What a crazy week on and off the field and more is yet to come with ongoing investigations yet to be completed. Despite fears, the NRL competition may be under threat following a host of COVID 19 breaches round 14 will go ahead as planned. It kicks off with a possible grand final preview between the defending premiers the Roosters and Melbourne Storm who are no strangers to appearing in grand finals. Unfortunately, the Roosters are down on a number of star players including skipper Boyd Cordner and several key players. Likewise, the Storm will take the field without their super skipper Cameron Smith and gun playmaker Cameron Munster.
All eyes though will be on Brisbane following the club’s spate of disasters which has plunged it even deeper into disarray. Brisbane line-up against Canberra who will be looking to hit back following a disappointing 28-12 loss to Penrith last weekend which jolted their top-four claims. North Queensland Cowboys are not far behind the Broncos in on-field crisis having lost 9 of their last 10 games and they are in danger of another hammering from a South Sydney side looking to make a run at the top four. It looks like a favourites round but as we found out a few times already this season, anything can happen.
Place a 3+ Leg same game multi bet on this weeks games of the NRL and if 1 leg fails, you will get up to $50 back in bonus bets. Terms and conditions apply.
NRL Tipping – Thursday August 13
Roosters v Storm
SCG | 7:50 PM (AEST)
Sydney Roosters – This potential grand final preview has been robbed by a number of gun players being rested including skipper Boyd Cordner Jared Waerea Hargreaves Angus Crichton and Brett from this marquee clash. At their best, they would seriously test Melbourne. Having said that, they still have a number of match-winners headed by fullback James Tedesco and Luke Keary who is in career-best form. They will miss the intimidation and muscle provided each week by JWH in the middle but rest assured SioSiua, Lindsay Collins and Mitch Aubusson will step up and accept the challenge that Melbourne present in the middle third. Adrian Lam worked well with Keary in the halves last week and coach Trent Robinson has stuck with him this week which is a vote of confidence in the youngster. Lam is a solid type who can run the ball and defends well. Brett Morris is still battling a calf injury and has been replaced my Matt Ikuvalu but Josh is on the other win and is a genuine try-scoring threat. The Roosters, who have won the last two premierships, managed to beat St George Illawarra last weekend without nine regular first grade players in their side. It was a mark of the club’s depth and how well-coached and prepared they are to negotiate through a tough season without any byes.
Melbourne Storm – Such a great club and such a well-balanced side even without their great leader Cameron Smith (shoulder). The Storm rested a few players last week but won easily and will welcome back flashy fullback Ryan Papenhauzen and also robust lock Dale Finucane who is a tireless worker. So much to like about the Storm and the way they are playing. They are still missing Smith and Munster and that would normally be a crushing blow but the Storm have such wonderful depth and back-up. The other thing I like about Melbourne is their powerful bench. Coach Craig Bellamy has had the luxury of dropping Tino Faaasuamaleaui and Nicho Hynes to the back, two impressive subs to inject into the battle when needed. Faaasuamaleaui just keeps on getting better with every game and he can be difficult to handle near the try line at the back-end of each half. Melbourne managed to overcome the lowly-placed Bulldogs last weekend without their gun players Smith and Munster but it will be a lot, lot tougher against an outfit with the class and quality of the Roosters even if they are under-strength for the clash. Will be an entertaining battle.
NRL Tipping – Friday August 14
Warriors v Panthers
Central Coast Stadium | 6:00 PM (AEST)
NZ Warriors – Have been very game this season given their difficult circumstances but they strike an opponent in red hot form and they will be heavy underdogs again. That aside they are playing with more purpose since changing coaches and as well all know in rugby league, anything is possible. The Warriors, unfortunately, will be without forward Jake Hetherington who has been dangerous on the edges and provided some midfield aggression. His suspension presents Lachlan Burr with an opportunity to impress against the Panther’s pack which has been tough all season. The Warriors have won their last two games and have a bit of confidence. The key for them is completing their sets and minimising errors which at times they find difficult to defend, especially in their own half. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Peter Hiku, Kodi Nikorima and Chanel Harris-Tavita are all playing well and if the forwards can go hit-up for hit-up with the Panthers they could put some pressure and puts on early. Jamayne Tanua-Brown is a unit and with some help from Burr and Tohu Harris who was great last week in the 26-22 upset win over Manly, the Warriors could stay in the game for a while.
