Round fifteen selections

St George Illawarra Dragons vs South Sydney Rabbitohs – Thursday night – WIN Stadium, Wollongong

These sides met back in round five where the Rabbitohs were comfortable winners (24-12). Note that the Dragons scored a late consolation try to narrow the margin. The Dragons find themselves on the fringe of the top eight and this next run of games could make or break their finals prospects. To my eye, their biggest problem is scoring enough points to win enough games. This season they have scored 20 or more points against just three sides (Warriors, Bulldogs and Knights). To illustrate the issue, Rabbitoh Alex Johnston has scored as many tries this season as the five top try scorers for the Dragons combined. Playing at the Gong will help, and the Dragons might lift for the 300th game of Andrew McCullough, but I still see them falling short.

Verdict – Rabbitohs by 4

Result – Dragons 32 defeated Rabbitohs 12

Manly Sea Eagles vs North Queensland Cowboys – Friday night – 4 Pines Park

The Sea Eagles, like the Dragons, are on the fringe of the top eight and have two big games in front of them over the next fortnight. To make the eight they will almost certainly need to compete against the top eight teams. So far this season, Manly have faced top eight teams on seven occasions, and lost them all. The Cowboys, in recent seasons, have struggled away from home, but they've won 5 of 7 on the road in 2022. One of those losses was to Penrith. Manly aren't Penrith. 

Verdict – Cowboys by 4

Result – Cowboys 28 defeated Sea Eagles 26

Melbourne Storm vs Brisbane Broncos – Friday night – AAMI Park

The Broncos overall record against the Storm is pedestrian at best. They face another stern test here, on the road to Melbourne with an injury-depleted squad. Payne Haas has been named but he can't be 100% - he could still be a late withdrawal, and without him the Broncos forwards are likely to be on the ropes for much of the 80 minutes. While forwards win games, its the playmakers that put on the points. When I compare the 6,7, and 9 for the Storm (Munster, Hughes, Grant, Smith) and the Broncos (Mam, Roberts, Walters, Turpin) it looks to me like there can only be one winner.

Verdict – Storm by 16

​​​​​​​Result – Storm 32 defeated Broncos 20

Cronulla Sharks vs Gold Coast Titans – Saturday afternoon – C.ex Coffs Harbour International Stadium

This Thinker had the Titans competing for a top four spot this season, so to see them in last place is hard to take. They've lost 9 of their last ten (a narrow win over the Dragons in Magic Round their only happy moment for months). They have already lost to the Sharks this season, and on form you couldn't see them turning it around. The only thing going for them is that the Sharks can't win two in a row (and are due for a loss). It's not enough to sway me.

Verdict – Sharks by 8

​​​​​​​Result – Sharks 18 defeated Titans 10

New Zealand Warriors vs Penrith Panthers – Saturday night – Moreton Daily Stadium

You don't have to think about this one, and you don't need me to thinker about this one.

Verdict – Panthers by 38

​​​​​​​Result – Panthers 40 defeated Warriors 6

Parramatta Eels vs Sydney Roosters – Saturday night – CommBank Stadium

Ah rugby league you sweet confusing temptress. Just when you think you understand her she goes and springs a result on you like the Bulldogs flogging the Eels on Monday night. We may not understand her, but what's not to love? The question now of course, is can the Eels bounce back from that result with a win over the Chooks six nights later? The answer of course, is maybe, because rugby league is a sweet confusing temptress. But you can't just stop at one. You want to drink another woman.

Verdict – Eels by 1

​​​​​​​Result – Eels 26 defeated Roosters 16

Canberra Raiders vs Newcastle Knights – Sunday afternoon – GIO Stadium

The Knights have been terrible at home this season, but they've been terrible everywhere this season. They have won three games away from Newcastle, but two of those wins were at neutral venues against under-performing teams (Bulldogs at Brisbane and Warriors at Redcliffe). Their other away win was way back in round one, which is arguably when they peaked this year. Kalyn Ponga has been named for the Knights but needs to pass concussion protocols. Jordan Rapana returns for the Raiders in an otherwise unchanged line-up. I don't expect the Raiders to blow the Knights off the park on Sunday, but they should win.

