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NRL Previews - 2014 Round 11
Paul's back for another look at the weekend ahead. Check out his tips and see if yours will match up...
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Check out the Round 11 NRL Teamlists HERE.
Below, Paul runs the rule over Round 11:
Round 11 kicks off from ANZ Stadium on Friday night and it's the top of the table Bulldogs hosting the Roosters. Having players on re duty makes this time of year less exciting and more annoying for punters. Having said that, what a wonderful opportunity for the up and coming Moses Mbye to showcase his talents and get some 1st grade experience for the Bulldogs. Along-side Moses will be one of Belmore's favourite sons and seasoned campaigner, Reni Maitua.
Keep an ear out for the reception given to Maitua when he returns to his roots - and while you're watching, keep an eye out for the James Maloney/Mitchell Pearce combination with a point to prove. This will be the difference. The Roosters come out blazing to exorcize the demons of their defensive capitulation last week and after a fierce battle between the NRL's two best forward packs, the Chooks sneak home in JWH's 100th first grade appearance.
This could be a tough night for the Titans with yet another challenge awaiting their team, their franchise and their fans. The Warriors have never really been a club that fills out a stadium on the road, so whilst the Titans management work out ways to get more than 10k to CBus Super Stadium on Saturday afternoon, their players will be focussing on avoiding a 3 game losing streak for the first time this year. It will be a big ask.
New Zealand continue to improve each week and if not for Josh Morris' remarkable try saving tackle on Shaun Johnson last week, they may have beaten the league leaders. Since getting crushed by the Sharks in round 5, the Warriors defense has miraculously improved to only allow 15 points per game since that horror show. This should get them home against an understrength Titans outfit but it will be close. Nathan Friend looking for a big one and David Mead clocks up his century.
Campbelltown Stadium comes to life with the scent of Rugby League on Saturday night; and at Campbelltown, this scent is unmistakeable. Stale beer, cigarettes, meat pies and cigarettes. These wondrous aromas will plume from the hallowed turf as about 10,000 committed Wests fans pour through the gates. The Broncos, sans origin players, are even less of a draw card than usual. And so, with this bludger of a football match set to break all kinds of pay TV viewing records, let's have at it.
Robbie Farah will be a huge loss for the Tigers, as he always is, but there's plenty to like about the home side and they should be too good for Brisbane here. Especially with the Broncos pre-game rituals thrown into absolute chaos, playing on a Saturday for the first time since August 2013. They've played on Friday night for the last 14 rounds of NRL footy. Just read that last line again and tell me how on earth this is possible. Wests win.
My tip: Wests Tigers 24-20
The misery that is our mid-season fixture card continues from the nation's capital on Sunday afternoon as the struggling Raiders host the Cowboys. The visitors' depth will be tested here as they lose Matt Scott, James Tamou and JT to origin, as well as the one and only Gavin Cooper. Cooper has been Jonathan Thurston's most trusted back-rower for years and forgive me if I spend a paragraph talking about blokes who aren't even playing in this match.
The Raiders have won 1 from their past 6 and are struggling in every facet right now. They may have restored some pride last week with an improved showing against the Panthers, but it's a season on the brink for the home side. They look headed for an early off-season and beating a reserve grade Cowboys team won't change that. But they do anyway through a strong start from their forward pack and another half-hearted effort by Anthony Milford, which still, aint that bad.
Cronulla Sutherland Sharks v South Sydney Rabbitohs
Monday 7:00pm at Remondis Stadium, Woolooware
Two days out from origin 1 and I'll already be in the foetal position, crying into my pint glass in preparation for the series opener - but this game will surely be on TV in the background. Souths travel to the Shire to face the Sharks for Monday night football and the Bunnies are heavy favourites. In fact, even without their star playmaker and only source of entertainment, Greg Inglis, the visitors should be fair dinkum enough to destroy their hosts and walk away with an easy two points.
Cronulla may struggle in attack with Jeff Robson and Daniel ‘DJ' Holdsworth in the halves Their only chance may be to defend well enough to frustrate South Sydney and force them into errors. Robson can handle this game plan, being a sound defender, but those around him may not be able to say the same. The Sharks play a spirited opening 20 minutes in tribute to the mighty John Morris, who plays his 300th first grade game, but Souths bounce back from a big loss last week and tear it up late.