NRL Round 13

Manly  and St George-Illawarra  at Brookvale on Friday night is an important game for both sides. Manly were surprisingly beaten, and convincingly, by Penrith in the last round while the Dragons had a last minute win against an unlucky Parramatta. Perhaps the Manly loss had something to do with the Origin hangover and the Sea Eagles are a much better team than they showed at the foot of the Blue Mountains. The Dragons are in tenth spot and on present indications are not playing well enough to actually threaten as finals’ contenders. Manly are again understrength without Williams and Matai but should still win. Manly Sea Eagles 1-12

The Queensland Derby between the Gold Coast  and North Queensland  at Skilled Stadium could be a tricky affair to pick. The Cowboys would be looked upon as favourites but the Titans have had back to back wins and will be confident knowing that in the season’s opening round, they gave the Cowboys an 18-0 flogging in Townsville. The Cowboys’ stars have had some travelling to do in recent weeks but a few days recovery on the Gold Coast should have them in good fettle. The Titans’ tumultuous season may just have turned the corner with last week’s win at Newcastle and they could make it a hat trick of wins. Gold Coast Titans 1-12

The Canberra Raiders  are at home to the Wests Tigers  on Saturday and they will have Josh Dugan and Blake Ferguson back from a club imposed suspension, but they will need more to take the two points. The Raiders are struggling and the longer the season goes the more it shows how much they are missing playmaker Terry Campese. The Tigers won a fairly tight encounter at Campbelltown with the Cowboys and if Benjii Marshall had not been there, the result may have been different. He will again be a big difference in the class of the two sides in Canberra. Wests Tigers 13+

The Bulldogs  and Rabbitohs  at ANZ Stadium on Saturday night is shaping as not only the match of the round but one of the blockbuster games of the season. The long suffering Bunnies’ supporters are at last able to come out of hibernation with real hopes for a premiership shot and while Greg Inglis and Dave Taylor stay in their current form, they can match it with any side…even Melbourne. Canterbury is yet to peak but there were clear signs in the second half against the Roosters on Monday night that Des Hasler’s influence is starting to bite. No home ground advantage and both sides giving their fans confidence for this game. South Sydney Rabbitohs 1-12

The Warriors  are normally a side that trouble Melbourne  regardless of where the two sides sit on the ladder. On the Storm’s last three trips to Auckland, the Warriors have won twice and again will be competitive on Sunday at Mount Smart Stadium. The Storm received a reality check with their unexpected loss to Cronulla but showed their true form in the big, top of the table clash with Brisbane last Friday night. The Warriors will be competitive as they don’t have any fear of Melbourne but at their best, the Storm will win. Melbourne Storm 1-12

The Broncos  should win against the disappointing Knights  at Suncorp Stadium in one of the home side’s rare day time matches. Brisbane will have back Origin stars Justin Hodges, Sam Thaiday and Petero Civoniceva and will know that they won’t get an easy game against a Wayne Bennett coached side. Newcastle has been on the end of some stinging criticism from club stalwarts such as Andrew Johns this week and that will have hurt. They won’t be the easybeats of recent weeks and expect big games from Danny Buderus and Darius Boyd. Could be a battle but class should prevail. Brisbane Broncos 1-12

Monday night football at Parramatta Stadium should be an interesting clash between the Eels  and Sharks . Parra was unlucky to lose in the dying seconds against the Dragons but the performance showed signs of fight which has been sadly lacking this year. They will take plenty out of that showing and will know that a win against Cronulla will be a step on the road back with the Sharks the only side to have beaten premiership front runners Melbourne. The Sharks have back Origin stars Todd Carney and Paul Gallen who are vital to the club’s continued good form. Cronulla will rightly start as favourites but a little interest on the outsider Eels could be good value. Parramatta Eels 1-12

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