Time to look ahead to Sunday's decider! Rob Crosby has a full look at both teams and what to expect ...
26 hours ago
Round 17 kicks off with the top of the table Raiders taking on the Roosters at Aussie Stadium. The Raiders have completely dominated the competition to date but will face changes to their squad this week. Ace halfback Van Dijk suffered a hamstring injury against Cronulla ruling him out for this match. It means Gafa moves into halfback to form a new combination with Evans. Also Mashall Chalk comes back from injury to take up the fullback spot left by Phil Graham who has gone back up to first grade. For the Roosters Lopini Paea will move from the centres into the second row for this clash. Despite the loss of Dijk, the Raiders should come into this match as strong favourites.
Sydney Roosters - Henari Veratau, Steve Skinnon, Lelea Paea, Tyrone Smith, Eric Grothe, Stuart Webb, Grant Rovelli, David Shillington, Wade Humpreys, Todd Ollivier, Lopini Paea, Richard Russell, Ben Wellington, Interchange: Tevita Metuisela, Shawn Mackay, Willie Bishop, TBA.
Canberra Raiders ? Marshall Chalk, Michael Robertson, Adrian Purtell, Rod Jensen, Nathan Smith, James Evans, Matt Gafa, Darren Porter, Matt Doeg, Mark Bryant, Alan Rothery, Josh Miller, Simon Friend, Interchange: Nick Kouparitsas, Jarred Lawernce, Mark Simon, Kris Kahler.
The next match of the round pits the Magpies, coming off a big win against the Jets coming off a loss. The Magpies have made several changes from last week?s side that managed to score 72 points. McGuinness moves from fullback into centre to replace Szczerbanik who has been relegated to the bench. Duffy comes into the side to fill the fullback role. The changes shouldn?t have a major effect on Wests and they should win this one comfortably.
Newtown Jets ? Team Unannounced
Western Suburbs Magpies ? Luke Duffy, Jordan Macey, Dean Collis, Ken McGuinness, John Olzard, Clint Greenshields, John Peterson, Brett O?Farrell, Robert Mears, Clint Hill, Nigel Plum, Wes Hallam-Mann, Liam Fulton, Interchange: Brad Eisenhuth, Michael Papa, Nathan Murphy, Ray Cashmere, Andrew Hampson, Chris Levy, Tere Glassie, Drew Dalton, Brett Rimmer, Jamie Szczerbanik (Six to be omitted).
Parramatta has been in some close contests of late and it doesn?t get any easier for them on Saturday when they take on Balmain. The Eels will miss the services this week of their Wests bound winger Pat Richards for this match with Matt Gruszka taking his place. This should be one of the closer matches of the round with Parramatta coming in as slight favourites.
Parramatta Eels ? Ronald Prince, Matt Gruszka, Willie Tonga, Chad Halliday, John Williams, Steve Witt, Jeff Robson, Nathan McMillan, Daniel Irvine, Adam Wheeler, Steve Crouch, Anthony Boyd, Ryan Hinchcliffe, Interchange: Sean L?Estrange, Brett Sargent, Josh Cordoba, Josh Dillon, Matt Nightingale, Nathan Hollingsworth (Two to be omitted)
Balmain Tigers ? Team Unannounced
The last time these two sides had a win was in round 10. It?s been a dry spell for Cronulla and North Sydney so when they face up against each other on Saturday, both will be hungry to walk away with the points. Cronulla have named a completely unchanged line-up for this match hoping they?ll be lucky second time around. The Sharks should win this one with home ground advantage.
Cronulla Sharks v North Sydney Bears Saturday 2nd August, 5:30pm at Toyota Park Referee: Tony De Las Heras Touch Judges: David Adams and Luke Bugden
Cronulla Sharks ? Dave Simmons, Laloaoa Milford, Stephen Ross, Andrew Emelio, Adam Davidson, Andrew Dallalana, Travis Burns, Don Tweddle, Pat Gibson, Shaun Wessell, Jnr Paulo, Reece Williams, Greg Bird, Interchange: Nick Paterson, Nathan Vagg, Cameron Ciraldo, Jy Mullane, Nick Youngquest, John Wood ( Two to be omitted).
