Wests Tigers vs South Sydney Rabbitohs – Thursday night – Bankwest Stadium
The last time the Rabbitohs won a game was against the Tigers. That was at ANZ, and while this is a home game for the Tigers, Bankwest hasn't been a happy hunting ground for them yet (two games and two absolute beltings). The Tigers held on against the Cowboys two weeks ago but this looks harder. Note that Reynolds, Burns and George Burgess are likely to return on Thursday night. Gagai should be nice and fresh after a quiet game on Wednesday, and Cook should be feeling good about himself after a stellar performance.
Verdict – Rabbitohs by 8
Result – Tigers 14 defeated Rabbitohs 9
St George Illawarra Dragons vs North Queensland Cowboys – Friday night – WIN Stadium
While the Dragons are battling some depth issues in the backline the Cowboys are battling depth issues everywhere. We don't have an official team list yet, but it looks to me like they'll be cobbling together a team for Friday night with a few extras they've picked up from other clubs. Kahu is set to play in the halves with doubts over Michael Morgan, and Scott Drinkwater gets his first gig in a Cowboys jersey at fullback. Baptiste is out for the season after an ACL injury for the Kumuls, and Hess joins fellow forwards Scott and McLean on the sidelines for a while. McGuire faces a week off after a late hit on Maloney on Wednesday night. That's a lot of missing forwards, but at least they have Taumalolo who is more like 3 or 4 forwards. Despite his presence, I think they'll struggle down at the Gong. The Dragons have a big pack and a dangerous and settled spine. While the Red V season looks like it's on a slippery slope into the abyss they might arrest their descent here...for a while at least.
Verdict – Dragons by 4
Result – Dragons 22 defeated Cowboys 14
Sydney Roosters vs Melbourne Storm – Friday night – Adelaide Oval
League fans in Adelaide would be thin on the ground, but those that turned up to watch these two dish it out to each other in previous contests have been rewarded for their efforts. In 2017 a late Roosters field goal proved the difference and in 2018 the Storm did much the same thing. Amazingly, these sides met earlier this season in Melbourne and the Roosters did it again with a Latrell Mitchell field goal in the 80th minute. I'm actually pretty keen on the Storm in this one – a little unusual given the result when last they met, but the Chooks aren't quite the same team without Luke Keary in the halves, and Mitchell may not be in the same head space he was earlier in the season. The Storm put the Knights to the sword last start. That is seriously good form, and every time they beat one of these teams just below them on the ladder they go one step closer to a minor premiership and a final in Melbourne. Game of the round...obviously.
Verdict – Storm by 4
Result – Storm 14 defeated Roosters 12
Gold Coast Titans vs Manly Sea Eagles – Saturday afternoon – Cbus Super Stadium
It's been a pretty ordinary season for the Titans (and let's be honest...this isn't the first). In a year with very few high points the highest of all was back in round 11 when they flogged the Sea Eagles at Brookvale. Few saw it coming then, and some of you probably think I'm making it up now, but yes, it really happened. Will it happen again? No. No it won't.
Verdict – Sea Eagles by 14
Result – Sea Eagles 30 defeated Titans 12
Newcastle Knights vs Brisbane Broncos – Saturday night – McDonald Jones Stadium
Glasby is out for the Knights and Ponga looks pretty darn unlikely at this point, but Pearce and Edrick should be back, and there's some chance Klemmer puts his broken hand up to play. Clearly the swing factor here is Ponga, because if he's out the Knights are a much easier team to contain. I'm tipping the Knights anyway, because the Broncos were ordinary against the Titans and worse than ordinary against the Eels. Haas and/or Ofahengaue may play, so keep your eye on that Broncos team list too.
Verdict – Knights by 2
Result – Knights 26 defeated Broncos 12
Parramatta Eels vs Canberra Raiders – Saturday night – TIO Stadium
Moving this game to Darwin has to help the Eels a little but the inclusion of Hodgson will help the Raiders a lot more. When these sides met in round five the Eels couldn't score a single point and it's hard to ignore results like that. Will the Eels be better? Probably. Will the Eels be so much better that they can win? Probably not.
Verdict – Raiders by 4
Result – Eels 22 defeated Raiders 16
New Zealand Warriors vs Penrith Panthers – Sunday afternoon – Mt Smart Stadium
These sides met just over a month ago and the Warriors were comfortable 30-10 winners. That's quite a win given the Warriors overall record in Sydney is truly hideous. Since that game the Panthers haven't lost a game to anyone, so it's fair to say they've improved. They won't have Cleary this Sunday, but Maloney doesn't mind being the centre of attention. This is the time of year when the Warriors can string some wins together, and while they haven't done that yet there are signs of competitiveness there. It's hardly enough to leave me brimming with confidence, but that's the Warriors for you.
Verdict – Warriors by 4
Result – Panthers 19 defeated Warriors 18
Canterbury Bulldogs vs Cronulla Sharks – Sunday afternoon – ANZ Stadium
I'm still a bit filthy about that Origin result on Sunday night, so I'm hoping you will all give me an early leave pass. You don't really need my advice for this game do you? Surely not. Note that Fifita is suspended for the Sharks, which will make then 10% less effective and 90% less annoying.
Verdict – Sharks by 22
Result – Bulldogs 14 defeated Sharks 12
Wally Lewis - round fifteen selections (in bold)
Note: tips from Wally will be published on Wednesday night or Thursday morning
- Tigers vs RABBITOHS
- DRAGONS vs Cowboys
- Roosters vs STORM
- Titans vs SEA EAGLES
- KNIGHTS vs Broncos
- Eels vs RAIDERS
- Warriors vs PANTHERS
- Bulldogs vs SHARKS