Penrith Panthers – The Panthers are certainly looking the goods to be in the grand final and the way they are playing it is hard to see the Warriors knocking them off. Coach Ivan Cleary has the luxury of naming an unchanged side again, a huge advantage in that the Panthers are extremely settled in everything they do and every player knows his role. The Panthers have become a real powerhouse off the back on their hard-working forwards led weekly by James Tamou, James Fisher-Harris and Isaah Yeo. Liam Martin is playing some great football, running some good lines and hooker Apisai Koroisau can be a real threat through the middle. Nathan Cleary is a superstar, so calm for someone so young. Like all great players, he makes the right decision and takes the right option 99 per cent of the time. Centre Stephen Crichton just keeps improving and what a try-scoring threat he poses running off the likes of Cleary and Jarome Luai. Throw in the under-rated Brent Naden and you have a tremendous football side. Having side all that, we have seen a few big upsets this season. I can’t see that happening here.
Eels v Dragons
Bankwest Stadium | 7:55 PM (AEST)
Parramatta Eels – How good are the Eels going. Their clash with the Sharks last weekend at a water-logged Jubilee Stadium was played in testing conditions but they adjusted to the slushy puddles and came away with their 11th win of the 2020 season to remain one point behind ladder leaders Penrith. A win here over the Dragons would just about cement a top-four finish for the Eels and the way they are playing they could even finish first or second. The energy within the team is electrifying and every week you can say the players are working hard for each other. Full credit to skipper Clint Gutherson for the way the team is performing and Nathan Brown who turns up every week and puts his body of the line for his teammates. So many quality individuals from Gutherson, Maiko Sivo, Michael Jennings, Blake Ferguson, and Mitchell Moses to a pack that just rolls up their sleeves every weekend and gets it done. The return from injury of Ryan Matterson just strengthens the Eels engine room which has been performing on all cylinders of late. Junior Paulo and Shaun Lane have off-loaded while hooker Read Mahoney is a tackling robot who has to be watched out of dummy half close to the try line. All-in-all Parramatta has a side that does not have too many weaknesses.
St George Dragons – The Dragons are playing well but lack the finishing touches. They were good against the Roosters at times but in the end, couldn’t go the 80 minutes and nail a win. Still, the good news if they are scoring some points and have a few players like fullback Matt Dufty and Zac Lomax who are in good touch. They get back Corey Norman who has been recalled after sitting out the Roosters game. He will be keen to make sure he keeps his No.6 jumper until the end of the season. Dufty has turned his form around from a dark place to be the Dragon’s “go-to man” and in broken play and space, his speed can be so dangerous. Shutting down the Eel’s off-loading game will be vital to the Dragons because once Parramatta gets in second-phase gear they can pile on points quickly. No team in the NRL is as good as Parramatta at getting passes away in traffic. They are so good at they have almost 60 off-loads more than their nearest rival. I like Ben Hunt back at No.9 where he can play some eyes-up football and Cameron McInnes can do what he does best at lock. The Dragons will need to be breathing fire though to cook the Eels here.
NRL Tipping – Saturday August 15
Sharks v Titans
Netstrata Jubilee Stadium | 3:00 PM (AEST)
Cronulla Sharks – The Sharks are circling and have snuck under the radar a bit with the like of Penrith, Melbourne and the Roosters taking all the recent headlines. If they can bag another two points here they can possibly creep further into the top 8. This is a crucial game for them as the Titans are finding some form and building towards 2021. But for the Sharks finals football remains a real possibility but they need to win these types of games. They really hung and battled hard before losing 14-12 to Parramatta in tough slushy conditions last weekend. The Sharks have won 6 of their last 8 starts, but both defeats have been top teams placed above them They need to start winning because their run home is tough. As usual, a lot will depend on chief playmakers Shaun Johnson and Wade Graham and their ability to come up with the big plays. They also need more from Matt Moylan who still doesn’t seem to be over his hamstring injuries and is playing at about 75 per cent. Cronulla’s pack has been toiling hard and their battle in the middle will be vital to the result.
