Parramatta Eels vs South Sydney Rabbitohs – Thursday night – ANZ Stadium
In round 13 the Rabbitohs took on the Sharks without their four Origin players. They won anyway, against a team on a roll. In round 14 the Rabbitohs rested their four Origin players against the Titans. They won again. Those four Origin players are back on Thursday night. I can't see them losing. The Eels surprised almost everyone with a win last weekend. No surprises here.
Verdict – Rabbitohs by 16
Result – Rabbitohs 42 defeated Eels 24
North Queensland Cowboys vs New Zealand Warriors – Friday night – 1300SMILES Stadium
A lot of people are scratching their heads when it comes to the Cowboys and their season thus far. To my eye they just look off the pace – half a yard slower than most of their opponents. Half a yard may not seem like much, but over the course of 80 minutes it takes its toll. I don't know if that explains the Cowboys performances entirely, but it's my explanation. The Warriors by comparison, are one of the quickest teams in the NRL. I should add that I'm heading north this weekend and will be at the game on Friday night. A drink in the sheds with the Cowboys after the game is on the cards for Mr Thinker...if the Cowboys win, so I hope I'm wrong.
Verdict – Warriors by 4
Result – Warriors 23 defeated Cowboys 16
Sydney Roosters vs Penrith Panthers – Friday night – Allianz Stadium
The Panthers have made their home ground a fortress this season (6 wins from 6 games). Their away record is much less formidable – they've lost games away to the Bulldogs, Sharks and Cowboys, and the teams they've beaten away from home (Cowboys, Eels, Knights and Raiders) are all outside the top eight. The Roosters aren't firing, but they're better than the teams the Panthers have beaten on the road this year. That said the Panthers should be the favourites here...I'm just not tipping them. Gosh I'm confusing sometimes.
Verdict – Roosters by 4
Result – Roosters 32 defeated Panthers 6
Canterbury Bulldogs vs Gold Coast Titans – Saturday afternoon – Belmore Sports Ground
A short turnaround for the Bulldogs but they will take plenty of positives out of their narrow loss to the Dragons on Monday. The Titans have lost Jarrod Wallace this weekend and the Bulldogs aren't short of big forwards. Given the venue I expect the Dogs can grind out a victory in the old fashioned way.
Verdict – Bulldogs by 4
Result – Titans 32 defeated Bulldogs 10
St George Illawarra Dragons vs Manly Sea Eagles – Saturday night – WIN Stadium
Just three teams have beaten the Dragons this season, and they are second, third and fourth on the NRL ladder. That's pretty good form. Manly gave their backers hope for a while there, but it was clearly a false dawn. I imagine they'll jag a win here and there throughout the remainder of the season, but finals football is beyond them. Winning this game is beyond them too.
Verdict – Dragons by 14
Result – Dragons 32 defeated Sea Eagles 8
Cronulla Sharks vs Brisbane Broncos – Saturday night – Southern Cross Group Stadium
I thought the Broncos were competitive enough against the Storm while the Sharks took an age to get over the Tigers last weekend. Darius Boyd plays his 150th NRL game this weekend (I'm surprised it's not more) and he'll be focusing on the Broncos from here on in. That Broncos bench has enough size in it to match the Sharks pack. An upset on the cards.
Verdict – Broncos by 2
Result – Broncos 20 defeated Sharks 16
Newcastle Knights vs Melbourne Storm – Sunday afternoon – McDonald Jones Stadium
Much interest here will be in the battle of the fullbacks, with Ponga looking likely as the long term replacement for Billy Slater as the QLD (and probably Australian) fullback for many years to come. He's doing some incredible things in a struggling team. These sides met in round six and the Storm gave the Knights a footballing lesson. Another schooling looks the logical outcome.
Verdict – Storm by 14
Result – Storm 28 defeated Knights 10
Wests Tigers vs Canberra Raiders – Sunday afternoon – Campbelltown Stadium
The Raiders have been in five close games this season and lost four of them. They can be a frustrating team to support. Those frustrated fans welcome back Josh Hodgson on Sunday, but it may take him a while to regain anything like the form we have seen from him previously. Given the venue I expect the Tigers to make a game of this, and if it's close I can't tip the Raiders so it's Luke Brooks with the field goal and...
Verdict – Tigers by 1
Result – Raiders 48 defeated Tigers 12
Wally Lewis - round fifteen selections (in bold)
Note: tips from Wally will be published on Wednesday night or early Thursday morning.
- Eels vs RABBITOHS
- Cowboys vs WARRIORS
- ROOSTERS vs Panthers
- BULLDOGS vs Titans
- DRAGONS vs Sea Eagles
- SHARKS vs Broncos
- Knights vs STORM
- TIGERS vs Raiders