Walker 4. Kirisome Auva’a  5. Lote Tuqiri 6. John Sutton 7. Luke Keary 8. George Burgess 9. Issac Luke 10. David Tyrrell 11. Kyle Turner 12. Chris McQueen 13. Sam Burgess
Interchange: 14. Jason Clark 15. Ben Lowe 16. Luke Burgess 17. Thomas Burgess 18. Bryson Goodwin 19. Joe Picker


If the Sea Eagles lose on Saturday night then this match between the Roosters and the Rabbitohs will turn out to have decided who wins the minor premiership. (assuming the result isn’t a draw.)

If the Sea Eagles win, then these two sides will play each other again the very week after in the first round of finals.

The Roosters are the team heading into round 26 as the premiership favourites and they went a long way to cementing that status after gutsing out a big win against the Storm last week.

When the chips were down and the Storm were in the lead, the Roosters continued to hang on in soggy conditions and ended up winning the arm wrestle by outlasting their opponents off the back of some stellar defence, further convincing the NRL world of their premiership credentials.

The Rabbitohs managed to get home over the Bulldogs in what was a game that turned out to be harder than what they would have originally thought.

They dodged another bullet through the week with hooker Isaac Luke avoiding suspension at the judiciary and he will now line up for the Rabbitohs with the decision seeing the South Sydney side’s odds shortening a touch in betting.

To decide who wins this match you’ll need to work out who has the most mental determination and who wants the potential minor premiership more than the other.

Personally I’m not willing to go that far into it and will be leaving this one alone in the betting department as it could very well turn out to be a close affair.


Mike’s Tip: Roosters     

Mike’s Best Bet: None

Mike’s Casual Bet: Roosters head to head @ $1.71 (Pinnacle Sports)



Storm v Broncos

Fri 5 Sep, 7:45PM, AAMI Park

Broncos: 1. Justin Hodges 2. Daniel Vidot 3. Jack Reed 4. Dale Copley 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. Jarrod Wallace 15. Martin Kennedy 16. Ben Hannant 17. Corey Oates 18. Todd Lowrie
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. Dayne Weston 17. Jordan McLean 18. Junior Moors 19. Justin O’Neill


There is plenty to play for when the Storm meet the Broncos this Friday with the Melbourne side aiming for a possible, all important top 4 place on the ladder which gives teams a guaranteed second chance if they lose in week 1 of the finals.

For the Broncos, it’s simply a matter of playing for a place in the top 8 altogether. They currently sit in 8th position but on equal points are the Warriors and Eels who trail the Broncos on for and against differential.

The Broncos could lose this match and still qualify for the finals or conversely win, and get bumped out of the 8 on for and against.

The Broncos have been playing good footy in recent weeks at home but unfortunately for them this all important match is played on the road in Melbourne a long way from home. They will need to overcome their mental demons which seem to haunt them on the road to an extent if they are to even get close to the Storm who have been slowly but surely building on their form week by week as they work their way towards the finals series.

I’ll be tipping the Storm here based on the harder, more intense brand of footy they have been playing compared to the Broncos. The Broncos have scored a lot of their points from free wielding backline movements run by the likes of Hunt, Barba and Hodges, with all three quite often involved in the one movement. However this time they will run into some solid outside Storm defence made up by Waqa, Koroibete, Fohnua and QLD representative Will Chambers who knows Justin Hodges’ type of play a lot better than most having played alongside him in State of Origin.

If the going gets tough, the Storm will endure the grind for longer and be able to pull away towards the end and I have confidence they will cover the 7.5 line (Sportsbet @ $1.88) by some margin.


