Sports writer, JASON OLIVER, looks over all 8 teams and previews this weekend’s Rugby League action with his NRL tips for all Round 17 matches.

Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles v Canberra Raiders @ 4 Pines Park
Thursday 8th July, 7:50pm

Sea EaglesRaiders
Reuben Garrick1Xavier Savage
Jason Saab2Semi Valemei
Brad Parker3Jarrod Croker
Morgan Harper4Sebastian Kris
Moses Suli5Jordan Rapana
Kieran Foran6Matt Frawley
Dylan Walker7Sam Williams
Taniela Paseka8Emre Guler
Lachlan Croker9Josh Hodgson
Martin Taupau10Dunamis Lui
Haumole Olakau’atu11Corey Harawira-Naera
Karl Lawton12Hudson Young
Sean Keppie13Ryan Sutton
Cade Cust14Tom Starling
Ben Trbojevic15Ryan James
Kurt De Luis16Iosia Soliola
Toafofoa Sipley17Joseph Tapine

Played 32, Sea Eagles 19, Raiders 13

Last Meeting: Round 6, 2020: Sea Eagles 14 def. Raiders 6

Final Thoughts: The Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles are on fire. Their 66 points scored against the Bulldogs on Saturday night puts their three-game average at 48 points per game. Meanwhile, the Canberra Raiders have continued their slide down the NRL ladder following a poor 44-6 loss to the Titans.

Reuben Garrick will slot in at fullback for Tom Trbojevic while Dylan Walker replaces Daly Cherry-Evans in the halves. Cade Cust is the new #14. For the Raiders, Xavier Savage is at fullback for the injured Bailey Simmonsson, Matt Frawley will wear the #6 for Jack Wighton, Emre Guler starts for Josh Papalii and Hudson Young replaces Elliott Whitehead.

While the Sea Eagles are without Trbojevic and Cherry-Evans, we’ve seen this group dominate without them. Without Trbojevic, at least. They’ll try to run a lot of the same shapes which won’t be quite as effective, but their pack should earn enough opportunities to find points. It’s an area the Raiders are struggling. Their 1,549 running metres per game ranks 13th in the NRL. Canberra simply isn’t giving themselves enough opportunities to score thanks to their 15th-ranked 47.1% average possession and 16th-ranked 76.2% completion rate per game. There is still a lot of talent in this Raiders side. They should keep it close given the players Manly is missing.

Tip: Margin – Sea Eagles 1-12 @ $3.50

South Sydney Rabbitohs v North Queensland Cowboys @ Stadium Australia
Friday 9th July, 7:55pm

Blake Taaffe1Daejarn Asi
Alex Johnston2Kyle Feldt
Braidon Burns3Javid Bowen
Campbell Graham4Connelly Lemuelu
Taane Milne5Murray Taulagi
Cody Walker6Scott Drinkwater
Adam Reynolds7Tom Dearden
Mark Nicholls8Coen Hess
Benji Marshall9Reece Robson
Thomas Burgess10Jordan McLean
Keaon Koloamatangi11Shane Wright
Jaydn Su’A12Mitchell Dunn
Hame Sele13Jason Taumalolo
Liam Knights14Jake Granville
Jacob Host15Tom Gilbert
Patrick Mago16Lachlan Burr
Peter Mamouzelous17Heilum Luki

Played 35, Rabbitohs 17, Cowboys 17

Last Meeting: Round 14, 2020: Rabbitohs 31 def. Cowboys 30

Final Thoughts: The South Sydney Rabbitohs did it easy in their 38-22 win over the Tigers on Sunday afternoon. The North Queensland Cowboys, on the other hand, copped a hiding of their own as the Knights piled up 38 unanswered points at McDonald Jones Stadium.

Big changes for the Rabbitohs: Blake Taaffe, Braidon Burns, Jaydn Su’A, Benji Marshall are in. Latrell Mitchell, Dane Gagai, Jai Arrow and Damien Cook are all out of Origin duty. Patrick Mago and Peter Mamouzelos join the bench. Similar for the Cowboys: Daejarn Asi, Connelley Lemualu and Tom Gilbert replace Origin stars Valentine Holmes, Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow and Francis Molo.

While the Rabbitohs have lost more influential players to Origin than the Cowboys, Wayne Bennett still has key contributors to work with. Primarily, Adam Reynolds and Cody Walker. The Souths halves will ensure the attack runs relatively smoothly which, against this struggling North Queensland defence, will find points. Although, the Rabbitohs defence also has a few question marks around it. They concede 20 points per game. While inconsistent, the Cowboys have shown glimpses of an elite attack through Scott Drinkwater. It’s asking a lot of the Cowboys given what they produced last week, but this one looks like a shootout.

