NRL ROUND 19
Warriors v Panthers
The Warriors really are on their last legs now after a loss last time out to the Sea Eagles where they once again ran out of puff and let the Sea Eagles back into the game and despite the Panthers themselves struggling this season they do have more in their arsenal and are at good odds for the upset here.
The fact this is being billed as a big send-off game for club legend Manu Vatuvai doesn’t really change much for mine as the Warriors have had a lot to play for in many games this year as their season has teetered on the edge and it would only be fitting they put in another limp effort here.
The game should be won up front for the Panthers as they’ve the much stronger of the packs with Rein, Tamou, Campbell-Gillard and Merrin all capable of busting the rather soft Warriors pack wide open. We saw last week some confidence return to the Panthers halves too and I’m sure Moylan/Cleary will make the most of the platform laid by their forward pack here. Take the Panthers to win. Pick – 2 units on Panthers to win
Raiders v Dragons
The Raiders have cost us big-time this season as they’ve been one of the more disappointing sides in the competition, their 31-18 home loss to the Cowboys two weeks ago was arguably their worst, but all is not yet lost and the reasons still remain for having loyally backed them thus far and I’m expecting this to be the game where some of that faith is repaid.
The Dragons have had some major struggles of their own with a promising start to the season, dominated by outstanding attack, quickly forgotten as they’ve slid down the ladder and I don’t see this as being a game where their attacking prowess is re-discovered. With Aitken and Frizell both out and Dugan / Vaughan questionable starters the Raiders will not have a better chance to secure two valuable competition points at home.
The Raiders were pre-season competition favourites for good reason and with close to their best available side here I can see a return to their 2016 brand of play as their large and physical forward pack roll up the middle providing their very handy backline room to work their magic. We’ll take the Raiders to cover the start. Pick – 4 units on Raiders -5.5 point start (BEST BET)
Sea Eagles v Tigers
A day game at Lottoland, it has all the makings of a great day out as a couple of fierce rivals do battle; for the Sea Eagles this is more about further cementing their place in the top eight whilst for the Tigers it’s about moving further off the bottom of the table and away from the wooden spoon.
The Tigers were solid in their last game out, trashing the Knights 33-12 and in doing so sent a reminder of their attacking capabilities but too often this season they’ve been opened up on defence which is exactly what I see happening here against a Sea Eagles side looking to bounce back from last week’s loss to the Panthers.
There will be a huge crowd packed into Lottoland for this Sunday afternoon game and with the forecast looking good I can see both sides entertaining in a high-scoring game. DCE will still be smarting from his origin snub and will have a hand in nearly everything here; the Tigers will have points in them too but ultimately their defence won’t hold up – we’ll back a high-scoring affair and go the ‘overs’. Pick – 4 units on ‘over’ 43.5 total combined points