Verdict – Raiders by 10

​​​​​​​Result – Raiders 20 defeated Knights 18

Canterbury Bulldogs vs Wests Tigers – Sunday afternoon – CommBank Stadium

This is quite the head scratcher. The Bulldogs could easily fall in a puddle or they could continue the striking form that knocked off the Eels on Monday night. We will probably know ten minutes after kick-off, but we have to pick a winner long before then. Burton was near his best against the Eels and I've long had a big wrap on him. I'm willing to back him to replicate that on Sunday. On that form they beat the Tigers - they just need that form. Note the return of Adam Doueihi on the bench for the Tigers. He's an important inclusion in their squad if they are to improve on what has been a disappointing season.

Verdict – Bulldogs by 4

​​​​​​​Result – Bulldogs 36 defeated Tigers 12

Wally Lewis - round fifteen selections (in bold)

Note: tips from Wally will be published on Wednesday night or Thursday morning

  • Dragons vs RABBITOHS
  • Sea Eagles vs COWBOYS
  • STORM vs Broncos
  • SHARKS vs Titans
  • Warriors vs PANTHERS
  • EELS vs Roosters
  • RAIDERS vs Knights
  • Bulldogs vs TIGERS


Esra Star's picture

I think it is becoming evident why Souths let Reynolds go. Great player but very injury prone now.

mark ashford's picture

Hi All,
My lovely lady and I are off for another trip in her camper. This time we're heading through central Qld, going to Nanango, Monto, Duarango, Emerald and tonight Charters Towers. If you think you've been cold try 2 degrees at night until here today where it's around 12 degrees. Heading up as far as Cooktown then a quick run back to Bribie. Will keep you informed and go the Maroons next Wednesday.

tigerholic's picture

Travel safe Mark

newbie from perth's picture

"Dia duit gach duine" i dteanga ní mo theanga féin,

What a numpty I am sometimes. I was looking at the ladder and couldn’t work out why the Tigers were higher on the ladder than the Bulldogs when both had won 3 games and the Bulldogs had a 13 point better differential. Turns out I’d completely forgotten that the NRL gives 2 points when a side has a bye 🤪. Not sure I understand the logic of that to be honest. Oh well, greater minds than me I suppose. OK, let’s do this thing …

Dragons vs. Rabbitohs @ WIN
Probability @ 35-65
Ladder Position = Rabbitohs
Bookies Favourite = Rabbitohs

"It was messy. We never, ever settled into the game. I thought it was temperament. We never really worked hard enough or direct enough to get a reward. We just never settled into the game. We did a good job on ourselves without them helping. It is short turn around and we have just got to be better than that. We came off a bye and just weren't prepared to play long minutes against a good team to gain an advantage. We were just too impatient," coach Anthony Griffin said.

Possession - 49%
Completion Rate - 67% (27/40)
Post Contact Metres - 597
Tackle Breaks - 41
Missed Tackles - 42
Errors - 15
Penalties Conceded - 5

"Tonight we did what we needed to do. There was a period in the second half where we upped our intensity in defence and that led to Alex Johnston and Taane Milne's tries and as I said to the players, that's a pretty good sign of the level we are at when we are able to go up a notch when we need to. It's always tricky when you come in after a bye and a week off to get that energy level where you need it be straight away," coach Jason Demetriou said.

Possession - 50%
Completion Rate - 74% (29/39)
Post Contact Metres - 743
Tackle Breaks - 30
Missed Tackles - 41
Errors - 10
Penalties Conceded - 6

Verdict: The Dragons have been a little inconsistent lately but they’ve won enough games to be knocking on the door for the top 8. The Rabbitohs are slowly building their combinations and have improved. Rabbitohs by 12.

Manly vs. Cowboys @ Brookvale
Probability @ 40-60
Ladder Position = Cowboys
Bookies Favourite = Cowboys

"That was one of our better wins of the year. That was a really tough game. It was always going to be a tough game, both from the aspect of the change the Tigers had early in the week and they came really committed. It was a really tough game of footy for us and I'm really proud of the way they boys went about it. We played really disciplined footy. We've been working really hard on our attitude with possession and we've been pretty tidy in that regard," coach Des Hasler said.

