So, it looks like I may have jinxed the Warriors. But at last, we have a singular team sitting atop the NRL ladder, St. George Illawarra entering Round 7 as the league's lone undefeated side. Parramatta remains winless, though North Queensland is just as surprising, failing to win a game since the first round.
The NRL's oldest rivalry delivered a shock result, with South Sydney dominating the Roosters through the middle third, while Brisbane's backline did the damage across the ditch. Canterbury and Wests were shock winners, while Cronulla copped a shocking casualty ward.
In an untippable and unpredictable game, here's your guide to Round 7.
Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs vs. Sydney Roosters
ANZ Stadium, 7:50pm, Thursday April 19
Team News: Canterbury has named the same 17 that defeated North Queensland. Reece Robinson has been dropped, moving Joey Manu to the wing, Mitch Aubusson to the centres and Frank-Paul Nuuausala onto the bench. Jared Warea-Hargreaves and Zane Tetevano switch between starting prop and the bench.
Injury Watch: Sio Siua Taukeiaho is set to miss 1-2 weeks with a knee injury after being cleared of an ACL tear.
Prediction: Both teams endured shock form reversals last weekend, with the heavily favoured Roosters falling to South Sydney, and rank outsiders Canterbury dominating North Queensland in Townsville. The Roosters will be keen to bounce back, having already defeated Canterbury earlier in the season. The Dogs attack impressed, but it will be the Bondi boy's halves that steer the tricolours back into the winner's circle. Roosters by 4.
New Zealand Warriors vs. St. George Illawarra Dragons
Mt Smart Stadium, 6pm, Friday April 20
Team News: Solomone Kata has been named despite being ruled out for a month. Bunty Afoa stars with Sam Lisone reverting back to the bench. Leviaha Pulu is out, moving Simon Mannering into the back-row and Albert Vete onto the bench. St. George Illawarra are unchanged.
Injury Watch: Solomone Kata has been named despite being ruled out for a month. Gerard Beale is aiming for Round 9.
Prediction: If it wasn't for a strong performance from Brisbane, both teams would be heading into this match undefeated. The Dragons were strong again against Cronulla, but there's a sense that it'll only take an injury or two to undo the Dragon's form. New Zealand reverted to their old selves against the Broncos, and it's going to take a fair effort to defeat a white-hot St. George Illawarra side, led by the most in-form spine in the competition. Dragons by 12.
Brisbane Broncos vs. Melbourne Storm
Suncorp Stadium, 7:55pm, Friday April 20
Team News: Kodi Nikorima replaces Sam Tagatese on the interchange bench. Will Chambers returns in place of Young Tonumaipea.
Injury Watch: Matt Lodge has been cleared of a broken rib.
Prediction: In years gone by, this would easily be the match of the round. But Brisbane and Melbourne have been inconsistent to kick off 2018, though both enjoyed strong wins last weekend. Funnily enough, both sides were missing their regular halfback last weekend, either through form slump or injury, and it worked out well for the both of them. This fixture has a history of close finishes, and despite taking place in Brisbane, it'll be Melbourne who snatches victory late. Storm by 2.
South Sydney Rabbitohs vs. Canberra Raiders
Central Coast Stadium, 3pm, Saturday April 21
Team News: Sam Burgess returns, moving Jason Clark to the bench and Kyle Turner to the reserves. Cameron Murray has been named in the reserve list, giving him an outside chance of returning from a hamstring strain. Canberra is unchanged.
Injury Watch: Cameron Murray is more likely to return in Round 8, but remains a chance this weekend
Prediction: Canberra have only conceded 12 points in their last 160 minutes of football, but there's something about South Sydney at the moment. Their record may be an unimpressive 3-3, but the three losses have been at the hands of New Zealand, Penrith and the Dragons - the top three teams on the ladder. Their win over the Roosters was as good as any last weekend, and there's a sense they're building towards something. Souths by 13.
Wests Tigers vs. Newcastle Knights
Scully Park, 5:30pm, Saturday April 21
Team News: Josh Reynolds is out with a shoulder injury, replaced by Pita Godinet on the bench. Chris Lawrence is out, causing a reshuffle. Matt Eisenhuth moves to prop, Josh Aloiai to the back-row and Elijah Taylor returns at lock. Brock Lamb has been dropped, replaced by Jack Cogger. Mitch Barnett returns from suspension at lock, pushing Herman Ese'ese to prop and Daniel Saifiti to the reserves.
Injury Watch: Josh Reynolds and Chris Lawrence are both expected to only miss the one match.
Prediction: Taking a twilight match to Tamworth will make for a must watch spectacle between two extremely youthful sides. Newcastle has been up and down this year, while Wests Tigers have been the best defensive team so far this year. Newcastle will certainly push the Tigers defence but expect a host of line breaks, but limited points in this one. Tigers by 8.
North Queensland Cowboys vs. Gold Coast Titans
1300SMILES Stadium, 7:35pm, Saturday April 21
Team News: North Queensland are undefeated despite losing to Canterbury. Dale Copley is out, with Philip Sami shifting to the centres and Tyronne Roberts-Davis comes onto the wing. Nathan Peats is out, with Mitch Rein starting at hooker. Ryan James returns at prop, pushing Max King onto the bench. Keegan Hipgrave replaces Ryan Simpkins.
