Friday night footy from Leichhardt Oval opens round 11 of the premiership as the Tigers play host to the Warriors. Like any good host, the Tigers will welcome their visitors with a cold glass of mistakes, an entree of flimsy defence, a main course of poor fifth tackle options and then present a warm glass of disappointment to the Wests faithful. Not a forgiving bunch in Tiger town and we predict some angry pedestrians navigating the back streets at full time.
The Warriors are hitting form. Led by a ferocious forward back, they have dispatched the Broncos, Bunnies and Roosters in recent weeks and whilst all these victories came at Mt Smart Stadium, the New Zealand big men will find little resistance from the Tigers engine room. Benji catches a glimpse of his past when Shaun Johnson enjoys plenty of space in this one as the visitors bust open the opposition defence early and often. Warriors too big and too strong.
North Queensland Cowboys v Penrith Panthers
Saturday 7:30pm, Dairy Farmers Stadium - LIVE updates click here
A Saturday night arm-wrestle from Dairy Farmers Stadium. Without Jonathan Thurston in the line up, the Cowboys have been able to win a few games in recent years but it's never been pretty. The Panthers, meanwhile, have had their own image problems this season. In attack they average a paltry 14 points a game and have not scored more than this since beating the Eels almost 2 months ago. It might be slow going for the scoreboard attendant.
What won't be slow going will be the Cowboys forwards. Tariq Sims will be ignited by his omission from the Origin squad and his brother Ashton will follow suit. The visitors will not be able to handle this and once Aaron Payne and Ray Thompson get enough momentum and field position, it should be lights out for the Panthers. Tune in to enjoy the one and only Travis Burns as he loads up in the sledging department against his former teammates; always good fun.
Manly Sea Eagles v Sydney Roosters
Saturday 2:00pm, Brookvale Oval - LIVE updates click here
A Daniel Mortimer sighting! The once heralded member of one of codes famous families, Mortimer quickly disappeared from the spotlight after the Eels 2009 Grand Final appearance. He became a young journeyman through the lower grades to now resurface as a Rooster and gets his chance in first grade this Sunday at Brookvale Oval as Mitchell Pearce's understudy. This is will be a big challenge but one that Daniel will meet, and master.
The Roosters are uncovering a new star every weekend. The likes of Cordner, Guerra, Moga and Arona not only sound like a collection of classic cars, they play with just as much power. Upset of the week for mine as the boys from Bondi continue their good form and deliver the Eagles their 2nd loss in 4 games at home. With DCE, SKD and JWH all on show, it will be a beauty but we predict a TKO for the Roosters as they POQ with the two points.
St George Illawarra Dragons v South Sydney Rabbitohs
Saturday 3:00pm, WIN Jubilee Oval, Kogarah - LIVE updates click here
South Sydney fans will quickly realise on Sunday afternoon why half of their salary cap goes to Greg Inglis. A phenomenal footballer who is so good that he is not even playing in this game and I can't help but dedicate an entire paragraph to his awesomeness. Allow me to continue to this self fulfilling prophecy by writing one more line about the man they call GI. Souths will lose about 250 metres of field position without him. Thank you.
Just quietly, a horrible scheduling error by the NRL. Saints v Souths should be a highlight of the season and should typify all that is good about the traditions of Sydney rivalries. Alas, it is jammed into the weekend before Origin and as you may have read - we are missing some big names. Jamie Soward returns for the Dragons and if their attack can find any sort of rhythm, they should make it 4 from 4 at WIN Jubilee. They will.
Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs v Cronulla Sharks
Monday 7:00pm, ANZ Stadium - LIVE updates click here
Rumours circling about the return of Trent Hodkinson for this match and it could not come at a better time for the Bulldogs. They've come off a difficult month with losses to Manly and Melbourne and then suddenly looked exhausted against the Titans last week. A disappointing 1 win from their last 5 and Hodkinson could be the key to igniting an attack that is averaging only 11 points a match over this period. Needless to say, we don't count the Eels match.
The Sharks are elite. Playing a disciplined but exciting brand of football that has them sitting third on the ladder and coming fresh off a victory against The Melbourne Storm. The obvious question here is whether the visitors can win without Gallen and Carney. The Answer is no. 'Dogs take advantage of 10 days rest and come out firing to get their season back on track. League fans will find it tough to focus on this match with Origin only two days away and the senses tingling with anticipation.
Check back early next week for a full preview of the opening State of Origin match. In the meantime, follow us on TWITTER
, like us on FACEBOOK
and you'll stay up to date with all the NRL and lower grade latest!