NRL ROUND 16
Warriors v Bulldogs
Both these sides have failed to live up to expectations thus far with just six wins a piece and this shapes as a potential season defining match for the winner who will move closer to the top eight, whilst the loser can realistically start thinking about salvaging what they can from the season.
The Warriors have been unaffected by origin, whilst the Bulldogs have named Klemmer, Jackson and Brett Morris to back up which is a big call considering the two day turnaround.
Both sides impressed last time out with big wins, the Warriors easily accounting for the Titans and the Bulldogs winning as underdogs against the Dragons – a match that saw them roll their sleeves up on defence and hold the Dragons to just two points. Des Hasler will be after a similar defensive effort here as the Warriors attack looks like it’s slowly coming right; the home side could be without Foran here (injury cloud) which would make the Bulldogs task a lot easier as he’s pivotal to their entire attack.
It was not that long ago that an understrength Dragons side absolutely dismantled the Warriors through a dominant forwards display and the Bulldogs have the potential to do the same as they have plenty of size and power up front; with Reynolds back on deck in the halves the Bulldogs attack should have a bit more spice to it and they’re at good value for the win, especially if Foran does pull out. Pick – 2 units on Bulldogs to win
Tigers v Titans
The Tigers showed plenty of fight in narrowly going down to the Sharks last week and with returning origin stars Tedesco and Woods named they’ll be an even tougher proposition here. The Titans will look to bounce back from a disappointing effort against the Warriors two weeks back but they have often looked short on enthusiasm this season and just what sort of attitude they show up with here will remain to be seen, I’m confident though the Tigers will be up for this at their beloved Cambelltown Stadium.
Ivan Cleary’s honeymoon period at the Tigers is now over and the pressures on to show they’re on the improve, which they did last week against the Sharks, and he’ll be demanding his side take another step forward here against a side that’s only a couple of places above them on the ladder.
I like the Tigers to get the win here, they appear to have their hunger back and against a side that often puts in abject performances in Sydney they offer good value that’s hard to pass up. Pick – 2 units on Tigers 1-12
Cowboys v Panthers
It’s a rare occasion that the Cowboys get to play a day game at home and with the attacking quality they have, along with that of the Panthers, there promises to be points galore on what’s forecast to be a dry track.
The Panthers pulled a rabbit out of the hat two weeks back against the Raiders as some late Moylan magic got them the win, his move to five-eighth looks like it will be permanent and certainly gives them a much better look to their attack as he gets more and more involved. The Panthers have scored 128 points at an average of 32 over their past four games and are starting to live up to their pre-season favouritism and in good conditions here will have plenty of points in them even in the face of what’s generally a very good Cowboys defence at home; we don’t have to say much about the attacking qualities of the Cowboys meanwhile.
Short and sweet, the combined line is lower than I’d expected and even with the absence of Thurston I still feel this is going to be a try-fest with both sides full of running in the perfect conditions - we’ll back the ‘overs’. Pick – 4 units on total combined points ‘over’ 40.5
Raiders v Broncos
You have to feel extremely sorry for Ricky Stuart after his side suffered another heart-breaking loss in the dying seconds against the Panthers two weeks ago and sitting at 10th on the table this game shapes as a must win against the 4th placed Broncos.
The Raiders have had a relatively uninterrupted lead in to this game with Papalii being the only player selected for origin duties, that’s in contrast to the Broncos who have four players backing up, they’ve also had to deal with the loss of Milford through injury so their lead in has been much less settled than the Raiders.
The Broncos have lost four and won three on the road this season whilst the Raiders have won four and lost two at home which is promising stats for the home side, throw in the interruptions and the added desperation one would expect from the Raiders and the signs look good for a Raiders win. Pick – 4 units on Raiders -4.5 point start (BEST BET)
Dragons v Knights
The great start to the season from the Dragons is somewhat unravelling after totalling just 28 points in their past three matches, it was their attack after all that was the big talking point in the earlier rounds but they looked more like their 2016 selves in losing to the Eels last week.
This could be just the match the Dragons need to rediscover their spark on attack with the Knights boasting the second worst defence in the competition, giving up an average of 27 points per game.
The Dragons have the upper hand in every match-up here when comparing the sides on paper and will be absolutely fizzing to get things back on track with a comprehensive win over a Knights side that I don’t see putting up much resistance. Pick – 2 units on Dragons -12.5 or better point start