Injury Watch: Nathan Peats and Dale Copley are both set to miss 2-4 weeks with a sternum and hamstring injuries respectively.
Prediction: The Gold Coast came crashing back down to Earth in Penrith last weekend, suffering some key injuries along the way, but will be buoyed by the returning Ryan James. And the Cowboys, they've got to win soon, don't they? One of the strongest rosters in the NRL, yet only a single win to show for it. This will be the week that changes. Cowboys by 16.
Parramatta Eels vs. Manly Sea Eagles
ANZ Stadium, 2pm, Sunday April 22
Team News: Bevan French has been dropped, with Jarryd Hayne returning from injury on the wing, while Brad Takairangi returns from injury early, replacing the also-dropped Kirisome Auva'a. Kaysa Pritchard has been sent to reserve grade with Cameron King claiming the hooker duties. Tepai Moeroa is out with a concussion, moving Peni Terepo to lock and Kane Evans to prop. Will Smith and Daniel Gower join the bench, with Beau Scott missing the cut. Manly have stuck with the same side that was defeated by the Wests Tigers.
Injury Watch: Bevan French won't play reserve grade despite being dropped, giving him an extra week to heal his troublesome shoulder, while Tepai Moeroa sits out after suffering two head knocks against Canberra.
Prediction: This shapes as a frustrating match. Manly beat the Eels 54-0 in Round 2, but have looked incredibly inconsistent since. While injuries have plagued the side, their wavy form line lies beyond that. Parramatta continues to chop and change their side, not leaving any room for the side to gel. That'll be the difference come Sunday. Manly by 10.
Cronulla Sharks vs. Penrith Panthers
Southern Cross Group Stadium, 4:10pm, Sunday April 22
Team News: Paul Gallen and Wade Graham are out, moving Joseph Paulo and Kurt Capewell into the starting pack, with James Segeyaro and Scott Sorensen joining the bench. Trent Hodkinson has been dropped, with Matt Moylan shifting to five-eighth, Josh Dugan to fullback and Jesse Ramien returning at centre. Dallin Watene-Zellezniak replaces the injured Josh Mansour.
Injury Watch: Wade Graham will miss 1-2 weeks with a hamstring strain, while Paul Gallen will sit out 4-6 weeks with a troublesome knee injury. Josh Mansour requires surgery for his fractured cheekbone, putting him out of action for 4-6 weeks.
Prediction: Moylan vs. Maloney, that's the big matchup here. The players have switched clubs for differing reasons, but only one has really set the world alight after moving clubs. Penrith has only lost the one match so far, while Cronulla is yet to decide on the makeup of their spine, specifically the fullback role. Coupling that with the injuries to key forwards, and Penrith should run away with this one. Panthers by 12.
Point To Prove
James Maloney. The Maloney-Moylan swap was one of the biggest pre-season moves, and it certainly looks like Penrith have come out on top in that deal so far, enjoying a 5-1 start. Maloney wanted more money at Cronulla, a big reason as to why Shane Flanagan was happy to let go of the Origin half. But Maloney has certainly justified his hefty price tag in recent weeks and will be keen to prove it on his old stomping ground.
James Tedesco. The Roosters custodian is reportedly struggling to fit into the tricolours culture, and his performances are certainly indicating it. Teddy was subpar against South Sydney, his sloppy handling in the lead-up to Angus Crichton's try was uncharacteristic. While Keary and Cronk are starting to gel more and more, Tedesco is struggling to insert himself. If he doesn't improve fast, then his Origin jersey may be on the line.
Kurt Dillion. The young Cronulla prop debuted last week from the interchange, running for 78 metres and making 19 tackles, but with Paul Gallen and Wade Graham ruled out this week, Dillion is set to earn some more minutes on the field this week. Up against a Penrith pack featuring in-form forwards James Tamou, Villiame Kikau and Regan Campbell-Gillard, expect Dillion to take his game up a notch.
Photo of the Week
You can never keep a king down. 👑 pic.twitter.com/2msbNJUwcS
— Jack Blyth (@jblesfooty224) April 17, 2018
Quote of the Week
"We still haven't got any resolution at this stage, there are still a couple of more steps in the process" - recently re-signed Cowboys coach Paul Green, on the potential recruitment of Todd Carney
North Queensland Cowboys 13+. I know, I know, it's hard to tip the Cowboys by 13+ when they haven't scored more than 14 points in a match since Round 2. But Gold Coast had some huge flaws exposed against Penrith, and Jonathan Thurston could exploit the smallest chink in a team's armour. Without Copley and Peats, the Cowboys should get the job done, and done well. Look for Kyle Feldt to snag a double in the process.
Rumour of the Week
Canberra may have fixed up their on-field woes for now, but off-field there's still an uphill battle for the green machine. It's hard to see the likes of Blake Austin and Aidan Sezer remaining beyond 2018, but it's Junior Paulo who looks next through the exit doors. Rumours of Paulo missing Sydney have swirled since he arrived in the nation's capital, and he looks set to re-join Parramatta only a long-term contract starting in 2019.