Round twenty seven selections

Brisbane Broncos vs Melbourne Storm – Thursday night – Suncorp Stadium

Thursday night is the Aldi version of Broncos vs Storm, with the Broncos resting at least six (and probably nine) of their best and brightest and the Storm resting eleven. If anyone booked in this game months ago and has organised travel and accommodation around it, I feel for you. They're expecting north of 40,000 through the gates regardless, which is a hefty crowd for what is almost a reserve grade match. We may not have to wait long for the non-Aldi version of this game, as these sides are quite likely to meet next week. Peter Sterling regularly said that we don't give winning the minor premiership the credit it deserves, and I agree with him. How teams perform over the course of an entire season is a much better indicator of how good they are, and being the best performing team over the course of a 27 week competition is something that should be celebrated. The Broncos could have sealed the minor premiership with a win here, but are risking that reward in the hope of a greater reward in September. I get it, but I don't love it. How any of us are meant to pick a winner based on these team line-ups is anyone's guess. What I do know is that Craig Bellamy hasn't lost a game to the Broncos in a very long time, and he will be there. The Broncos remain a warm favourite, but I can't even work out who their goal kicker will be. Is it Jesse Arthars? Feel free to let me know if you know. I do know one thing about the new Broncos five-eighth Josh Rogers. He's from Perth, and we don't have a lot of sandgropers in the NRL. I wish him well.

Verdict – Storm by 4

Result – Storm 32 defeated Broncos 22

Manly Sea Eagles vs Wests Tigers – Friday night – 4 Pines Park

Manly holds the record as the club with the most players that have racked up 200 games at the one club, and on Friday night Jake Trbojevic becomes the 21st Sea Eagle on that list. Given this is the last game of the season for Manly, and it's at home, and it's a genuine milestone for one of their favourite sons, it all adds up to a Manly victory. Theoretically the Tigers could avoid the wooden spoon with a win, but it's a longshot, and I doubt that's enough motivation under the circumstances. If Manly score a late try under the posts, it will be worth hanging around to watch Jake slot the conversion.

Verdict – Sea Eagles by 13

Result – Sea Eagles 54 defeated Tigers 12

South Sydney Rabbitohs vs Sydney Roosters – Friday night – Accor Stadium

As many of you would know, I've had one eye on this game for a while now, and things couldn't have played out much better. The only two foundation clubs in the NRL, with a genuine hatred for each other, facing off in the final round of the season. The losing side can call their travel agent. A win for either team doesn't guarantee a finals berth, but it virtually does for the Bunnies. To miss out they would need the Cowboys to beat the Panthers by at least 40, and no-one has beaten the Panthers by 40 in years. For the Chooks a win keeps their season alive and all their eyeballs turn to that Panthers/Cowboys clash the next night. The Chooks have named Manu in the centres but his late withdrawal wouldn't surprise anyone. Tedesco returns from concussion protocols. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves is a double-edged sword for the Chooks - his approach to the game is what makes him such an important player, but at times it can also be his undoing. His suspension will run long into season 2024. You could say a similar thing about Latrell Mitchell for the Bunnies, who is also out with a suspension. This is the sort of game he would lift for, so he's a huge out for the home side. They'll also miss his goal-kicking, and goal-kicking can be the difference between winning and losing in a tight contest. There's been a few off-field distractions at the Bunnies and they seem to have boiled over in recent weeks. The unrest might at least partly explain why the Rabbits have won just 4 of their last 12 matches. Two of those wins were over the bottom two teams. One was over the Titans, and the other was over the Warriors in a game that was played underwater. It's not compelling form leading into a must-win game, particularly against a team that have won four in a row. Compulsory viewing this one.

Verdict – Roosters by 7

​​​​​​​Result – Roosters 26 defeated Rabbitohs 12

Redcliffe Dolphins vs New Zealand Warriors – Saturday afternoon – Suncorp Stadium

An opportunity for the Dolphins to end the season with a win and a final chance to sing the team song - it's been a while. The Warriors have guaranteed themselves a top four finish and are using the opportunity to rest plenty of their stars - fairly understandable given the travel associated with playing an away game. All the hyphens get the weekend off for the Warriors - Fonua-Blake, Nicoll-Klokstad and Watene-Zelezniak - along with Johnson, Metcalf, Harris and Egan. Note that return from injury for Te Maire Martin in the halves. For the Dolphins, their club captain is back and will start in the front row. Dolphins winger Isaako has an opportunity to claim the gong for most tries this season, and with the Warriors resting Watene-Zelezniak that looks more likely. He's also the leading pointscorer in the NRL this season and has to be in the frame to be named as the Dolphins player of the year in their inaugural season. Phins up!