Mike’s Tip: Storm           

Mike’s Best Bet: Storm -8.0 @ $1.91 (Centrebet)



Tigers v Sharks

Sat 6 Sep, 3:00PM, Leichhardt Oval

Tigers:  1. Jy Hitchcox 2. Sitaleki Akauola 3. Asipeli Fine 4. Chris Lawrence 5. Sitaleki Akauola 6. Blake Austin 7. Mitchell Moses 8. Aaron Woods 9. Robbie Farah 10. Matthew Lodge 11. Curtis Sironen 12. Bodene Thompson 13. Adam Blair
Interchange: 14. Sauaso Sue 15. Martin Taupau 16. Ava Seumanufagai 17. Cory Paterson
Sharks: 1. Michael Gordon 2. Sosaia Feki 3. Blake Ayshford 4. Ricky Leutele 5. Valentine Holmes 6. Daniel Holdsworth 7. Jeff Robson 8. Tim Robinson 9. Michael Lichaa 10. Matt Prior 11. Tinirau Arona 12. Tupou Sopoaga 13. Chris Heighington
Interchange: 14. Pat Politoni 15. Junior Roqica  16. Sione Masima 17. Scott Sorensen


Both sides will take the field on Saturday night knowing that mad Monday is just around the corner and that their seasons from hell will be over soon.

The Tigers would be happy that they get to play their final game at Leichhardt Oval and therefore have that extra bit of motivation to win the game.

The Sharks have endured the worst season in the club’s history and arguably one of the worst for any club in the history of first class Rugby League.

They put up a great fight given their omissions against the Cowboys on Monday night but it’s fair to say that the Cowboys flattered them somewhat and I have doubts as to whether the Sharks will put up a fight in consecutive matches, particularly in away games.

Therefore I’m tipping the Tigers but will not be investing any money in them as they came in a lot shorter in betting than I had expected.

Once again they look likely to go around without the services of Luke Brooks and points might be hard to come by once more.

The total match points being under 45.5 looks like a juicy option in another game I rate as being just a 40 point affair.


Mike’s Tip: Tigers           

Mike’s Best Bet: Total Match Points Under 45.5 @ $1.90 (Sportsbet)



Raiders v Eels

Sat 6 Sep, 5:30PM, GIO Stadium

Raiders: 1. Jack Wighton 2. Bill Tupou 3. Jarrod Croker 4. Jeremy Hawkins 5. Edrick Lee 6. Anthony Milford 7. Mitch Cornish 8. Shannon Boyd 9. Glen Buttriss 10. Brett White 11. Josh Papalii 12. Jarrad Kennedy 13. Joel Edwards
Interchange: 14. Josh McCrone 15. Matt McIlwrick  16. Dane Tilse 17. Paul Vaughan
Eels:  1. Jarryd Hayne 2. Semi Radradra 3. William Hopoate 4. Ryan Morgan 5. Ken Sio  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. Peni Terepo  15. David Gower 16. Darcy Lussick 17. Ben Smith


It’s sudden death for the Eels as they head to the nation’s capital to take on the Raiders, assuming their premiership hopes haven’t been killed off by this stage already.

Please note that I’m writing this preview before the Broncos v Storm game has been played and if the Broncos defeat the Storm then the Eels will not be able to make the finals.

Going on general form throughout 2014 one would suspect that the Eels are the clear winners in this contest but they wouldn’t be in such a precarious position had their performances in away games been of a higher standard.

These two sides met not that long ago in Darwin where obviously neither side had a home ground advantage and on that night the Eels were only able to win by 9 points with the difference being superstar Jarryd Hayne.

Now it’s the same match up but the Raiders have the home ground advantage and will be looking to close off 2014 with a win for the fans.

They might lack the skills of the higher placed teams but the Raiders have certainly shown plenty of effort in the last couple of weeks whereas the Eels on the other hand seem to flake out of contests around the 60 minute mark.

So if the Eels come into this game having already been knocked out of the finals race and have nothing to play for it’s unlikely they are going to play their best footy in the cold weather of Canberra with little motivation and it will be a good time for the Raiders to run at Chris Sandow.