Gold Coast Titans – Things have picked up for the Titans in recent weeks and they looked good in beating North Queensland 30-10 at home last weekend. The return of their pacey fullback AJ Brimson, who crossed for two tries, really added some spark to the Titans attack resulting in tries to both wingers Anthony Don and Phillip Sami. Brimson’s career was in the balance with a broken back but in two games since resuming he has shown he still has pace and his dangerous side-step. The fact the Titans crossed for six tries was impressive and shows their attack is working with Ashley Taylor growing in confidence in the No.6 and taking the ball to the line more. Kevin Proctor is leading the Titans forwards and they are following. Jai Arrow continues to produce some good moments but needs more support from his foot soldiers. Halfback Jamal Fogarty has to take control more as well and initiate some ball shifts to keep the Sharks attack on its toes.
Cowboys v Rabbitohs
Queensland Country Bank Stadium | 5:30 PM (AEST)
Nth Qld Cowboys – The Cowboys would need to improve dramatically on their disappointing loss last weekend to the Titans to win this game but they have bounced back a few times from bad losses already this season. Still, they conceded 6 tries to the Titans and that must be a real worry for new coach Josh Hannay who only took over from Paul Green recently. We know what the Cowboys are capable of but sometimes teams can just lose their way at times and North Queensland look in that position. Michael Morgan returned after a long injury and looked like a player who was rusty. His defence was poor as well and those two area need a rapid fix of the Cowboys are to cause an upset here. Right now the Cowboys are more like to take out the wooden spoon than contest the finals. While the Brisbane Broncos have been kicked from pillar to post for their poor form not much as been said about the Cowboys abysmal 1-10 record since the NRL competition resumed. It’s a big fall for the 2015 premiers and it may suggest a few roster changes will be needed in 2021 to start climbing back up the ladder.
South Sydney Roosters – Time for the Rabbits to get hopping up the top 8 ladder. They are currently 7th but it is moving time if they want to grab a prized top 4 spot. They are four points behind the 4th placed Roosters so they just need to keep winning. They didn’t blow Brisbane off the park last weekend but the 28-10 scoreline was convincing enough. I keep saying it, the Rabbits have not played a solid 80 minutes and if they do this weekend the score could be big. Souths have won their last two and a third win would definitely give them momentum heading towards the finals. The big bodies will collide in the middle with Tom Burgess up against Jordan McLean and Tevita Tatola bumping heads with Josh McGuire. Souths halves Cody Walker and Adam Reynolds may have too many tricks for the Cowboy’s defence. Walker was outstanding against the Broncos and showed just was a class act he is if given any defensive latitude. Latrell Mitchell will have a new opponent in Scott Drinkwater who has been named to make his return from injury at fullback for the Cows. Whichever way you dissect this clash it always comes out with a South Sydney win.
Raiders v Broncos
GIO Stadium | 7:35 PM (AEST)
Canberra Raiders – You have to say the Raiders were disappointing against Penrith last weekend. Whether they had a poor attitude, didn’t start with the same energy as the Panthers or were just not up to the task is for coach Ricky Stuart to work out but you know they will hit back hard against a team which is on its knees and bleeding badly from so many heavy losses already. Penrith were on song last week, so we can cut Canberra a little slack but they better turn up ready to play. It is hard to know what the Broncos will produce but Canberra can’t worry about that, they just need to play the way they know they can play. Canberra is just one win out of the top four and they really need the two premiership points to keep the pressure on the Roosters who have a tough game this weekend. Stuart hasn’t made any changes to his line-up to play Brisbane despite their loss to Penrith. It’s his way of saying “redeem yourselves” and it just may produce a good result. Josh Papalii will lead his forwards as he has been doing all season Bateman and Elliot, the two Englishman, are back in tandem and make such a difference to the Raider’s attack. If the floodgates open, it could be a long night for the Broncos.