Verdict – Dolphins by 4

​​​​​​​Result – Dolphins 34 defeated Warriors 10

Penrith Panthers vs North Queensland Cowboys – Saturday night – BlueBet Stadium

For both teams, the results of games that have already been played in round 27 can have a profound impact on this match. Should the Broncos lose to the Storm, the Panthers can claim the minor premiership with a win. For the Cowboys, if the Rabbitohs beat the Roosters they will need to win this game by a hefty margin. Should the Roosters prevail, any kind of victory will see them make the top eight. The Cowboys need to travel to the foot of the mountains, and then they have a mountain to climb. These sides met in Townsville in round 16 where the Cowboys prevailed in extra time. A win is a win, but the Cowboys were near-enough to full strength while the Panthers rested Cleary, Yeo, Martin, Crichton, To'o, Luai and Leota. All but Luai will be playing for Penrith on Saturday night and they're playing at home. To make it worse, the Panthers were soundly beaten last week, and I doubt they want to lose two games in a row heading into a finals series. 

Verdict – Panthers by 16

​​​​​​​Result – Panthers 44 defeated Cowboys 12

St George Illawarra Dragons vs Newcastle Knights – Saturday night – Netstrata Jubilee Stadium

Another tricky game here. The Knights can't progress any higher than their current ladder position with a win, and they can't lose a home final next week if they lose. They're also missing some of their best players here, with Ponga injured and Frizell, Gagai and Crossland rested. They're on a winning run and momentum can take a team a long way. The Dragons don't have much reason to get out of bed either. They can't improve their position on the ladder, and the only way they might end up jagging the wooden spoon is if the Tigers win and win well. I can't see the Tigers winning at all, so for now I'll ignore that possibility. They could, I suppose, turn up for their fans at home and give them something to cheer for, and their record at home (for a team running second last) isn't terrible. Good grief, I've talked myself into it.

Verdict – Dragons by 2

​​​​​​​Result – Knights 32 defeated Dragons 12

Gold Coast Titans vs Canterbury Bulldogs – Sunday afternoon – CBus Super Stadium

A dangerous road trip for the Bulldogs management. Imagine you are looking after a team whose season is over and their last game of the year is on a Sunday on the Gold Coast. Yikes. The Bulldogs look like a team that are going through the motions. Management tried to put a rocket up the squad at training this week, but that might have been a pre-emptive strike knowing that they're heading to the glitter strip for the weekend. The Titans season has been disappointing, but I don't think you could accuse them of not trying. I'm happy to tip them at home.

Verdict – Titans by 10

​​​​​​​Result – Titans 34 defeated Bulldogs 30

Cronulla Sharks vs Canberra Raiders – Sunday afternoon – PointsBet Stadium

There is some chance the final game of the regular season is really important, but there's more chance that it's a bit of a fizzer. The Sharks are guaranteed a top eight finish, but they would lose a home final with a loss. That's worth fighting for...I suppose. The Raiders could still drop out of the top eight altogether, but only if the Cowboys beat the Panthers on Saturday night. That's unlikely but not impossible. The Raiders have lost Papali'i and Horsburgh for this game, while the Sharks have Nicho Hynes returning. Hynes was seen downing drinks on stage with Luke Combs during the week, but he seems to have avoided the criticism that Latrell Mitchell copped for the same thing. Rules for some I suppose. I'll take the Sharks at home and I'll hang around after the match for the Ricky Stuart press conference. Should be a ripper.

