After weeks of rumour and speculation, Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs have finally confirmed the sign...
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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 12 NRL Teamlists HERE.
Below, Paul runs the rule over Round 12:
The worst time of year for most tipsters - except for your humble LeagueUnlimited ‘previewer', who goes into every week as blind as we all are now. Welcome to the swirling, stinky, cess pool where my tipping lives.
Round 14 kicks off with the battle of the west at Sportingbet Stadium and this one will be all about Jarryd Hayne. The Eels custodian deserves a week off after his all-world performance on Wednesday night and if the rumours are true and he is rested, the Panthers win.
Penrith and Parramatta sit 3rd and 4th on the ladder respectively so get ready for a beauty and get ready for home side to seek revenge for their round 4 shellacking at Pirtek Stadium. Things will be very different on Friday night. Jamie Soward leads the way in attack for the mountain men whilst in defence, the early return from injury of Elijah Taylor keeps the Panthers middle tough enough to handle anything.
Saturday evening from Allianz Stadium has the defending premiers hosting the struggling Raiders. This is a mismatch. The Chooks play a style where their forwards are mobile and control the edges in defence and attack. Very modern. The visitors, by contrast, are almost prehistoric in their attempt to complete sets, smash out a few hit-ups and let their halfback play at the line. They've lost 3 from their past 4 and are owners of the worst defence in the NRL.
The bookies have the home side at $1.22 and this might be generous. Unless a thousand women in yellow dresses turn up to watch this game, there will be no distractions for an almost full strength Roosters outfit and they should run away with this one. James Maloney the standout as he finds plenty of gaps in the green machine's retreating defensive line and look for RTS and SKD to be the major beneficiaries.
1300Smiles Stadium hosts Saturday night footy this week as the hobbled Storm travel to Australia's tropical north to face the Cowboys. With Craig Bellamy's recent history of resting the big three during the rep fixtures, it looks as though he may have no choice here, with Cooper Cronk already out for an extended period, and Cameron Smith seemingly on one leg for most of the second half on Wednesday night. Latest reports also have Billy Slater out for 1-2 weeks as well. This leaves everyone guessing - except the Cowboys.
North Queensland are on a high. They'll conveniently ignore last week's loss in Canberra, which they should, then realise they have won 3 straight games in Townsville. If betting ever opens on this game, the home side should be favourites and should have too many weapons for the undermanned Storm to handle. ‘Should' being the operative word here, my friends. This match could easily turn into a Q-Cup exhibition, considering there are supposed to be 7 players backing up from Origin. Heaven help them.
My tip: Cowboys 24-12
A big day for the Warriors and a huge test for the downtrodden Knights as they travel across the Tasman for Sunday afternoon football. New Zealand play their first game at Mt Smart Stadium for 2014 and will also celebrate their captain's 200th first grade match. Simon Mannering will lead them out to a throng of adoring fans and the visiting Knights will be in the deep end, from kick off, if they don't get their act together.
They sit at the bottom of the table and have lost 4 in a row. The owner of the franchise has abandoned them, possibly on his way to jail, and their prize performer, Darius Boyd, has been completely disengaged at times this year. Jeremy Smith makes a timely comeback for the Knights but it won't make a lick of difference as the Warriors celebrate with a triumphant return to their spiritual home ground. Manu Vatuvei v Akuila Uate always a fun ride.
Brisbane Broncos v Manly Warringah Sea Eagles
Frid... nope, oops let us start again...
Sunday 3:00pm at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Second v Eighth on the ladder and your match of the round comes from Suncorp Stadium on Sunday afternoon. With Sam Thaiday and Kieran Foran slated to return, the post Origin triage has less of an effect here. Smart money says Manly will be without Anthony Watmough and Daly Cherry-Evans but truth be told, I don't really know what ‘smart money' means. Either way, Manly will be pilgrims in an unholy land of two-headed heathens.
Surprisingly, the Broncos have won only 2 from 5 at Suncorp this year, whilst somehow winning all of their matches in NSW. Their performance at Campbelltown a week ago was as disciplined an 80 minutes as you'll see - and coach Anthony Griffin will know the home side will need to be just as good on Sunday to beat the most dangerous team in the NRL. They won't be. Manly will survive without their injured superstars and come home stronger.
Souths were accused of playing the most boring game of footy ever witnessed last Monday night at Remondis Stadium. Sometimes the talking heads do that, don't they? You beat an injury/origin ravaged team 18-0 and get abused for not entertaining the fans. Well, I usually subscribe to that theory, always hoping for quicker play-the-balls, tired forwards and more tires, but Souths gotta do what they gotta do and without Greg Inglis, they don't do much.
Speaking of not doing much, the famous red V has done very little over the past 7 games, losing 6 of them. Exit Coach Steve Price and enter caretaker Paul McGregor. How will the Dragons respond? Not well. For one thing, their attack is still getting to know a new halfback.
So, while fans wait for Benji Marshall to get used to a new system, they'll hopefully stop marching on St George Leagues club and interrupting my old man's trips to the TAB inside.