St George Illawarra Dragons vs Parramatta Eels – Thursday night – WIN Stadium
First plays last but this isn't a formality, with a fair chunk of the Dragons seventeen backing up (and backing up quickly) from representative duties. Tyson Frizell won't play, but the other eight have been named. It's a big ask, but the Eels are a big basket case. There could be a few at Parramatta (Norman and Hayne spring to mind) who might be playing to pick up new contracts elsewhere next season, but that doesn't mean they'll play like a team.
Verdict – Dragons by 8
Result – Dragons 20 defeated Eels 18
New Zealand Warriors vs Cronulla Sharks – Friday night – Mt Smart Stadium
On paper the Sharks look like they have an edge in the forwards here, and they've rushed the big teddy bear Aaron Woods straight into the seventeen – I expect he'll go well. Valentine Holmes at fullback will be wanting to impress too. There's no doubt he wants a gig somewhere as a fullback, and a few teams (Cowboys definitely and Broncos probably) will be keeping an eye on him. The Warriors have been tough to beat at home this season but I'm with the visitors here.
Verdict – Sharks by 4
Result – Sharks 18 defeated Warriors 15
Sydney Roosters vs Melbourne Storm – Friday night – Adelaide Oval
This game heads back to Adelaide again and this time around Cooper Cronk will be facing off against the Storm. The absence of Waerea-Hargreaves and Cordnor for the Chooks have me leaning purple, although the Storm are missing a few big boppers themselves. If Asofa-Solomona can't find a functioning airplane I'd lean the other way, and if Billy Slater is rested I'd lean heavily the other way, but based on the teams as named it's the Storm for me. For those of you that don't have to tip as early as I do I urge you to keep your eye out for team changes.
Verdict – Storm by 4
Result – Storm 9 defeated Roosters 8
Penrith Panthers vs Manly Sea Eagles – Saturday afternoon – Panthers Stadium
The Panthers have named their Origin players and they should back up (although Maloney isn't getting any younger). Just as importantly Kikau returns and he adds an X factor in the middle. Manly look like a team that have put a line through their season already, and they haven't beaten Penrith at Penrith since 2011.
Verdict – Panthers by 10
Result – Sea Eagles 18 defeated Panthers 10
Newcastle Knights vs Canterbury Bulldogs – Saturday night – McDonald Jones Stadium
The Knights don't start as warm favourites too often but this Bulldogs side is barely recognisable. While this doesn't look like much of a game the Novacastrians will be out in force and the Knights will give the locals a good night out. And Ponga.
Verdict – Knights by 14
Result – Bulldogs 36 defeated Knights 16
Brisbane Broncos vs Canberra Raiders – Saturday night – Suncorp Stadium
What a difference a Hodgson makes. The Raiders were an entirely different proposition with his return last round, and if they bring that form again they'll be winning here too. If they did I wouldn't be surprised but I want to see it happen before I'm convinced that the Raiders are still a top eight proposition. Their only two wins away from home this season are against the Cowboys and the Tigers, and I think the Broncos are better than that. Not much better mind you. Could be the game of the round this one.
Verdict – Broncos by 2
Result – Broncos 26 defeated Raiders 22
Wests Tigers vs Gold Coast Titans – Sunday afternoon – Leichhardt Oval
The return of Robbie Farah couldn't be better timed, as he's back for a Sunday afternoon at the picturesque Leichhardt Oval. But he's not the only new face at the Tigers, with Moses Mbye slotting into the fullback role. Handy inclusions and the Tigers are warm favourites, but I'm pretty keen on the Titans in an upset here. It's a good looking pack of forwards and a fairly settled backline, taking on a team that may take a week or two to get their combinations right.
Verdict – Titans by 4
Result – Titans 30 defeated Tigers 12
South Sydney Rabbitohs vs North Queensland Cowboys – Sunday afternoon – Barlow Park
I was lucky enough to be up north for the Cowboys narrow loss to the Warriors in round 15, and the general feeling in the room was that the loss that night spelled the end of their finals aspirations this season. I was also lucky enough to be up north for the Cowboys narrow loss to the Rabbitohs earlier this season. The Cowboys were a little unlucky that night, but back then they had something to play for, and the only thing they have left to play for is pride. I doubt that's enough against a genuine premiership contender. Note the location though folks. Maybe, just maybe, the extra travel for the Bunnies gives the Cowboys a sniff here. I can't tip them though.
Verdict – Rabbitohs by 10
Result – Rabbitohs 21 defeated Cowboys 20
Wally Lewis - round sixteen selections (in bold)
Note: tips from Wally will be published on Wednesday night or early Thursday morning.
- DRAGONS vs Eels
- Warriors vs SHARKS
- Roosters vs STORM
- PANTHERS vs Sea Eagles
- KNIGHTS vs Bulldogs
- BRONCOS vs Raiders
- TIGERS vs Titans
- RABBITOHS vs Cowboys