Verdict – Sharks by 4

​​​​​​​Result – Sharks 24 defeated Raiders 6

Wally Lewis - round twenty seven selections (in bold)

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

  • BRONCOS vs Storm
  • SEA EAGLES vs Tigers
  • RABBITOHS vs Roosters
  • Dolphins vs WARRIORS
  • PANTHERS vs Cowboys
  • Dragons vs KNIGHTS
  • TITANS vs Bulldogs
  • SHARKS vs Raiders


The Thinker's picture

Greetings football fans

I have updated the NRL ladder and the tipping comp after round 26. A few of us managed to tip the Eels to knock off the Panthers which is a very nice get. Quite of lot of us scored 7 from 8, as tipping scores continue to improve as the season wears on. We're getting better at this, or the games are getting a little more predictable. Perhaps it's both.

Rabbitoh Chick maintains a healthy lead at the top from a pack of chasers. Note that we have prizes and spots on the all time leaderboard for our top three placegetters. Also note that we tip all the way through the finals series - many tipping comps do not, but we do.

As always if anyone notices any issues with the scoring just let me know.

I'll have my previews and selections for the final round of the regular season published on Wednesday.

All the best

The Thinker

The Thinker's picture

If the whispers I'm hearing about the Broncos lineup for the game against the Storm on Thursday are true, the odds* on that game will be tipped on their head.

*for those that are into such things

The Thinker's picture

I should add that, even if the Broncos rest much of their team, the Storm could turn around and do the same thing so, gamble responsibly etc.

The Thinker's picture

And there you have it - the Storm are resting even more first grade players than the Broncos.

Ah rugby're a funny game.

EsraStar's picture

Thinker,The way i see it is both teams have nothing to lose. A win or a loss will still see them play each other in the first week of the finals.
Sure,the Broncos would love a premiership for the club,but is it worth possibly injuring key players?

Rob Bebrouth's picture

Geez Louise - with all the changes to the top 4 teams this weekend - best of luck to everyone tipping. In my opinion - the NRL should ban this crap - its treating the loyal fans with contempt. If I was the broadcaster (aka 9) I would also be up in arms - up against AFL with this crap happening. I foresee lots of coin tossing - "gut feels" & crystal ball gazing - c'est la vie,,,

EsraStar's picture

I reckon it adds to the excitement,mate. I also think it will be a cracking game with all those youngsters playing to impress.

mark ashford's picture

Hey, Broncs & Storm resting players, WTF, don't the Broncs want to end with the minor premiorship? or is the big end more important.
Will watch that game with interest.

newbie from perth's picture

8512121505225182515145 …

It looks like there’s mass “player resting” going for the last round before the finals start. How the hell am I supposed to pick winners with so many outs? I’m referring mainly to Broncos, Storm, Warriors, and to a lesser degree the Knights. I may as well toss a coin. Anyway, it is what it is so I’ll just have to hope for the best. OK, let’s do this thing …

Bye = Eels

Broncos vs. Storm @ Suncorp
Probability @ 60-40
Ladder Position = Broncos
Bookies Favourite = Broncos

Verdict: Yeah, the Broncos would dearly love to wrap up the Minor Premiership and normally I would pick them at home especially given the form they’re in but I reckon they’ve rested too many big guns this week. I might tip the upset here … Storm by 8.

Manly vs. Tigers @ Brookvale
Probability @ 70-30
Ladder Position = Manly
Bookies Favourite = Manly

Verdict: Nothing to play for with these two (except Jake's milestone) but Manly are a better side and at home should finish their season on a high … Manly by 10.

Rabbitohs vs. Roosters @ Accor
Probability @ 55-45
Ladder Position = Rabbitohs
Bookies Favourite = Rabbitohs

Verdict: This is basically a do-or-die for both these sides. The Roosters’ recent form is better than the Rabbitohs and with no Latrell, the decision is a lot easier for me to make … Roosters by 6. Begurk! 🐔 Begurk! 🐔

Dolphins vs. Warriors @ Suncorp
Probability @ 55-45
Ladder Position = Warriors
Bookies Favourite = Dolphins

Verdict: Normally I’d be tipping the Warriors but obviously since they’ve locked in a top 4 berth, they’ve decided to rest some big guns. In my opinion, that might make them vulnerable here … Dolphins by 6.

