Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
5 days ago
This round will be a tipster nightmare, as if they hadn't had enough of those this year already. All origin players will miss this round, and the Broncos have to play, minus 9 players on rep duty, and 7 injured. Even the Bulldogs aren't without their headaches, or the Dragons who will have to face a strong Cowboys outfit missing Ryles, Bailey, Gasnier, and Barrett. So how to pick a winner, simple really, get yourself some paper, a pen and a hat and go from there. Think I'm kidding, have a look at the match previews below.
Broncos v Tigers at Campbelltown.
The Tigers should win this match easily being at full strength and going up against a team being hailed as the “Baby Broncos”. With 9 player on rep duty for the Maroons, and 7 out injured a full strength Tigers outfit should win this blindfolded. They will need to relax and play their own game though, if the Broncos come out all guns blazing and get on the board early the Tigers will need to not panic, and play catch up football. They could find it hard as all the pressure is on them for this match.
Michael Edgar - Tigers by 10 Steven Williams - Tigers by 6 Ian Nelson - Broncos by 10 Ali Nolan - Tigers by 4
Dragons v Cowboys at Dairy Farmers
This could be the game that ruins every tipsters round. Both teams have been very up and down this year, the Dragons after a shocking start to the year have put a few wins and a draw together over the last few rounds, even without Barrett shining. The Cowboys also started the season poorly, but have turned it around over the last month to get a few wins and even coming within a point of beating the Eels. The out come of this match will depend on who defends best. Both teams have the firepower to score tries, but both sides also let in the soft tries, who ever can cut that out of their game will win this one. Dragons could struggle with go forward as both Ryles and Bailey are out of this one.
Michael Edgar - Dragons by 16 Steven Williams - Dragons by 24 Ian Nelson - Cowboys by 26 Ali Nolan - Cowboys by 2
Raiders v Eagles at Bruce Stadium
Like many of the games this round, this one can go either way. Both teams have been brilliant one minute, wooden spooners the next. The Raiders go into the match with most if not all players on deck, the Eagles are in the same boat, with Menzies the only player from either club playing in origin 2. The forward battle will decide this match, both teams have strong packs, with plenty of size and mobility. Which ever pack gets on top will give their backs enough room to win the match. The only difference could be the Raiders are playing at home, could that be enough to get them over the line?
Michael Edgar - Raiders by 6 Steven Williams - Raiders by 10 Ian Nelson - Raiders by 8 Ali Nolan - Eagles by 6
Panthers v Roosters at Penrith
It just doesn't get any easier does it people. Panthers are starting to show some form finally and the Roosters are going along nicely without being flash. The forward battle will be the key here. The Roosters are without Morley, Fletcher, Ricketson and possibly Fitzgibbon who is on stand by for origin duty. The Panthers have no such dilemmas with no players out for rep duty in the forwards, and could prove to be to much for the gutsy young Roosters pack. The Roosters will also be missing Flannery and Hodges from their back line, giving the Panthers a size and speed advantage out wide. Panthers should win this match up and give their fans a reason to cheer at home, if not the spoon could be heading down to Penrith again.
Michael Edgar - Roosters by 2 Steven Williams - Panthers by 4 Ian Nelson - Panthers by 14 Ali Nolan - Draw
Bulldogs v Souths at the Showgrounds
Even without Anasta, Norton, Smith and Price it's hard to go past the Bulldogs for this one. Tricky Trindall will step into the halves nicely to replace Anasta, and the Doggies have more than enough Forward firepower to cover the other three against the Bunnies. With the Bunnies being a bit of a mystery, it's hard to pick how they are going to go in this match, with the Bunnies still not finding a style of play that they seem to want to stick to, or Coleman not being able to make up his mind on a halves pairing all year, this game is either going to be a close game if the Bunnies play to ability, or they are going to get skinned by a brutal Doggies outfit.
Michael Edgar - Bulldogs by 24 Steven Williams - Dogs by 26 Ian Nelson - Bulldogs by 30 Ali Nolan - Bulldogs by 16
Warriors v Sharks at Ericsson
The Warriors are killing people at the moment, they are one of the form sides of the comp, eyeballing a top 4 spot for the finals. The Sharks on the other hand are staring down the barrel of a bottom 4 spot. Problem for the Sharks is, if they look over the guns barrel, they'll see the Warriors with their hand on the trigger. The Warriors just look too big, too fast and too strong on paper. The Sharks will be lucky to get out of Ericsson half the team they were before the match, and I don't care how much they pray to god for help, he's got 50 bucks on the Warriors.
Michael Edgar - Warriors by 8 Steven Williams - Warriors by 10 Ian Nelson - Warriors by 36 Ali Nolan - Warriors by 12