We put our reputation on the line with predictions for every game in another big weekend of NRL action
Brisbane Broncos vs Melbourne Storm @Suncorp Stadium, Friday, 7.50pm
The Broncos in their last game escaped Canberra with a hard-fought 10 point victory. Melbourne on the other hand led Sydney 24-12 heading into the 72nd minute before losing 25-24 courtesy of a Mitchell Pearce field goal. A loss for Melbourne possibly sees them no longer outright first at the end of the round whilst a win for the Broncos would see them keep the pressure on the Storm for first place. No matter who you support this is a must watch and is the game of the round.
In for Brisbane are Jai Arrow, Jaydn Su’A, Jonus Pearson and Korbin Sims and they have no outs. Billy Slater, Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk, Joe Stimson, Jordan McLean and Will Chambers rejoin the line up for Storm at the expense of Brandon Smith and Jahrome Hughes.
Cameron Munster has performed admirably in the number six jersey vacated by Blake Green this season with seven try assists and is another gem unearthed by Craig Bellamy. In such a big game, look for him to rise to the occasion and help lead Melbourne to a win.
Why Melbourne will win: The Storm have won their past three clashes against Brisbane at Suncorp by an average margin of around 24 points. The score won’t be that big this time around but their top of the table form should see them out in what will be a thriller.
Our Tip: Storm by one.
Sydney Roosters vs Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks @Central Coast Stadium, Saturday, 3pm
Last round Mitchell Pearce was the hero as they won by one against the table-topping Storm in Adelaide while Cronulla were smashed 35-18 at home against Manly. A win for either side will keep them on track to be Minor Premiers…but a loss could be costly.
In for Sydney are Chris Smith, Kane Evans, Mitchell Cornish and Victor Radley with no outs. In for Cronulla are Edrick Lee, Fa'amanu Brown, Jeremy Latimore, Jesse Ramien, Joseph Paulo and Sam Tagataese while Jayden Brailey is omitted and Daniel Mortimer has been released to move overseas.
Watch out for Valentine Holmes and Jack Bird in this game. Despite State of Origin call-ups ,their club form has been questionable. Tries and try assists don’t mean everything but they have only combined for three and seven respectively this year. In a big game against opponents like these, the these two will need to step up their game.
Why Cronulla will win: Cronulla’s stocked forward pack will prove the difference. With Paul Gallen leading the way for Cronulla, everyone else follows with Andrew Fifita making 332 tackles this year and even Matt Prior 362. The Roosters’ forwards are good but might struggle to cope with Cronulla’s.
Our Tip: Sharks by six.
Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles vs New Zealand Warriors @ Nib Stadium, Saturday, 5:30pm
The Sea Eagles were unstoppable last round, easily beating the Sharks 35-18. The Warriors were made to fight harder for their 21-14 win over the Bulldogs. Depending on other results, a win for the Sea Eagles could see them sneak into the Top Four and the Top Eight beckons for a Warriors win.
In for Manly are Brad Parker, Cameron Cullen, Jackson Hastings, Jarrad Kennedy and Jonathan Wright while Curtis Sironen is out. Bunty Afoa, Isaiah Papalii, Kieran Foran, Ligi Sao, Manu Vatuvei and Mason Lino are in for the Warriors to replace Issac Luke and Sam Lisone.
Daly Cherry-Evans put on a show last week against the Sharks. This will be his last game to impress before the Origin squads are named for Game Three. He’ll be trying to show Kevin Walters why he deserves Johnathan Thurston’s vacated spot ahead of Corey Norman, Cameron Munster or Michael Morgan. Expect him to put on a big game.
Why Manly will win: Two factors should contribute to an easy Sea Eagles win. The first is their 11 wins from 12 games against the Warriors (including Nines). The second is their blistering form, winning their past four games including key victories over the Gold Coast and Cronulla.
Our Tip: Sea Eagles by 20.