Panthers vs. Cowboys @ BlueBet
Probability @ 65-35
Ladder Position = Panthers
Bookies Favourite = Panthers

Verdict: The Panthers will be hoping the Storm can knock off the Broncos so that they can grab top spot again and win the Minor Premiership courtesy of their superior points differential. As desperate as the Cowboys will be should the Roosters win, I think it will be all in vain … Panthers by 8.

Dragons vs. Knights @ Kogarah
Probability @ 50-50
Ladder Position = Knights
Bookies Favourite = Knights

Verdict: OK, the Knights will only have Gagai, Ponga, Crossland and Frizell missing but they are “key” players. Given the current form of both these sides I would jump on the Knights without question but those 4 outs have me worried. Coin tossing time … Knights by 4.

Titans vs. Bulldogs @ Cbus
Probability @ 65-35
Ladder Position = Titans
Bookies Favourite = Titans

Verdict: This is another game with nothing but bragging rights to play for. As much as I like the Bulldogs (their potential at least) I can only see this going one way … Titans by 8.

Sharks vs. Raiders @ Shark Park
Probability @ 60-40
Ladder Position = Sharks
Bookies Favourite = Sharks

Verdict: Both sides will be desperate for the win here (home final) and both were lacking last week. The Sharks are at home, Nicho returns and the Raiders seem to have gotten stuck in the mud and will be without Horsburgh and Papali’i. This could very well go either way all things considered but … Sharks by 8.

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

Another one from the “olden days” that makes me feel happy 😍. Hope it does the same for y’all…

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

MGM's picture

Hi Thinker,
the answer to your question last week is No I didn't.
That multi would have paid 1ooo+ to 1 !
Nothing like that on offer this week !!

The Thinker's picture

I mentioned Josh Rogers, the Broncos number 6, is from Perth. I've since learned that there are four players in the starting sides on Thursday night that are from Western Australia - Rogers, Pereira, Smith and Nikorima. That might be some sort of record.

I'm also advised that Broncos interchange Blake Mozer is a genuine talent and definitely worth keeping an eye on.

So there you go, some positives from all these team changes.

All the best

The Thinker


EsraStar's picture

But,mate,,,the Storm have rested about the same number of players.

The Thinker's picture


It was actually a very good game to watch. I think it also demonstrates the importance of the really professional clubs and their development of players (many of whom end up playing with other clubs). Plenty of league fans don't like the Storm or the Broncos, but they can't deny that those clubs are very good at churning out genuine first grade footballers, and the NRL is a better competition because of it.

All the best

The Thinker

The Last Samurai's picture

Hi Thinker,
Just making an enquiry into the tipping format.Unless I have missed something regarding it.I have noticed a tipper in the top 5 on a number of occasions has submitted tips then the following day ...a tip is changed resulting as always a win never a loss...uncanny.As I have seen correspondence from numerous tippers on this site make changes etc.Are these changes conducted by email personally to you.?Obviously before kickoff by game one of each week.As I am a tipper in other competitions.One of which being JDB SELECTS in its inaugural based in NZ.My name being Abdullah The Butcherer and have won the comp...just.It is conducted on the I tip Footy app.Where all tips are placed and not revealed publicly until commencement of game 1...and cannot be changed after.SO SEEING PEOPLES TIPS MEANS NOTHING EXCEPT CURIOSITY AFTER THE FACT.
So in short is there an email address this tipper sends this to you so I can do the same thing if required as I thought we go through this channel for changes?

The Thinker's picture

Hi @Last Samurai

I think I know who you might be referring too, but I'm not 100% sure.

Tipsters are able to change their tips up until the kick off of the first game, but once that game has kicked off the tips are locked in. With late changes, sometimes it can take a while for the web page that you see updates with changed details - without getting too technical, the page you see is a cache of the website, rather than the updated page. 

Sometimes people miss the first game and put their tips in the comments for the rest of the round, which I will generally allow.

Regarding emails, every now and then some tipsters will email their selections through - there are probably about half a dozen or so who do that from time to time.

Generally, they're doing that because they can't access the thinker website for some reason (usually if they are working), but they do have access to emails.

There are also a couple of tipsters who are school kids, and they can't access this website at school (but again, they can email).

My email, if you need it, is:

heythinker [at] the-thinker [dot] org

And you can contact me there anytime.

Hope that explains this to a degree.

All the best

The Thinker

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