*Cough* um, maybe Anthony Seibold’s changes to the spine works out?
The Dogs have good form against the Knights in recent history, winning seven of their last eight encounters. Combined with the Knights’ alternating wins and losses for the last seven rounds, the Bulldogs can squeeze out a win against the consistently inconsistent Novocastrians.
With the arrival of a new head coach comes renewed expectations and standards. During training this week interim coach Josh Hannay will instil a fresh brand of football on the struggling Cowboys. Expect the squad to increase their drive and desire to win in hopes to impress Hannay and beat the struggling Sea Eagles.
Technically a Sharks home game, but this clash will play out at the Dragons home ground for this derby. The Dragons have found form recently, winning four of their last six to climb the ladder into 11th spot, two points shy of the eighth. A win over their local rivals will give the Dragons, and their faithful, the hope that all is not lost in 2020.
The shock loss to the Sea Eagles last week should serve as a stark reminder to the Eels that there are no gimmes. With the return of halfback Mitchell Moses, yet-to-score winger Blake Ferguson, ex-Tiger Ryan Matterson and lock-forward Nathan Brown, the Eels are all but set for the clash on Thursday.
W-L-W-L-W-L-W. If recent form tells us anything it’s that the Knights have consistency issues. Coach Adam O’Brien has talked about it on numerous occasions the last few weeks and will be looking to string two wins together for the first time since rounds one and two. Thankfully for him, fullback Kaylyn Ponga has found his form, scoring one try and setting up another last week.
2020 appears to be the year of the Panther with Penrith only losing once so far this season. Coach Ivan Cleary would be wise to take note of the Eels upset loss to Manly and have his squad ready and focused on Sunday’s clash. However, if the Panthers forwards continue to dominate the paddock, this will be an easy victory.
After a sluggish start last week, the Rabbitohs rallied to score three tries in the last 15 minutes to almost tie the game. Coach Wayne Bennett will be looking for his squad to continue with that momentum against an injury-riddled Raiders, while the return of centre Campbell Graham will bolster an already stacked backline.
Last week’s gusty win over the Roosters proved that the Raiders are still in premiership contention despite losing skipper Josh Hodgson for the season. Prop Josh Papalii carried the Raiders last week, running 218m and scoring the eventual game winning try. It’s worth noting that in recent clashes with the Rabbitohs, the Raiders have won five of the last seven contests.
Like their rivals in the Storm, this will be an easy win for the Roosters if they focus on Saturday’s game and not the following week. In their last two games alone against the Warriors, the Roosters have outscored them 74-6.
Manly exceeded expectations last week when they defeated the Eels at Brookvale in stunning fashion. Halfback Daly Cherry-Evans bounced back to form after a disastrous game the week previously to direct his team the two points. Coach Des Hasler will be looking for him to continue in that form while one of the competitions leading props, Addin Fonua-Blake, returns to the line-up after missing three games to suspension.
Coach John Morris has his squad humming along nicely at the moment, winning five of their last seven games. During that time, winger Sione Katoa has scored eight tries and half Shaun Johnson has set up a league-leading 13 tries. If the Sharks smell blood and sense the Dragons are wavering in confidence, the Sharks forward pack will dominate the paddock and allow space for Johnson to weave his magic.
This should be a walk in the park for the Storm and should only serve to bolster their point differential. The only concern for coach Craig Bellamy is keeping his players focused on this week’s clash and not round 12.
Although coach Michael Maguire would have been happy with the thrashing they handed to the Broncos last week, the challenge for him is to have his team ready and focused to take on the second placed Eels.
In a teasing manner, hooker Harry Grant continues to impress all who watch the Tigers as he pushes his case for a Queensland jersey. Meanwhile, the time benched on the sideline seems to have worked on Benji Marshall, who he produced vintage Benji moments during last week’s game. Maguire will be looking for him to continue on with that confidence against a much tougher opponent.
Gold Coast, under coach Justin Holbrook, have been working hard each week. Last week at the halftime break, the Titans were only down two converted tries and went into the sheds with the goal of competing hard in the second half. Although it didn’t go according to plan, the Titans can take it to the Panthers if they put on a full 80-minute performance
After last week’s loss to the Sharks, coach Todd Payton expressed his belief that the team lacked physicality. So look for the Warriors to hit hard and bring a physical edge to the game. If the forwards can smash the Roosters, star fullback Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and half Blake Green can get points on the scoreboard.