Possession - 56%
Completion Rate - 84% (38/45)
Post Contact Metres - 755
Tackle Breaks - 50
Missed Tackles - 23
Errors - 9
Penalties Conceded - 3

"I just loved the way we competed because there a couple of line breaks against the run of play but when we made the tackle there was four or five or six players in the picture and by the next play we had everyone behind the ball. For me that was probably the difference tonight. I thought we outcompeted them. I thought for the most part we looked pretty comfortable, I thought we knew what was coming and everyone just did their job. We held another team to 12 points or less is not a bad stat to have and it just shows again how hard we are working for each other," coach Todd Payten said.

Possession - 51%
Completion Rate - 79% (35/44)
Post Contact Metres - 736
Tackle Breaks - 42
Missed Tackles - 41
Errors - 11
Penalties Conceded - 5

Verdict: Manly have looked pretty good in the last fortnight but those efforts were against average opposition. Since their loss to the Panthers, the Cowboys have got back in the groove and really turned it on last week against the Dragons. While Manly may prove a tough nut to crack, I think the Cowboys should get the job done this week without too many dramas. Cowboys by 16.

Storm vs. Broncos @ AAMI
Probability @ 80-20
Ladder Position = Storm
Bookies Favourite = Storm

"Either team could have won tonight but they are a tough team to beat and it is a tough place to win so we are grateful to be going home with the points. I just give our back three a real wrap. Obviously we see their back three as a real danger - Tedesco, Tupou and Suaalii. There is not many better back threes in the competition but I thought our back three held their own good tonight and with all due respect they were probably three of our better players," coach Craig Bellamy said.

Possession - 52%
Completion Rate - 86% (33/38)
Post Contact Metres - 424
Tackle Breaks - 47
Missed Tackles - 32
Errors - 8
Penalties Conceded - 7

"Even in my time playing and when I was on the staff here I can't remember a team that has had so many injuries, and not just bumps and bruises but actual game ending injuries and possibly weeks, months on the sideline. There are a whole host of guys who are really busted and Canberra played a tough game tonight. They were very physical and we are wearing the consequences of that now. We’ll be doing whatever we can to get them on the field but there’s going to be four, five or six missing," coach Kevin Walters said.

Possession - 50%
Completion Rate - 89% (33/37)
Post Contact Metres - 384
Tackle Breaks - 30
Missed Tackles - 38
Errors - 4
Penalties Conceded - 2

Verdict: I see the Storm are really short favourites in this one. Not sure the bookies are giving the Broncos enough respect to be honest. Same goes for the 80-20 probability rating. The Storm have lost 2 from their last 4 and still haven’t reached their very best yet. OK, the Broncos won’t have Reynolds but they’re good enough and confident enough to give this a real shake. Having said that, I still think the Storm will win, based purely on the fact they’ll be at home and still have some upside. Storm by 10.

Sharks vs. Titans @ Coffs Harbour
Probability @ 70-30
Ladder Position = Sharks
Bookies Favourite = Sharks

"We've all had some inconsistent periods across the team but when we put it together and we compete hard, we were physically there tonight but mentally we wobbled in and out of the game, but I'm also understanding of the fact that game was so stop-start it was really hard to get into any rhythm, largely due to our discipline," coach Craig Fitzgibbon said.

Possession - 46%
Completion Rate - 77% (28/36)
Post Contact Metres - 497
Tackle Breaks - 30
Missed Tackles - 22
Errors - 8
Penalties Conceded - 8

"We tried hard, we just lacked a bit of class out there. Doesn't help losing AJ yesterday, we just needed an extra spark out there, whether it's AJ or Jayden Campbell or Dave Fifita ... we competed hard, the forwards were enormous, Tino was unbelievable, Greg Marzhew fantastic. We had a lot of guys that tried hard but we just couldn't come up with a lot. I know we got beaten but I feel there's definitely improvement but we just missed one of our better players to spark us in the end," coach Justin Holbrook said.

Possession - 50%
Completion Rate - 92% (37/40)
Post Contact Metres - 647
Tackle Breaks - 41
Missed Tackles - 30
Errors - 6
Penalties Conceded - 4

Verdict: Not sure whether the Sharks will be switched on this week or not. Against anyone else other than the Titans, I would be debating the point. The Titans have slipped away alarmingly of late and now sit on the bottom of the ladder. I just can’t see that changing this week. Sharks by 18.

