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
Friday 7th June, 6:00pm

RabbitohsKnights
Corey Allan1Kalyn Ponga
Mawene Hiroti2Edrick Lee
James Roberts3Hymel Hunt
Dane Gagai4Jesse Ramien
Campbell Graham5Shaun Kenny-Dowall
Cody Walker6Kurt Mann
Adam Reynolds7Mitchell Pearce
George Burgess8David Klemmer
Damien Cook9Connor Watson
Thomas Burgess10Daniel Saifiti
John Sutton11Lachlan Fitzgibbon
Sam Burgess12Mitch Barnett
Cameron Murray13Tim Glasby
Tevita Tatola14Jamie Buhrer
Ethan Lowe15Herman Ese’ese
Liam Knight16James Gavet
Mark Nicholls17Sione 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

Tip: Handicap – Rabbitohs -5.5 @ $1.85

Wests Tigers v Canberra Raiders @ Bankwest Stadium
Friday 7th June, 7:55pm

TigersRaiders
Moses Mbye1Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad
Robert Jennings2Bailey Simonsson
Paul Momirovski3Jarrod Croker
Esan Marsters4Nick Cotric
Corey Thompson5Jordan Rapana
Benji Marshall6Jack Wighton
Luke Brooks7Sam Williams
Ben Matulino8Josh Papalii
Robbie Farah9Siliva Havili
Alex Twal10Dunamis Lui
Ryan Matterson11John Bateman
Chris McQueen12Elliott Whitehead
Matthew Eisenhuth13Joseph Tapine
Jacob Liddle14Tom Starling
Thomas Mikaele15Emre Guler
Josh Aloiai16Iosia Soliola
Michael Chee-Kam17Ryan 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.

Tip: Head-to-head – Raiders to win @ $1.90

New Zealand Warriors v Melbourne Storm @ Mt Smart Stadium
Saturday 8th June, 3:00pm

WarriorsStorm
Roger Tuivasa-Sheck1Jahrome Hughes
David Fusitu’a2Suliasi Vunivalu
Peta Hiku3Will Chambers
Patrick Herbert4Marion Seve
Ken Maumalo5Josh Addo-Carr
Kodi Nikorima6Cameron Munster
Blake Green7Brodie Croft
Agnatius Paasi8Jesse Bromwich
Issac Luke9Cameron Smith
Leeson Ah Mau10Nelson Asofa-Solomona
Isaiah Papali’i11Felise Kaufusi
Tohu Harris12Kenneath Bromwich
Adam Blair13Dale Finucane
Lachlan Burr14Brandon Smith
Bunty Afoa15Joe Stimson
Chris Satae16Tui Kamikamica
Karl Lawton17Ryan 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.

Tip: Handicap – Warriors +4.5 @ $1.90

Cronulla Sharks v Parramatta Eels @ PointsBet Stadium
Saturday 8th June, 5:30pm

SharksEels
Matt Moylan1Clinton Gutherson
Sosaia Feki2Maika Sivo
Bronson Xerri3Michael Jennings
Josh Dugan4Josh Hoffman
Aaron Gray5Blake Ferguson
Kyle Flanagan6Will Smith
Chad Townsend7Mitchell Moses
Andrew Fifita8Kane Evans
Jayden Brailey9Reed Mahoney
Matt Prior10Junior Paulo
Briton Nikora11Shaun Lane
Kurt Capewell12Manu Ma’u
Paul Gallen13Tepai Moeroa
Blayke Brailey14Peni Terepo
Jayson Bukuya15Ray Stone
Jack Williams16David Gower
Braden Hamlin-Uele17Marata 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.

Tip: Handicap – Sharks -4.5 @ $1.90

North Queensland Cowboys v Manly Warringah Sea Eagles @ 1300SMILES Stadium
Saturday 8th June, 7:35pm

CowboysSea Eagles
Michael Morgan1Tom Trbojevic
Kyle Feldt2Jorge Taufua
Mitchell Dunn3Dylan Walker
Tom Opacic4Moses Suli
Enari Tuala5Reuben Garrick
John Asiata6Cade Cust
Jake Clifford7Kane Elgey
Josh McGuire8Addin Fonua-Blake
Jake Granville9Apisai Koroisau
Jordan McLean10Martin Taupau
Gavin Cooper11Joel Thompson
Coen Hess12Curtis Sironen
Jason Taumalolo13Jack Gosiewski
Reuben Cotter14Manase Fainu
Shane Wright15Brendan Elliot
Scott Bolton16Morgan Boyle
Francis Molo17Taniela 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.

Tip: Handicap – Sea Eagles +3.5 @ $1.90

Brisbane Broncos v Gold Coast Titans @ Suncorp Stadium
Sunday 9th June, 2:00pm

BroncosTitans
Darius Boyd1Alexander Brimson
Corey Oates2Anthony Don
Kotoni Staggs3Jesse Arthars
Gehamat Shibasaki4Brian Kelly
Jamayne Isaako5Dale Copley
Anthony Milford6Tyrone Roberts
Tom Dearden7Ashley Taylor
Matthew Lodge8Jarrod Wallace
Jake Turpin9Mitch Rein
Payne Haas10Moeaki Fotuaika
Alex Glenn11Kevin Proctor
Matt Gillett12Keegan Hipgrave
Tevita Pangai Junior13Jai Arrow
Andrew McCullough14Tyrone Peachey
David Fifita15Shannon Boyd
Thomas Flegler16Bryce Cartwright
Joe Ofahengaue17Jai 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.

Tip: Handicap – Broncos -7.5 @ $1.90

Penrith Panthers v Sydney Roosters @ Panthers Stadium
Sunday 9th June, 4:05pm

PanthersRoosters
Dylan Edwards1James Tedesco
Josh Mansour2Daniel Tupou
Isaah Yeo3Latrell Mitchell
Brent Naden4Joseph Manu
Brian To’o5Matt Ikuvalu
Jarome Luai6Drew Hutchison
James Maloney7Cooper Cronk
James Tamou8Jared Waerea-Hargreaves
Wayde Egan9Victor Radley
Reagan Campbell-Gillard10Siosiua Taukeiaho
Viliame Kikau11Boyd Cordner
Frank Winterstein12Angus Crichton
James Fisher-Harris13Isaac Liu
Sione Katoa14Nat Butcher
Liam Martin15Zane Tetevano
Moses Leota16Sitili Tupouniua
Hame Sele17Mitchell 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.

Tip: Doubles – Roosters/Roosters @ $1.91

Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs v St George-Illawarra Dragons @ ANZ Stadium
Sunday 10th June, 4:00pm

BulldogsDragons
Nick Meaney1Matthew Dufty
Christian Crichton2Jonus Pearson
Marcelo Montoya3Euan Aitken
Will Hopoate4Zac Lomax
Reimis Smith5Mikaele Ravalawa
Kieran Foran6Corey Norman
Jack Cogger7Jai Field
Aiden Tolman8Blake Lawrie
Jeremy Marshall-King9Cameron McInnes
Ofahiki Ogden10Korbin Sims
Josh Jackson11Jacob Host
Raymond Faitala-Mariner12Tariq Sims
Adam Elliott13Luciano Leilua
Rhyse Martin14Jeremy Latimore
Danny Fualalo15Reece Robson
Chris Smith16Lachlan Timm
Sauaso Sue17Josh 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.

Tip: Doubles – Dragons/Dragons @ $2.20