Manly Warringah Sea Eagles v Sydney Roosters
Thursday 28th July at 4 Pines Park, 7:50pm
This is an important clash with major finals ramifications for both sides. The Roosters replaced Manly in eighth position on ‘for and against’ and look odds-on favourites to go two points clear due to seven Manly players standing down over the Pride Jersey controversy. Although Manly still have several key players taking the field, it is still a mismatch on paper. An unfortunate situation that could derail Manly’s season and a huge boost to the Roosters finals hopes.
Roosters by 20
New Zealand Warriors v Melbourne Storm
Friday 29th July at Mt Smart Stadium, 6pm
The Warriors will be buoyed by playing at home in Auckland for just the second time since 2019, and they come up against a woefully out-of-form Storm side that has lost four in-a-row. It is a tough road trip, flying over to New Zealand but it is a challenge the Storm need to embrace as they endeavor to find some form, regain their position in the top four and re-establish themselves as premiership contenders. Although the Warriors are languishing in the bottom four, this game might be closer than people may expect.
Storm by 6
Parramatta Eels v Penrith Panthers
Friday 29th July at CommBank Stadium, 7:55 pm
If this ‘battle of the west’ between the Eels and Panthers is as intense as their first clash earlier this season, this should be a cracking game. While the Panthers are running away with the minor premiership, the Eels have a lot to play for. A win keeps their top four hopes alive, but a loss still leaves them vulnerable to missing the top eight all together considering the difficulty of their remaining draw. They do get up for these big clashes, being the only team to inflict a defeat on the Panthers this season, but it is hard to see anything other than the Panthers evening the score.
Panthers by 12
Gold Coast Titans v Canberra Raiders
Saturday 30th July at Cbus Super Stadium, 3pm
We have seem glimpses of improvement from the Titans in recent weeks, but it has been the same story with respect to their lack of experience, especially in the spine which has been their downfall. The Raiders are equal with the eighth-placed Roosters on competition points, but are well behind on ‘for and against’ so it is likely they will have to finish one win clear of ninth if they are to qualify for the finals. The Titans are desperate to avoid the wooden spoon, but this is a game the Raiders simply must win, and they should win well.
Raiders by 16
Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks v South Sydney Rabbitohs
Saturday 30th July at PointsBet Stadium, 5:30pm
Two in-form sides in a high-stakes contest as the sixth-placed Souths will be looking to equal the third-placed Sharks on 26 competition points, while the Sharks will be looking to cement their spot in the top four. This is probably the hardest game to pick this round. Both sides have plenty of points in them, but the Sharks, in front of their home fans, have the superior defence and should be able to hold off a Latrell-inspired Rabbitohs attack.
Sharks by 4
Brisbane Broncos v Wests Tigers
Saturday 30th July at Suncorp Stadium, 7:35pm
The resurgent Broncos need to keep the roll going if they are to maintain their position in the top four, while the poor Tigers were absolutely dudded last round by the most controversial refereeing blunder in recent memory. If the Tigers can play with the same spirit they showed against the Cowboys, they are in with a chance of lifting themselves off the bottom of the ladder, but the Broncos are in great form, they will have a packed Suncorp crowd behind them and should earn a comfortable win.
Broncos by 18
Newcastle Knights v Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs
Sunday 31st July at McDonald Jones Stadium, 2pm
The struggling Knights will likely be without their star fullback Kalyn Ponga for the rest of 2022, while the consistently improving Bulldogs will be looking for back-to-back wins for the second time this season as they strive to finish above the bottom four. The Knight season is a complete write off, and they simply do not have the defensive resolve to hold out the Bulldogs silky attack that has flourished in recent months.
Bulldogs by 10
St George Illawarra Dragons v North Queensland Cowboys
Sunday 31st July at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium, 4:05pm
The Dragons have been inconsistent all season but they are still a chance of qualifying for the finals, while the Cowboys are fortunate to still find themselves in outright second with a controversial win last round against the last-placed Tigers. Although this game is 2nd vs 11th, cracks have begun to appear in the Cowboys performances over the past month and the Dragons at home might be good enough to take advantage.
Dragons by 2