South Sydney Rabbitohs vs Brisbane Broncos – Thursday night – Stadium Australia
Thus far the Rabbitohs have played two very good teams for a very good win and a competitive loss, and they've played two very poor teams and dealt with them both comfortably. The Rabbits and Broncos have both played the Bulldogs during the last fortnight. While both kept the hapless Dogs to zero, it took the Broncos quite a while to find a gear. They will need to find another gear altogether to match it with the Bunnies, and I don't think they have another gear. I'm not even sure if they even know where to start looking for one. There are patches of form from the Broncos this season, but patches don't win matches.
Verdict – Rabbitohs by 14
Result – Rabbitoohs 35 defeated Broncos 6
New Zealand Warriors vs Manly Sea Eagles – Friday night – Central Coast Stadium
The fortunes of the Manly Sea Eagles seem tied to one player, and that one player is very unlikely to be back this week. Manly fans will be hoping the Turbo is back for round six, because his presence on the field does seem to energise his squad (and Cherry-Evans). Without him they aren't competitive, and they take their under-performing show on the road where they have been even worse. They lost two more troops in that savage loss to the Panthers, with Boyle and Suli unavailable for a period. The Warriors competed with the Roosters until they were eventually outclassed, but they showed a lot more vigour than the Sea Eagles did against the tricolours.
Verdict – Warriors by 8
Result – Sea Eagles 13 defeated Warriors 12
Penrith Panthers vs Canberra Raiders – Friday night – Bluebet Stadium
Clearly the match of the round here and you'd be hoping the house full sign goes up at the Stadium on Friday night. The Panthers have had quite a few easy games to get their season underway, but there's no denying their narrow win over the Storm was as good as rugby league gets. They've conceded just three tries in four games which is top shelf even against poor opponents. The Raiders have had harder opponents generally, and their only loss was to the Warriors under onerous circumstances. For those that like a flutter they're at tempting odds on Friday night, and I'm with them. Flutter responsibly.
Verdict – Raiders by 4
Result – Panthers 30 defeated Raiders 10
Gold Coast Titans vs Newcastle Knights – Saturday afternoon – Cbus Super Stadium
The Knights are the only team this season to concede a point to the Bulldogs, and they conceded 16 of them. The loss to the Dragons was competitive but they were expected to win, and the injuries to Pearce and Hoy, and potentially Mann and Klemmer, leave them with a worrying casualty list. Ponga is expected to return on Saturday and boy do they need him. For the Titans, a corked thigh for Fogarty is a concern but the expectation is that he'll play. This is just the second game at home for the Titans this season and they should be too strong here.
Verdict – Titans by 8
Result – Titans 42 defeated Knights 16
Canterbury Bulldogs vs Melbourne Storm – Saturday night – Stadium Australia
In the first three weeks of the season, the Storm took on (arguably) the most in-form teams in the competition - at the very least they are all top four opponents. Then they played the Broncos (the team that just beat the Bulldogs 24-0) and wreaked havoc. Potentially embarrassing.
Verdict – Storm by 58
Result – Storm 52 defeated Bulldogs 18
Sydney Roosters vs Cronulla Sharks – Saturday night – Sydney Cricket Ground
The long-awaited (by me at least) debut by Sam Walker went as well as could be expected with the youngster, barely out of school, playing with the composure you would expect from a much more seasoned campaigner. A genuinely exciting prospect for the game. He can only be better for the experience, but I'm sure those niggly piggly Sharks will do their niggly piggly things to try to put the kid off. This won't be an easy game for the tricolours, but their only loss this season was to the Bunnies and that's looking like solid form at the minute. The Sharks meanwhile are playing very well indeed despite a pretty long casualty list. Dugan and Mulatilo are in doubt for Saturday night, but Ramien is set to return from suspension. The lowest paid first grade coach in the NRL (John Morris) has his team doing all the right things and deserves a new, improved contract. That said, I'll stick with the Chooks at a ground they know and play so well.
Verdict – Roosters by 4
Result – Roosters 26 defeated Sharks 18
Wests Tigers vs North Queensland Cowboys – Sunday afternoon – Leichhardt Oval
The Tigers aren't the worst meal on the NRL menu this season, but if the Cowboys were a meal they'd be what the dishpigs get to eat at the end of their shift after the restaurant is closed. It's hard to stomach and I'd prefer not to talk about it. Someone out there earning a lot more coin than most of us decided that this would be the free to air game on the Nine Network on Sunday afternoon. Must be on drugs.
Verdict – Tigers by 14
Result – Cowboys 34 defeated Tigers 30
Parramatta Eels vs St George Illawarra Dragons – Sunday night – Bankwest Stadium
Here's the game we should be watching on Sunday afternoon in front of a packed out Bankwest. Instead this contest draws the Sunday night timeslot, which will also keep the attendance down at the gate. Oh well. It should be great viewing if you have the option to view it. The Dragons have been kind to me in recent weeks but I'll reluctantly tip against them here. The Eels record at Bankwest is hard to ignore - nor is their unbeaten trot thus far this season. They've had some luck along the way, but the better teams are often the luckier teams. It's funny how that happens. Eels by just enough in what should be an absolute beauty.
Verdict – Eels by 1
Result – Dragons 26 defeated Eels 12
Wally Lewis - round five selections (in bold)
Note: tips from Wally will be published on Wednesday night or Thursday morning
- RABBITOHS vs Broncos
- WARRIORS vs Sea Eagles
- PANTHERS vs Raiders
- TITANS vs Knights
- Bulldogs vs STORM
- ROOSTERS vs Sharks
- TIGERS vs Cowboys
- EELS vs Dragons