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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 6 NRL Teamlists HERE.
Below, Paul runs the rule over Round 6, which kicks off at both Sportingbet & Cbus Super Stadiums on Friday night:
Sportingbet Stadium, under lights, the heavens opening and the visiting South Sydney Rabbitohs looking to destroy the dreams of the upstart Penrith Panthers; a great way to start round 6 of the premiership. Both last start winners, these two teams find success with their defence. They both allow on average, about 16 points a game over the first 5 rounds which ranks them 3rd and 4th respectively so expect a low scoring match.
This is where the Rabbitohs thrive. Playing the waiting game; waiting for their opposition to crack under pressure and using the most powerful weapon ever conceived by the Rugby League god's to do their dirty work; Greg Inglis. However, on Friday night, the Panthers have an advantage in the forwards and despite any heroics from GI, should hold out. Jamie Soward continues to improve under a new system and the Panthers defence holds firm.
1 v 3 on the ladder and a Queensland Derby to get those north of the border off to a flyer. The Titans have won 4 from 5 and sit on top of the table, albeit with a negative point's differential. They keep finding ways to win whether it is a miracle field goal or the brilliant heroics of Greg Bird, they refuse to lose. How long can this keep going? Are they headed for a huge dose of painful reality this Friday night against the Broncos?
Yes. The Broncos have been the other surprise this year after not making the 8 last year. Their performance at Wollongong a fortnight ago was sensational and even though they followed it up with a loss at home to the Eels, they'll bounce back here. The likes of Sam Thaiday and Corey Parker will ensure the big names of the Titans forward pack will struggle. Expect a big game from Justin Hodges and a tip of the hat to Luke Douglas who plays his 200th NRL match.
My tip: Broncos 22-20
Saturday afternoon from the nation's capital has the struggling Newcastle Knights travelling south to face the Raiders. Ricky Stuart's team continues to give a good account of themselves this year. Last week, they gave the Panthers everything they could handle and this was on the back of a huge upset victory over Souths. Whilst Canberra have lost their only home game so far this year, they won't be losing another here.
Jarrod Mullen is tipped to return early from his hamstring injury but this could simply be another rugby league rumour. He was initially given 12-14 weeks. Without him, again, the Knights attack will struggle and the Raiders will aim to get off to a flyer. It was only in round 2 this year when Canberra beat the Knights in Newcastle and as favourites here, they are hard to look past. The return of Josh Papalii will make the forward battle even more delightful.
The reigning premiers are now learning how tough it is to repeat. Every team gives you their best and every week is a big game with plenty of the rugby league talking heads ready to criticise. True, if you score 1 try in 160 minutes of football, perhaps you deserve some bad press, but either way it's time for the Chooks to stand up and not let any bad form continue. Since beating the Eels in round 2, they've lost 2 from 3 and it should have been 3 straight.
The Eels, by contrast, are 2 wins from 3 since these teams last met. They've beaten the Panthers and the Broncos over the last fortnight and that actually has the blue and gold faithful finally ready to believe again. What a sorry state they've been in for the past two years so let's hope for this good run to continue. Not this week though. SBW plays his 100th NRL match and the Roosters' spine plays up to their billing for the first time in a month. Maloney the standout.
The mighty Black and White and Golds play from Campbelltown Stadium for the first time this year and if the rugby league lovers of the west can re-produce any of the passion of their uglier cousins from Leichhardt this week, Wests could be unbeatable. The last game of your Saturday triple header has the 2 and 3 Cowboys on the road to play the 3 and 2 Tigers in your match of the round. This will be a ripper.
Both teams bounced back from round 4 losses to crush their opponents last week and will want to keep that good form going. Well, they both will and this match will be decided in the closing moments. The newly heralded Tigers pack, no longer referred to as "soft' by idiots who've never played in the forwards, face a Cowboys forward pack brimming with superstars. This will be a war in the middle and we will see how good some of these forwards really are.
My tip: Wests Tigers 24-18
Turmoil, again, for this Auckland-based club as they announce their 4th coach in two years with the firing of Matthew Elliott midweek. Cue the odds of a Warriors victory shortening dramatically with every Rugby League ‘historian' knowing only too well the history of teams winning under these circumstances. The visiting Bulldogs will have plenty of work to do if they are to survive a guaranteed emotional opening 20 minutes from the home side.
This is a big ask for the ‘Dogs. They played and won an absolute bell-ringer against the Roosters last week and would have needed every minute of the 8 days in between games to recover. They have. The visitors have a spiritual leader in Josh Reynolds who refuses to let them play without passion and he will teach the much more talented but less motivated Shaun Johnson a lesson here. Josh Morris v Konrad Hurrell a highlight.
Battle of the beaches as we head to the insular peninsula for Sunday afternoon football from Brookvale. Manly are very hot favourites here. Even though the Sharks welcomed back Jeff Robson and looked damn good with him on board, the punters are not yet sold that Robson, Todd Carney and the rest pose any threat to the bruised egos of the Eagles. And bruised they are after last weeks ambush at Leichhardt.
Everyone and their dog is tipping the home side to bounce back and so me and my dog will be no different. Cronulla will come to this game with confidence and a good structure behind their halves but it looks to be no match for a Sea Eagles team with the Stewart brothers playing together at Brooky. The class of Carney against the toughness of Kieran Foran a highlight along with two of the game's best young front rowers squaring off in Andrew Fafita and Brenton Lawrence.
Monday Night Football comes to you from AAMI Park in Melbourne as round 6 comes to a close with the Storm hosting the Dragons. Two teams with almost identical records this year after winning their opening 3 matches and now, both losing their past 2. Saints, in particular, seem to have hit a wall with their on-line defence looking downright diabolical at times against both Brisbane and South Sydney. Melbourne will have noticed this.
Speaking of Melbourne, their defence is nothing to write home about either. Last week, any time the Titans needed points, the Storm looked no chance at stopping them. This week, with Dragons star Gareth Widdop no doubt spilling the beans on his former teammates, the visitors will be testing Melbourne a whole lot more than the odds suggest. Melbourne win as heavy favourites but only just. Cooper Cronk a standout with the ball in hand as well as his sledging of Widdop.