NRL Round 16
Broncos v Knights
Fri 26 Jun, 7:35pm, Suncorp Stadium
The Brisbane Broncos will play the Newcastle Knights this Friday night after Queensland’s flagship club silenced any remaining critics of returning foundation coach Wayne Bennett after the Broncos’ phenomenal win over the Storm last week.
The Broncos are flying high after their fantastic defensive performance last round, but the same cannot be said of the Knights, who are facing their 5th consecutive defeat if they don’t come away with a win in round 16.
Veterans Corey Parker and Justin Hodges return for the Broncos at the expense of Sam Thaiday and Daniel Vidot, while the Knights will be without Kade Snowden and Chris Houston as Clint Newton and Sam Matoara come onto the bench.
The Broncos are clear cut favourites for a reason as their last loss came back in round 10. The Brisbane club is showing the attacking flair and defensive steel that wins premierships, while the Knights continue to struggle with life after Wayne Bennett.
Ben’s Tip: Bron cos -13.5 @ $1.92 (Bookmaker.com.au)
Rabbitohs v Sea Eagles
Fri 26 Jun, 7:35pm, ANZ Stadium
The South Sydney Rabbitohs will play the Manly Sea Eagles as controversy again surrounds Geoff Toovey’s halves as Kieran Foran is rumoured to be considering the activation of a get-out clause in his contract with the Parramatta Eels.
The Manly club will attempt to put controversy out of their minds with an unchanged squad, while the return of Greg Inglis for the Rabbitohs pushes John Olive from the side and Tim Grant replaces Jason Clark on the bench.
The Rabbitohs continue to struggle for consistency after they lost badly to the Tigers in their last game, while the Sea Eagles have been equally struggling to win consecutive matches this year. Expect the Manly club to rise to whatever bar the Rabbitohs set, but the Rabbitohs should come away with a win in a tight match.
Ben’s Tip: Total Match Points Under 40.5 @ $1.90 (Luxbet)
Cowboys v Sharks
Sat 27 Jun, 5:30pm, 1300Smiles Stadium
The North Queensland Cowboys will play the Cronulla Sharks this Saturday evening with the Queensland club set to rest star Halfback Johnathan Thurston through his busy representative period. After kicking the winning field goal against the Raiders last week, Thurston will be replaced by another Origin player in Michael Morgan as Cameron King and Patrick Kaufusi coming onto the interchange. Robert Lui is also 18th man.
The Sharks continued on their improved trajectory after their last gasp win over the Knights last week, and have named an unchanged side with Paul Gallen coming in as 18th man.
Having won an unprecedented 11 consecutive games, the Cowboys sit equal first on the competition ladder. It would be difficult to tip any team to beat them at the moment, and while the Sharks have shown glimpses of the form they showed prior to the ASADA scandal, coach Shane Flanagan has yet to settle his long term spine with Michael Gordon leaving for Parramatta next year and Jack Bird’s future likely outside the halves. Expect the Cowboys to come away with the points.
Ben’s Tip: Either Team win by 6 or less @ $3.10 (Palmerbet)
Eels v Dragons
Sat 27 Jun, 7:30pm, Pirtek Stadium
The Parramatta Eels will take on the St George Illawarra Dragons this Saturday night as the Eels management look to have made another recruitment fumble. With reports star 2016 recruit Kieran Foran will activate a get-out clause in his contract, Parramatta have gone to emergency stations to ensure they retain the international five-eighth.
For the Eels, Corey Norman shifts to Fullback for the injured Reece Robinson, with Luke Kelly coming into the halves. Will Hopoate returns at the expense of John Hopoate while Cody Nelson, Joseph Paulo and Daniel Alvero also come into the squad. The Dragons have named no changed to the squad that lost against the Roosters last round.
While the Dragons’ momentum has slowed of late, their status as a top four side cannot be questioned. The Eels will have their work cut out for them trying to penetrate the most effective defence in the competition, so expect the Dragons to come away with the points.
