NRL Round 25 Previews and Tips
Rabbitohs v Broncos
Thu 27 May, 7:45 pm, ANZ Stadium
The South Sydney Rabbitohs will take on the Brisbane Broncos on Thursday night as both teams still sit in the top four despite losses last week. The Broncos were trounced from the minor Premiership by a steely Roosters outfit in a two-point defeat, losing the match despite the Roosters playing the majority of the game with key player Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Mitchell Pearce. The Rabbitohs were beaten far more convincingly by a dominant Bulldogs outfit in a massive dent to the ‘Bunnies Premiership credentials.
The Broncos have named an unchanged squad from last week, while the Rabbitohs team will welcome back much needed reinforcements as they rally for the finals. An injury to Greg Inglis shifts Alex Johnston to Fullback with Joel Reddy coming onto the wing. Luke Keary and Issac Luke both return from suspension as Chris Grevsmuhl comes onto the bench for Paul Carter.
The Broncos were very classy in their two-point loss against the Roosters last week in a display that showed they could match it with the NRL’s best. With a squad ill-versed in finals-football, the Broncos will be soaking up the big game experience as the Rabbitohs look to re-discover their mojo on the eve of the finals. Expect the Broncos to make up for their round one thrashing at the hands of the Rabbitohs and come away with the win.
Ben’s Tip: Broncos -1.5 @ $1.90 (Bet365)
Sea Eagles v Roosters
Fri 28 Jun, 7:45 pm, Brookvale Oval
The Manly Sea Eagles will play the Sydney Roosters this Friday night as both clubs face dramas on the eve of the finals. The Sea Eagles’ miraculous finals push was brought crashing down last week after a disappointing loss to the Eels. While the Roosters gritty win over the Broncos was soured by injuries to Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Mitchell Pearce.
An injury to Matt Ballin will shift Blake Leary to Hooker for the Sea Eagles as Willie Mason returns from suspension at Prop. The Roosters will bring in Sam Moa into the Front Row as Matt Mcllwrick comes onto the bench. Mitch Aubusson moves to the centres for the suspended Michael Jennings and Suaia Matagi comes onto the bench.
While the Sea Eagles have displayed a lot of heart in their push to make the finals, the loss last week was the inevitable shift in momentum against the Manly club after a winning run. With Geoff Toovey exiting the club and a finals berth unlikely, the Manly club will be playing for pride against the competition leaders looking to consolidate their position at the top of the ladder. Roosters to come away with the points.
Ben’s Tip: Roosters -1.5 @ $1.94 (Luxbet)
Eels v Sharks
Sat 29 Jul, 3:00 pm, Pirtek Stadium
The Parramatta Eels will take on the Cronulla Sharks this Saturday afternoon as both clubs came away winners from the last round of NRL football. The Eels scored another victory against fast growing rivals the Sea Eagles last week in their second win over the Manly club this year, while the Sharks put a disappointing game against the Storm behind them in round 23 with a solid win over the Tigers.
The Sharks have named an unchanged squad for the clash, while the Eels will welcome back captain Tim Mannah at Prop as Darcy Lussick takes Joseph Paulo’s spot on the bench.
The Sharks will go into this match clear favourites as they remain a good chance of making the top four in the event of a South Sydney defeat on Thursday night. The Eels will be playing for pride, unable to make the top eight, but don’t expect the proud Parramatta club to let the Sharks by easy as they look to season 2016. Sharks to come away with the points.
Ben’s Tip: Sharks 1-12 @ $3.25 (Bet365)
Knights v Bulldogs
Sat 29 Aug, 5:30 pm, Hunter Stadium
The Newcastle Knights will take on the Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs this Saturday evening as the Hunter Valley club looks to turn a new leaf in life after the departure of Rick Stone. Backing up from a miraculous upset over the Storm and securing the signing of NSW incumbent Halfback Trent Hodkinson, things are looking up for the Knights.
After their win over Souths last week, the Bulldogs Premiership chances just went up with Des Hasler’s men looking to emulate their Grand Final appearance of last year from the bottom four of the finals contenders.
For the Knights, Beau Scott comes back in at the expense of Sam Mataora as Chris Houston moves to the bench. The ‘Dogs are unchanged from last round.