Warriors vs. Panthers @ Moreton Daily
Probability @ 15-85
Ladder Position = Panthers
Bookies Favourite = Panthers

"We make an error and then our resilience to defend that wasn't there. It's as simple as that, that's where we need to get better. I spoke to the group earlier in the week about having some resilience, having some steel and we got the same result tonight. We fell back into some habits that we have to get out of this team right now," (interim) coach Stacey Jones said.

Possession - 54%
Completion Rate - 84% (33/39)
Post Contact Metres - 490
Tackle Breaks - 22
Missed Tackles - 30
Errors - 6
Penalties Conceded - 4

"I thought we were really patient -- I think we completed 21 from 21 in the first half -- and a lot of hard work went into that ... We had a really good week, and it was good to see the Origin boys come back and play well, and the boys around them helped them out in that regard too," assistant coach Cameron Ciraldo said.

Possession - 56%
Completion Rate - 90% (38/42)
Post Contact Metres - 648
Tackle Breaks - 38
Missed Tackles - 30
Errors - 6
Penalties Conceded - 4

Verdict: There’s only 2 or 3 teams in the competition that have a chance of beating the Panthers and going on what they’ve shown lately, the Warriors ain’t one of them. The Panthers should continue on their merry way and barring a catastrophe of some sort, will win this week with ease. Panthers by 26.

Eels vs. Roosters @ Parramatta
Probability @ 55-45
Ladder Position = Eels
Bookies Favourite = Eels

“I’m just disappointed. We didn’t come with any hunger, any want, any desire. Credit to the opposition, they wanted it more than us today. They were more desperate, it’s embarrassing. We were just beaten to the punch physically. Any option we took today was just a soft, cheap, short cut, cheap option and we didn’t want to take any tough options. Whether we disrespected ourselves or the opposition or we thought we could just go through the motions and get the job done. Every week is a tough week in the NRL and every week you have got to turn up because if you don’t you will get beat. It's a want and desire, which is your attitude. Once we got under pressure we thought we could pass our way out of pressure rather than run our way out of pressure," coach Brad Arthur said.

Possession - 52%
Completion Rate - 72% (32/44)
Post Contact Metres - 661
Tackle Breaks - 22
Missed Tackles - 21
Errors - 13
Penalties Conceded - 4

"You can see it is so close, just the ruthless edge of some of the games we have been playing, about keeping the lead or putting the foot on the throat at different times. We have let that off and let the door open. You can see the makings of a team there that is going to dance at the top but we have got to be better than we are in those periods," coach Trent Robinson said.

Possession - 48%
Completion Rate - 73% (28/38)
Post Contact Metres - 427
Tackle Breaks - 28
Missed Tackles - 48
Errors - 11
Penalties Conceded - 8

Verdict: The Eels have been up and down this year and last week’s flogging at the hands of the Bulldogs was an example of one of their “down” days. Their display was quite frankly embarrassing and bewildering. The Roosters lost to the Storm but their effort was sound against quality opposition. Fully expect the Eels to bounce back for obvious reasons but I’ve got a feeling (a hope) that the Roosters will get their act together and get the win. Roosters by 8. Begurk! 🐔 Begurk! 🐔

Raiders vs. Knights @ GIO
Probability @ 65-35
Ladder Position = Raiders
Bookies Favourite = Raiders

"We probably didn't play with a little bit of luck tonight, a couple of things just didn't come off for us. That was a good win for Kev, a couple of players out and a couple of key players injured during the game and had to go off. It would have been exactly the same for us, it would have been a great win for us if a couple of things went the other way. They did a good job to hang in there and keep us away. Kevin is building a really good squad here now and he is showing that culture comes before strategy. That's why I love coaching my blokes, we have got a wonderful camaraderie and culture and give Kev a bit of time he is going to have the same. I can see that in them," coach Ricky Stuart said.

Possession - 50%
Completion Rate - 67% (25/37)
Post Contact Metres - 398
Tackle Breaks - 37
Missed Tackles - 32
Errors - 13
Penalties Conceded - 3

"They're a good footy team but we've let ourselves down in a number of areas here at home, and I can assure you that no-one sets out to disappoint our supporters, no-one. We want to put in performances that we can be proud of, but unfortunately, the reality of where we need to get to ... if you look at the opposition, we're envious of them. That's the organisation that we want to get to, and it's going to take time. It's not a quick fix," coach Adam O'Brien said.

