NRL ROUND 16
Sharks v Warriors
The upturn in the Warriors season has coincided with a dream run of opposition as they beat a tired Broncos in Auckland three days after origin, then faced the cellar-dwelling Knights and last week beat the second to bottom Roosters – three wins that were gift-wrapped – so this is clearly their biggest test for a while.
I can’t help but feel most other sides in the competition would have put a big total on the Roosters last week but the Warriors fumbled and bumbled their way to the win, they looked disorganised on attack (managing just the one try against one of the worst defences in the competition) which has plagued them all season. Meanwhile when tested against a decent attack this season the Warriors have folded easily and it’s hard to see their defence holding out against this blistering Sharks side.
The Warriors will strut into this match with false confidence in their ability and get a major reality check against the table-topping Sharks who will dominant every facet of this match (except for the error and miss-tackle count). I’m surprised the line for the Sharks to cover isn’t bigger but it seems the bookies have been suckered into believing the Warriors are the real-deal – we’ll take the Sharks to cover as the visitors house of cards comes crashing down. Pick – 4 units on Sharks -8.5 point start
Bulldogs v Broncos
Despite having numerous players backing up from origin the Broncos still get the nod here for mine. Having had to sit in the principal’s office whilst watching Queensland secure yet another origin series the Broncos halves of Hunt and Milford will be champing at the bit here to take the field and perform their own heroics as they position themselves to be the next generation of Maroon playmakers.
The jury is still out on this Bulldogs side as they’ve come up short when tested against the top sides this year; they’ve also been somewhat unpredictable from week to week, a large factor contributing to that has been Mbye and Reynolds inconsistent performances in the halves.
Both sides have strength’s up front but the Broncos have the more mobile of the packs and I can see them running the Bulldogs ragged which will lay the foundation for the quality backline to strut its stuff. It’s even money on both sides from the bookies which means good value on the Broncos to win – we’ll have it. Pick – 3 units on Broncos to win
Titans v Raiders
The Titans continue to impress with another win notched Monday night against the Sea Eagles and at home again with the very influential Greg Bird back on deck they’ll be a very tough proposition for the Raiders who go into this off the bye. Whilst the Titans get Bird back the Raiders get two big names of their own back from suspension in Wighton and Boyd which has them at full strength.
I have continued to underestimate the Titans this season and as tempted as I am to once again go against them I’m opting to take on the combined points line as there are plenty of points on the table here with two solid offences squaring off, the same can’t be said for their defensive prowess.
The Titans will have their hands full trying to contain the big Raiders forward pack whilst out wider the human wrecking ball that is Leilua in the centres will as always prove hard to stop. Both sides have in-form halves pairings that have been creating plenty on attack and on what’s forecast to be a dry afternoon game on the Gold Coast I can see the scoreboard getting a good working over. Pick – 4 units on total combined points ‘over’ 46.5 or better and 0.5 units on Titans/Raiders halftime/fulltime double
Storm v Tigers
The Tigers have had somewhat of a renaissance since their round 8 thumping by the Raiders, going on to win four of their last six matches including a huge result in one of the toughest road trips in the competition – a 19-18 win over Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium. That result in Brisbane will give them some confidence for this trip as playing in Melbourne is on a par with that trip in terms of a challenge.
Both sides are close to full strength but it’s the Storm who has the biggest shake-up from their last match, a 20-10 loss to the Dragons, with their spine of Munster, Green, Cronk and Smith all returning which inevitably means plenty of trouble for the opposition. It’s more than just the playmaking and control that Smith and Cronk bring through their individual games that counts so much for the Storm as they lift the entire team and given the last game they laced up for the Storm – a 46-0 hammering of the Roosters – this could well get very ugly for the Tigers, despite their recent run of success.
The Tigers have a terrible record in Melbourne and I can see them being frustrated all game in the face of a very strong Storm defence who will be itching to make amends for the loss to the Dragons. The four days recovery from origin will mean Smith and Cronk will be relatively refreshed going into this which will see the Storm offence humming along and they should find plenty of holes in what has often been a very leaky Tigers defence this season. Pick – 2.5 units on Melbourne -12.5 point start
WEEK RESULTS STAKES ROI BEST BET Grand Final
Week Three Finals
Week Two Finals
Week One Finals