The Bulldogs would need to rely heavily on other results to make the top four, so good performances and consistency will be the key for the Canterbury club heading into the finals. The Bulldogs will be hunting for their 4th consecutive win against a spirited Knights squad, but expect the latter’s inconsistency to give the Bulldogs the win.
Ben’s Tip: Total Match Points Over 41.5 @ $1.90 (William Hill)
Storm v Cowboys
Sat 29 Sep, 7:30 pm, AAMI Park
The Melbourne Storm will play the North Queensland Cowboys this Saturday night as both clubs face drama leading into the finals. The Cowboys big win over the Warriors last week was marred by potentially serious injuries to stars Michael Morgan and James Tamou, while the Storm were humbled by the 14th placed Knights in a major dent to their Premiership credentials.
Despite their loss last week, the Storm are unchanged for this match, while the Cowboys will draft Ray Thompson as replacement for Michael Morgan as Gavin Cooper comes into the Second-Row and Scott Bolton coming onto the bench.
The Cowboys will go into this match as favourites but the Storm will be keen to upset the 3rd placed Queensland side in the absence of key Cowboys Michael Morgan and James Tamou. Given the Storm’s recent form and the Cowboys injury, it should be a tight game, but expect the Cowboys to edge a Storm outfit lacking the polish of years past.
Ben’s Tip: Cowboys Head to Head @ $2.20 (Luxbet)
Tigers v Warriors
Sun 30 Oct, 2:00 pm, Campbelltown Stadium
The Wests Tigers will play the New Zealand Warriors on Sunday afternoon after the Campbell Town club made the recent shock announcement that Captain Robbie Farah would not be play first-grade with the joint-venture club in 2016. Farah will now look for another NRL suitor late in the season after many clubs salary caps are full for next year.
The Tigers will be disturbed for the controversy, particularly given Farah’s influential status at the club. The Tigers will be unchanged for the match, while the Warriors will welcome Matt Allwood and Sebastine Ikahihifo into their squad.
Unable to make the finals, both clubs will be playing for pride as they look at major changes in 2016. The Warriors recruitment blitz of Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Issac Luke will bring serious Premiership credentials to the New Zealand club, while the Tigers face the prospect of playing without their captain and best player in Robbie Farah for 2016. It will be interesting to see how both scenarios play out, but the Warriors should come away with the win this weekend.
Ben’s Tip: Warriors +7.0 @ $1.97 (Pinnacle Sports)
Titans v Dragons
Sun 30 Nov, 4:00 pm, Cbus Super Stadium
The Gold Coast Titans will take on the St George Illawarra Dragons this afternoon as the joint-venture club looks to consolidate their position at 8th to ensure their finals spot for 2015. The Dragons will face a mixed bag when they look at the 2015 season, and after leading the competition earlier in the year, injury and poor form conspired to drop the club to 8th position after 24 rounds.
The Gold Coast will take fewer positives into 2016 as an injury to Greg Bird pushes Daniel Mortimer to five-eighth, with Kieran Moseley coming onto the bench. The Dragons will replace Justin Hunt with Jason Nightingale on the Wing while Joel Thompson comes in for Jake Marketo in the Second-Row.
The Dragons will be keen for some momentum heading into the finals, and coming up against a struggling Titans squad, expect them to do just that and come away with the points.
Ben’s Tip: Dragons -6.5 @ $1.92 (Crownbet)
Raiders v Panthers
Mon 31 Dec, 7:00 pm, GIO Stadium
The Penrith Panthers will take on the Canberra Raiders this Monday night, and with both clubs unable to make the finals and coming off disappointing losses last week, expect morale to be low amongst the players on the field. Both clubs have had turbulent seasons, with a horror injury toll disrupting the Panthers’ season and the Raiders’ inconsistency far outweighing their scintillating attack.
For the Panthers, Waqa Blake returns in the centres as Sika Manu comes back into the side. The Raiders will welcome back Brenko Lee back at Centre to replace the suspended Joey Leilua.
It’s a tough one to pick for a clash between two clubs that have failed to reach their substantial potential. Both teams have only managed one win in their last five games, but with the Panthers injury ward still populated by some of their best, expect the Raiders to come away with the points.
Ben’s Tip: Raiders -4.5 @ $1.93 (Bet365)