Tip: Total Points – Over 47.5 Points @ $1.90

Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs v Sydney Roosters @ Bankwest Stadium
Saturday 10th July, 7:35pm

Nick Meaney1Joseph Manu
Corey Allan2Daniel Tupou
Will Hopoate3Josh Morris
Aaron Schoupp4Billy Smith
Tui Katoa5Matt Ikuvalu
Kyle Flanagan6Drew Hutchison
Jake Averillo7Sam Walker
Jack Hetherington8Jared Waerea-Hargreaves
Sione Katoa9Sam Verrills
Luke Thompson10Siosiua Taukeiaho
Corey Waddell11Isaac Liu
Joe Stimson12Sitili Tupouniua
Josh Jackson13Victor Radley
Bailey Biondi-Odo14Lachlan Lam
Dylan Napa15Egan Butcher
Ofahiki Ogden16Nat Butcher
Renouf Atoni17Ben Thomas

Played 44, Bulldogs, 21, Roosters 23

Last Meeting: Round 5, 2020: Roosters 42 def. Bulldogs 6

Final Thoughts: The Sydney Roosters had the unfortunate honour of facing an on-fire Storm outfit last week. Although, few will have tipped a 46-0 loss, even with the injuries the tri-colours are carrying. Meanwhile, the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs barely turned up to their Round 16 clash as the Sea Eagles ran in 66 unanswered points.

Brandon Wakeham is the only one of the five Bulldogs coming out of isolation and back into the team. Bailey Biondi-Odo retaining his spot at #14 is the notable news from team list Tuesday. Victor Radley returns for the Roosters. So too does Billy Smith who will play for the first time since 2019. Matt Ikuvalu and Drew Hutchison are back in while Ben Thomas will play his third NRL game.

Radley’s return is going to open up the Roosters attack this week. His role in how they move the ball isn’t something that goes noticed until he returns from a lengthy layoff. James Tedesco may be out for this one, but Radley’s inclusion provides a significant boost and will get the best out of Sam Walker, in particular. Canterbury’s returning players don’t provide a lot of confidence. While on the backfoot throughout his 80 minutes on return last week, Kyle Flanagan has done nothing to suggest he is going to get any points out of this dire Bulldogs attack – Bulldogs 10 points or less at $2.20 appeals. They’re injury and Origin depleted, but this one looks as though it will be another one for the blowout books.

Tip: Win Try Combo – Billy Smith to Score/Roosters to Win @ $2.30

Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks v New Zealand Warriors @ Netstrata Jubilee Stadium
Sunday 11th July, 4:05pm

William Kennedy1Reece Walsh
Sione Katoa2Dallin Watene-Zelezniak
Will Chambers3Rocco Berry
Jesse Ramien4Marcelo Montoya
Ronaldo Mulitalo5Roger Tuivasa-Sheck
Connor Tracey6Kodi Nikorima
Shaun Johnson7Sean O’Sullivan
Aiden Tolman8Addin Fonua-Blake
Blayke Brailey9Wayde Egan
Aaron Woods10Matthew Lodge
Briton Nikora11Eli Katoa
Teig Wilton12Bayley Sironen
Toby Rudolf13Jazz Tevaga
Braydon Trindall14Kane Evans
Siosifa Talakai15Leeson Ah Mau
Jack Williams16Bunty Afoa
Braden Hamlin-Uele17Ben Murdoch-Masila

Played 38, Sharks 23, Warriors 15

Last Meeting: Round 18, 2020: Sharks 22 def. Warriors 14

Final Thoughts: The Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks and New Zealand Warriors suffered bad losses in Round 16. Cronulla’s four-game winning streak is over following a disappointing 26-18 defeat at the hands of the Broncos. Earlier in the round, the Warriors produced a Warriors classic as they collapsed in a heap to lose 19-18 to the Dragons.

Connor Tracey is being given a chance at five-eighth with Matt Moylan still on the sideline for the Sharks. Braydon Trindall moves to the bench with Will Chambers returning to the centres. Reece Walsh is back for the Warriors while Matt Lodge will make his club debut. Chad Townsend and Tohu Harris are both out with shoulder injuries and replaced by Kodi Nikorima and Jazz Tevaga.

This one is a lottery given the form guides of the two sides. However, the Sharks have cohesion and a handful of decent results on their side. If it’s close, they have proven performers that can seal the deal. The Warriors, on the other hand, have made a habit of losing close games this season. Lodge will provide the Warriors with yardage through the middle but they lack ball-playing in their pack. Sean O’Sullivan and Kodi Nikorima completed an awful 80 minutes in attack the last time they linked up in the halves too. You never really know what the Warriors will produce. Reece Walsh and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck could win this on their own. However, the Sharks look the more trustworthy side in this one and have home ground advantage on their side.

Tip: Handicap – Sharks -5.5 @ $1.87