NRL Round 25

The Sea Eagles  and Broncos  clash at Brookvale Oval on Friday night shapes as one of the most important games in the Brisbane club’s proud history. Lose here and they may well miss the finals for the first time in two decades. Manly and Canterbury are the measuring sticks of the competition and it is hard to see the Broncos winning. They have played reasonably well against the Dogs and the Storm and probably should or could have won both but the fact is that on both occasions they found a way to get beaten. That’s not the confident mind-set that is needed for one of the toughest road trips taking on the Sea Eagles at Brookie. Brisbane will give it a good shot but class will prevail. Manly Sea Eagles 1-12

Canberra  and Canterbury  at Canberra Stadium on Friday night should be an entertaining match but the Dogs have to be favoured to make it thirteen wins on the trot. Many of the Dogs’ supporters feel that the side needs a loss before the finals but when a team is playing with such confidence why want them to have a downer? For a season that has looked from the start like being another dismal failure, the Raiders now know that a win here will give them a great chance of being in the finals, particularly as they play the hopelessly out of form Warriors in the last round. The Green Machine can play attractive football but it’s hard to forget their inconsistency. Canterbury Bulldogs 13+

Gold Coast  has plenty to play for against Penrith  at Penrith Park on Saturday afternoon knowing that a loss will be curtains for the season and a win keeps them in with a chance of making the finals. That should be enough to get them the two points against a side, which although coming off an away win against the New Zealand Warriors, has had a disappointing season ending at or near the tail of the field. John Cartwright’s Titans are not the best team in the competition but have never been easy beats and cannot be taken lightly in any game. With the chance of perhaps unexpectedly making the finals, the Titans should win comfortably. Gold Coast Titans 13+

Two of the season’s biggest disappointments, the Dragons  and Warriors  clash at Win Stadium in the early evening match on Saturday and this really is a toss of the coin. St George-Illawarra had the chance to beat North Queensland on Monday night but came up short as had been the case in so many games this year. The Warriors have parted ways with coach Brian McClennan and his assistant Tony Iro will be in charge for the last two games against the Dragons and Raiders. St George-Illawarra should be favourites at home but a change of coach often brings results in the short term, particularly first game. For that reason only maybe the visitors will find a way to win for a change. New Zealand Warriors 1-12

North Queensland  should win at home against the Knights  at Dairy Farmers Stadium on Saturday night as they have the chance to push for a vital top four spot. The Cowboys have Cronulla away in the final round which won’t be easy so it is imperative that they win their last home game of the regular season. Newcastle found Manly far too good last Sunday but Wayne Bennett will have his side well prepared for the game in Townsville and the home side has to overcome the Monday night hoodoo where teams backing up from the last game in the previous round find it hard to win the next week. The Knights are sure to be competitive and it would not surprise if they won but surely the incentive for the Cowboys should make the difference. North Queensland Cowboys 1-12

A must win game for the Wests Tigers  against the Sydney Roosters  at the Football Stadium on Sunday afternoon but their hopes for both this game and making the finals have suffered a serious blow with the loss of inspirational captain Robbie Farah due to a broken hand. One player should not make a huge difference but Wests Tigers have won only two of the last nine games in which Farah has been missing. It is a milestone match for two Roosters namely Braith Anasta and coach Brian Smith. Anasta plays his last home game for the club while Smith clocks up 600 games as a first grade coach. The Tigers simply can’t afford to lose. Wests Tigers 1-12

South Sydney  might be suffering from stage fright as they approach the finals and with their best chance of success in four decades. An unexpected loss to Cronulla followed by another loss to Manly now has the Rabbitohs facing the prospect of missing the vital top four if they can’t win one of their two remaining games against Parramatta  and Newcastle. They should be back in the winner’s circle at home this week against the Eels who are just going through the motions at the back end of the year. Expect big games from Matt King, Greg Inglis and halves John Sutton and Adam Reynolds as well as winger Nathan Merritt who has crossed for six tries in his last two matches against Parra. South Sydney Rabbitohs 13+

Monday night football at AAMI Park should see a victory for the Melbourne Storm  over Cronulla . The Sharks don’t have a good record in Melbourne and can certainly mix up their form as shown in the past two matches with a loss to Newcastle followed by a win over South Sydney. Melbourne is not back at its best and was perhaps lucky to get a one point win over the Broncos but the signs are there that they have certainly turned the corner from their post-Origin slump. The Storm wants to finish in the number two position and will do so with victories in this round and then away against the Wests Tigers next weekend. Melbourne Storm 1-12

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