The NSW Blues have been named for the first game of the 2017 #Origin series.
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This round like every other round will be hard to pick. The Knights meet the Eels on Friday in a match that could go either way. Sure the Knights haven?t beaten the Eels at Parramatta Stadium for a while, but the Eels haven?t exactly been backing up a good win with another good win this year. If the Eels win this match it could set them rolling into some form at the right time of the year. The Knights will want this win to stay in touch with the Bulldogs so they can challenge them for the minor premiership. Like always with the sides being even and the Eels halves pairing struggling all year, Andrew Johns could be the difference in a tight encounter.
Michael Edgar ? Eels by 8 Steven Williams ? Knights by 6 Ian Nelson ? Eels by 2 Ali Nolan ? Eels by 6
St George Illawarra Dragons v Melbourne Storm at WIN Stadium
This shapes as battle of the strugglers, neither team is going well, the Storm have been losing games they should win, and even the Dragons have choked a few times, giving up a 13 point half time lead against the Sharks and letting in 34 points in the second half to lose 34 ? 13 in round 13. In years gone by and looking at both teams on paper you?d be a fool to miss this match, but with both sides form this year, only their loyal fans wont be doing their best to miss the match. It?s hard to go past the Dragons in this one though, the home ground advantage at WIN and the Storms inability to win away from home this year tip the scales to the dragons.
Michael Edgar ? Dragons by 1 Steven Williams ? Dragons by 16 Ian Nelson ? Dragons by 6 Ali Nolan ? Dragons by 10
The Panthers are playing well, winning 2 of their last three, their forwards are firing and they have two of the best finishers in the game. The Tigers on the other hand are struggling, after a start to the year that couldn?t have been much better, they have lost to the Broncos minus 16 or more players, and were beaten by the Eagles convincingly in round 13. This is a make or break game for both teams, it may only be just over the half way mark for the year, but which ever teams drops this game will find it very hard to make the top 8.
Michael Edgar ? Panthers by 10 Steven Williams ? Tigers by 8 Ian Nelson ? Panthers by 8 Ali Nolan ? Tigers by 10
This is a must win match for the Rabbitohs, they have to beat the Warriors to keep their top 8 hopes alive. The Warriors on the other hand will want this win to cement a top 4 spot, and if the Knights lose to the Eels, the warriors will claim out right second spot with a win. The Rabbitohs must play to their strengths if they are to stand a chance, and that means abandoning the flashy style that they have tried ( and failed ) to play all year and rolling up their sleeves and getting down and dirty in the middle of the field. If they don?t do that, use their forward pack like it should be, with the likes of Muir offloading up the middle, Stringer and Geddes hitting it up hard rather than trying the fancy stuff, the Warriors will flog them. It wont be by 30 or 40 like it has been either, it?ll be 50 or 60 point flogging.
Michael Edgar ? Warriors by 32 Steven Williams ? Warriors by 16 Ian Nelson ? Warriors by 50 Ali Nolan ? Warriors by 6
Cronulla Sharks v Canberra Raiders at Toyota Park
This game could be anything, from one of the most exciting matches of the year, or a real fizzer that everyone will want to forget. On their day both sides can really turn it on, scoring tries from all over the park, and really putting on a show. Problem is neither team have been doing that of late. The Sharks have lost enough games on the trot to have people ready to hand them the wooden spoon, The Raiders whilst not being as bad, have been very hot and cold this year. The Sharks come into this match on the back of a win against the Dragons, all be it handed to them on a silver platter, looking to distance themselves from the bottom of the ladder and give Shark fans some hope of a finals campaign. Whilst the Raiders come into the is game after a bye, which gave them enough points to propel them to with in one point of the top 8. With so much to play for lets hope this game lives up to it?s potential and we see a great game.
Michael Edgar ? Raiders by 4 Steven Williams ? Sharks by 20 Ian Nelson ? Raiders by 10 Ali Nolan ? Sharks by 8
Sydney Roosters v Manly Warringah Sea Eagles at Aussie Stadium
This game will be better than expected at the beginning of the year. A win to the Roosters is not a for gone conclusion, with the Eagles being the real surprise package this year. John Hopoate is back to his best, keeping his digit on the football where it belongs and should be in a Blue jumper for Origin 3, Menzies is back to his best, Goddard is firing and Reeves is giving them great service from the back, the Eagles could take the Roosters in this match and give themselves a real chance of doing a Warriors and making the top 8. The Rooster will need to be on their guard, and with Fittler firing and forming a good partnership with Rooster new half Craig Wing they?ll be ready. The big question will be if the Roosters some what soft forward pack can handle the brutal Eagles pack.
Michael Edgar ? Eagles by 2 Steven Williams ? Roosters by 24 Ian Nelson ? Eagles by 6 Ali Nolan ? Roosters by 2
If this was being played at dairy Farmers chances are it?d eb a close game, but it?s not, it?s being played at ANZ. The cowboys have never traveled well to ANZ, getting flogged by 50 several times there. The smarting after a lose to the Eels at ANZ last week, will be to big, to strong and to fast. With Langer back on deck, and centre Tate also set to return it could another ANZ memory the Cowboys would like to forget.
Michael Edgar ? Broncos by 24 Steven Williams ? Broncos by 12 Ian Nelson ? Broncos by 40 Ali Nolan ? Broncos by 20