NRL Round 15 Previews and Tips
Sea Eagles v Tigers
Fri 19 Jun, 7:45pm, Brookvale Oval
The Manly Sea Eagles will play the Wests Tigers as the latter will hope to have turned a new leaf after demolishing the reigning premiers 34-6 last week. Coming off one of the major bye rounds, the Sea Eagles will be without Captain Jaime Lyon and Justin Horo due to injury and suspension. Origin forward Aaron woods returns from the interstate arena in a straight swap for the injured Sauaso Sue, while Robbie Farah hasn’t been named.
Having taken their two byes for the season in the last five weeks, Manly’s chances of making the finals are close to being a case for a mathematician as the club faces their 4th consecutive loss, while the Tigers continue their rocks and diamonds in 2015.
Despite the absence of Lyon and Horo for the Sea Eagles, the inclusion of Tom Trbojevic and James Hasson is more than adequate cover for the experienced duo. It’s a tough one to pick as both sides have had tumultuous campaigns in 2015, but expect the Sea Eagles to get the better of a Tigers side minus Robbie Farah.
Ben’s Tip: Total match points under 38.5 @ $1.88 (Ladbrokes)
Bulldogs v Panthers
Sat 20 Jun, 7:30pm, ANZ Stadium
The Canterbury Bulldogs will play the Penrith Panthers as ‘Dogs coach Des Hasler has interestingly left his Origin players unnamed. Although this is unlikely to eventuate, Panthers coach Ivan Cleary will be hoping it is the case as the return of Jamie Soward pushes Tyrone Peachy to the bench at the expense of Sam Anderson. Adam Docker also drops out with the return of Nigel Plum.
The Bulldogs are likely to deploy at least some of their Origin players, but they remain unnamed as Sam Kasiano moves to the front row, Antonio Kaufusi to the second row and Herman Ese’ese coming onto the bench.
With the likely addition of his Origin players, Des Hasler is up to his old tricks with his opposition. If a number of his Origin players take the field (which is likely), expect the Bulldogs to come away with the points against a vulnerable Penrith.
Ben’s Tip: Total Match Points Under 36.5 @ $1.90 (Centrebet)
Raiders v Cowboys
Sat 20 Jun, 3:00pm, GIO Stadium
The Canberra Raiders will play the North Queensland Cowboys as the dynamic attacking game of the former will be bolstered by the signing of powerhouse Centre Joseph Leilua, who will join his new teammates in Canberra for the remainder of the 2015 season. Leilua is likely to be the only change for the Raiders with no Origin representation, while the Cowboys swap Ray Thompson out for Rory Kostjasyn on the bench.
In the aftermath of the second match of the 2015 State of Origin series, expect big games from the Cowboys’ Queensland Origin triplet of Johnathan Thurston, Matt Scott and Michael Morgan as they all backup from a forgettable performance in the interstate arena.
With two of the most potent attacking teams coming up against one another, the side who can find the defensive steel will come out on top. Despite their opposition’s fatigue from the Origin period, the Raiders’ defence will likely leak too many points against the Cowboys, so expect the men north of the border to come away with the points.
Ben’s Tip: Raiders Head to Head @ $2.00 (William Hill)
Titans v Warriors
Sat 20 Jun, 5:30pm, Cbus Super Stadium
The Gold Coast Titans will play the New Zealand Warriors as the Queensland club looks for its 3rd consecutive victory to get their finals campaign well and truly underway. After missing out on Daly Cherry-Evans, Titans coach Neil Henry has been making all the right moves and the club looks to be headed in the right direction.
For the Warriors, Origin duo Jacob Lillyman and Ryan Hoffman return as well as Raymond Faitala-Mariner and Siliva Havili, while the return of Nate Myles for the Gold Coast from Origin pushes Eddy Pettybourne to Lock and Lachlan Burr to the bench. Daniel Mortimer also moves to Hooker in place of the injured Kieran Mosely while Josh Hoffman moves to cover the unfamiliar five-eighth role.
As with many other teams in 2015, the Warriors and Titans have come up with inconsistent seasons so far in 2015, playing well one week, and poorly the next. While they are on the same competition points with 14, and have similar points differentials, expect the Warriors to be too much for the Gold Coast after the Queensland club managed to ambush a wounded Bulldogs outfit last week.
Ben’s Tip: Warriors Head to Head @ $1.91 (William Hill)
Knights v Sharks
Sun 21 Jun, 2:00pm, Hunter Stadium
The Newcastle Knights will take on the Cronulla Sharks this Sunday afternoon as the club continues to struggle with injury. Joseph Leilua’s departure to the Canberra Raiders pushes Dane Gagai to Centre as skipper Kurt Gidley comes in at Fullback, with Tyrone Peachy also returning to Halfback. Injuries to David Fa’alogo and Jack Stockwell also bring Pat Vaivai and Joe Tapine onto the bench.
For the Sharks, Ricky Leutele returns to the side in the centres at the expense of Blake Ayshford, while Michael Gordon and Valentine Holmes switch between Fullback and Wing.
The Knights have struggled for form in 2015, and injury tolls throughout the year have further hindered their progress. Expect the Knights’ pack to be vulnerable against an experienced Sharks forward rotation led by Origin reject Andrew Fifita and victorious Blues skipper Paul Gallen. While the Knights continue to come up short, their priority should be getting their best 17 on the park, but expect the team they’ve named to come up short against the Sharks.
Ben’s Tip: Sharks Head to Head @ $2.10 (Pinnacle Sports)
Storm v Broncos
Sun 21 Jun, 4:00pm, AAMI Park
The Brisbane Broncos will take on the Melbourne Storm in the Victorian capital as both teams will be running low on gas with nine Origin players taking the field between the two teams in the aftermath of the massive interstate clash.
Both coaches have named all their Origin players, as the return of Billy Slater, Will Chambers and Cameron Smith pushing Cameron Munster, Hymel Hunt and Nelson Asofa-Solomona to an extended bench. After their bye last week, the Broncos will welcome back Corey Parker at Lock, with Sam Thaiday pushing back to the bench at the expense of Francis Molo. The Broncos have also named ageing skipper Justin Hodges to play, but it’s unlikely the experienced campaigner will take the field.
The Broncos deservedly sit atop the table, and after their massive win over the Sea Eagles in their last game, they are showing a good combination of youth and experience. After a fantastic start to the season, inconsistency has crept back into the Storm’s game after two disappointing losses in their last three matches. Expect the Broncos to come away with the points.
Ben’s Tip: Total Match Points Over 38.5 @ $1.93 (Luxbet)
Dragons v Roosters
Mon 22 Jun, 7:00pm, Allianz Stadium
The St George Illawarra Dragons will play the Sydney Roosters this Monday night in a clash between two heavyweights that will be eager to re-establish themselves as the top team in the NRL after they have both gone off the boil in the last month. Injury to backrower Joel Thompson will see Will Matthews start, with Jake Marketo coming onto the bench.
For the Roosters, the return of Mitch Pearce, Michael Jennings, Aiden Guerra and Boyd Cordner from Origin will push Brendan Elliot, Jackson Hastings, Willie Manu and Suaia Matagi from the side.
With the Dragons looking set for a top four berth, the Roosters will be eager to put more points in the bank to push for the top four themselves. Both sides have had difficult months with disappointing losses in round 13, but the Roosters look to have recovered with their solid win against the Warriors last week. It will be a close one, but expect the Dragons to come away with the points.
Ben’s Tip: Dragons +5.5 @ $1.95 (Bet365)