NRL Round 16

Broncos v Rabbitohs - Friday night at Suncorp Stadium should be a near sell-out crowd for the Broncos and Rabbitohs. A below strength Brisbane was kept scoreless in Townsville last week and will be keen to get back into the winner’s circle but the job won’t be easy against a much improved South Sydney. Main interest in the match will be whether Greg Inglis has recovered sufficiently from the elbow injury to play but particularly the showing of Dave Taylor against his old club. Taylor is one of the rare Queensland origin players to have been accused of not putting in for his state and if he wants to keep the Maroon jersey he needs a big game here. Plenty to play for in this match. South Sydney 1-12


Dragons v Titans - The Dragons and Titans at Win Stadium is a must win game for the home side. Dragons’ coach Steve Price says that is not concerned about his team’s peformances but that surely is media bravado. He must be concerned because his famous club is playing poorly. In contrast, the Gold Coast has really turned things around and have been able to put behind them the entire off field dramas. Both clubs sit just outside the eight on 14 points so it is a vital match. Much could depend on whether Origin 2 Man of the Match Greg Bird is fit for the Titans. If he is, the Gold Coast can win. Gold Coast Titans 1-12


Raiders v Cowboys - North Queensland should be able to beat Canberra at home on Saturday night. The Raiders have the advantage of a rest while some of the key Cowboy players must be feeling the effects of tough matches and plenty of travelling. However Jonathon Thurston shrugged off his ordinary Origin match in the win over the Broncos while Matt Bowen let the Queensland selectors know that he is in form if a replacement is needed for Billy Slater in the decider. With the Origin team to be finalised over the weekend, the Cowboys have more players with big incentives. North Queensland Cowboys 13+


Panthers v Eels - The Panthers and Eels clash at Penrith on Saturday night is the battle of two under- performing losers. Each side has shown the occasional glimpse of form, such as Parramatta’s come from behind win over Cronulla in Round 13. However such showings have been few and far between. Penrith were very ordinary in their loss to the Gold Coast while Parramatta was woeful in the clash with South Sydney. The western derby so no real home ground advantage and a toss of the coin might be the best way. Parramatta Eels1-12


Bulldogs v Storm - The Canterbury Bulldogs take their home game against the Storm to Mackay in Queensland and it will draw a capacity crowd. A very attractive clash with the Bulldogs looming as very much a premiership contender and Melbourne showing on Monday night that even without a star such as Billy Slater, it has the ability to match it with any team. Melbourne’s scrambling defence against the Sea Eagles was outstanding and a repeat showing would see them handle Canterbury but backing up from Monday night, particularly for the origin stars who have the extra travel of late to contend with, could be a problem. Shapes as a great clash. Canterbury Bulldogs 1-12


Manly v Roosters - Manly was somewhat surprisingly beaten by the Melbourne Storm on Monday night after taking a half time lead coming from 0-12 early in the game. The loss of Glenn Stewart may have had much to do with that loss and even though he will be out for a few weeks with a knee injury, the Sea Eagles are likely to make the Roosters pay at Allianz Stadium on Sunday. The Roosters did a creditable job in beating the Tigers at Leichhhardt Oval but after the traumatic lead-up, it’s doubtful that the Tigers’ players had their minds on the job. The Roosters’ defence is suspect and Manly’s attacking capabilities will find them out. Manly Sea Eagles 13+


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