As the second Origin game looms, this shortened NRL weekend will see 10 teams battle it out.
South Sydney Rabbitohs v Wests Tigers, ANZ Stadium, Friday
The last time these teams played each other back in round three, the young Tigers squad thoroughly dominated the more fancied Rabbitohs and were unlucky to only win by nine points. With Origin stars Greg Inglis, Ben Te’o and Chris McQueen out, club favourite Nathan Merritt has been named as fullback, with Ben Lowe and Alex Johnston also promoted to the starting team. For the Tigers, captain Robbie Farah, Liam Fulton and Marty Taupo are out. Joel Luani, Dene Halatau, Ava Seumanufagai, Sitaleki Akauola and Keith Lulia have been named on an extended bench.
Newsroom’s prediction: Souths by 4
Penrith Panthers v St George Illawarra Dragons, Sportingbet Stadium, Saturday
A resurgent St George Illawarra team will look to carry on their form from last weeks 30-0 drubbing of Cronulla against the competition leaders on Saturday night. Penrith’s famous five-year plan is looking to come into fruition with the boys from the mountains flying high at the mid-point of the season. The Panthers promising winger Dallin Watene-Zelezniak replaces David Simmons in the starting team, while Bryce Cartwright comes in for Adam Docker. For the Dragons, Mitch Rein, Charly Runciman and Bronson Harrison replace Origin representatives Josh Dugan and Trent Merrin. It looks like it will be a tough one for the Dragons.
Newsroom’s prediction: Panthers by 24
Sydney Roosters v Newcastle Knights, Allianz Stadium, Saturday
The Sydney Roosters return to their home ground this weekend after thrashing the Storm in Melbourne last weekend, while the Knights come off a disappointing loss to the fast finishing Wests Tigers. The Roosters are going to be without Origin stars Michael Jennings, Daniel Tupou and Aiden Guerra, while Nene Macdonald, Kane Evans, Willis Pele Meehan and Daniel Mortimer are promoted to the team. For the Knights, Origin stars Darius Boyd and Beau Scott will be missing, while Joey Leilua and Kade Snowden have also been ruled out.
Newsroom’s prediction: Roosters by 20
Canterbury Bulldogs v Parramatta Eels, ANZ Stadium, Sunday
Equal first placed Bulldogs take on the Parramatta Eels on Sunday afternoon with both teams missing a host of star players due to Origin commitments. The last time these teams met was in round 20 last year, with the Bulldogs thrashing the Eels 40-12. However the Eels are well and truly a new team, and the game will be closer this time around. There are a number of changes to the Bulldogs squad, with halves Josh Reynolds and Trent Hodkinson missing due to Origin, while Chase Stanley and Aiden Tolman have also been ruled out. In their place, Reni Maitua, Damien Cook, Pat O’Hanlon, Corey Thompson and Lloyd Perrett have come into the team. The Eels have lost Jarryd Hayne, Will Hopoate and Luke Kelly have been ruled out, and Ryan Morgan, Vai Toutai and Isaac De Gois have come into their place.
Newsroom’s prediction: Bulldogs by 4
Gold Coast Titans v Melbourne Storm, Cbus Super Stadium, Monday
The golden era of the Melbourne Storm appears to be dwindling, with Melbourne sitting outside of the top eight for the first time in what seems like forever. The Titans are below them on the ladder but have a far more impressive squad for Monday night’s game. After a refereeing howler cost the Storm the game in Round 5 against the Titans, the Storm will be eager for revenge. However with their “Big Three” missing, it will be a very tough ask to beat the Titans at home. The Storm will be missing Billy Slater, Cooper Cronk, Cam Smith, Will Chambers, Ryan Hoffman and Mitchell Garbutt, and replaced by Felise Kaufusi, Hymel Hunt, Jordan McLean, Travis Robinson, Cameron Munster, Joel Romelo, Tim Glasby and Junior Moors.
Newsroom’s prediction: Titans by 18 – Louis Dillon
Top photo by Noah La’ulu.