If you’re in a tipping comp and have last minute options, I would wait and see if the Broncos win and tip the Raiders, but if the Broncos have lost, tip the Eels.

This is another game where points scoring won’t be the forte of either team given the circumstances. The Eels struggle to score points away from home and will struggle now that they are under pressure whereas the Raiders struggle to score points period.

The 44.5 total points line once again is too high in my opinion and I’m going at the unders.



Cowboys v Sea Eagles

Sat 6 Sep, 7:30PM, 1300SMILES Stadium

Cowboys: 1. Michael Morgan 2. Kyle Feldt 3. Tautau Moga 4. Kane Linnett 5. Antonio Winterstein 6. Robert Lui  7. Johnathan Thurston 8. Matt Scott 9. Rory Kostjasyn 10. Ashton Sims 11. Gavin Cooper 12. Tariq Sims 13. Jason Taumalolo
Interchange: 14. Ray Thompson 15. Scott Bolton 16. Glenn Hall 17. James Tamou
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. Justin Horo 13. Tom Symonds
Interchange: 14. Jesse Sene-Lefao 15. Dunamis Lui 16. James Hasson 17. Jason King


The Rabbitohs have bowed out of the minor premiership race having lost to the Roosters on Thursday night and now Manly’s fate rests in their own hands.

A win will see the Sea Eagles hold the JJ Giltinan Shield aloft whereas a loss will see the Roosters retain the minor premiers tag for a second year running.

The Sea Eagles will have to do it without the services of hooker Matt Ballin who suffered a leg fracture in last week’s last minute win over the Panthers.

Ballin, who had played over 180 consecutive games for the club is much underrated in the NRL and the Sea Eagles will miss him a lot more than many seem to think.

The Cowboys can still potentially finish in the top 4 if they win this match and the Warriors defeat the Panthers on Sunday night but if their dreams of cracking the top half of the 8 are to come true, they will certainly need to shore up their defence in the middle of the field.

The Sharks, despite being grossly undermanned showed the Cowboys last week just how easy at times it was for them to make breaks right up the middle off the back of quick play the balls. If the Cowboys invite the Sea Eagles down the middle corridor in a similar fashion they will no doubt cop a beating.

It’s definitely one of the tougher games to pick a winner in but it would seem the Cowboys have more motivation to acquire a top 4 position, and with an advantage in troops with Manly missing Ballin.

I’ll lean towards the Cowboys.


Mike’s Tip: Cowboys

Mike’s Best Bet:

Mike’s Casual Bet: Cowboys Head to Head @ $1.67 (Centrebet)



Knights v Dragons

Sun 7 Sep, 2:00PM, Hunter Stadium

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. David Fa’alogo 9. Adam Clydsdale 10. Willie Mason 11. Beau Scott 12. Robbie Rochow 13. Adam Cuthbertson
Interchange:  14. Travis Waddell 15. Korbin Sims 17. Chris Houston 18. Timana Tahu
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. Kyle Stanley 10. Tyson Frizell 11. Jack de Belin 12. Joel Thompson 13. Trent Merrin
Interchange: 14. Shane Pumipi  15. Will Matthews 16. Bronson Harrison 17. Leeson Ah Mau


The Dragon’s season came to an end last week when they suffered a loss to the Broncos which knocked them out of the finals race. Now they have one game remaining but like many others they are probably more focused on mad Monday celebrations after what has been quite a testing season.

This game has no bearing on the outcome of the final 8 and it might be difficult to foresee either side putting their bodies on the line so to speak.

If either of the two sides are going to find that little bit extra to win, it will be the Knights. They certainly lift a notch when playing at home and with no disrespect intended, they have been playing for nothing for the last few weeks and clearly don’t need any extra motivation to play well for the locals.

