A blockbuster weekend of footy kicks off with the premiers facing off against Manly in a grand final rematch.
Sydney Roosters vs Manly Sea Eagles, Allianz Stadium, Friday
Both sides sit at 2-1 after three weeks of football in the grand final rematch. Playing each other four times last year and twice in finals football, Roosters were victorious on all four occasions and Manly will be out for revenge. The premiers scored two tries in the last five minutes to defeat the Broncos while Manly scored in the last 30 seconds to steal victory from Parramatta. Sonny Bill Williams is in his last week of suspension. Jason King is out for Manly due to suspension.
Newsroom’s prediction: Expect this to be a very physical contest, Roosters by 4
St. George Illawarra Vs Brisbane Broncos, Win Stadium, Friday
If someone said a month ago St. George would be unbeaten after three rounds, you’d be called crazy. Brisbane have won eight of their last nine matches against the Saints since 2009. Brisbane’s marquee recruit in Ben Barba is still yet to emulate his Dally M winning form since moving clubs. Josh Dugan (knee) is still out but is hoping to return next week against South Sydney.Dragons coach Steve Price has named an unchanged 17 with Josh Maguire returning from suspension for the broncos pushing Martin Kennedy back to the bench.
Newsroom’s prediction: Broncos will end Dragons unbeaten run by 10
Parramatta Eels vs Penrith Panthers, Parramatta Stadium, Saturday
Full of confidence following their upset victory over South Sydney, the Tigers take to Parramatta Stadium against the Eels who will want to put the last two horror weeks behind them after consecutive losses to both grand-finalists. Decimated by Roosters, the valiant Eels were heartbroken by Manly at Brookvale last sunday in the last 3o seconds. Penrith however were on the other end of a last minute victory against the Bulldogs with a sideline conversion after the siren from Matt Moylan.
Newsroom’s prediction: Parramatta by 1
Canterbury Bulldogs vs Melbourne Storm, NIB Stadium, Saturday
There is no such thing as advantage as these two teams take to Perth in a 2010 grand final rematch. Melbourne are still undefeated in 2014, having worked hard for the 2 points with two one point victories over Sea Eagles and Penrith. Bulldogs only victory coming from their thrashing of Cronulla, but that doesn’t do the teams performance justice, needing to put in 80 minute performances in order to succeed.
Newsroom’s prediction: Melbourne should remain undefeated, Melbourne by 8
New Zealand Warriors Vs West Tigers, Westpac Stadium, Saturday
Warriors play host to the Tigers in Wellington after both sides come off unexpected wins against Cowboys and South Sydney respectively. West Tigers however cross the Tasman with momentum, scoring 67 points in their last two games, crushing the Titans on the Gold Coast before their young stars shined in their upset victory over the Rabbitohs last Friday night. The Warriors had an ugly win against Cowboys in Townsville, but these are the wins that sperate the contenders from the pretenders.For the Warriors, Thomas Leuluai replaces Feleti Mateo (knee). Chris Lawrence returns from a hamstring injury to replace Tim Simona, who is out due to concussion.
Newsroom’s prediction: West Tigers by 14
South Sydney Rabbitohs Vs Canberra Raiders, ANZ Stadium, Sunday
Expected to be at the top of the table, South Sydney only have one win to their name in 2014 with success against Roosters round one. They come up against the green machine who also have a 1-2 record. Souths have had a massive blow to their 2014 premiership hopes with Isaac Luke out for as long as 10 weeks, being replaced by Fijian dummy-half Apisai Koroisau . Greg Inglis has been named despite suffering a concussion last week. Dylan Walker and Chris McQueen are returning from injury. Shaun Fensom makes his return from suspension, with Bill Tupou replacing Edrick Lee who has been ruled out for the season with a foot injury.
Newsroom’s prediction: Souths will bounce back. Rabbitohs by 20
Newcastle Knights Vs Cronulla Sharks, Hunter Stadium
It is difficult to label any clash in March as a must-win, but there’s a sense of urgency in this high interest game. Both teams yet to post a win this season. Injury has plagued both sides early on with Jarrod Mullen and Darius Boyd still weeks away from return and the added name of Alex Mckinnon who was landed on his neck in a tackle against melbourne which has him still in an induced coma. Paul Gallen (Ankle), Luke Lewis (Shoulder) , Anthony Tupou (Knee), Jeff Robson (Facial Fractures) and Beau Ryan (Neck) all still in the casulty ward for Cronulla.
Newsroom’s prediction: Could be a long season for Cronulla. Newcastle by 16
Gold Coast Titans vs North Queensland Cowboys, CBUS super Stadium, Monday
Titans return home after being embarrassed by West Tigers a fortnight ago in the clubs worst ever defeat at home, however rebounded by defeating the Raiders in the nation’s capital 24-12. Cowboys only victory so far comes from their opening round win over the Raiders.Jonathan Thurston will lead his men out after failing to defeat Warriors at home as expected. For the Titans, William Zillman (hamstring) is out with David Mead switching to fullback and Anthony Don entering the side on the wing Aidan Sezer (quad) is in doubt. Cowboys are unchanged.
Newsroom’s prediction: Cowboys by 18 – Luke Mahoney
Top photo by Noah La’ulu.