The Knights recorded a rare win in Magic Round, but they face an enormous task in making it two in a row at the expense of the resurgent Broncos, who’s win last Friday night was arguably the highlight of the round. They are a long way away from finals football, but the Knights proved too strong for the similarly poor Bulldogs last weekend, and it was enough to lift them off the bottom of the table, however the pressure is mounting on coach Adam O’Briend and Kalyn Ponga. The Broncos, meanwhile, have now won four in a row, and there is no doubt at all that last weekend’s thrashing of Manly was their best performance of the season to date. While much of the plaudits (and deservedly so) have been going to Adam Reynolds, young forwards Patrick Carrigan and Tom Flegler have been might impressive and will be pushing for Maroons selections this year.
Two sides in the bottom four square off in the first game on Friday, and it’s an even more intriguing battle following Trent Barrett’s resignation, and while many going with the old narrative of backing a team after a coach is sacked, the stats show they have only won 3 of the past 11. The Tigers have been a substantially better side throughout the last month, and they were tough again in defeat to the Cowboys in Round 10 and while the scoreline was not flattering they did play well in parts. The Bulldogs won’t have improved throughout the week and I think the Tigers will cover the line in the first of the Friday games.
An historic rivalry will be renewed in Sydney’s west on Friday night, and the Eels will relish returning to Commbank Stadium where they hold a 25-9 win/loss record. The Eels suffered another disappointing defeat in Magic Round, and while they remain in the top eight, they have continually underperformed and have been a victim of their own inconsistency. The Sea Eagles have returned some good efforts this season, particularly without Turbo for several weeks, who still looks less than 100% fully fit in their 38-0 thrashing at the hands of the Broncos. Barring the Sea Eagles last week, both sides have been scoring a lot of points, and on a dry Friday night I see this game going over the points line.
Saturday 21st May, 3:00PM, Netstrata Jubilee Stadium
I struggle to get an angle on either of those sides and whilst both have been competitive, ultimately that doesn’t translate into wins, or betting with any confidence. The Warriors were awful in their first half against Souths last weekend, but they did fight back into the contest, to give the Bunnies a scare and only go down by 2 points. St George Illawarra’s three-game resurgence hit a roadblock in the form of a 42-6 loss in Melbourne, which was compounded by a wet and wild 20-16 golden point loss to battling Gold Coast. Cutting down errors and following Ben Hunt’s lead will be the Saints’ path to victory and should grind out a win in front of their home fans.
Saturday 21st May, 5:30PM, Queensland Country Bank Stadium
The match of the round could goes ahead between two top four sides as the Cowboys and the Storm go to battle in Townsville on Saturday evening. The Cows have been nothing short of outstanding in 2022 with so many thinking they were a lock for the bottom four in 2022 and they’ve been notching some serious scores against some decent clubs recently. An injury-riddled Storm suffered a hefty defeat to the reigning premiers Penrith in Round 10, but that result really wasn’t reflective of how they have been going, and they really shouldn’t have lost any admirers and Craig Bellamy sides always bounce back with vengeance. The Storm have a terrific record against the Cowboys and despite Papenhuyzen still on the sidelines, the Storm to cover the line looks to good to pass up.
Sydney Roosters’ season has been clunky but find themselves fourth on the ladder, but are slowly improving since losses to the Dragons and Bulldogs. The Tricolours’ attack has clicked in victories over the Titans (44-16) and Eels (31-24), with Sam Walker and Luke Keary finding their groove, and James Tedesco returning to form in what can be described as being short of a gallop after a disjointed pre season. Penrith responded to its first loss – a 22-20 home defeat to Parramatta – with a 32-6 blowout over a depleted Melbourne and continue to amaze with their consistent performances, however I’m backing the Roosters with the big start on Saturday night.
Souths will look for a little consistency when they host the Raiders in Sunday’s first game after almost bottling the game against the Warriors last week 32-30. The Raiders were shock winners in Round 10 and despite the Sharks playing so poorly, the Raider. As recently as a fortnight ago, they looked to be serious threat for the wooden spoon, but they’ve won each of their last two games to double their season tally and incredibly, climb into tenth. The manner of their win over Cronulla was excellent, but like many other sides in the competition they lack consistency and I am going with the Rabbitohs to win only.
Cronulla’s premiership smoky credentials have taken a hit in recent weeks, bookending a heroic shorthanded win over the Warriors with disappointing losses to Brisbane and Canberra, with their loss at Magic Round arguably the most disappointing of the round. Former rugby sevens player Lachlan Miller debuts at fullback, which allows Nicho Hynes to return to the halves where he has been so strong in 2022. Gold Coast recorded a gutsy golden point win over St George Illawarra last round, however have lost their last 6 games against the Sharks, and I’m backing the away side to end the weekend on a positive note for us.
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