Brisbane Broncos – It is truly sad to watch what is unfolding with this once great club as it stumbles and crashes from one crisis to another with no end in sight. The litany of disasters in 2020 is far too long to list here and now coach Anthony Seibold is missing in isolation dealing with “family matters” and one of their gun young players, Tevita Pangi-Junior, has had his contract torn up for leaving the bubble to attend a barber shop opening. Calls for CEO Paul White to quit and an overhaul of the Brisbane board are not helping the players, some of whom want out of the club and others who will get the heave-ho under the new administration. It’s an absolute mess and October can’t come quick enough for fans or the players. So, can they put all that aside and upset the Raiders? If you believe in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy, then maybe they can. If you believe in facts and figures and what you see, then NO, they are no chance. I’d like to think the majority of players still feel something for the jumper and will fight hard. It may not be enough, but it is what they owe their fans and what their fans deserve from them.
NRL Tipping – Sunday August 16
West Tigers v Bulldogs
Bankwest Stadium | 4.05 PM (AEST)
West Tigers – Were borderline pathetic against an enthusiastic Newcastle last start when thrashed 44-4. They were lucky to get four points as the Knights dominated them from start to finish. The heavy loss came after a decent old-fashioned spray from coach Madge McGuire that should have had the players keyed up but instead, they looked slow, pedestrian and lacking energy after five minutes. It’s hard to excuse a performance so bad, but it is also hard to imagine they could play that badly again. They had no structure, no go forward, their defence was flimsy at best and their key players all went missing. Those sorts of performances are always hard to explain, players, waiting for other players to do something and save the game. The one things in the Tiger’s favour is that the Bulldogs are last on the ladder and have won one of their past five games. But they won’t give in without a fight here and the Tigers attitude will need to be a hell of a lot better as will their mental application. The last time these two sides met it was a resounding win for the Tigers and I am willing to give them one last chance against a team struggling for wins.
Bulldogs – Probably the hardest working team to be in last place for years. Tenacity is a feature of their play but quite often that is not enough to win games as they know better than anyone. They will, however, see this is a chance to get off the bottom of the ladder and a lit bit away from the dreaded wooden spoon. Again they will be underdogs as they have been every week but you can bet they will come out hard and physical. The one thing they won’t do is surrender, it’s not part of their DNA. The loss of Luke Lewis is a blow to the Dogs but they have a hard-working pack who will hold their own in the mid-field battle. Hooker Jacob Liddle gets his first game since a horror knee injury last year, allowing Moses Mbye to return to centre and Tommy Talau to the wing with Asu Kepaoa out. Given the Tiger’s recent few losses they are no good things to win. It’s a chance for the Bulldogs to grab a couple of premiership points and given their loyal fans something to celebrate.
Knights v Sea Eagles
McDonalds Jones Stadium | 2.00 PM (AEST)
Newcastle Knights – Looked very sharp is trouncing Wests Tigers 44-4 when former Warrior Blake Green made his debut last weekend. Green didn’t take any time in settling in with his new teammates laying on tries and kicking extremely well. Newcastle muscled-up early against the Tigers and smashed them into submission for the next 80 minutes. They ran in no less than 8 tries and could have had a few more. Manly have been brave in recent weeks but being down on troops is taking its toll defensively. Daniel Saifiti returns from a knee injury and that will only bolter the Knight’s firepower in the middle. He is a quality player and he will be very valuable in the big collisions. Kalyn Ponga is playing some quality football again and with Green and Mitchell Pearce able to launch raids on either side of the park he can pick and choose his time to get involved. Manly have taken a few hammerings lately but they never lay down and Newcastle will need to apply constant pressure and build pressure with repeated drop out and set resets. They have the edge of the score of having a virtually unchanged side.
Manly Sea Eagles – Some hard games while key players are out injured is taking a toll of Manly but you can’t question their willingness to dig in and have a real go. They will, however, find it tough to hold the Knights up the middle with Addin Fonua-Blake in the stands watching. Fonua-Blake makes a lot of the hard, dirty metres and it is a big ask for Marty Tapau to do much more than he already does. A lot of responsibility will fall of Jake Trbojevic and halfback Daly Cherry-Evans. Trbojevic has been in great form and not just in defence, doing a lot of probing for Cherry-Evans and also back up his halfback. The big worry for Manly is that the Knights are fast from the ruck and have more running and post metres than any other team in the competition. If you don’t kill the ball and bend them back they just keep coming and coming which they will for 80 minutes. This will be another test of Manly’s resilience and you just wonder how much longer they can keep turning up.