Sports writer, JASON OLIVER, previews this weekend’s Rugby League action with his NRL tips for all Round 13 matches. It looks like a week for the favourites.
South Sydney Rabbitohs v Newcastle Knights @ ANZ Stadium
|Corey Allan||1||Kalyn Ponga|
|Mawene Hiroti||2||Edrick Lee|
|James Roberts||3||Hymel Hunt|
|Dane Gagai||4||Jesse Ramien|
|Campbell Graham||5||Shaun Kenny-Dowall|
|Cody Walker||6||Kurt Mann|
|Adam Reynolds||7||Mitchell Pearce|
|George Burgess||8||David Klemmer|
|Damien Cook||9||Connor Watson|
|Thomas Burgess||10||Daniel Saifiti|
|John Sutton||11||Lachlan Fitzgibbon|
|Sam Burgess||12||Mitch Barnett|
|Cameron Murray||13||Tim Glasby|
|Tevita Tatola||14||Jamie Buhrer|
|Ethan Lowe||15||Herman Ese’ese|
|Liam Knight||16||James Gavet|
|Mark Nicholls||17||Sione Mata’utia|
History: Played 42, Rabbitohs 16, Knights 25
Last Meeting: Round 9, 2018: Rabbitohs 36 def. Knights 18
Final Thoughts: Souths have a favourable record over the Knights. Winners of their last nine games between the two, Newcastle has only been to keep within double-digits twice throughout the lengthy losing streak. Their chances this week may depend on how David Klemmer and Kalyn Ponga pull up after Origin I.
The concerns for the Knights come in the middle. It’s where they dominated the Roosters in their impressive 38-12 victory in Round 11. However, quite likely playing without the man that starts it all in Klemmer, the Knights will be doing it tough against what is still a strong Bunnies side.
With the Burgess brothers all involved, Souths won’t be short of yardage through the middle. Connor Tracey proved he’s more than capable of producing the goods should Cody Walker not play. Meanwhile, James Roberts gives them a boost out wide. This is still a very good football side, and those that filled in last week will be better for the experience. Expect Wayne Bennett to have the team going down a better path this week, with or without his Origin stars
Wests Tigers v Canberra Raiders @ Bankwest Stadium
|Moses Mbye||1||Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad|
|Robert Jennings||2||Bailey Simonsson|
|Paul Momirovski||3||Jarrod Croker|
|Esan Marsters||4||Nick Cotric|
|Corey Thompson||5||Jordan Rapana|
|Benji Marshall||6||Jack Wighton|
|Luke Brooks||7||Sam Williams|
|Ben Matulino||8||Josh Papalii|
|Robbie Farah||9||Siliva Havili|
|Alex Twal||10||Dunamis Lui|
|Ryan Matterson||11||John Bateman|
|Chris McQueen||12||Elliott Whitehead|
|Matthew Eisenhuth||13||Joseph Tapine|
|Jacob Liddle||14||Tom Starling|
|Thomas Mikaele||15||Emre Guler|
|Josh Aloiai||16||Iosia Soliola|
|Michael Chee-Kam||17||Ryan Sutton|
History: Played 37, Tigers 19, Raiders 16
Last Meeting: Round 22, 2018: Tigers 22 def. Raiders 20
Final Thoughts: Consistency is a word neither the Tigers or the Raiders are all that familiar with. Wests haven’t been able to string a decent number of strong performances together in 2019 while the memories of the Raiders horror 2018 season are still a little too fresh to totally ignore.
The Raiders are the better of the two sides, but injuries and uncertainty around the inclusion of Nick Cotric, Jack Wighton and Josh Papalii following Origin I leaves them vulnerable. Given it’s Wests first game as hosts at Bankwest Stadium, Canberra isn’t going to want to go in underdone. We all remember Parramatta’s Bankwest opener.
It’s difficult to get a read on these games featuring so many Origin players. West should put in a good performance after a week off, but can they really be trusted? Siding with the Raiders in Jordan Rapana’s return is the safer option.