Possession - 44%
Completion Rate - 72% (27/37)
Post Contact Metres - 484
Tackle Breaks - 30
Missed Tackles - 38
Errors - 11
Penalties Conceded - 6

Verdict: The Raiders have certainly hit their straps lately and weren’t that far away last week against the Broncos. The Knights aren’t showing much to be honest and don’t strike me as being good enough this weekend. Raiders by 8

Bulldogs vs. Tigers @ Parramatta
Probability @ 50-50
Ladder Position = Bulldogs
Bookies Favourite = Tigers

"It's a good feeling. I just think they upped the ante tonight. It was refreshing. I was really happy. I'd like it to be the standard we set for ourselves and it becomes a confidence thing. It is all about starting really well and I thought we started pretty good today and although we had some discipline issues in the first half with some penalties, I thought we showed some toughness and we showed some try line D that I hadn't seen before where they worked and they solved the problems of try line D so well today," coach Mick Potter said.

Possession - 48%
Completion Rate - 80% (29/36)
Post Contact Metres - 681
Tackle Breaks - 21
Missed Tackles - 22
Errors - 9
Penalties Conceded - 11

"Our priority area is to make sure we stay together. We're in a really difficult time as a club. Obviously we are not going to make decisions quickly, we are not going to become one of the top sides straight away. The reason why the decision [to sack Michael Maguire] was made last week was because things were not going great. I've spoken to the players and told them it's up to us coaches to coach as much as we can into them, to get training plans and make us feel like we're improving them little steps by little steps by little steps. There's no quick fix in this unfortunately," (interim) coach Brett Kimmorley said.

Possession - 44%
Completion Rate - 75% (25/33)
Post Contact Metres - 540
Tackle Breaks - 23
Missed Tackles - 50
Errors - 9
Penalties Conceded - 9

Verdict: Not sure about this one. Either side can win this as far as I’m concerned. For the Bulldogs, Burton and JAC seem to have clicked but unsure how long it will be before the other teams cotton on to their little plays. The Tigers have been doing sort of OK of late. Not good and not bad (basically average) and interesting to note their last win was against the Bulldogs in Round 11. I could possibly get this one completely wrong with flawed reasoning but based on their outstanding effort last week, I’m leaning towards the Bulldogs. Bulldogs by 8.

Let’s finish off with another “Song of the Week”…

When your team loses and you’re feeling down, just listen to the chorus of this one 😁

OK kids, good luck with your tipping and may your team win by 40 points! Until next week. Cheers 🐔 🐔 🐔

P.S. Have a great trip Mr Ashford and don't forget to wear protection mate. Uh, I mean mozzie repellant. What did you think I meant? You're a cheeky one aren't you 🤓. Cheers buddy...

tigerholic's picture

Another week of footy, another week of smoke and mirrors, another week waiting, waiting, waiting for the top tipsters to enter their tips.

It's either a tactic, a smelly conspiracy or just nervous deliberation before settling on their selections.

Come on Rocket, lead the way, the fans are waiting.

The Thinker's picture

Have a great trip Mark. Sounds terrific.

Christine's picture

My tips are

May the nrl gods be good to us all even you rocket ...

Mary S's picture

Are the Rabbits still trying to find the field they're supposed to be playing on tonight?


MGM's picture

32 points in 28 minutes even after missing two conversions !
The very next game after that EELS match !
A "sweet confusing temptress" indeed !

NuL1F3's picture


Never saw that coming! To respond to your question Mary, yes, I think they must be!

newbie from perth's picture

Dragons 32 - Rabbitohs 12

As far as first halves go, I’m trying to think of an effort the Rabbitohs have put in that was worse than what they put up tonight. As much as I’ve tried, I can’t think of one. They were absolutely woeful with a capital W.

There was no urgency, no effort, no desire, no structure, no skill, no nothing. I was gobsmacked to be honest. If I was Demetriou I would’ve ordered everyone except the players out of the dressing rooms, walked in and closed the doors, looked at the players for 5 or 6 seconds, said nothing and then walked out.

OK, they showed more purpose in the second half but the game was lost long before then. I’m gonna have to think harder before I tip them again. There, mini-rant finished….

