North Queensland Cowboys vs St George Illawarra Dragons – Friday night – Queensland Country Bank Stadium
I'll be up north and at the ground on Friday night, and I'm looking forward to seeing how the Cowboys cope through this Origin period of the season. They've been lucky on the injury front this year, which partly explains their better showing, but it's not the only reason. Payten has named all four of his Origin players, backing up less than 48 hours after the Wednesday night interstate stoush. We will see how many make it (although Deardon is 18th man for Queensland so should be fine). The Dragons have two of their own (potentially) backing up, so we wait and see. The Cowboys have won seven of their last eight, and their only loss was to the Panthers at Penrith. No shame in that. The Dragons have won five of their last seven which isn't bad either, although four of those wins were against the bottom four teams. This is much harder, and the only game they've won away from Sydney or Wollongong was against the Warriors (who aren't exactly playing at home).
Verdict – Cowboys by 10
Result – Cowboys 31 defeated Dragons 12
Gold Coast Titans vs South Sydney Rabbitohs – Saturday afternoon – Cbus Super Stadium
The return of Mitchell has been delayed, but the Bunnies have named what I think is their best possible starting forward pack for Saturday (assuming Cook and Murray get through Origin unscatched). The Titans will want Fa'asuamaleaui to back up from Wednesday to bolster a Titans pack that will be missing Fifita and Proctor. Campbell and Thompson joined the injured list last week, and Philip Sami isn't quite ready to return either. Paul Turner makes his starting debut for the Titans in the halves, with Brimson shifting to fullback. It can be hard to flick that switch and find form overnight. I wish the Titans could do just that, because they're a terrific team to watch when in form. I can't see them winning this though.
Verdict – Rabbitohs by 8
Result – Rabbitohs 30 defeated Titans 16
Sydney Roosters vs Melbourne Storm – Saturday night – Sydney Cricket Ground
The Chooks have been a difficult team to get a read on this season. At times they look like contenders. At other times, a long way from that. At their best they could win this, but you're taking a punt on them giving their best. At least with the Storm you can set your watch to them. Notably, they met twice last year and the Storm spanked them both times. Both sides have key players backing up (or not backing up) from Origin. An obvious late change would be to rest Harry Grant, who is coming back from flu, an injury, and Origin. The decision to rest Grant is a little easier when you have Brandon Smith in your seventeen. I'm with the Storm, but if the Chooks show up this is the game of the round.
Verdict – Storm by 4
Result – Storm 26 defeated Roosters 18
Brisbane Broncos vs Canberra Raiders – Saturday night – Suncorp Stadium
A real danger game for the Broncos here. The Raiders are in solid form and the Broncos have a stack of key players involved in Origin. Reynolds returns at halfback which is vital given the injury to Gamble, but how fit is Reynolds? The Broncos have some depth in the forwards but they'll need it against the Raiders pack (led by Tapine who, along with Haas, is the form prop in the NRL right now). If Haas or Carrigan are late withdrawals from the Broncos it would swing my tip, but for now I'll stick with the home team.
Verdict – Broncos by 2
Result – Broncos 24 defeated Raiders 18
Wests Tigers vs Manly Sea Eagles – Sunday afternoon – Campbelltown Sports Stadium
Michael Maguire is a very good coach. Perhaps he's not the right coach for that club, but I do hope the Tigers find a worthy replacement. It's possibly Cameron Ciraldo, but they may have to outbid the Bulldogs for his services, and the Bulldogs have deep pockets. Anyhoo the Tigers players have to pick their jaws up off the ground and get their schizz in order for a Sunday session with the Sea Eagles. Manly have just flogged a team who then announced the sacking of their coach too. There were only four games of football last week, but it's been a very busy week. Brett Kimmorley takes control of the clipboard at Tiger Town for the rest of the season, and teams often respond to these circumstances with positive on-field results. That could happen here too, particularly at Campbelltown, but I'm not tipping it.
Verdict – Sea Eagles by 7
Result – Sea Eagles 30 defeated Tigers 4
Newcastle Knights vs Penrith Panthers – Sunday afternoon – McDonald Jones Stadium
The Knights are playing at home in front of a big crowd on Sunday afternoon. Their opponent has six of their very best playing Origin on Wednesday. Despite all that, the Knights are rank outsiders, and rightly so.
Verdict – Panthers by 10
Result – Panthers 42 defeated Knights 6
New Zealand Warriors vs Cronulla Sharks – Sunday night – Moreton Daily Stadium
Nathan Brown summed things up nicely last night when he pointed out that the Warriors have played their last 60 games of NRL in another country. The coach didn't want to go to New Zealand, but I get the feeling most of the players do, and who could blame them. These sides met in round nine and the Sharks won convincingly. A similar outcome seems likely.
Verdict – Sharks by 22
Result – Sharks 38 defeated Warriors 16
Canterbury Bulldogs vs Parramatta Eels – Monday afternoon – GIO Stadium
In a similar assessment to my thoughts on the Sunday night game, these two sides met twice in 2021 and the Eels were comfortable winners on both occasions. If anything, the Eels have improved on 2021, and the Bulldogs may have gone backwards.
Verdict – Eels by 26
Result – Bulldogs 34 defeated Eels 4 (not a typo)
Wally Lewis - round fourteen selections (in bold)
Note: tips from Wally will be published on Wednesday night or Thursday morning
- COWBOYS vs Dragons
- Titans vs RABBITOHS
- Roosters vs STORM
- BRONCOS vs Raiders
- Tigers vs SEA EAGLES
- Knights vs PANTHERS
- Warriors vs SHARKS
- Bulldogs vs EELS