Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
2 days ago
A tough game, the Eels have been struggling all year, hot one minute, cold the next. The Broncos have been in a similar boat, the only difference is, they have won all but one of their games. With both teams having plenty of Origin players backing up from Wednesdays game, it will all come down to who backs up better. They both have the depth to cover injuries received in Origin. This will be the match of the round, a tough one to call, flip a coin, it'd be easier than picking a winner.
Steven Williams - Eels by 6 Michael Edgar - Broncos by 6 Ian Nelson - Broncos by 14 Alison Nolan - Broncos by 2
The Panthers have hit some form after a bad start to the year, and have the players to test the Bulldogs. With the likes of Lang, Wesser, Roonet, Lewis and Puletua firing, the Bulldogs Origin players will find it tough to back up. This game will be won and lost in the Forwards, if the Panthers get a roll on, and run the Bulldogs around, they will come away with the points. On the other side of the coin, if Bulldogs O'Meley, Norton, Smith and Anasta back up well, take everything the Panthers dish out, their backs are more than capable of winning the match. One thing is certain, this match will be better than the competition ladder tells us it'll be.
Steven Williams - Draw Michael Edgar - Panthers by 8 Ian Nelson - Panthers by 6 Alison Nolan - Bulldogs by 6
Cronulla Sharks V St George Illawarra Dragons at Toyota Park
This game has scrappy written all over it. Both teams are struggling this year, in defense and attack. Both sides need to get back to the basics, play simple league, get the little things right, before they go throwing the ball around. Dragons will be slight favorites having won a few games over the last 4 weeks, where the Sharks come into the game on the back of a long losing streak. The only plus I can see from this game is the number of stars coming back into the sides.
Steven Williams - Dragons by 12 Michael Edgar - Sharks by 4 Ian Nelson - Dragons by 4 Alison Nolan - Dragons by 2
It's hard to go past the Roosters in this one, they are one of the better defensive sides in the comp, and the Bunnies have struggled to score points against the top teams. The Bunnies have the forwards to match the Roosters but are seriously lacking in the halves. Sheehan who has proved to have a kicking game a prop would be ashamed of, and Watts just don't compare to Wing and Fittler. The Speed of the Roosters outside backs is another concern the Bunnies have. Grose and McKinnon are the only two with any chance against the Roosters speedster. This will be a training run for the Roosters as long as they play their own game and use their speed out wide. Only a seriously poor game by the Roosters will stop the Bunnies from receiving another lesson on how to play Rugby League.
Steven Williams - Roosters by 12 Michael Edgar - Roosters by 12 Ian Nelson - Roosters by 36 Alison Nolan - Roosters by 14
Northern Eagles V Wests Tigers and Brookvale
If this game was being played anywhere else you'd be hard pressed to pick the Eagles, but it isn't, and the Eagles seem to lift when playing at Brookie. The Eagles have been the surprise package this year, sure they aren't setting the NRL on fire, but they are rarely letting their fans down. This all makes them a good pick for this match. Then you have the flip side, the Wests Tigers, after what could only be called an embarrassing loss to the baby Broncos in round 12, the Tigers will be fired up and out to earn some respect, and to redeem themselves. This will be a close and tough match, and will be better than most people think, the Eagles at Brookvale V an angry team of Tigers, should be a ripper.
Steven Williams - Tigers by 10 Michael Edgar - Eagles by 10 Ian Nelson - Tigers by 2 Alison Nolan - N.Eagles by 6
Form says it's hard to go past the Knights at home. With the Knights one of the form teams this year, and the Storm struggling, a Knights win seems a for gone conclusion. Don't write off the Storm just yet though, they can win this game, with the Forward strength they have, and the firepower they have in the backline they can win this. Of course they'll have to win by over coming on of the hardest things in league, the Knights at home. Andrew Johns will be smarting after the Blues lose in game 2, and containing him and Buderus will go along way to winning the game, but that's easier said than done. If the Storm play to their ability, it'll be a good close match and they'll come close to winning, if they don't, the Knights could rack up a big score.
On paper and with current form as a guide you'd be hard pressed to see anything but a Warriors win. The Warriors are in the top 4, playing great and killing other teams, the Cowboys are bottom of the ladder and have been beaten by plenty on several occasions. I still think it'll be a close game, the Cowboys have nothing to lose and everything to gain, and with Morrison, Jones and Bowman back on deck they could prove a handful. The Warriors need to be ready for a fired up Cowboys team, these are the games the Warriors use to lose. How many times have we seen the Warriors beat a top team, then lose to the lower teams, however this should be a comfortable Warriors win, Anderson will see to that.
Steven Williams - Warriors by 30 Michael Edgar - Warriors by 16 Ian Nelson - Warriors by 12 Alison Nolan - Warriors by 22