NRL ROUND 24
Warriors v Panthers
Both these sides are hard to follow at present with both suffering upset losses last week, it was the Panthers though who were left reeling after being beaten at home by the unfancied Knights in a performance that highlighted just how crucial Maloney is to the team as he was badly missed on attack.
With Maloney once again missing here the Panthers are going to struggle but this will be the perfect test of their character up against a Warriors side that is very beatable when you get in their face and unsettle them, exactly what Gould will be instructing the Panthers to do here.
The Warriors are without Green for this clash with Lino stepping into five eighth, a position he’s not familiar with, which evens things up somewhat in the injury impact front but still with a slight advantage to the Warriors as Maloney cannot be replaced.
This is going to be a heated match as both sides are coming off losses to much lower teams on the ladder and both will be desperate to get some confidence behind them going into the finals. The Warriors have been a very dangerous side this year when on the bounce from a disappointing loss and I can’t help but feel they’ll hold more cards up their sleeve than the Panthers who haven’t looked themselves since Griffin departed. We’ll take the home side to fire up and get the win as they shut the Panthers attack down. Pick – 3 units on Warriors -3.5 point start
Cowboys v Eels
This is going to be a very emotionally charged match for the Cowboys players and fans, not to mention JT himself as he plays his final NRL game in Townsville and quite frankly the Eels do not stand a chance in the face of what will be a grand-final-esque determination and desire from the home side.
It's fair to say the season has been anything but a fairy tale finale for JT with the Cowboys in wooden spoon contention but as they showed a few weeks back against the Broncos they’re still a very capable side who boast a strong forward pack and damaging backline, both of which we’ll see at their best here.
Up front the Cowboys side on paper looks far superior to that of the Eels and this will be where most of the damage is done as the massive home crowd spurs them on; from there it’ll be a JT masterclass as the future immortal reminds us all of what he’s still capable of. Not much more to say here; the Cowboys simply are not going to get the wooden spoon in JT’s last season and they’ll make sure of that here. I’m surprised the line is as narrow as it is because the Eels are not even going to come close to the emotionally-charged Cowboys. Pick – 5 units on Cowboys -5.5 point start (BEST BET)
Sharks v Knights
The Sharks have swum under the radar this season and find themselves comfortably in the top eight but have hardly set the world on fire, they do have a decent pack though that boasts plenty of experience which is a good and bad thing as they’re also somewhat long in the tooth.
In all likelihood Ponga is going to be ruled out of this clash which will place a heavy burden on Pearce to get the Knights attack going as there’s very few other options besides those two and I just can’t see them troubling the Sharks defence as they eye an unlikely top four finish.
Even if Ponga does take the field here the Knights are still going to be up against it as the Sharks pack should have it all over them and a breakout performance from the Sharks is overdue in front of what should be a large early afternoon crowd at the Shire. Pick – 3 units on Sharks to win by 13+ points
Dragons v Bulldogs
This was already going to be a huge game for the Dragons as they try and steady the ship following a tumultuous few months but is now going to be extremely emotionally fuelled as they pay tribute to club legend Lance Thompson.
The big question mark hanging over the Dragons is whether they can lift their attack in the absence of Widdup; Kurt Mann certainly has big boots to fill and will need plenty of support around him particularly from his forward pack who need to get back to the dominant form they showed early season.
The Bulldogs go into this clash off the back of a thrilling win over the Warriors, aided by some shoddy Warriors defence, they’re going to be in for a rude awakening here though as the Dragons won’t be the turnstiles that the Warriors were and will use their defence as the foundation on which they’ll earn the win here.
At home with the finals just around the corner and with the added emotion I can’t see the Dragons letting this match get past them as they take advantage of what is an average Bulldogs defence and clock up a decent winning total. Pick - 4 units on Dragons -4.5 point start
WEEK RESULTS STAKES ROI BEST BET Week Two Finals -7 7 -100% LOST Week One Finals +12.96 12 108% WON Week Twenty-Five -11.27 17 -66% LOST Week Twenty-Four +6.36 15 42% WON Week Twenty-Three +0.54 14 4% LOST Week Twenty-Two +6.11 16 38% LOST Week Twenty-One +10.12 11 92% WON Week Twenty -0.6 14 -4% LOST Week Nineteen +9.02 15 60% WON Week Eighteen -6.32 13 -49% LOST SOO 3 +5.25 4 130% N/A Week Seventeen -7 7 -100% LOST Week Sixteen -1.7 11 -15% LOST Week Fifteen -3.87 17 -23% LOST Week Fourteen +3.44 10 34% WON SOO 1 +3.64 4 91% N/A Week Thirteen -7 7 -100% LOST Week Twelve +6.34 13 49% WON Week Eleven +1.24 15 8% WON Week Ten +3.96 12 33% WON Week Nine +9.67 10 97% WON Week Eight -1.09 13 8% LOST Week Seven +18.27 15 123% WON Week Six -3.51 15 -23% LOST Week Five -3.3 15 -22% LOST Week Four +3.6 11 33% N/A Week Three -7 7 -100% LOST Week Two -4.5 12 -38% LOST Week One -5.27 11 -48% LOST Total +31.09 359 9% 38%