NRL Round 11 Previews and Tips
Rabbitohs v Eels
Fri 22 May, 7:45pm, ANZ Stadium
The first major bye round in the NRL for the 2015 season will be kicked off by the South Sydney Rabbitohs and the Parramatta Eels this Friday night as both clubs will look to make up for lost ground over the Origin period. Each club has a minimal Origin commitment, with only Greg Inglis and Will Hopoate absent from their respective teams.
For the Rabbitohs, Alex Johnston will switch to fullback and Joel Reddy returns to the wing, while Jason Clark also returns from injury at Lock. Similarly, John Folau steps into the breach in the Eels backline, and Junior Paulo returns via the interchange bench from suspension.
The Rabbitohs will be disappointed after their loss to a dominant Storm outfit last week, but have nonetheless improved dramatically with the return of John Sutton. The Eels continue to struggle to play the full 80 minutes after their loss to the Warriors last week made it three in a row for the Parramatta club. Expect Souths to come away with the points.
Ben’s Tips: Rabbitohs -5.5 @ $1.90 (Sportsbet)
Tigers v Cowboys
Sat 23 May, 7:30pm, Campbelltown Stadium
A struggling Wests Tigers side will take on the North Queensland Cowboys this Saturday night as the former has only manager one win from the past five rounds. The Cowboys will contribute four players to the 2015 Origin series as Ben Hannant and Sam Hoare start at Prop while Ray Thompson goes to Halfback. Paul Green has yet to shed light on who will cover five-eighth as Michael Morgan got a late Origin call-up for the injured Daly Cherry Evans.
Similarly, a young Tigers side will miss the leadership of Robbie Farah and Aaron Woods as Matt Lodge and Dene Halatau fill in for the New South Wales Origin duo.
With a number of stars missing over the Origin period, the Cowboys are likely to be buoyed by the rumoured return of Jason Taumalolo, but with the absence of their halves pairing and front row, the Cowboys will struggle for direction and metres against an inexperienced Tigers side, so expect the Tigers to come away with the points.
Bens Tip: Tigers -6.0 @ $1.96 (Unibet)
Raiders v Bulldogs
Sun 24 May, 4:00pm, GIO Stadium
A Canberra Raiders outfit untouched by Origin selections will look to capitalise against an injury, Origin ravaged Canterbury Bulldogs as the latter will miss four players over the Origin period. Missing Josh Morris, Trent Hodkinson, Josh Jackson and David Klemmer, the Bulldogs will be buoyed by the return of Tim Lafai and Chase Stanely in the centres as Moses Mbye moves to halfback.
The Raiders will look to climb the ladder over the Origin period with no players taking part in the series, and have made no changes to the side that went down to the Dragons last round.
With the Raiders eager to capitalise against a weakened Bulldogs outfit, expect the Canterbury club to fight tooth and nail for the points after their disappointing loss to the Roosters last week. Despite the return of a number of stars recently, expect an enthusiastic Raiders side to come out on top.
Ben’s Tips: Raiders -6.5 @ $1.90 (Sportsbet)
Knights v Broncos
Mon 25 May, 7:00pm, Hunter Stadium
The Brisbane Broncos will play the Newcastle Knights on Monday night as the depleted Queensland club will be without six Origin stars. With Josh McGuire, Sam Thaiday, Corey Parker, Matt Gillett, Justin Hodges and Darius Boyd out, outside backs Dale Copley and Daniel Vidot come in at centre and wing as Jordan Kahu reverts to fullback. Broncos veteran David Stagg comes into the second row, while rookie front rower Joe Ofahengaue will start at lock. Rookie backrower Joe Boyce will also make his Broncos debut.
The Knights will be without Beau Scott, and Joe Tapine comes into the backrower to cover for the veteran in the only change to Rick Stone’s roster.
With a half a dozen players out for Origin and injuries to Props James Gavet and Mitchell Dodds, the Broncos have scraped the bottom of the barrel to put together a reasonable squad against the Knights. Expect the Knights to be eager to make up for lost ground against a depleted Broncos side. Knights to come out on top.
Ben’s Tips: Total Match Points under 38.5 (Luxbet)