We put our reputation on the line with predictions for every game in Round 20.
Brisbane Broncos vs Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs @Suncorp Stadium, Thursday 7:50pm
Heading into half-time last round Brisbane were down 12-6 to last placed Newcastle, they eventually came out on top 34-22 but the result would’ve no doubt sent a bit of a scare through the Brisbane camp. Canterbury had the bye last round but before that they also faced Newcastle. Like Brisbane they were made to do it tough as they only just escaped with a 20-18 win courtesy of a late Moses Mbye try.
In for Brisbane are Josh McGuire, Kodi Nikorima and Matt Gillett, while Jaydn Su'A is out. Coming into Canterbury’s starting line-up are the big, hard-hitting forwards Josh Jackson and David Klemmer, while Brett Morris also returns and out is Asipeli Fine.
Brisbane can and will put up a big score in this game meaning Canterbury’s backline will have to do similar. So far their lacklustre backline this year has scored a measly 17 tries in a combined 57 games. Look for that back five of the Morris brothers, Will Hopoate, Chase Stanley and Marcelo Montoya to be able to step it up a notch for this hugely important game.
Why Brisbane will win: Fortress Suncorp. Brisbane have won four of their past five against Canterbury at Suncorp Stadium and are seven of nine there this season. Their only losses their so far were by one point to North Queensland and to first placed Melbourne. Expect Brisbane to make it eight of ten.
Our Tip: Brisbane by 10.
Sydney Roosters vs Newcastle Knights @Allianz Stadium, Friday 6:00pm
The big question heading into this clash is how Sydney winger Blake Ferguson will perform after having his and NSW team mate Josh Dugan pre-Origin drinking session be well publicised during the week. He has eight tries and one try assist from thirteen appearances this season but this will have no doubt affected his state of mind coming into this encounter.
Before their bye an Origin depleted Sydney side overcame South Sydney 14-12 in a tense encounter. As for Newcastle they were only down by two heading into around the 70th minute of their clash with Brisbane before they let in two late tries to go down 34-22. These teams are trending in the opposite directions as a win would help Sydney in their chase of first place while a victory for Newcastle would help them in their struggle to avoid finishing in last place.
Origin stars Blake Ferguson, Mitchell Pearce and Dylan Napa all return for Sydney while Jake Friend is out. Meanwhile for Newcastle Shaun Kenny-Dowall has been named to take on his former club after a mid-season transfer.
Why Sydney will win: This game could very well come down to each club's halves and who can control the game better. Not only overall are Sydney’s halves more experienced but they also are in scintillating form this year. Luke Keary and Mitchell Pearce have a combined nine tries and twenty-four try assists this season. They’ll be able to guide Sydney to a victory.
Our Tip: Sydney by 14.