Pressure is mounting in the Nations capital as the Raiders remain winless so far in 2018. Their lacklustre performances see them floundering towards the bottom of the competition ladder along with an inconsistent Bulldogs outfit.
Josh Papalli has been dropped from Thursday’s must-win clash while Blake Austin will remain in reserve grade with his future up in the air.
Bulldogs coach Dean Pay has demanded nothing short of a victory this Thursday if his side are a chance of a finals birth. Moses Mbye has been cleared to play despite leaving the field with concussion against the Rabbitohs, however, Aidan Tolman will be sidelined for a lengthy period with David Klemmer shifting to front-row and Adam Elliott named to start.
Both teams have struggled defensively so far this season so expect a high scoring affair, but keep in mind that seven of the last eight fixtures have been decided by 12 points or less.
The Sharks have enjoyed significant success against the Roosters in recent times but this match looms as a genuine blockbuster with the two heavyweight contenders having inconsistent starts to their respective seasons.
The Sharks pulled off a valiant 14-4 victory over the Storm last Friday night with much of the focus primarily around the penalty-heavy contest. Little can be taken away from the Sharks as they battled their way to a hard-fought victory by keeping the reigning premiers tryless.
While their committed defensive efforts have been the cornerstone of their two wins this season – conceding just eight points across their past two fixtures, their attacking structures are still developing but will welcome the return of Josh Dugan and Matt Moylan to their side.
The Roosters will be desperate to restore some pride after their 30-6 loss to the Warriors. Outmuscled against a barnstorming Warriors pack, the Roosters will be looking to win the battle through the middle-third against the likes of Andrew Fifita and Paul Gallen.
The 2013 premiers have the worst completion rate in the competition, averaging 14 errors per game, and have won just four of their last 15 games against the Sharks since 2010.
Played 93, Roosters 57 wins, Sharks 34 wins, 2 draws.
Matches at venue
Played 47; Roosters 27 wins; Sharks 18 wins; 2 draws.
The Tigers will be looking to record back-to-back victories against the Storm for the first time in their history, but will look to do so against a rejuvenated Melbourne outfit looking to bounce back from their poor performance against the Sharks.
Playing well below their standards so far this year, the Storm have recorded just two wins in 2018 and will be desperate for a return to form.
Young Tonumaipea will replace Will Chambers while hard-working forward Dale Finucane has also been ruled out, but the Storm may be boosted with the potential return of Felise Kaufusi.
The Tigers have proven to be one of the strongest defensive teams in the competition s far, but made a statement with their improved attacking performance against the Eels on Easter Monday.
They ran in five unanswered tries in a clinical attacking display, while also racking up seven line breaks and 39 tackle busts in their performance.
Ivan Cleary has named an unchanged 17 to take on the 2017 premiers, with Josh Reynolds still a week away from his long-awaited return.
Expect a low-scoring affair as both sides have proven to be too strong defensively, with the Tigers conceding just over 10 points per game while the Storm average just 14 points conceded in 2018.
You wouldn’t have suspected the Warriors to be undefeated and the Cowboys to have a 1-3 record at this point in the season, but this highly-anticipated clash will be pivotal for each side for different reasons.
The Warriors made a powerful statement with a commanding win over the 30-6, and will now welcome the return of Shaun Johnson and veteran Simon Mannering which will undoubtedly prove monumental as they search for their fifth straight victory.
The Cowboys are yet to dominate like many were suspecting with Michael Morgan and Jonathan Thurston yet to create the formidable combination they are capable of. While their attack is yet to find it’s form, their defensive structures are also a minor worry having averaged nearly 30 points conceded in their three consecutive defeats.
In a huge blow for the premiership heavyweights, Jordan McLean has been ruled out for up to three months, with Scott Bolton named to partner Matt Scott in the front-row.
The Warriors boast a strong home record against the Cowboys, winning 13 of their past 19 fixtures.
The Knights have been unable to continue their blistering start to the season after two heavy losses over the past fortnight, and now face a Broncos side desperate to salvage some pride after a poor performance against the Titans on Sunday evening.
While the attacking prowess of Mitchell Pearce and Kalyn Ponga proved crucial in their opening two victories, the Knights have struggled to find the line in recent weeks and have recorded just 20 points in their last two fixtures.
The Broncos were outplayed by an impressive Titans outfit in Round 4 and have shown worrying signs over the first month of the season – averaging just two tries a game
Corey Oates and Tevita Pangai Jr are expected to play this week in a timely return for Wayne Bennett’s side, while the Knights have lost Tautau Moga for the season after the centre suffered another ACL injury, with Nathan Ross named in the centres.
Played 47; Broncos 33 wins; Knights 13 wins; 1 draw
Matches at venue
Played 26; Broncos 16 wins; Knights 9 wins; 1 draw
The Titans recorded a stunning upset victory over the Broncos in Round 4and will now look to capitalise on an injury-plagued Manly outfit coming off a comfortable victory over the Raiders.
This contest will be a huge battle of the forwards with Jai Arrow, Jarrod Wallace, Ryan James taking on an in-form Martin Taupau and Addin Fonua-Blake. Expect a ferocious opening stanza but both sides to play an attacking brand of football with an array of attacking talent on show.
Dylan Water is a massive inclusion of the Eagles after breaking his leg last September, while Frank Winterstein returns to the starting side after Curtis Sironen was ruled out for the season.
While Manly have enjoyed stellar success in recent fixtures with 10 wins in 16 games, the Titans will take confidence in their three consecutive victories against the Eagles.
Very few would of suggested the Eels to be winless over the first four rounds, but they now face the prospect of a fifth straight loss against a Panthers outfit brimming with confidence.
Even without halfback Nathan Cleary, the Panthers proved too powerful against the Cowboys last Thursday as they recorded a 33-14 victory, with James Maloney proving instrumental in their third win of the season.
Maloney steered his side around the park with perfect game management and an accurate kicking game, and finished the match with a try, 2 try assists, 40/20, 1 field-goal and a perfect kicking record (9/9).
Despite the Eels struggling for form, Brad Arthur ahs stuck solid with the same 17 that fell to the Tigers on Monday, while Anthony Griffin is also unchanged but has named Trent Merrin at prop and James Fischer-Harris at lock.
NRL Round 2 Betting tips & Preview The Form Guide Well, what can you say about that? Round 1 was a tipsters nightmare, but with such quality on display so early it was hard to be too disappointed. The Dragons did a number on the Broncos, and all of those summer predictions that the Broncos […]
Here are the talking points in the rugby league world this week. Freddy a formality It appears Brad Fittler is all but confirmed as the next NSW State of Origin coach. The early favourite to replace Laurie Daley, Fittler brings NRL coaching experience and an intimate knowledge of Origin, but it looks like it has […]
Rugby League Test Tonga v Australia Saturday 20 October 2018 Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland If last week was just the appetiser, then this week’s main course could be something special. The lead up to the Kangaroos’ battle with New Zealand was a little overshadowed by the prospect of the Aussies’ first meeting with the Tongans, […]