Sydney Roosters v Brisbane Broncos
Thursday 4th August at SCG, 7:50pm
The first high-stakes game of the round, as the Roosters will be looking to hold on to eighth position, while the Broncos will be desperate to keep their top four ambitions on track. It is hard to separate both sides on paper and on current form. Although the Roosters have the home field advantage, the Broncos will be itching to make up for their poor performance last round against the lowly Tigers and prove they are indeed, premiership contenders.
Broncos by 6
Melbourne Storm v Gold Coast Titans
Friday 5th August at AAMI Park, 6pm
The Storm snapped a four-game losing streak against the Warriors last round, while the Titans fell short against the Bulldogs, which ultimately saw them slump to last place. The Storm simply must win if they are to hold off the Broncos, Eels and Rabbitohs for fourth position. The Titans will be desperate to lift themselves off the bottom of the ladder and avoid the wooden spoon, but it is highly unlikely they will challenge the Storm in Melbourne.
Storm by 26
Manly Warringah Sea Eagles v Parramatta Eels
Friday 5th August at 4 Pines Park, 7:55pm
Manly welcome back a number of key players who missed last round due to the pride jersey controversy. Parramatta stunned the Panthers for the second time this season, but they are now without halfback Mitch Moses for an extended period due to injury. No one can predict which Eels side will show up this week, but against a Manly side desperate to keep their finals hopes alive, they will be tough to beat at home.
Sea Eagles by 8
South Sydney Rabbitohs v New Zealand Warriors
Saturday 6th August at Sunshine Coast Stadium, 3pm
Souths will be ruing a missed opportunity in their golden-point loss to the Sharks last round. The Warriors put in a spirited performance in their loss against the Storm in Auckland, and they will be looking to finish their season above the bottom four. Souths have too much to play for though. A loss could put their finals spot in jeopardy, but a win would consolidate their position in the top eight and stay within reach of the top four. They should get the job done on the Sunny Coast.
Rabbitohs by 20
Canberra Raiders v Penrith Panthers
Saturday 6th August at GIO Stadium, 5:30pm
This is arguably the most important game of the season for the Raiders, playing at home against a Panthers side missing both halves to suspension and injury. The ninth-placed Raiders are equal on competition points with the eighth-placed Roosters, but have a far-inferior ‘for and against’ record, meaning they will likely need to finish one win clear to qualify for the finals. The Panthers will be looking to bounce back from their loss to the Eels and place one hand on the J. J. Giltinan Shield for the minor premiership. The Raiders are desperate though, and they have what it takes to cause the upset.
Raiders by 2
Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks v St George Illawarra Dragons
Saturday 6th August at PointsBet Stadium, 7:35pm
The Sharks continued their run of good form last round with their stunning golden-point win over Souths. For the Dragons, their heavy loss to the Cowboys was one nail in the coffin of their season, and they simply must win to keep their slim finals hopes alive. The Sharks are on a roll, but they need to keep the roll going if they are to chase down the Cowboys for that all important top-two finish. They should too much for the Dragons to handle in the local derby.
Sharks by 14
Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs v North Queensland Cowboys
Sunday 7th August at Salter Oval (Bundaberg), 2pm
The Bulldogs resurgence continued last round as they cruised past a hapless Knights, while the Cowboys rediscovered their best form with a big win over the Dragons to remain outright-second on the ladder. Although this is a Bulldogs home game, they will be flying closer to Cowboys territory in Bundaberg, and will need to bring that attacking flair they have shown in recent weeks if they are to cause the upset. The Cowboys premiership hopes could ride on a top-two finish, meaning two home finals and they simply cannot afford to let this game slip.
Cowboys by 12
Wests Tigers v Newcastle Knights
Sunday 7th August at Campbelltown Sports Stadium, 4:05pm
The Tigers have outplayed two-top four sides in the past two weeks. They have a huge opportunity here to overtake the hapless Knights on the ladder and remove themselves further away from the wooden spoon. The Knights have been woeful for most of the season and continue to go backwards after their terrible loss to the Bulldogs last round. The Tigers should keep up the good form, they should win and they should win comfortably.
Tigers by 18
Featured Image: 4 Pines Park (austadiums.com)