NRL ROUND 23
Rabbitohs v Bulldogs
The Bulldogs dreadful attack was on full display last week where they managed just one try against the Eels, they may take some heart going into this clash with the fact the Rabbitohs have the 5th worst defence in the competition but even then they’ll need to show big improvement to reach double-digits. One thing most league fans know though is that the Bulldogs are a very dangerous prospect when criticism is heaped on them and I’m fairly confident they’ll find a way to win here.
The Rabbitohs go into this off the back of a bazaar game against the Dragons where the game looked lost only for them to rally late with two tries to grab the win, the performance in general was anything but convincing though but the victory has served to make them favourites here.
The often heated battle between Sam Burgess and James Graham will resume here, it’s Graham who is under the most pressure though being the leader of a pack that’s failed to live up to its billing and he’ll be absolutely fizzing; if he fires up then I expect the rest of his pack to respond which will mean danger for the Rabbitohs. Dominance up front will equate to space and momentum for the Bulldogs backs, they’re well overdue to cut loose and play some ad-lib footy which is what I believe we’ll see from them here after their attack has become the laughing stock of the competition.
I’ve seen fleeting glimpses of what the Bulldogs are capable of throughout the season, they’re a proud club and Des Hasler a proud coach so they’ll be well and truly into this contest. We’ll have a nibble at the good value on offer for the Bulldogs win. Pick - 2 units on Bulldogs to win by 12 points and under
Dragons v Titans
The Dragons finals hopes took a massive blow with the late flurry of tries scored by the Rabbitohs last week which has resulted in them dropping out of the top eight but given how bad the Titans were in failing to score against the Broncos whilst conceding 54 points it should be a formality that the Dragons bank the two competition points here.
The Titans have conceded 520 points this season (just 2 less than the bottom placed Knights) and one gets the feeling Widdup will run riot here off the back of a big effort from the Dragons forward pack who have shown many times this season an ability to dominate opposition packs.
The bookies have put out a very manageable line for the Dragons to cover which they should do with everything to play for. Pick – 4 units on Dragons -8.0 point start (BEST BET)
Storm v Roosters
The Storm have kicked clear of every other team as the seasons drawn on with seemingly daylight between them and the next best sides, this will be a big test for them though as the Roosters will be licking their wounds following the big loss to Manly and do have Friend and Cordner returning to help their cause.
Of the many redeeming qualities this Storm side possess it’s their consistency that is the most impressive and they will enjoy the challenge here of taking on a fellow top-four side.
The Roosters are going to give this a good crack and have plenty of big-game experience, particularly up front which is where they’ll look to get an edge, but will ultimately fall short in a close one. Pick - 2 units on Storm to win by 12 points and under
Warriors v Raiders
It’s no secret - the Warriors are absolutely dreadful – disappointing does not even begin to sum up this club and with just four matches remaining in their woeful season it’s hard to see them winning another game. The Raiders are heading in a different direction and have their tails up in a late bid to make the finals, their forward pack will make light work of the soft Warriors forwards and will lay the platform for their brilliant backs to run riot.
There’s not a lot to say for this one, the Raiders are coming off one of their best performances of the season is beating the Sharks and won’t let up here in what should be a guaranteed two competition points.
The bookies have made the Raiders firm favourites but the line should be larger in my opinion as they should completely dominate proceedings here and win easily. Pick - 3 units on Raiders -7.5 point start