I’ll be honest, I’m extremely short on time this week, so consider this an express post of tips. If you prefer this format, let me know and I’ll stop wasting my, and your, time every week.
Brisbane at North Queensland – The Cowboys are busted while the Broncos are only somewhat busted but that could probably be a function of the inexperience of their forward pack, half of whom is injured or near injured. The Cowboys have accepted that they won’t be playing in September and are on the JT farewell tour and this is his last game against Brisbane. I think North Queensland will lose, putting them in a very perilous position.
Newcastle at New Zealand – If the same team that beat the Dragons last week turns up this week, then the Kiwis will win. The Knights will be lucky if they have any say in the process.
Sydney at South Sydney – The auld rivalry will get another chapter for the Book of Feuds. The Rabbitohs demonstrated their chops by a systematic, come-from-behind victory over the Storm last week, in one of the year’s more entertaining and skilled performances. The Roosters had the Cows put away and then they didn’t and then they scraped home. Based on that, Souths to win.
Penrith at Gold Coast – This is a revenge game for most of the Titans roster. With the Panthers now coach-less, one wonders if they will affect their concentration on this game or if it actually improve things at Penrith. The Titans may as well be coach-less for all the good it’s done their season. I think the Panthers should still win this one.
Canterbury at Manly – For two teams that drew less than 7,000 to each of their home games, the biggest question is who will actually turn up to this game at the decrepit Brookvale? If anyone bothers, I think they’ll see the Great Bambino, otherwise known as Lachlan Lewis, point out a few more kicks on the way to a Bulldogs win.
St George Illawarra at Parramatta – Ha ha ha ha, as if Parramatta will win this. Mercy. April premiers or not, the Dragons should get home on this one.
Wests at Canberra – There’s a big battle of recent stats. On one hand, Benji Marshall has only lost to the Raiders once in eighteen matches. On the other, Canberra have won their last four encounters with Wests to the tune of 206-34. Compounding this recent form and the Tigers might be on the verge of losing the messianic coach. Raiders by a million.
Cronulla at Melbourne – The Sharks have been running well, doing a fantastic job of forcing everyone to play in their style and then get beaten on experience, but the Storm have been running better. Melbourne for me.
Central Queensland at Ipswich – The Capras are useless, the Jets aren’t too bad so Ipswich.
Redcliffe at Townsville – A tough top of the table clash and what is likely to be the grand final, at least from where I’m sitting. The Blackhawks have the homeground advantage but will be smarting from the loss to the Devils. Speaking of smarting, the Dolphins drew with Mackay last week and lost by one to Ipswich. It’s time for Redcliffe.
Northern Pride at Mackay – The Cutters are useless (despite their draw with the Dolphins), the Pride aren’t too bad so Northern.
PNG at Tweed Heads – The Hunters have struggled through the first part of the season but are on fire now. The Seagulls were almost the opposite: terrible, firing and now terrible again. Hunters for me.
Norths at Wynnum Manly – The Devils have beaten the Bears twice and the Blackhawks and Dolphins once each. The Seagulls have beaten the Devils, convincingly at Suncorp no less but I’m still going to back Norths and keep one eye on them. My predictions of cookedness was premature: they may still make the top six.
Burleigh at Souths Logan – Souths Logan are, depressingly, done for the year. Burleigh are premiership contenders with everything to play for. Bears for mine.
Easts at Sunshine Coast – The battle of Melbourne feeder clubs in on again. Easts put 30 on the Sunshine Coast back in round 4. The Tigers have gone from inconsistent to smashing it: of their last ten games, they’ve won eight and are now ensconced in the finals places. Over the same period, Sunny Coast have won six which is still better than average but not as impressive. Tigers for me.