Surely the Broncos won’t lose again, right? After another crushing defeat to the Warriors last week, the players looked like they should after losing six in a row. This connotes that the penny has dropped for the squad and they are looking to turn it around.
Despite the horrific season so far, you can’t discount the effort the Doggies put on every week. While it’s apparent that the Dogs have heart and play for each other every week, they need a win desperately. If there is a game the Dogs can win, this is it.
Despite the crushing loss last week against the Eels, the Cowboys should be looking to get the two points on Thursday. Their opponents in the Roosters are in injury hell at the moment with Liu, Radley, Smith and Verrills all gone for the season, while Cordner and Tupou are out of the line-up with injuries. If Cowboys coach Paul Green can attack the replacements with sustained effort, they can get the win.
Tariq Sims returns to the line-up after missing four games due to a wrist injury. Sims is a key return for the Dragons bringing over 35 tackles a game, averaging over a 100m running and the intangible experience and leadership the club desperately needs. Look for him to have a big game against the depleted Sea Eagles.
All hail the King! Clint Gutherson has stepped up his game to another level while the Eels halfback, Mitchell Moses, rests a calf injury. “King Gutho” kicked all seven goals last week, ran for 250m and set up three tries during the Eels’ 42-4 victory last week. I would be remiss to not mention Maika Sivo’s performance either. Sivo entertained last week, scoring four tries to the jubilation of the Parramatta faithful. Look for him and Gutherson to continue their red-hot form.
Sunday’s game against the Eels is a competition marking point for the Knights, who have been hot and cold since their round three tie to the Panthers. Coach Adam O’Brien will be looking for his team to break the cycle and win two in a row. Look for the hard-hitting prop David Klemmer to have an impact and make his mark next to NSW prop-forward hopeful, Reagan Campbell-Gillard.
Rookie centre, Stephen Crichton, has played some great footy lately. In his last three games, Crichton scored four tries, broke the defensive line 6 times and made an extra 106m post contact. Look for him to connect again with five-eighth Jarome Luai down the left side for juicy attacking opportunities.
Mitchell, Gagai, Graham, Roberts, Johnston, Walker and Reynolds. That’s a filthy backline and halves combination. Latrell Mitchell and Cody Walker alone have combined to set up 13 tries so far this season and coach Wayne Bennett will be looking for them to continue that form. If the forward pack can get the ball downfield and into score line kicking position, the Rabbitohs will win this.
This will be a tough test for the Raiders this week and can an arm wrestle for all 80 minutes. But the Raiders play well at home especially during the winter months. The halves of Jack Wighton and George Williams has gelled lately, setting up four tries in two games.
After the gut-wrenching final minute loss to the rival Storm, the Roosters will be baying for blood on Thursday night. Halfback Kyle Flanagan exhibited veteran-like composure last week, kicking the equaliser goal and subsequent field goal to give the Roosters an ill-fated lead. Look for him and five-eighth Luke Keary to steer the pack around the field and to victory.
Although emotion got the better of the Sea Eagles at the final whistle of last week’s encounter, coach Des Hasler will have his troops composed for this week’s clash against the struggling Dragons. While Turbo Tom continues to rest a hamstring injury, Reuben Garrick has impressed in the fullback position. Last week Garrick ran for over 150m and didn’t miss a single tackle his side’s narrow loss to the Knights.
The Sharks are on a roll at the moment, winning their last three encounters. Five-eighth Shaun Johnson is the key – he leads the NRL in try assists with 12, three more than the next highest. Look for Johnson to lead his forwards through the Panthers middle third and get the W.
Although the Storm won last week in a tough, gruelling game against the Roosters, they would have shifted their focus early onto Saturday night where they take on the Raiders. Coach Craig Bellamy and his squad won’t have forgotten the 22-6 loss in Melbourne way back in round three when the season resumed from suspension. Look for the veteran leadership of Cam Smith to guide them to another tough, grinding win.
Although the boys from Balmain didn’t get the two points last week, coach Michael Maguire would have liked his team’s performance. The Tigers battled the second-ranked Panthers for 70 hard-fought minutes until mental errors cost the Tigers the game but there were positives. Fullback Adam Doueihi continues to impress while hooker Harry Grant, on loan from Melbourne, remains noteworthy to the point of entering his name into potential Queensland Origin selection.
Last week the Titans played good football during the first 40 minutes. At the break, the Titans only trailed by two points and looked poised to play a grinding second half. Then the Sharks scored three tries in 20 minutes and the game was all but over. If the Titans can score an early try or two, keep their composure during the contest, they can drag out a victory of the struggling Warriors.
The Warriors were valiant in their victory over the Broncos last week and rookie coach Todd Peyton will be expecting his team to replicate. The return of captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck will buoy an already pumped team, while winger Ken Maumalo exceeded last week – scoring two tries, running for over 290m and breaking the line twice.
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