Brisbane Broncos vs Wests Tigers – Thursday night – Suncorp Stadium
Tell my why...they don't like Thursdays? The Broncos have played three Thursday nights games this season and lost them all. Their worst loss was probably the one point loss at home to the Dragons, even though they almost won. The massive loss to the Chooks was marginally better – they did make a mess of a few scoring opportunities and the Chooks had one of those nights where just about everything they did worked. The Tigers started the season reasonably well (not unusual for them), but back to back losses and scoring just 16 points in their last two games is a concern. Given the Broncos missed 54 tackles last week you would hope the Tigers can manage more than 8 points this week. Team lists aren't finalised, but Su'a may actually start for the Broncos this week. Doing that means the Broncos can keep Gillett in his best position as an edge forward. Given results thus far I can't keep tipping the Broncos forever, but two of the Broncos losses were to the 2018 grand finalists and this is the first time the Tigers have left Sydney this year. Most importantly, the Thinker will be at the game – my presence in the stands could prove the difference.
Verdict – Broncos by 4
Result – Tigers 22 defeated Broncos 16
Gold Coast Titans vs Penrith Panthers – Friday night – Cbus Super Stadium
It could be a quiet night for the scoreboard attendant – the Titans have scored just 36 points through four games this season, while the Panthers have fared slightly better with 39 points. The Panthers, at least, have won half their games despite their limitations in attack. Tyrone Peachey and Bryce Cartwright face their old club and perhaps that might spur the Titans attack a little – shifting Brimson to fullback might help too. I won't have a lot of company but I'm tipping the Titans this week. They're the only team without a win this year – sheer desperation at home could be enough against a team that hasn't exactly been shooting the lights out.
Verdict – Titans by 2
Result – Titans 30 defeated Panthers 24
North Queensland Cowboys vs Melbourne Storm – Friday night – 1300SMILES Stadium
From the team that haven't won a game to the team that haven't lost – the Melbourne Storm head north to what used to be one of the toughest road trips you could take. In the last fortnight the Cowboys have conceded a whopping 72 points in successive losses to the Sharks and the Raiders. Note that the Storm were fairly comfortable winners over the Raiders in Canberra in round two. Paul Green has left his line-up unchanged from last week. Perhaps he sees something I can't, and perhaps he doesn't have a lot of options. With Vunivalu suspended, Ryan Papenhuyzen gets a start. He's quick, and with the Fox on the other wing I suspect the Storm have the two fastest wingmen on the field this weekend. Not many Cowboys fans would be expecting a win on Friday night, but an improved performance might allay some concerns. Tiger Air don't have flights between Melbourne and Townsville – how will Bellyache and co. get to the game?
Verdict – Storm by 10
Result – Storm 18 defeated Cowboys 12
South Sydney Rabbitohs vs New Zealand Warriors – Saturday afternoon – Sunshine Coast Stadium
Note the venue tipsters. This is the game the Bunnies often took to Perth, so it's kind of them to choose somewhere slightly closer to Auckland. Sadly it's not close enough. The round four Warriors proved once again they are a different team at Mt Smart to anywhere else. They do win away from home, but there are comets that strike with more regularity. Every week the Bunnies keep us wondering if Inglis is or isn't playing. Drum roll.........he isn't. With half of Brisbane on the Sunny Coast for school holidays there should be a fair crowd on hand. Easter...Bunnies.
Verdict – Rabbitohs by 8
Result – Rabbitohs 28 defeated Warriors 24
Newcastle Knights vs Manly Sea Eagles – Saturday night – McDonald Jones Stadium
The good news for the Knights is that they have conceded just 54 points across four games this season. The bad news is that they have scored only 50. It does mean their for and against is considerably better than all the other teams that have won just one game this season. Ponga was better last week at fullback, and he should be better again this week. Speaking of fullbacks, Tommy Turbo (who is a champ) is out for another long spell. Manly were good without him after he left the paddock (literally...a paddock) against the Rabbits. Clearly they can win without him...but it's clearly harder, and I'll give the Knights the nod at home. Hopefully Mitchell Pearce has spent the week practising field goals.
Verdict – Knights by 1
Result – Sea Eagles 26 defeated Knights 18
Cronulla Sharks vs Sydney Roosters – Saturday night – Shark Park
The Sharks have won half their games this season, but the two teams they have beaten are 15th and 16th on the ladder. They are the only team the Knights have beaten this season and the Eels looked to have them well covered last week. Paul Gallen is playing the Greg Inglis guessing game so we just have wait to see if he laces on the boots. Aaron (not out of the) Woods isn't lacing on a boot for a few months, but Shaun Johnson should be back. The Chooks are likely to be adding Waerea-Hargreaves to a forwards pack that is tearing opponents apart without him.
Verdict – Roosters by 8
Result – Roosters 30 defeated Sharks 16
St George Illawarra Dragons vs Canterbury Bulldogs – Sunday afternoon – Netstrata Jubilee Stadium
For two successive weeks the left boot of Corey Norman has been the difference for the Dragons – without it they could be 0 from 4. The Dragons are paying Norman $400,000 less than the Eels were going to pay him this season – he could prove to be quite the bargain. The Bulldogs surprised everyone and possibly themselves with their gallant loss to the Storm in Melbourne. They'll come away from that game with plenty of self-belief. I'm tipping the Dragons, but tentatively so. If nothing else they've shown they can win the close games, and with Dylan Napa unavailable that Dragons pack looks set to dominate.
Verdict – Dragons by 2
Result – Dragons 40 defeated Bulldogs 4
Canberra Raiders vs Parramatta Eels – Sunday night – GIO Stadium
We save the best until last – this is clearly the game of the round. The only team that has beaten the Raiders is the only team that hasn't lost to anyone. The only team that has beaten the Eels are the 2018 premiers. Both sides are playing an attractive style of football and, weather permitting, a healthy crowd should be on hand. The Eels are unchanged from last week while the Raiders welcome Joseph Tapine back onto the bench. Sezer isn't far away, but is an unlikely inclusion this weekend. Elliott Whitehead is just about out-shining Hodgson for the honours of "Raiders Best Pom" at the minute. Home ground has me leaning to the Raiders, and there's some chance the Eels might be off their peak after their performance to win the Johnny Mannah Cup last weekend. Weird trivia for this week – more than half of the Raiders starting thirteen have a first name beginning with the letter 'J'. Useless but interesting.
Verdict – Raiders by 4
Result – Raiders 19 defeated Eels 0
Wally Lewis - round five selections (in bold)
Note: tips from Wally will be published on Wednesday night or early Thursday morning.
- BRONCOS vs Tigers
- Titans vs PANTHERS
- Cowboys vs STORM
- RABBITOHS vs Warriors
- KNIGHTS vs Sea Eagles
- Sharks vs ROOSTERS
- DRAGONS vs Bulldogs
- RAIDERS vs Eels