Gummy Sharks's picture

We might have seen the other side of the story last night Esra. Young gun replacement wouldn't get a start with the Denman Devils on that performance. Must be hard calls to make on who to keep and who not to but some teams seem to get it right far more often than others.

Esra Star's picture

Why didn't the bunker ask for another look at Melbourne's first try last night? It was knocked on for all money.

Baggy_Gee's picture

you answered your own question Esra. Not much more to say.

MGM's picture

Baggy & Esra ,
Here we go again!... The bunker interferes when it shouldn't (eg: taking the last minute try away from the Titans because of a knock BACK by the SHARKS !!) and then sits silently like a deaf, dumb and blind monkey whilst we sit and watch replays of the forward pass from Walker to Toupinua that sends him in for a try!!
And please don't tell me they can't rule on a blatant forward pass when the rule on ALL SORTS of s%!t that they should STAY OUT OF.
Sorry Newbie, but that was forward.

MGM's picture


Baggy_Gee's picture

I've said it before, they all have those GPS trackers on their jersey, if you can draw a straight line across a pool for the world record speed, you can do both with where the ref has one, in front you're inside the 10M, and the player has one where if you catch the ball in front of it its forward. That would be too simple, too easy to police, and make the game to level. Just my rant.

MGM's picture

Sounds good for when it's a close call Baggy.
This wasn't a close call and I know I've heard the words "and the ball travels forward" & "and so-and-so passes the ball forward" from the bunker on too many occasions to count already.
Was it Ray Warren or Gus who coined a phrase something like -
The Chamber of Infuriating Inconsistency.
They say they can't rule on it , but then they do .... and then they won't ... but then they do !!!!!

MGM's picture

Sorry if some might think I'm harping on, but I have just been watching a Kayo replay of Warriors v Penrith and in the 10th minute Ref awards a try to Dylan Edwards, kick to come, when the bunker intervenes (not requested by the ref) and says the ball Edwards received has "travelled forwards across the ground"!.. Try disallowed.
I'm NO Penrith fan, but it looked fine to me , it was a really close call and the commentator (and they try Not to be too critical) said : "why can't they rule on all forward passes if they SEE that?"
I just couldn't believe that after my "rant", the very next game I watch (a replay admittedly), 10 minutes in, confirms everything I just said.
I'm left feeling both vindicated and even more pissed !

tigerholic's picture


I agree with everything you have said in your post, the system we currently use for what the bunker can rule on is so inconsistent it's frustrating.
I watch a lot of the games each week and I am at the point where it's almost expected that there will be shitty decisions and errors and things missed or chosen to be missed especially when there are some of the big teams playing or when one side is dominating.

The bunker can and does at times rule on forward passes, as you say they are not supposed to but how often do we hear them intervene.


Steel Panther's picture

The Eels first half performance last night was sublime. How was that the same team who crumbled so badly the week before against the lowly Dogs? Some absolutely brilliant tries. What a laugh to see that dude in the crowd doing a shoey.

Agree about the forward pass comments & the bunker. How is it possible that the Titans have a try chalked off due a Sharks error? Play advantage like they do in soccer. Ref played on only for the bunker to intervene. Just bizarre. Roosters pass definitely forward but not called yet moments before Para had a similar pass deemed forward.

Baggy_Gee's picture

I think I can answer the Eels question Steel, the BOYS got beaten by the Sharks, then went and beat the Storm, we lost to the Tigers, and then went on to beat the Panthers, we got mauled by the Dogs (the hurt to say) and then came out and beat the Roosters. It seems as though we are focusing on the big teams, and not putting in against the lessor teams. Mentally you couldn't fault us last night, but against the Doggies we never turned up, or even turned on. It was similar to the Cowboys game in Darwin, behind and never was able to flick the switch even though we went very close to being competitive towards the end.

The Thinker's picture

Greetings football fans

I have updated the NRL ladder and the tipping comp after round 15. Just four of us tipped the Dragons to beat the Bunnies, but only one of those tipsters managed to get every other game right, and they were the last tipster that I updated. Congrats to Baggy Gee for a perfect round...well done sir.

If anyone notices any issues with the scoring just let me know.

Round 16 doesn't kick off for a while as we have a terrific weekend of representative footy coming up. I will publish the tipping page for those who need to tip early, and I'll have my preview for Origin game two up and running in the next day or two.

All the best

The Thinker


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