New Zealand Warriors v Melbourne Storm @ Mt Smart Stadium
|Roger Tuivasa-Sheck||1||Jahrome Hughes|
|David Fusitu’a||2||Suliasi Vunivalu|
|Peta Hiku||3||Will Chambers|
|Patrick Herbert||4||Marion Seve|
|Ken Maumalo||5||Josh Addo-Carr|
|Kodi Nikorima||6||Cameron Munster|
|Blake Green||7||Brodie Croft|
|Agnatius Paasi||8||Jesse Bromwich|
|Issac Luke||9||Cameron Smith|
|Leeson Ah Mau||10||Nelson Asofa-Solomona|
|Isaiah Papali’i||11||Felise Kaufusi|
|Tohu Harris||12||Kenneath Bromwich|
|Adam Blair||13||Dale Finucane|
|Lachlan Burr||14||Brandon Smith|
|Bunty Afoa||15||Joe Stimson|
|Chris Satae||16||Tui Kamikamica|
|Karl Lawton||17||Ryan Papenhuyzen|
History: Played 44, Warriors 16, Storm 25
Last Meeting: Round 7, 2019: Storm 13 def. Warriors 12
Final Thoughts: Despite being considered somewhat of a bogey side for the Storm, the Warriors haven’t picked up a win against their rivals in seven attempts. Decimated in their last meeting, the Warriors lived up to their reputation against the Storm, controversially going down 13-12 in Melbourne. Home ground advantage is incredibly important for the Kiwi club. They’ve lost three on the bounce at Mt Smart and will be desperate to end the slide on Saturday.
The trans-Tasman flight makes is less likely that all of Josh Addo-Carr, Cameron Munster, Felise Kaufusi and Will Chambers back up from Origin I. The Warriors become favourites if all four take the weekend off to recover.
So much depends on the team lists. A full-strength Storm side would be expected to take the chocolates in New Zealand. However, should the Warriors see a few gaps in the team list, they’ll lift even further and look to capitalise on the opportunity to play an under-strength Storm. It’s best to wait as long as possible, but the Warriors’ +4.5 could look really good by kickoff.
Cronulla Sharks v Parramatta Eels @ PointsBet Stadium
|Matt Moylan||1||Clinton Gutherson|
|Sosaia Feki||2||Maika Sivo|
|Bronson Xerri||3||Michael Jennings|
|Josh Dugan||4||Josh Hoffman|
|Aaron Gray||5||Blake Ferguson|
|Kyle Flanagan||6||Will Smith|
|Chad Townsend||7||Mitchell Moses|
|Andrew Fifita||8||Kane Evans|
|Jayden Brailey||9||Reed Mahoney|
|Matt Prior||10||Junior Paulo|
|Briton Nikora||11||Shaun Lane|
|Kurt Capewell||12||Manu Ma’u|
|Paul Gallen||13||Tepai Moeroa|
|Blayke Brailey||14||Peni Terepo|
|Jayson Bukuya||15||Ray Stone|
|Jack Williams||16||David Gower|
|Braden Hamlin-Uele||17||Marata Niukore|
History: Played 92, Sharks 48, Eels 43
Last Meeting: Round 4, 2019: Eels 24 def. Sharks 12
Final Thoughts: The Sharks haven’t named Josh Morris, but Wade Graham and Shaun Johnson are both chances at returning this week. Should the pair be included, we’re finally going to get a glimpse of the first-choice Sharks. Their attack is what has been lacking to start the 2019 NRL season, but Graham and Johnson would instantly improve the left and right sides of the field.
Meanwhile, the Eels are coming off an unconvincing win over an Origin-affected Rabbitohs team in Round 12. The odds-makers have little faith in their 26-14 win being a reliable consideration in their form line putting the Eels way out at $2.47 for this one.
