NRL Previews - Round 14

St George Illawarra Dragons v Gold Coast Titans
Friday 10 June 2011, kickoff 7:30pm; WIN Jubilee Oval, Kogarah
Match history, officials, team lists and LIVE scores: click here

This rotten effect the representative season has on premiership footy continues on Friday night at Kogarah's Jubilee Oval. The Titans are in the midst of the worst form in franchise history but have a good record against the Dragons and might find some semblance of motivation in this match, but as a spectacle it simply won't be... well.... a spectacle at all.

Enough of the whining though. We still, at least for another year, have to deal with this rep season schedule so as footy fans, let's embrace it. What better way to celebrate this match than to congratulate 19 year old Dragons debutant Alex McKinnon, who starts at centre and represents the mighty Aberdeen Tigers. Another way to enjoy this match is to watch Michael Weyman and Dan Hunt tear holes through the Titans in a very, very low scoring match. 

My tip
: St George Illawarra 12-10

Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles v North Queensland Cowboys
Saturday 11 June 2011, kickoff 7:30pm; Brookvale Oval
Match history, officials, team lists and LIVE scores: click here

Brookvale Oval will be positively buzzing on Saturday night with the Eagles on a 4 match winning streak that includes some very impressive performances over the past fortnight. In fact, Manly have lost only 1 game out of their last 9, and that was against the Cowboys in Townsville in a match that finished 4 tries apiece.
Judging by how the bookies have reacted to the visitors travelling to Sydney without Jonathan Thurston, Manly look set for a little revenge but it won't be easy. Whilst the high performance race-car that is the Cowboys of 2011 will be missing it's steering wheel, coach Neil Henry has been blooding replacement number 7 Michael Morgan for just such an occasion. He performs well, but the Eagles too good at home in a bottler.
My tip: Manly 24-20

Brisbane Broncos v Canberra Raiders
Sunday 12 June 2011, kickoff 2:00pm; Suncorp Stadium
Match history, officials, team lists and LIVE scores: click here

Just when you think you've made peace with watching rugby league games pre-origin, this match comes along to test all your tipping powers. Both teams at $1.91 mid week. The closeness of this match between the Raiders and the Broncos at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday afternoon won't be getting Queenslanders through the doors in record numbers.
A quiet crowd, an essentially empty stadium, a visiting team whose fans won't travel in numbers and no Darren Lockyer. Now that I've proven my marketing genius, let's get to the good stuff. Canberra had their hearts broken last week and if they haven't been through enough soul searching already this season, here is another test. Can they bounce back against a young, fast and enthusiastic Brisbane team? No. 
My tip: Brisbane 20-16

Warriors v Wests Tigers
Sunday 12 June 2011, kickoff 2:00pm (4pm NZT); Mt Smart Stadium
Match history, officials, team lists and LIVE scores: click here

Match of the Round for mine. These two clubs are possibly the least affected teams by origin, they sit 6th and 7th on the ladder respectively and have almost identical for and against records. Good signs for the Tigers recently with self labelled 'poor performances' still leading to victories over the Panthers and the Knights. Just imagine if they finally turn it on. 
For the Warriors, despite a tough loss in Sydney last weekend, they've been winning with a disciplined brand and showing patience with the football that led to a 5 match winning streak. Two reasons why the Warriors come good on Sunday at Mt Smart: 1) Size... they have two 2nd rowers playing out wide and they love the tough stuff... 2) The Tigers have only won 1 away game this year and this is the toughest road trip of all.
My tip: New Zealand 22-16

Melbourne Storm v Sydney Roosters
Monday 13 June 2011, kickoff 7:00pm; AAMI Park, Melbourne
Match history, officials, team lists and LIVE scores: click here

Another test of depth to see who wins this one. Just like most of this weekend's matches, ultimately the winner will be decided by which club can replace its stars without losing cohesion. With a club like Melbourne, you know that whoever puts on the jersey will be well prepared, well developed and ready to tackle their tails off.
The Roosters? Possibly fair to say that whoever puts on the jersey to replace their missing stars will be well drilled, wide awake after 7 coffees that day.... and is most probably a Souths Junior. The struggling Roosters attack up against a tireless Storm defence? In freezing weather, Todd Carney and Braith Anasta finally remember each other's names and produce enough to get the visitors over the line.
My tip: Roosters 20-10