Ben’s Tip: Dragons -2.0 @ $1.90 (Bet365)
Warriors v Raiders
Sat 27 Jun, 3:00pm, Mt Smart Stadium
The New Zealand Warriors will take on the Canberra Raiders this Saturday as the New Zealand club looks to have recovered after disappointing consecutive losses against the Rabbitohs and Roosters with a big win over the Titans last week.
The Raiders will be disappointed after their field-goal loss to the Cowboys last week, but have named an unchanged side with mid-season recruit Joey Leilua named as 18th man. The Warriors will play Ryan Hoffman and Jacob Lillyman in the starting team this week, while Albert Vete displaces Sebastine Ikahihifo on the interchange.
Two of the most dynamic attacking teams will lock horns as the Kiwis will be glad for their home-ground advantage. With both clubs struggling for consistent performances in 2015 it’s a difficult match to pick, but expect the Warriors to edge the Raiders at home in a high scoring affair.
Ben’s Tip: Total Match Points over 43.5 @ $1.90 (Bet365)
Roosters v Titans
Sun 28 Jun, 2:00pm, Allianz Stadium
The Sydney Roosters will play the Gold Coast Titans on Sunday afternoon as the 2013 premiers finally look to be regaining lost mojo after five wins from their last six matches. Coach Trent Robinson will welcome back Michael Jennings and Sam Moa from suspension and injury with Brendan Elliot and Suaia Matagi dropping from the squad.
The Titans face an injury crisis with an injury to Aiden Sezer shifting Daniel Mortimer to the halves and Chad Redman to hooker. Nate Myles will also return at Prop.
The Roosters will be clear favourites for this match, particularly after the Titans’ lacklustre performance against the Warriors last week. The recent return of Blake Fergusson from injury looks to be a massive boost for the club heading into the back end of the season. While the Titans should perform admirably despite their injury crisis, expect the Roosters to come out on top.
Ben’s Tip: No Bet
Tigers v Panthers
Sun 28 Jun, 4:00pm, Leichhardt Oval
The Wests Tigers will play the Penrith Panthers on Sunday evening in a clash between two clubs desperate to get their stuttering seasons underway. Sitting 11th and 13th respectively, the Panthers and Tigers have each managed just five wins from over a dozen games of NRL football in 2015.
Both sides have just one win from their last five outings, and the Panthers will be without star Hooker James Segeyaro as they welcome Josh Mansour back onto the Wing. The Tigers will also welcome back NSW Hooker Robbie Farah as Delouise Hoeter and Sauaso Sue also make their way into the side.
The Panthers have again been struck with bad luck on the injury front this year, with their spine only playing together a handful of time and a number of other stars ruled out at different times. The Penrith club has struggled in recent weeks and will face a Tigers side buoyed by the return of skipper Robbie Farah. Expect the Tigers to come away with the points.
Ben’s Tip: Tigers -2.5 @ $2.05 (Pinnacle Sports)
Bulldogs v Storm
Mon 29 Jun, 7:00pm, ANZ Stadium
The Canterbury Bulldogs will be playing the Melbourne Storm this Sunday after the Victorian club are still shell-shocked in the aftermath of their unprecedented loss against the Broncos last week. The Storm forced 11 drop-outs for 57% possession but still went down 12-14 against a phenomenal Broncos performance.
While undoubtedly a blow to their confidence, the Storm will put their loss last week out of their minds as they face fierce rivals in the Bulldogs, naming an unchanged squad.
Des Hasler has instituted a number of changes with Brett Morris and Trent Hodkinson returning to his side as Josh Reynolds moves back to the bench and Shaun Lane comes into the backrow for the suspended Josh Jackson.
The Bulldogs have been building momentum heading into the latter part of the season with their halves triplet of Hodkinson, Mbye and Reynolds all finding form as Des Hasler continues to look for the right balance between the three. The return of Morris and Hodkinson will be massive for the Bulldogs against an inexperienced Melbourne side, so expect the ‘Dogs to come away with the points as Melbourne struggle to find their feet without Billy Slater and Cooper Cronk.
Ben’s Tip: Bulldogs -4.5 @ $1.93 (Pinnacle Sports)