Despite both having six wins, the Sharks are considered a top four-calibre side. The Eels, on the other hand, are a fringe Top 8 outfit at best. With or without Graham and Johnson, the Sharks should have too much through the middle. Once they get on top there, the Eels have been proven to fall away.
North Queensland Cowboys v Manly Warringah Sea Eagles @ 1300SMILES Stadium
|Michael Morgan||1||Tom Trbojevic|
|Kyle Feldt||2||Jorge Taufua|
|Mitchell Dunn||3||Dylan Walker|
|Tom Opacic||4||Moses Suli|
|Enari Tuala||5||Reuben Garrick|
|John Asiata||6||Cade Cust|
|Jake Clifford||7||Kane Elgey|
|Josh McGuire||8||Addin Fonua-Blake|
|Jake Granville||9||Apisai Koroisau|
|Jordan McLean||10||Martin Taupau|
|Gavin Cooper||11||Joel Thompson|
|Coen Hess||12||Curtis Sironen|
|Jason Taumalolo||13||Jack Gosiewski|
|Reuben Cotter||14||Manase Fainu|
|Shane Wright||15||Brendan Elliot|
|Scott Bolton||16||Morgan Boyle|
|Francis Molo||17||Taniela Paseka|
History: Played 30, Cowboys 13, Sea Eagles 16
Last Meeting: Round 13, 2018: Cowboys 26 def. Sea Eagles 12
Final Thoughts: Are the Cowboys…good? They’ve won three in a row and four of their last five to sit just outside the Top 8 halfway through the season. Sure, the 6-4 win over the Titans on Sunday was an eye-sore for anybody unfortunate enough to watch it. A win is a win, though.
Jason Taumalolo has been the difference since his return to steer the Cowboys to five wins in the seven games he’s played in 2019. His inclusion makes them a different side. However, Sunday made it quite clear that the Cowboys also need Michael Morgan out there to manufacture points. Even playing fullback, he will help them find the line.
The Sea Eagles will be feeling much the same without Daly Cherry-Evans. They’ve cooled off following their hot start to the season and need reinforcements. Cherry-Evans is in obvious doubt, but Tom Trbojevic has been named to return from injury. That’s enough to have hope for a Manly turnaround following a few lacklustre weeks.
Brisbane Broncos v Gold Coast Titans @ Suncorp Stadium
|Darius Boyd||1||Alexander Brimson|
|Corey Oates||2||Anthony Don|
|Kotoni Staggs||3||Jesse Arthars|
|Gehamat Shibasaki||4||Brian Kelly|
|Jamayne Isaako||5||Dale Copley|
|Anthony Milford||6||Tyrone Roberts|
|Tom Dearden||7||Ashley Taylor|
|Matthew Lodge||8||Jarrod Wallace|
|Jake Turpin||9||Mitch Rein|
|Payne Haas||10||Moeaki Fotuaika|
|Alex Glenn||11||Kevin Proctor|
|Matt Gillett||12||Keegan Hipgrave|
|Tevita Pangai Junior||13||Jai Arrow|
|Andrew McCullough||14||Tyrone Peachey|
|David Fifita||15||Shannon Boyd|
|Thomas Flegler||16||Bryce Cartwright|
|Joe Ofahengaue||17||Jai Whitbread|
History: Played 27, Broncos 19, Titans 6
Last Meeting: Round 17, 2018: Broncos 34 def. Titans 0
Final Thoughts: We’re almost ready to say the Broncos are back. Almost. They need to pick up this easy win and do it comfortably first, though. Blessed with some Sunday afternoon NRL footy with five players backing up from Origin on Wednesday, most of Corey Oates, Matt Gillett, Payne Haas, David Fifita and Joe Ofahengaue should be available to play. If they are, this current -7.5 line could move out even further. They’ll be eager to build on two hard-fought wins over the Roosters and Warriors.
The Titans have been terrible despite picking up a couple of wins recently. Scoring only four points at home in Round 12, their million dollar man was again absent. Ash Taylor is the key to the Titans turning around their season. Until he starts playing up to his pay packet, the team is going to struggle. Jai Arrow has been named to back up, but we know he can’t do it all for this team. We all know he tries to every week.
