NRL ROUND 17
Roosters v Bulldogs
Just when exactly are the Roosters going to wake up and start playing like the minor premiers they’ve been for the past three seasons – that is the question. With some big-guns returning here though against one of their fiercest of rivals this is the game they have to step up if they’re to give themselves any chance of being in finals contention.
The Roosters welcome back Pearce, Ferguson and Guerra for this clash and now have close to their best side available so there’s few excuses on the table, they are however up against a red-hot Bulldogs side who are fresh of a huge win over the Broncos but backing up convincing performances this season has been an issue for them.
The biggest issue for the Roosters has been a lack of punch on attack which is surprising with all the attacking strike-weapons they have in the side, what they’ve lacked is someone to steer the ship but with Pearce’s return they have just that person and I expect we’ll see a marked improvement all-round with ball in hand. There’s a lot more riding on the clash for the Roosters given every loss from here is another nail in the coffin of their season and we should see that added desperation in everything they do here – they’re a decent enough side on paper to win but we’ll take the added insurance and back them with the start on offer. Pick – 3 units on Roosters +5.5 point start
Broncos v Storm
The Broncos have had a rough time of late losing four of their past five matches with the 40-14 loss to the Bulldogs last week being the most comprehensive of the lot; with a full complement of players though (exception being Thaiday) and back at Suncorp they are going to be a very very tough proposition for the Storm.
Back on deck for the Broncos are McCullough, Glenn and Maranta who will all have an impact, particularly McCullough whose work rate on defence and around the ruck has been missed. The Storm have named pretty much the same side (apart from White joining the bench in place of Asofa-Solomona) that got the second half wobbles last week but still managed to beat the fast finishing Tigers.
Man for man the Broncos have it over the Storm but as we know the Storm are a very cohesive and determined unit with Smith and Cronk running the show, I just can’t see anything but a Broncos win here however with the side they’ve named, at home and determined to get their season back on track. The line on offer isn’t big and we’ll back the Broncos to cover. Pick – 4 units on Broncos -3.5 or better point start
Warriors v Titans
With two very capable attacks (and thin defensive lines) on display here and on what’s forecast to be a dry late afternoon game there’s every chance this will be a high-scoring affair.
The Warriors have shown time and again this season that if their attitude is slightly off then their defence is the first to suffer which is why they’ve given up so many big totals and this match looms as somewhat of a danger game given they’re going in as favourites, a tag that doesn’t always sit well with them.
There’s plenty of danger men on both sides but for the Titans it’s Taylor and Roberts who hold the key for them, with Bird also a menace – all three have been pivotal in the Titans attack this year and will be a handful for the Warriors. The home side meanwhile will be buoyed by Johnsons return to form and with Leuluai back partnering him in the halves they are a much more cohesive attacking unit as was shown last week in narrowly losing to the Sharks.
Both sides love to throw the ball around and will keep the scoreboard ticking over – we’ll back the combined points total to go ‘overs’. Pick – 3 units on total combined points ‘over’ 46.5 or better
Tigers v Panthers
The Tigers are undoubtedly the least predictable / inconsistent side in the competition which was on display last week in their loss to the Storm where they put in a huge second half effort to give the Storm a fright, narrowly losing in the end. With their unpredictable nature the bookies have had trouble pricing the Tigers up each week and being the underdog here will sit comfortably with them as they’re a ‘backs to the wall’ side that seems to thrive on being written off.
The addition of Robbie Farah to the Tigers side this week is a big ‘in’ as his experience and control around the ruck will take the pressure off their halves and should see their pack get good a good roll-on up the middle.
These sides are rather similar in make-up with exciting young halves, experienced hookers and game breakers at fullback in Tedesco and Moylan and I really don’t see much between them. I did see enough from the Tigers second half blitz against a very strong Storm defence to have me leaning towards the value they’re offering in the head to head here as back home I can see them kicking on from that effort.
We’ll back plenty of points here and for the Tigers to come out on top. Pick – 2 units on total combined points ‘over’ 44.5’ and 2 units on Tigers to win
Sharks v Eels
The Sharks received a scare from the Warriors last week but got the crucial two points to remain on top of the competition table, meanwhile the Eels kept their slim finals chances alive with a comfortable win over the Rabbitohs two weeks ago and go into this fresh off the Bye.
The Eels have gone from one crisis to another this season with the latest being Radradra’s off-field issues and it’s looking highly unlikely he’ll take the field here which is a big blow as he’s been mammoth this season on the wing. Just how they react to yet another setback will remain to be seen but that, along with news midweek of Forans fine and loss of captaincy, could just be the straw that breaks the camel’s back, it’ll certainly take all of Brad Arthurs leadership skills to rally the troops.
The Sharks hold all the cards here - they’re fully fit, have the weight of experience and are playing with supreme confidence on attack born of having won 11 matches in a row – I’m happy to take them to win big. Pick – 2 units on Sharks to win by 13 points and over
WEEK RESULTS STAKES ROI BEST BET Grand Final
Week Three Finals
Week Two Finals
Week One Finals