Editor of Rugby League Week, Mitchell Dale, provides TattsBet with an exclusive Round 15 Preview of the NRL.
TattsBet NRL Round 15 Preview
Raiders v Bulldogs
Friday June 20 @ 19.50 (AEST)
Ahhh, freezing cold Canberra – where else would you want to be on a Friday night? Raiders fans get a rare treat with their side’s first Friday night game in almost a year. The other good news is the Raiders come across a Bulldogs side looking a lot shakier than they were a month ago. The Dogs – who started the year so well – have lost three in a row, and will be without three key players in Josh Morris, Aiden Tolman and Chase Stanley. Dynamic halves Josh Reynolds and Trent Hodkinson will also be asked to back up two days after a gruelling Origin clash. The Origin period has played havoc with the Dogs’ season – they have relinquished top spot on the ladder, and now face four straight losses for the first time since round six last year. But this is a tough side, and Des Hasler will have them primed. Plus the Green Machine has been running colder than a Friday night at GIO Stadium.
My tip: Bulldogs 1-12
Warriors v Broncos
Mt Smart Stadium
Saturday June 21 @ 17.35 (AEST)
Brisbane have passed a number of tests over the past month, but this is their biggest challenge. Flying to New Zealand to take on the in-form Warriors without Corey Parker and Andrew McCullough – and with Hodges, Thaiday and Gillett backing up after Origin Two – is an almighty task. On top of that, the Warriors have had Brisbane’s measure of late – the Kiwi boys have won three of their past four matches against the Broncs, including a 56-18 demolition in round 12 last season. Brisbane have seven wins and one draw in their past ten matches on the road – a superb result. But I think this weekend will be too tough an ask for Anthony Griffin’s men.
My tip: Warriors 1-12
Sharks v Manly
Saturday June 21 @ 19.35 (AEST)
Cronulla are facing their fifth-straight loss this weekend – which would be their longest losing streak in a single season since 2011. And the odds are stacked against them avoiding that unwanted record. Manly have won five of their past seven, including a 24-4 win over Cronulla in round six, and the Eagles have won five of their past six at Remondis Stadium. But it’s not all bad news for the Sharkies – this week they welcome back Todd Carney, Jeff Robson, Sosaia Feki, Jonathan Wright and Anthony Tupou. But even with the cavalry returning – and doubts over whether Daly Cherry-Evans and Anthony Watmough will back up from Origin – I still can’t see a Cronulla win.
My tip: Sea Eagles 1-12
Storm v Eels
Sunday June 22 @ 14.05 (AEST)
The Storm have made a few sides their bunnies over the years, but few more than Parra. Melbourne beat the Eels in 2009 grand final (although that was subsequently taken off them for cheating the salary cap – much to Eels’ fans eternal disgust); the Storm have lost only five of the past 17 clashes between the two sides; and in their last clash, Melbourne inflicted an embarrassing 64-4 defeat on the Eels – the second biggest defeat in the club’s proud history. But this is a different Parramatta beast in 2014. They will not get the wooden spoon. Their defence does not leak big points (excluding an aberration against the Chooks round two). And, as Parra players tell RLW this week, Brad Arthur has them playing tougher than they have in a long, long time. Melbourne have won two of their past five matches at AAMI Park, and I can see that becoming two from six this weekend.
My tip: Eels 1-12
Titans v Dragons
Cbus Super Stadium
Sunday June 22 @ 15.05 (AEST)
Both sides have followed a very similar form line this year. The Titans had a strong start to the year, only to fall in a hole, due largely to a string of injuries, particularly in the halves. That will be off-set by the mid-season signing of Roosters premiership-winner Daniel Mortimer. It’s the same story for the Dragons: good start that quickly stalled, but a mid-season halves signing – Benji Marshall – has helped somewhat. Marshall’s past two games gives Red V fans cause for optimism . . . but they still have massive issues up front. If the Titans’ three Origin forwards – Bird, Taylor and Myles – play, that will be enough to get them home.
My tip: Titans 1-12
Knights v Cowboys
Monday June 23 @ 19.05 (AEST)
North Queensland must end their travelling woes this Monday - simple as that. The Cowboys are 0-6 away from home this year and another defeat would equal their longest losing streak on the road since round four, 1999. A loss to the lowly Knights would also have dire consequences for the Cowboys’ title hopes. This comp is so tight that any side wanting to be there at the business end must bank wins over the cellar dwellers. While the Cowboys’ form away from home isn’t great (or even satisfactory), neither is the Knights’ record on a Monday night – they’ve lost their past three in this timeslot. I’ll take a Cowboys win here – but that is more a reflection of Newcastle’s struggles than any confidence in North Queensland’s ability to perform away from Townsville.
My tip: Cowboys 1-12
Mitchell Dale - Editor Rugby League Week @LeagueWeek