Penrith Panthers v Sydney Roosters @ Panthers Stadium
|Dylan Edwards||1||James Tedesco|
|Josh Mansour||2||Daniel Tupou|
|Isaah Yeo||3||Latrell Mitchell|
|Brent Naden||4||Joseph Manu|
|Brian To’o||5||Matt Ikuvalu|
|Jarome Luai||6||Drew Hutchison|
|James Maloney||7||Cooper Cronk|
|James Tamou||8||Jared Waerea-Hargreaves|
|Wayde Egan||9||Victor Radley|
|Reagan Campbell-Gillard||10||Siosiua Taukeiaho|
|Viliame Kikau||11||Boyd Cordner|
|Frank Winterstein||12||Angus Crichton|
|James Fisher-Harris||13||Isaac Liu|
|Sione Katoa||14||Nat Butcher|
|Liam Martin||15||Zane Tetevano|
|Moses Leota||16||Sitili Tupouniua|
|Hame Sele||17||Mitchell Aubusson|
History: Played 97, Panthers 35, Roosters 59
Last Meeting: Round 15, 2018: Roosters 32 def. Panthers 6
Final Thoughts: While the loss to the Knights will mean very little in the grand scheme of their season, the Roosters will be out to make up for it this week. Cooper Cronk is rested and ready, and the Chooks pack won’t be going down so easily this time around. Meanwhile, James Tedesco, Boyd Cordner, Angus Crichton and Latrell Mitchell have all been named to back up.
The poor Panthers may just be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Too much can be read into Penrith’s back-to-back wins. For the most part, they were the same poor team they had been up until beating the Eels in Round 11. The Panthers attack remains one of the worst in the NRL. Scoring just 13.2 points per game, they’ll be hoping that by surrounding himself with some quality in Origin camp for a week, Nathan Cleary can return and be the spark that ignites their season. Even if he plays and fires on Sunday, it probably won’t be enough.
Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs v St George-Illawarra Dragons @ ANZ Stadium
|Nick Meaney||1||Matthew Dufty|
|Christian Crichton||2||Jonus Pearson|
|Marcelo Montoya||3||Euan Aitken|
|Will Hopoate||4||Zac Lomax|
|Reimis Smith||5||Mikaele Ravalawa|
|Kieran Foran||6||Corey Norman|
|Jack Cogger||7||Jai Field|
|Aiden Tolman||8||Blake Lawrie|
|Jeremy Marshall-King||9||Cameron McInnes|
|Ofahiki Ogden||10||Korbin Sims|
|Josh Jackson||11||Jacob Host|
|Raymond Faitala-Mariner||12||Tariq Sims|
|Adam Elliott||13||Luciano Leilua|
|Rhyse Martin||14||Jeremy Latimore|
|Danny Fualalo||15||Reece Robson|
|Chris Smith||16||Lachlan Timm|
|Sauaso Sue||17||Josh Kerr|
History: Played 38, Bulldogs 24, Dragons 13
Last Meeting: Round 5, 2019: Dragons 40 def. Bulldogs 4
Final Thoughts: Given the form of these two sides, this game could be one to miss. The Bulldogs are bad. It was expected way back in the preseason, but it’s still hard to see the Bulldogs struggle as much as they are. Meanwhile, the Dragons haven’t played good footy since beating the Dogs 40-4 in Round 5. They’ve lost five of the six games since then to slide down the NRL ladder and out of finals contention.
Corey Norman played a large part in the Red V’s early-season success and returns for this one. He will take a lot of the pressure of Ben Hunt who is expected to back up. The pair began to form a strong partnership in the halves before Norman’s injury. With the forward pack also close to full-strength, this is a golden opportunity for the Dragons to get their 2019 season back on track.
The Bulldogs won’t be short on effort, but like most weeks, they’ll be short on points.