We put our reputation on the line with predictions for every game in the weekend's NRL action.
New Zealand Warriors vs Canberra Raiders @Mt Smart Stadium, Sunday 2:00pm
Stat Fact: Josh Papalli and Elliot Whitehead (8) have more combined try assists this season then Blake Austin (7).
Big Talking Point: For Canberra it's win or die. Canberra are fully aware of the ramifications for each of their games for the remainder of their season, they win and they live another week or lose and it’s all over. Considering they were dark-horse favourites to win the Grand Final by many at the start of the season, it’s extremely disappointing to see them in a dog fight for eighth spot. But all they can do to shut the critics up now is win and hope that both Penrith and St George lose. This makes Canberra’s recent last-play loss earlier in the season to Penrith all the more critical.
What Will Happen: New Zealand will get smashed. Stephen Kearney’s side have struggled almightily this season and against a resurgent Canberra side things are only going to get worse. Things have the potential to get very ugly down in Auckland.
What Won’t Happen: The New Zealand players prove they're worthy of their spots in the side. Kearney publicly admitted that he didn’t have the depth to wield the axe on the side otherwise he would have. Don’t expect the New Zealand players to act like they care though.
Our Tip: Canberra by 30.
Wests Tigers vs Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles @Leichardt Oval, Sunday 4:00pm
Stat Fact: Daly-Cherry Evans leads the NRL in try assists this season with 18.
Big Talking Point: Brenton Lawrence is moving back to where it all began for him as a player. After this season he will be leaving Manly and joining up with the Gold Coast Titans to help bolster their forward pack. Him, Ryan James and Kevin Proctor in the same forward pack could be potentially very damaging to other teams. While it’s rumoured Cronulla forward Sam Tagatese is on his way to Manly from next season onwards. If he comes cheaply he could prove to be a very astute buy for the Northern Beaches side.
What Will Happen: Another DCE masterclass. Last week against Sydney, DCE was instrumental in Manly’s 36-18 comeback win. He even scored the final try of the game to cap off what was a wonderful performance for the Manly skipper. Expect him to have a similar game this week.
What Won’t Happen: Improvement enough for Wests to steal a win from under Manly. Last week after Wests loss to Penrith, coach Ivan Cleary said that there had been improvement in his side this season. He’s not wrong and that should be further on display come Sunday but it still won’t be enough for them to get a win against one of their oldest rivals.
Our Tip: Manly by 12.