We put our reputation on the line with predictions for every game in another big weekend of NRL action
Parramatta Eels vs Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs @ANZ Stadium, Thursday, 7:50pm
Parramatta come into this clash having had the bye to freshen up, but they hey made light work of rivals St George in their last match winning 24-10 at the same stadium. Canterbury’s woes continued as they lost a tight affair in Auckland going down to the Warriors 21-14. This game represents a massive chance for the Eels to consolidate eighth spot, currently two wins ahead of ninth-placed Penrith.
In for the Eels are Cameron King, David Gower ,Nathan Davis and Tepai Moeroa while Beau Scott and Kaysa Pritchard are out. For Canterbury, Asipeli Fine, Brett Morris ,Francis Tualau and Matt Frawley are in and Greg Eastwood and James Graham are out.
Both Kaysa Pritchard and Isaac De Gois are unavailable for Parramatta, allowing third-choice hooker Cameron King will step into the crucial role for Thursday night’s encounter. He is yet to play this season and he has big shoes to fill. But he’s as tough as they come and should be able to perform.
Why Parramatta will win: Captain James Graham’s absence cannot be underestimated as he is a massive part of any Bulldogs success this season. He gains them valuable metres up through the middle (124m per game). The Eels should have an easy time without him there.
Our Tip: Eels by 12.
Gold Coast Titans vs St George Illawarra Dragons @CBUS Super Stadium, Friday, 6pm
In their last clash the Titans had it easy for most of the game, beating the Tigers 26-14, while the Dragons were made to work hard for their narrow 32-28 win over Newcastle. It’s now or never for the Gold Coast who sit three wins outside of the Top Eight but a win is also crucial for the Dragon to halt their slide down the table.
In for the Titans are Chris McQueen, Nathaniel Peteru, Paterika Vaivai and Tyrone Roberts while they have no outs. Blake Lawrie, Euan Aitken, Jack de Belin, Matthew Dufty and Will Matthews join the Dragons squad while influential forward Paul Vaughan is the only one out.
Last round against the Tigers, Jarryd Hayne scored two tries in five minutes in an outstanding performance from the million dollar man. He has six tries and three try assists in only nine appearances this year and his battle against Dragons and NSW back Josh Dugan will be one to watch. Dugan himself is averaging 167m per game this year. Both players are critical to their team’s chances of winning this game.
Why Gold Coast will win: The Titans proved they are no longer the NRL’s whipping boys last season and have backed it up again this year, claiming big scalps with wins over the Eels, Sharks and Storm. The Dragons meanwhile have suffered heavy defeats including losing by 18 to the Eels, 14 to the Bulldogs and 14 to the Eels again. Given the difference in form, the Dragons won’t be breathing fire on Friday night.
Our Tip: Titans by 18.