I expect the Knights to win and by at least 8-10 points and I can’t say I’ll be shocked if they dish out a flogging to the Dragons and therefore I’m happy to bypass the $1.90 line of 4.0 and take the Knights -6.0 at the better price of $2.10


Mike’s Tip: Knights

Mike’s Best Bet: Knights -6.0 @ $2.10 (Centrebet)



Titans v Bulldogs

Sun 7 Sep, 3:00PM, Robina Stadium

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. Matt White 11. Mark Minichiello 12. Dave Taylor 13. Paul Carter
Interchange: 14. Mark Ioane 15. Tom Kingston 16. Steve Michaels 17. David Mead 18. Maurice Blair
Bulldogs:  1. Sam Perrett 2. Corey Thompson 3. Josh Morris 4. Tim Lafai 5. Mitch Brown 6. Josh Reynolds 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. David Klemmer 16. Pat O’Hanlon 19. Moses Mbye 20. Harlan Alaalatoa


The Titans have practically given up on this season and did so a few weeks ago to the disappointment of their most loyal fans.

They might be farewelling players from the club today, (although I’ve heard Luke Bailey may not play) but to be honest I don’t foresee the Titans putting in that extra special effort with the end of their torrid season just 80 minutes away.

The Bulldogs are potentially playing for a home final which would be very valuable if they end up facing either the Warriors or Broncos who have both struggled to make any impact on their opponents when playing on the road.

The question is: how much will the Bulldogs want it? With the way the Titans keep capitulating, the Doggies might be able to win playing at 80 to 90% of their best efforts.

The Bulldogs best head to head odds are currently $1.33 which is about on par with my ratings and in a game with too many mental variables, I’ll be staying away from it.

If you want a bet for the fun of it, I’d suggest simply going with the Bulldogs to win 13+


Mike’s Tip: Bulldogs

Mike’s Best Bet: None

Mike’s Casual Bet: Bulldogs 13+ @ $2.25 (Centrebet)



Panthers v Warriors

Sun 8 Sep, 6:30PM, Centrebet Stadium

Panthers: 1. Matt Moylan 2. Josh Mansour 3. Dean Whare 4. Jamal Idris 5. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 6. Will Smith 7. Jamie Soward 8. Nigel Plum 9. James Segeyaro 10. Sam McKendry 11. Lewis Brown 12. Matt Robinson 13. Sika Manu
Interchange: 14. Kierran Moseley 15. Ben Murdoch-Masila 16. Sam Anderson 17. Tim Grant
Warriors: 1. Sam Tomkins 2. Ngani Laumape 3. Konrad Hurrell 4. Dominique Peyroux 5. Manu Vatuvei 6. Thomas Leuluai 7. Shaun Johnson 8. Jacob Lillyman 9. Nathan Friend 10. Ben Matulino  11. Ben Henry 12. Simon Mannering 13. Sione Lousi
Interchange: 14. Sam Rapira 15. Suaia Matagi 16. Sebastine Ikahihifo 17. Jayson Bukuya 20. Feleti Mateo


The final game of the 2014 home and away season may or may not have a bearing on the finals depending on how other teams perform in the games prior to this one.

The Panthers are gunning to reclaim a top 4 position on the ladder that they had previously held for a good portion of the year whilst the Warriors are simply playing to take a place in the final 8.

The Penrith side were unlucky not to leave Brookvale Oval with a win last week when Manly managed to roll them with two late tries in the last five minutes.

It was a gutsy effort nonetheless and the Panthers continue to make up for their injury woes each week by playing a hardened brand of football that makes their opposition work hard for every metre.

The Warriors have continued to earn the ‘enigma’ tag that they are so often branded with thanks to some results that on some weeks are brilliant yet on others quite atrocious.

The pressure is now on the Warriors to win (or lose by only 1 or 2 points) and make the finals, but I for one certainly can’t trust them enough to have a bet on them in this match given that they are consistently inconsistent.


Mike’s Tip: Warriors

Mike’s Best Bet: None

Mike’s Casual Bet: Warriors Head to Head @ $2.05 (Ladbrokes)



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