Cronulla Sharks vs North Queensland Cowboys – Thursday night – Pointsbet Stadium
In round 18, Moylan returned from a hamstring injury to replace Dugan who was out with a hamstring injury. In round 19, Dugan returns from a hamstring injury to replace Moylan who is out with a hamstring injury – clearly this pair only have three good hamstrings between them. In any case, Dugan gets an opportunity to shine at fullback and I expect he'll make the most of it (hamstrings permitting). While these sides are on equal points on the ladder it looks to me like the Cowboys top eight prospects are over. They ran out of fuel in the last ten minutes against the Bunnies last weekend – a short turnaround and a cold night in Cronulla doesn't sound like the formula for victory. It should be cold enough to wear a beanie if you're going to the game – buy one at the gate.
Verdict – Sharks by 4
Result – Sharks 16 defeated Cowboys 14
Newcastle Knights vs Wests Tigers – Friday night – Beanies for Brain Cancer Stadium
Round 19 is Beanies for Brain Cancer round, raising funds for the Mark Hughes Foundation (which has raised more than $10 million thus far). Knights...surely.
Verdict – Knights by 14
Result – Tigers 28 defeated Knights 26
South Sydney Rabbitohs vs St George Illawarra Dragons – Friday night – ANZ Stadium
There are a few positives for the Dragons on Friday night, with Gareth Widdup and Ben Hunt returning in the halves for the first time in quite a while. Promising youngster Jason Saab makes his NRL debut, up against Campbell Graham who isn't much older than him really. On paper the Dragons spine and forward pack should have them in contention this year, but their season is already over. Note that Jack de Belin is about to be hit with additional charges today. I'm sure the Dragons will tell you it's not a distraction...but it certainly isn't helping. I thought the Rabbits would be vulnerable last weekend, and I was half right. They were strong late and they'll be too strong here too.
Verdict – Rabbitohs by 8
Result – Rabbitohs 20 defeated Dragons 16
Parramatta Eels vs New Zealand Warriors – Saturday afternoon – BankWest Stadium
The Eels have been described by many as inconsistent...and they are, but they've been reasonably consistent at this venue. Six games at BankWest for five wins, with their only loss to the Panthers who have been on quite a run of late. The Warriors should be a top eight team every season, and they still could be this season, but they have always struggled in Sydney and haven't won a game there this year. They have won three times in Australia away from Sydney, but a win over the Dragons in Brisbane, the Titans on the Gold Coast and an Origin-depleted Knights in Newcastle isn't what I would call red hot form. If both sides fire this has the potential to be the game of the round.
Verdict – Eels by 4
Result – Eels 24 defeated Warriors 22
Gold Coast Titans vs Brisbane Broncos – Saturday night – Cbus Super Stadium
A quick list of things that were cool in 2014:
- Flappy Bird
- Shia Lebeouf
- Sharknado 2: Shark Happens!
- Sochi the giant scary bear from the Winter Olympics
- Local derbies between the Titans and the Broncos
What happened to you two? You used to be cool.
Verdict – Broncos by default
Result – Broncos 34 defeated Titans 12
Melbourne Storm vs Manly Sea Eagles – Saturday night – AAMI Park
There's a lot of interesting match-ups here. Up front we have Bromwich/Asofa-Solomona vs Fonua-Blake and Taupau bashing into each other, weighing in at a combined 434 kilograms. The QLD origin playmakers Cherry-Evans and Munster face off. Less obvious but just as interesting is the battle of the coaches – we could argue all day about who the best coaches in the NRL are right now, but if Bellamy and Hasler aren't in your top three you haven't been paying attention. What Hasler has done with his squad is just shy of miracle status – it's easy to forget this side finished second last in 2018. $3.30 (or more) for a Manly win on Saturday night is a very generous price, but I'm tipping a refreshed Storm at home. Purple...just.
Verdict – Storm by 2
Result – Sea Eagles 11 defeated Storm 10
Canterbury Bulldogs vs Sydney Roosters – Sunday afternoon – ANZ Stadium
Just five rounds ago the Roosters took care of the Bulldogs with a 38-12 victory at the SCG. It could have been a lot worse. Mitchell kicked 5 from 9 and the Bulldogs scored a very late consolation try. That result gives Bulldogs fans something to worry about, but what will really keep them up at night is that the Roosters didn't have Tedesco, Keary or Waerea-Hargreaves last time. The tri-colours might rack up a half century this weekend.
Verdict – Roosters by 38
Result – Roosters 20 defeated Bulldogs 12
Penrith Panthers vs Canberra Raiders – Sunday afternoon – Panthers Stadium
Two sides renowned for their attacking prowess have been winning games with defence. The Raiders are genuine contenders this year, while the Panthers season appeared over until they found their mojo mid-season. The suspension of Kikau has me leaning slightly to the visitors – the Panthers are an easier opponent to contain without him. Congratulations to James Maloney on his imminent move to the south of France – he's the sort of player that should carve it up in the English Super League. There's a few good games this round, and this is definitely one of them.
Verdict – Raiders by 2
Result – Raiders 30 defeated Panthers 18
Wally Lewis - round nineteen selections (in bold)
Note: tips from Wally will be published on Wednesday night or Thursday morning
- SHARKS vs Cowboys
- KNIGHTS vs Tigers
- RABBITOHS vs Dragons
- EELS vs Warriors
- Titans vs BRONCOS
- STORM vs Sea Eagles
- Bulldogs vs ROOSTERS
- Panthers vs RAIDERS