This round will see the NRL approach the half way mark of the season.
Sea Eagles v Bulldogs, Brookvale Oval, Friday
Manly are coming off a heavy loss at the hands of the Broncos last Sunday and with the short turn around, they will definitely be looking at key players returning from injury to help lift up their game. Bulldogs are coming off a bye from last round and with their Origin players returning, they will certainly be looking to avenge the heavy loss to the Roosters in round 11 which ended their seven game winning streak. Daly Cherry Evans and Anthony Watmough have been named to return from injury for Manly. For the Bulldogs, Josh Morris is expected to be out for up to eight weeks due to a knee injury with Chase Stanley shifting to the centres, while Josh Reynolds, Trent Hodkinson and Tony Williams will all be returning from Origin duties.
Newsroom’s prediction: Bulldogs by 2
Eels v Cowboys, Pirtek Stadium, Friday
Star fullback Jarryd Hayne will make his return for the Eels after his stellar performance for the Blues at Origin I. With four wins out of their last five games, the Cowboys will be looking to keep the consistency level at a high as they sit 11th on the ladder with just a few points outside of the top eight. Eels hooker Nathan Peats has been ruled out for the season with a knee injury and this will see the return of Luke Kelly to the starting line up, while Willie Tonga and Kenny Edwards will be returning from injury. Lee Mossop is set to make his NRL debut replacing the suspended Mitch Allgood. Following their demolition of the Storm last week, the Cowboys have named an unchanged side.
Newsroom’s prediction: Eels by 6
Titans vs Panthers, CBUS Super Stadium, Saturday
The Titans have three straight losses from their last five games to their name and with the bye last round, they would have definitely needed the time to reflect on what has gone wrong after such an excellent start to the year. Panthers have put the NRL on notice after thrashing rivals Eels in the battle of the west last weekend. With the term “underdogs” no longer a tag associated to them, the men from the west will be looking to continue their three game winning streak. For the Titans, Greg Bird, Nate Myles, Kevin Gordon, Albert Kelly and Brad Takairangi all return, while the Panthers have named the same 17 that won last week.
Newsroom’s prediction: Panthers by 12
Dragons v Sharks, WIN Stadium, Saturday
The Dragons and Sharks are both having seasons they’d rather forget. Dragons are coming off four straight losses and with code hopper recruit Benji Marshall yet to record a win with his new team, he will be definitely under the spotlight to help his team get a win they need against an under-strength Sharks side. Trent Merrin has been named in the starting line up for the Dragons, while Jacob Gagan is set to make his NRL debut for the Sharks on the wing.
Newsroom’s prediction: Dragons by 8
Rabbitohs v Warriors, NIB Stadium, Saturday
Rabbitohs are finally getting some consistent form as we approach the half way mark of the season, with four wins from their last five matches. With a full strength side, they will definitely be looking to cement their spot in the top four of the ladder. Warriors have been inconsistent at their best this year, however with a record of 6-6, they’re coming into some form lately and could be definitely the underdogs to watch. The Bunnies have made one change from last Monday, with Alex Johnston replacing Nathan Merritt on the wing. Warriors remain unchanged.
Newsroom’s prediction: Rabbitohs by 10
Knights v Tigers, Hunter Stadium, Sunday
The old boys from Newcastle will be looking to bounce back at home this week after such a horrible first half of the season. With only one win at home this year, the Knights will be looking at home fans to give them the extra push to win against a very young but talented Tigers outfit. With news that James Tedesco has walked away from his Raiders deal, the Tigers will be out for a win to improve their spot on the ladder. Beau Scott and Akuila Uate return from injury for the Knights. Tigers fullback James Tedesco returns from injury.
Newsroom’s prediction: Knights by 4
Storm v Roosters, AAMI Park, Sunday
After being held scoreless by the Cowboys last week and only the fifth time in their history, the Storm will be looking for a win to end a nightmare week. With injuries to key players Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater, replacements will need to step up their game if they have any chance of winning at home. Reigning premiers Roosters will head to the south with five wins from their past six matches and after a slow start to the season, the tri-colours have the perfect opportunity to get the win against an under-strength Storm side.
Newsroom’s prediction: Roosters by 13
Raiders v Broncos, GIO Stadium, Monday
The Raiders and Broncos finish the round 13 clashes for this week. Raiders have only one win from their last five games and with inconsistency a main factor in their losses, the men from the capital will be looking for a win at home. Broncos have won three on the trot and with Origin period just beginning, they’ll need to continue this form as we approach the second half of the season. Ricky Stuart has named an unchanged Raiders side, while Justin Hodges returns for the Broncos.
Newsrooms’s prediction: Broncos by 10 – David Telefoni
Top photo by Noah La’ulu.