NRL 2011 - Round 13 Previews

Parramatta Eels v St George Illawarra Dragons

Friday 3 June 2011; kickoff 7:30pm; Parramatta Stadium

Match details, history, team lineups and LIVE scores: CLICK HERE

Although one can sense a slight turnaround in form for the Eels, they don't seem to be at the stage where they can make this match a contest. Unlucky not to win up in Newcastle last week, Parramatta will need all the luck in the world against a team that held them scoreless only a month ago. They will also be hoping Saints struggle with fatigue whilst in the midst of the rep season.

So, with their fingers crossed, a rabbit's foot in their pocket and a four leaf clover hovering over Parramatta Stadium, the Eels host the reigning premiers on Friday night. Even if the Dragons are tired, their defence will be too good for Hayne and company as Saints make it 10 in a row. Good battle out wide between the up and coming Jacob Loko and NSW star Mark Gasnier.

My tip: St George Illawarra 23-10

Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks v Brisbane Broncos

Friday 3 June 2011; kickoff 7:30pm; Toyota Stadium

Match details, history, team lineups and LIVE scores: CLICK HERE

So it seems, once again, that the representative season brings more debate about scheduling than it does about actual footy. The Broncos are the perfect example as to why. At the end of round 8 this year, they were the best defensive team in the competition and were on a 7 match winning streak. Since that weekend, they have conceded an average of 32 in three games. Debate over, the rep season kills premiership footy.

So, rather than premiership success being based on depth or luck with injuries, how about basing it on hard work combined with talent. Speaking of those two traits, that's where the Broncos have the edge over the Sharks at Toyota Park on Friday Night. The Shire says farewell to Darren Lockyer and the Broncos get back on track. Corey Parker and Sam Thaiday the standouts.

My tip: Brisbane 18-10

Gold Coast Titans v Penrith Panthers
Saturday 4 June 2011; kickoff 5:30pm; Skilled Park

Match details, history, team lineups and LIVE scores: CLICK HERE

The Panthers seem to have finally come good. It is no coincidence that they have also welcomed back Luke Lewis, Nathan Smith and Lachlan Coote from injury in recent weeks and Lewis in particular has been in vintage form. By contrast, the Titans have not been able to turn a horrible season around and this bad fortune was on display last week when they could not stop dropping the ball over the try line.

If they were playing against a Queensland origin team, all the talk would have been about the Maroons 'desperate' on-line defence but against the Bulldogs, John Cartwright's men were simply 'unlucky'. My bitterness aside, luck must turn around soon for the Titans and it should happen this week, they must be due. It won't, and they aren't. The Panthers are peaking and they fire on all cylinders in this match with Lewis and Michael Jennings the standouts.

My tip: Penrith 26-20

Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs v Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles
Saturday 4 June 2011; kickoff 7:30pm; ANZ Stadium

Match details, history, team lineups and LIVE scores: CLICK HERE

Match of the Round by a country mile. There are plenty of exciting contests across the park in this one: age v youth, speed v strength and finally, Belrose v Bankstown. The Silvertails will definitely enjoy the trip south into enemy territory as the Bulldogs face the Sea Eagles for the 112th time in NRL history. Fantastic for historians to see two giants of the competition square off on Saturday night at Homebush.

So, moving on from pomp and ceremony, the home side will be without its starting halfback and facing a Manly side coming off its best half of football in recent memory. The Eagles were magnificent last week against a depleted Broncos team but they will bring this confidence to ANZ Stadium and walk away with the two points. Kieran Foran the standout with Brett Stewart and Ben Barba making this one a beauty.

My tip: Manly 26-18

Sydney Roosters v Warriors
Saturday 4 June 2011; kickoff 7:30pm; Sydney Football Stadium

Match details, history, team lineups and LIVE scores: CLICK HERE

Not sure if anything said about the Roosters has not already been noted. Brian Smith has seen it all before, including calls for his resignation and this seems to happen at every club he has coached. Tough times for the boys from Bondi. Across the Tasman however, the Warriors are on a 5 game winning streak and come to the SFS on Saturday night brimming with confidence.

They have successfully incorporated Feleti Mateo into their attack and James Maloney is leading them around the park like a wise old sage. They have a workhorse pack of forwards highlighted by the tough-as-nails Michael Luck and his young apprentice, Elijah Taylor. They will out-work the Roosters and reap the rewards late in the game. Maloney a standout.

My tip: NZ Warriors 30-16

Canberra Raiders v North Queensland Cowboys
Sunday 5 June 2011; kickoff 2:00pm; Canberra Stadium

Match details, history, team lineups and LIVE scores: CLICK HERE
What better example of 'Home Ground Advantage' than the matchup between these two clubs. The Cowboys are owners of an 8-3 record, have the 2nd best attack in the competition and have the best player in the world as their halfback. Still, they travel to our nation's capital on Sunday afternoon as outsiders. Seems the bookies once again believe the Raiders are near unbeatable at home in winter.
Poppycock. North Queensland are a different club this year and have rebuilt around a forward pack that protects their halfback and defends their line ferociously. Matt Scott is considered to be the best prop in Australia and the emergence of Ray Thompson has taken plenty of responsibility away from Jonathan Thurston, just when he was in danger of being worn out. It all combines to bring the Cowboys only their 3rd ever win in Canberra.
My tip: North Queensland 28-20

South Sydney Rabbitohs v Melbourne Storm
Sunday 5 June 2011; kickoff 3:00pm; ANZ Stadium

Match details, history, team lineups and LIVE scores: CLICK HERE
League fans may have read a whole bunch about Adam Blair recently. The Storm second rower is apparently being courted by a number of clubs and to back up this interest, he has even been called 'the best forward in the world'. There must be a few players in the NRL who would have something to say about this. Fingers crossed the likes of Dave Taylor and Mick Crocker have heard this rumour and reply accordingly.
These are the games that separate the real from the fake. Adam Blair, can you perform on a cold and wet Sunday afternoon in front of 5000 fans at a stadium that resembles playing in an empty warehouse? We can ask the same of the entire Melbourne squad. On paper they should put Souths to the sword but this match will be closer than the 10.5 handicap suggests. Souths give it a real shake, as they usually do against Melbourne but once again finish just short.
My tip: Melbourne 20-16

Wests Tigers v Newcastle Knights
Monday 6 June 2011; kickoff 7:00pm; Leichhardt Oval

Match details, history, team lineups and LIVE scores: CLICK HERE
9 regular first graders out injured for this match. That statistic is usually enough to suggest, as a spectacle, this match might lose some of its shine. Not this time. The hustle and bustle of Sydney's inner west will slow down just for a few hours on Monday night as the Knights head to Leichardt Oval to play the Tigers. The Balmain faithful will ensure the atmosphere is intimidating and unwelcoming for the visitors.
Checking the record books, it's hard to say if any of the current Knights players have ever played at the famous Sydney ground and this will swing the momentum as far as it needs to go for the Tigers to get home. The return of Gareth Ellis and Keith Galloway set the tone up front for the home side and Benji does the rest. Lote Tuqiri has been named to return from injury to face Akuila Uate in a battle of Fiji's finest. Enjoy.
My tip: Wests Tigers 24-18

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