St George Illawarra Dragons v South Sydney Rabbitohs
Thursday 16th June at WIN Stadium, 7:50pm
This is an important game for two teams entrenched in a congested mid-table with the Dragons desperate to stay in finals contention, while the Rabbitohs are looking consolidate their position in the top eight. We should expect a tight tussle, but based on recent form, the Rabbitohs should edge out the Dragons in a close one.
Rabbitohs by 4
Manly Warringah Sea Eagles v North Queensland Cowboys
Friday 17th June at 4 Pines Park, 6pm
Manly are on the cusp of the top eight, and although they have comfortably disposed of the Warriors and Tigers in recent weeks, this will be much tougher test against the 3rd placed Cowboys to see where they are really at. For the Cowboys, it is only their second trip to Sydney this season, but come the business end of the season, the long trips Sydney is where they will need to be at their best and prove they can get the job done if they are to challenge for the premiership. A challenge this current Cowboys side should relish.
Cowboys by 14
Melbourne Storm v Brisbane Broncos
Friday 17th June at AAMI Park, 7:55pm
Playing Melbourne in Melbourne is the litmus test for the high flying Broncos who have won seven-straight games to sit in the top four. Unfortunately the injury curse has struck, losing several key players including captain Adam Reynolds, while Melbourne will be looking to hold on to second position with a win. Resilience and defensive resolve is key for the understrength Broncos, but the Storm should have too much class and get the chocolates at home.
Storm by 12
Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks v Gold Coast Titans
Saturday 18th June at C.ex Coffs International Stadium, 3pm
The Sharks will be eying off a return to the top four while the hapless Titans shockingly find themselves dead last after last rounds results. This is an opportunity for the Sharks to build some consistency which they have lacked all season. For the Titans, if they show up with the right attitude, who knows what they can do. Unfortunately they lack fitness and mental toughness in defence to withstand the Sharks quality attack.
Sharks by 16
New Zealand Warriors v Penrith Panthers
Saturday 18th June at Moreton Daily Stadium, 5:30pm
The Warriors have slump to third-last on the back of six-straight losses, and have a worse for-and-against than the two teams below them, so they are very much are chance for the wooden spoon if they cannot turn things around. Unfortunately they come up against the seemingly invincible reigning premiers and it is hard to see anything but a huge win for the Panthers.
Panthers by 26
Parramatta Eels v Sydney Roosters
Saturday 18th June at CommBank Stadium, 7:35pm
The Eels were embarrassed last round round, getting pumped by 30-points against the then last-placed Bulldogs. The Roosters were left to rue missed opportunities against the Storm, and it is unfathomable to believe this great club is in danger of dropping out of the top eight if they lose here. This is a toss of the coin game and both teams will be desperate to produce a good performance, but the Eels might have the slight advantage of playing in front of their home fans.
Eels by 2
Canberra Raiders v Newcastle Knights
Sunday 19th June at GIO Stadium, 2pm
Finals are starting to look out-of-reach for the struggling Knights who were trounced last round by the Panthers and have the worst for-and-against record (-176) in the competition, while the Raiders will be desperate bounce back from their disappointing close loss to the Broncos and stay in touch with the top eight with a win. On current form, the Raiders should get the job done at home.
Raiders by 8
Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs v Wests Tigers
Sunday 19th June at CommBank Stadium, 4:05pm
Feature Image: 4 Pines Park (austadiums.com)
The Bulldogs produced their best performance in recent memory with their stunning upset of the premiership-heavyweight Eels last round, while the lowly Tigers have seemingly lost the fighting spirit in recent weeks. This is a toss of the coin game as well, but if the Bulldogs can bring the same energy, they can knock off the Tigers and make it two in-a-row. You could not back them with any confidence though.
Bulldogs by 6