North Sydney Bears ? Team Unannounced
Canterbury this week will be hoping to maintain their position of second on the points table. They?ll have tough opposition though with a Rabbitohs squad with plenty of attacking ability. The only changes the Rabbitohs have made from last week are Brian Siemsen coming into the second row with Buckley going to the bench and Mundine coming into the side. Expect Canterbury to win this one in what could be a high scoring affair.
South Sydney Rabbitohs ? Wade McKinnon, Nathan Merritt, Russell Richardson, David Fa?alogo, Wise Kativerata, Luke Branighan, Troy Robinson, Ryan Tandy, Shane Walker, Mark Meredith, Brian Siemsen, Stacey Katu, Jess Caine, Interchange: James Storer, Fuifui Mormoi, Kevin Henderson, David Buckley, Beau Mundine (One to be omitted).
Canterbury Bulldogs ? Team Unannounced
These next two sides were both comfortably beaten last week. Newcastle had a bad day at the office against Wests conceding 72 points in a humiliating loss while Manly went down 34-10 to Balmain. Despite the loss Newcastle have made few changes to their side this week with the main one being Michael Ennis coming into halfback in place of Bradley Wallace. Manly on the other hand have made major changes. Sean Meaney and Michael Gill are the only players that remain from last week?s backline. Expect this to be a hard fought bottom of the table clash with the winner possibly avoiding the wooden spoon.
Newcastle Knights v Manly Sea Eagles Sunday 3rd August, 1:00pm at Energy Australia Stadium Referee: Matthew Cecchin Touch Judges: Doug Keen and Glenn Jackson
Newcastle Knights ? Michael Young, Michael Fortier, Gavin Quinn, Jared Taylor, Joshua Smith, Michael Ennis, Chris Tyrie, Matthew Kennedy, Luke Quigley, Reegan Tanner, Blake Mueller, Matthew Barlett, Riley Brown, Interchange: Tim Maddison, Brendan Worth, Mathew White, Mark Jaques, Todd Bates (One to be omitted).
Manly Sea Eagles ? Daniel Watkins, Ryan Scott, Pat Foran, Sean Meaney, Brad Dempsey, Michael Gill, Gary Winter, Craig Hayne, Matt Austin, Clint Eadie, Ben Ellis, Phil Morwood, Interchange: Brad McLean, Adam Cutherbertson, Dylan Montgomery, Scott Kenna, Brendan Crabb, Mailangi Styles (Two to be omitted).
The final match of the round will provide a tough challenge for the Dragons. They have slipped down to fourth spot on the table after last weeks loss while their opponents this week the Cougars come in on the back of a big win. This is the chance the Cougars have been waiting for, if they can win this one they will be just two points behind the Dragons and a serious chance of making the top four. This should be a close one going right down to the wire.
St George-Illawara Dragons ? Lee Bennett, Hassan Saleh, Chris Nero, Ben Creagh, Shane Laloata, Matthew Head, Dean Byrne, Justin Poore, Damien Bower, Steven Southern, Nathan Tutt, Gary McBride, Ryan Powell, Interchange: Jason Ellem, Robbie Simpson, Brendan Wall, Josh Essex, Bryan Norrie (One to be omitted).
St Marys-Penrith Cougars ? Steve Turner, Chris Hicks, Shane Elford, Luke Dyer, Brett Howland, Daniel Russell, Ben Reynolds, Garrett Crossman, Shannon Donato, Peter Lewis, Richard Fa?aoso, Frank Pritchard, Matthew Pow, Interchange: George Rose, Danny Galea, Ben Rogers, Tim Maccan, Shaun Ata (One to be omitted).
Matches at a glance: Raiders v Roosters Jets v Magpies Eels v Tigers Sharks v Bears Rabbitohs v Bulldogs Knights v Sea Eagles Dragons v Cougars