The NSW Blues have been named for the first game of the 2017 #Origin series.
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Lest we forget. The tribute to the mighty ANZACS is upon us again and in the spirit of the camaraderie and mateship that exists between the people of Australia and New Zealand, the annual ANZAC test will be fought out between Australia and New Zealand at Energy Australia Stadium this evening.
Everyone has written the Kiwi?s off but I?m not prepared to go that far. Although much maligned in the eyes of the media, they still have a forward pack that will more than hold their own against the might of Australia. The Cayless brothers, Puletua and Gulavao are all outstanding players but the halves is where the game will be won and lost. Gower and Lockyer are currently the best players in the NRL and to have both players in the same team will be a pleasure to watch. The Newcastle public will be out in force to support the test which has drawn the usual criticism about its usefulness and purpose. I just hope for the sake of the international game, the result is as close as can be. Australia by 20.
The rejuvinated Sharks take on the Eels at Parramatta Stadium and a place in the top four beckons should the Eels reign supreme. The Sharks blew Canberra off the park last weekend but I think for all their improvement, Parramatta will still have their measure although with Kimmorley not playing in the test, it could be a golden point affair. Eels by 2.
Canberra has lost Ruben Wiki to a farcical suspension at the hands of the inconsistent NRL judiciary, which really is bordering on a Kangaroo Court. Canberra are hoping to rush Jason Croker back into the side to compensate for the loss of Wiki. The Knight have only ever won once at Canberra since their inception and with Kennedy out and Buderus, Tahu and Gidley all backing up, it will be a tall order for them to come away with a win. It?s not impossible, nothing ever is in League but Canberra will be ready to atone for last week?s capitulation. Raiders by 8.
SportOdds Prices: Raiders 1.36, 1-12 3.20, 13+ 2.25 Knights 3.10, 1-12 4.50, 13+ 8.00
Melbourne will be far too strong for the Cowboys and with Matt Orford and Scott Hill forming one of the best halves combinations in the NRL and Matt Geyer returning from injury, Melbourne will have too many guns for the Cowboys who will turn up to play and funnily enough, they look to be a better side away from home. Melbourne are a legitimate chance to make the top four so disposing of the Cowboys will be another day at the office. Storm by 14.
The Broncos and Panthers are providing a dozen players for tonight?s test so fatigue late in the game will certainly play it?s part, more so for the Panthers who are unfamiliar with the prospect of playing twice in the space of 36 hours. Brisbane are the masters of playing through the representative season and with the Panthers providing seven players, I think they will record back to back losses but again it all depends on the outcome of tonight?s test match. Brisbane by 6.
Manly have been close to a win I think they will get it against the Tigers, who have no thrust up front and a lack of genuine pace out wide. Manly have pace to burn in the backs and Scott Donald is the NRL?s best finisher so watch for Mullane and Monaghan to use his speed at crucial times throughout the match to get them across the line for the second win of the season. Tim Sheens might have a long-term plan for the Tigers but if they lose to Manly at home, there will be some unhappy campers looking for retribution and sacrificial lamb, who could it be? Manly by 4.
Easily the match of the round. The Dragons are the form team in the NRL and their drubbing of the premiers last week shows they are capable of going all the way if they can remain relatively injury free and focussed, something the Dragons have struggled with over the years. I have long been signing the praises of Matt Cooper and he is now starting to get the recognition he so rightly deserves. He has pace to burn but is a no nonsense, minimum of fuss person who shuns the limelight. He could very well be playing his way into the NSW side and possibly the Australian team for the tri-series at the end of the year. The loss of Trent Barrett will be a blow to the Dragons but I still expect them to have the Roosters measure. The Chooks are looking a bit shaky and I think the Dragons can inflict another loss this weekend to give Ricky Stuart a few more grey hairs and sleepless nights. I?m also expecting a crowd of over 30,000 people to attend. Dragons by 12.
The ANZAC day holiday match is between the fast fading Rabbitohs and the table-topping Bulldogs at Aussie Stadium. The game is a foregone conclusion in my opinion with the Bunnies without Adam Macdougall and Bryan Fletcher, easily their two best players. That spells trouble and the Bulldogs will win in a canter and keep their spot at the top of the NRL ladder for another week. Bulldogs by 26.
SportOdds Prices: Rabbitohs 7.00, 1-12 8.50, 13+ 21.00 Bulldogs 1.08, 1-12 5.00, 13+ 1.33 Place a bet with SportOdds!