Editor of Rugby League Week, Mitchell Dale, provides TattsBet with an exclusive Round 14 Preview of the NRL.
TattsBet NRL Round 14 Preview
Rabbitohs v Tigers
Friday June 13 @ 19.50 (AEST)
The last clash between these two sides back in round three was one of the fieriest games of the season, as Aaron Woods took on the Burgess boys . . . and they responded in kind. It was a watershed moment for the Tigers – sick of having sand kicked in their faces by the NRL’s bully boys, the much-maligned Tigers pack took a stand, and came up trumps. Woods will miss this game due to Origin, but the forward battle will still be a telling one. The Tigers will be without enforcer Woods, skipper Farah and veteran Liam Fulton, who worryingly, misses another game through concussion. As a result, the Bunnies will like their chances of gaining the advantage through the middle. If the Tigers can match Souths in the engine room, their classy backs like James Tedesco, Luke Brooks and Tim Simona can get them home.
My tip: Tigers 1-12
Panthers v Dragons
Saturday June 14 @ 17.35 (AEST)
This game throws up the strange situation of the competition leaders facing the 13th-placed strugglers, yet amazingly, it is the side languishing fourth from the bottom that is weakened by Origin duty. The Panthers are at full-strength, with no players earning NSW or Queensland selection, while the Dragons are missing stars Josh Dugan and Trent Merrin. The Origin snubbing may hurt some Panthers players’ egos, but remaining at full-strength throughout the Origin period is a huge boost for the club. For the Dragons, Benji Marshall had by far his best performance in the Red V . . . although it was against Cronulla’s NSW Cup side. It won’t carry much weight if he can’t reproduce the goods on Saturday. St George Illawarra have only won one of their past five clashes with the Panthers, and I can’t see them reversing that trend this weekend.
My tip: Panthers 1-12
Roosters v Knights
Saturday June 14 @ 19.35 (AEST)
The Roosters will go in search for their fourth consecutive win for the first time since last year’s grand final triumph. It would take a brave and foolish punter to suggest they won’t do it. The Chooks might have lost three players to Origin duty (Tupou, Jennings and Guerra), but you could argue the Knights will feel the loss of their two Origin stars (Boyd and Scott) much more. On top of that, they are without barnstorming centre Joey Leilua, robbing the Novocastrians of a vital strike weapon out wide. It’s dire days for the Knights – they will equal their longest losing streak since Round 15, 2005 with a loss this Saturday. Sadly, I can’t see anything else.
My tip: Panthers 1-12
Bulldogs v Eels
Sunday June 15 @ 15.05 (AEST)
The main criticism of State of Origin is that is sucks the life out of club footy. And that argument is perfectly illustrated by this game. With both teams flying this year, you would have been guaranteed a massive Sunday arvo crowd at Homebush . . . if both teams were at full-strength. Instead, both are depleted, and you can bet the fans will more than likely stay away. The Dogs are suffering the most, with injury compounding Origin absentees. They’re without their halves, while injured centre Josh Morris will this week be joined on the sidelines by Aiden Tolman and Chase Stanley. Losing Tolman is a huge blow – he is the unsung hero in a pack that gets a lot of raps. The Eels, of course, are without their maestro Jarryd Hayne. And while they looked hapless last time he missed a game (against Penrith a fortnight ago), I reckon Parra can overcome his loss against the weakened Dogs. Canterbury are undefeated in their past six against the Eels, their longest streak since 1975. But I have a feeling it will end this weekend.
My tip: Eels 1-12
Titans v Storm
Cbus Super Stadium
Monday June 16 @ 19.05 (AEST)
Another game robbed of its star quality by Origin. No Slater, Smith or the injured Cronk for Melbourne . . . and the Titans are without their own ‘Big Three’ in Bird, Myles and Dave Taylor. But for both teams this game could be season-defining. Both sit one win outside the top eight – Storm in ninth and Titans in 10th, so a loss will see them slip further behind the frontrunners. With the stars missing, it will be up to the lesser lights to shine. Albert Kelly started the year on fire, but he has gone off the boil after a few injury issues. This is just the sort of game where he could bounce back and dominate.
My tip: Titans 1-12
Mitchell Dale - Editor Rugby League Week @LeagueWeek