NRL Round 22 Previews and Tips
Broncos v Bulldogs
Fri 7 Aug, 7:45 pm, Suncorp Stadium
The Brisbane Broncos will play the Canterbury Bulldogs this Friday night after the former’s shock loss against the Sea Eagles last week. Despite the 30 point drubbing, the Broncos held onto their ladder-leading position as the disappointing loss will undoubtedly bring Brisbane’s premiership credentials into doubt.
The Broncos have named an unchanged squad after last round, while the Bulldogs will welcome back Aiden Tolman and Curtis Rona at the expense of Corey Thompson and Lloyd Perrett with Shaun Lane and Frank Pritchard coming into the side and Shaun Lane taking Danny Fualalo’s spot on the bench.
After the ‘Dogs disappointing loss against the Roosters last week, they face their 3rd consecutive loss against Brisbane should they lose the match. Continuing to display patchy form heading into the finals, the Broncos will be equally under pressure as they look to re-establish themselves as the benchmark of the competition.
Ben’s Tip: Total Match Points Under 41.5 @ $1.90 (William Hill)
Sea Eagles v Rabbitohs
Fri 7 Aug, 7:45 pm, Brookvale Oval
The Manly Sea Eagles will play the South Sydney Rabbitohs as the reigning Premiers continued their run of good form heading into the finals with their win over the Panthers last week. The Rabbitohs have consolidated their position in the top four but can’t let complacency creep in, facing staunch opposition in the Sea Eagles in the aftermath of their massive win over the Broncos.
The Rabbitohs have named an unchanged side for the clash with Jason Clark coming in as 18th man, while the Sea Eagles welcome back Steve Matai into the centres at the expense of Tom Trbojevic.
The Sea Eagles have traditionally thrived in the face of adversity and with four wins from their last five starts the Manly club looks to have stepped up heading into the finals. Despite their win last week, the Sea Eagles will face an imposing Rabbitohs forward rotation and can only run on courage for so long. Expect Manly to put up a fight but they should go down to a classy Rabbitohs team.
Ben’s Tip: Souths Head to Head @ $1.92 (Bookmaker.com.au)
Warriors v Dragons
Sat 8 Aug, 3:00 pm, Westpac Stadium
The New Zealand Warriors will play the St George Illawarra Dragons this Saturday evening as the latter turned around a run of bad form with a big win over the Knights to sit 7th on the NRL competition ladder. The Dragons will need to continue to win if they wish to make the play-offs as they welcome back Trent Merrin from suspension with Kiti Glymin replacing an injured Jason Nightingale on the wing.
For the Warriors, Jonathan Wright comes in for Konrad Hurrell in the centres in the only change for the New Zealand club.
The Warriors face their fourth loss against the Dragons should they lose this match and a large part of their run of poor form has been the absence of superstar Halfback Shaun Johnson. Without Johnson the Warriors will be down on confidence and attacking flair, so expect the Dragons to capitalize on the wounded Kiwis to re-establish the culture of defensive resilience they developed at the start of the season.
Ben’s Tip: Dragons H2H @ $1.85 (Ladbrokes)
Sharks v Cowboys
Sat 8 Aug, 5:30 pm, Remondis Stadium
The Cronulla Sharks will take on the North Queensland Cowboys this Saturday evening as the Queensland club continued their tradition of comebacks after their win over the Raiders last week. After the Broncos’ loss last round, the Cowboys now find themselves equal competition leaders as the club strives for the minor Premiership. The Cowboys have named an unchanged squad heading into the clash.
The Sharks have surprised everyone to now sit 5th on the competition as a top four berth now looks within grasp for the Cronulla club. They are similarly unchanged after their win over the Warriors last week.
As good as the Sharks have been, tipping against the Cowboys has not proved fruitful for punters this season, with the clubs last loss coming in round 16 against the team they line up against this week. While the Sharks look set to be this years’ dark horse, expect the Cowboys to extend their winning streak to five with a win.
Ben’s Tip: Total Match Points over 40.5 @ $1.95 (Bet365)
Eels v Panthers
Sat 8 Aug, 7:30 pm, TIO Stadium
The Parramatta Eels will play the Penrith Panthers on Saturday night in a match between two teams coming off a disappointing loss last week and equally desperate to make a last gasp push for the finals. A consistent winning run from either might see them sneak their way in, but it looks unlikely.
That means both teams will be banking on desperation or pride heading into this match and the Eels will be keen to put their best foot forward, welcoming back Will Hopoate and Brad Takairangi into the centres, while Corey Norman also returns to the team. The Panthers only change comes with Apisai Koroisau coming onto the bench.
The Eels had a tough day in the office last week, shown up by the Titans. They will be keen to make amends but the Panthers look the more competitive heading into this match after just falling short of a win over the Rabbitohs. Expect Penrith to be the more composed of the two and they should come away with the win.
Ben’s Tip: No Tip
Storm v Titans
Sun 9 Aug, 2:00 pm, AAMI Park
The Melbourne Storm will play the Gold Coast Titans on Sunday afternoon after the Victorian club will be extremely disappointed after their loss to the last-placed Tigers last week. Displaying worrying inconsistency coming into the finals, the Storm will be keen to re-establish their rigorous defensive discipline for which they are famous as coach Craig Bellamy named an unchanged squad.
The Titans will likely have written off season 2015 with the Gold Coast club only a minute mathematical chance of making the play-offs. Nate Myles returns for the club as Lachlan Burr and Daniel Mortimer come onto an extended bench.
The Titans are the team on better form recently, but based off their respective ladder positions, the Storm look the more likely as the Victorian club will be keen to make amends for their disappointing loss last week. Don’t expect it to be pretty, but Melbourne should come away with the points.
Ben’s Tip: Titans +16.0 @ $1.91 (Centrebet)
Knights v Roosters
Sun 9 Aug, 4:00 pm, Hunter Stadium
The Newcastle Knights will play the Sydney Roosters this Sunday afternoon as the Sydney based club increasingly looks the most likely premiers out of the top four, despite their position at 3rd on the ladder. The Knights face an interesting test of character next week as the administration has written off the 2015 season with the sacking of coach Rick Stone. Tariq Sims and David Fa’alogo will return to the squad at the expense of Joe Tapine and Lachlan Fitzgibbon.
For the Roosters, Sam Moa’s dislocated wrist means Isaac Liu comes into the side while Shaun Kenny-Dowall returns in place of Brendan Elliot on the wing.
The Roosters are easy favourites heading into this match as they look to leapfrog their competition to reach the minor premiership. The Sydney club has a lot more to play for but the Knights should dig in their heels for the pride of their club. Roosters to come away with the points.
Ben’s Tip: Roosters -16.0 @ $1.91 (William Hill)
Raiders v Tigers
Mon 10 Aug, 7:00 pm, GIO Stadium
The Canberra Raiders will take on the Wests Tigers on Monday night following the Tigers’ shock upset over the Storm last week. Despite their position as equal-last on the NRL ladder, the Tigers should be in high spirits as they look to reap the inevitable rewards of their young, inexperienced squad.
For the Raiders, Sisa Waqa comes back into the squad in place of the suspended Edrick Lee while Glen Buttriss and debutant Mitchell Barnett come into the squad. The Tigers have named an unchanged squad for the clash.
The Raiders disappointing loss against the Cowboys last week indicates they still have a long way to come should they hope to be a Premiership threat under the guidance of Ricky Stuart. The Canberra club is on the cusp of the top eight and will be fighting desperately for every win they can manage, so expect them to come away with a win against a dejected Tigers.
Ben’s Tip: Raiders -6.0 @ $1.90 (Luxbet)