NRL Round 16 Preview

Mitchell Dale - Editor Rugby League Week
Editor of Rugby League Week, Mitchell Dale, provides TattsBet with an exclusive Round 16 Preview of the NRL.

TattsBet NRL Round 16 Preview

Broncos v Sharks
Suncorp Stadium
Friday June 27 @ 19.45 (AEST)

The poor old Sharkies just can’t take a trick – or score a point – at the moment. Come kick-off time this Friday, it will have been 41 days since Cronulla last scored a point. There have been shorter US Presidencies than that! And sadly for the Sharks, it doesn’t get any easier this week against a Broncos outfit that has been impressive over the past month, even taking into account their last-start loss to the Warriors. Justin Hodges returns for the Broncos after sitting out the Warriors loss – a further boost for the home side. Can the Sharks win? Nup. Can they score a point? Maybe.

My tip: Broncos 13+

Sea Eagles v Roosters
Brookvale Oval
Friday June 27 @ 19.45 (AEST)

The replay of last year’s grand final should be an absolute corker. Manly won the earlier encounter between the two sides this year – 8-0 at Allianz Stadium in round 4 – to snap a four-game losing streak against the Chooks. That kick-started a dry spell for the Roosters, but over the past month the premiers have started to show signs they are returning to the form that swept them to last year’s title. Manly would have been hoping for a tougher hit-out against the Sharks last weekend to prepare for this assignment, but instead they encountered little resistance. The Roosters are rested after the bye, and welcome back Test back-rower Boyd Cordner from an ankle injury. The Sea Eagles, on the other hand, will be without Anthony Watmough and Glenn Stewart. It will be a tight one, but I think the Roosters can sneak home.

My tip: Roosters 1-12

Wests Tigers v Raiders
Campbelltown Sports Stadium
Saturday June 28 @ 19.35 (AEST)

Neither side is setting the world on fire at the moment. The Tigers are clinging to their place around the bottom of the top eight, but they have not beaten a team outside the bottom two since knocking off the Eels in round seven – their only two victories since then have come over the Sharks in round 10 and the Knights in round 13. Meanwhile, the Raiders continue to struggle, and couldn’t put away a depleted Bulldogs side at home last Friday. The Tigers certainly have the wood on Canberra, having beaten them in nine of the past 10 clashes. I’m expecting much of the same this Saturday. 

My tip: Tigers 1-12

Cowboys v Rabbitohs
1300SMILES Stadium
Saturday June 28 @ 19.35 (AEST)

Cowboys coach Paul Green has responded to his side’s meek surrender to Newcastle last Monday by shifting Johnathan Thurston back to halfback this weekend. JT took over the No.6 jersey at the start of 2012, but the Cowboys’ disjointed attack – and an injury to regular half Ray Thompson – has forced Green’s hand. Thurston will be partnered in the halves by Robert Lui – a man fighting for a new contract next year. There have certainly been two versions of North Queensland this year – the home version and the away one. Despite their woes on the road, the Cowboys have generally performed well at their ridiculously-named home ground and they should provide a tough test for the Bunnies. Souths are close to full-strength, having welcomed back their trio of Origin stars – Inglis, Te’o and McQueen. However, they are still without electric young centre Dylan Walker. The Cowboys, of course, have their own injury woes, with the loss of Thompson compounding the absence of Matt Scott and Brent Tate.

My tip: Rabbitohs 1-12

Warriors v Panthers
Mt Smart Stadium
Sunday June 29 @ 14.05 (AEST)

Both sides will consider this their biggest test of recent weeks. The Panthers have roared to the top of the ladder on the back of five-straight wins – although they have come over the Knights, Raiders, Eels (without Jarryd Hayne), Titans and Dragons. That light run has led to plenty of critics suggesting the Panthers’ stocks are inflated . . . but the fact is the Mountain Men are on a roll! Likewise, the Warriors have struck form with three wins from their past four matches. Warriors coach Andrew McFadden has already stated this will be his side’s biggest challenge for a while – and the Panthers will feel the same. The Warriors have lost centre Ngani Laumape to suspension, but have a ready-made replacement in former Queensland Origin centre Dane Nielsen. The home ground advantage should get New Zealand home.

My tip: Warriors 1-12

Eels v Knights
Pirtek Stadium
Sunday June 29 @ 15.05 (AEST)

These two teams experienced form reversals last weekend. After flying along in recent weeks, Parra came crashing back to earth with a big loss to Melbourne. The ease with which the Storm rumbled through Parramatta in the middle of the field will certainly be a worry for coach Brad Arthur. On the other hand, Newcastle snapped a seven-match losing streak with victory over North Queensland. Skipper Kurt Gidley shifted from hooker back into the halves, and immediately gave his side some badly-needed direction. Back home at Parramatta, the Eels will be keen on turning around last week’s effort, and continuing their strong run at Pirtek which now stretches to eight-straight wins.

My tip: Eels 1-12

Dragons v Storm
WIN Stadium
Monday June 30 @ 19.05 (AEST)

The Dragons have turned a small corner over the past three weeks under interim coach Paul McGregor, with two wins sandwiching a tight loss to the Panthers. While they have not shot out the lights in any of those matches, there have been incremental improvements. The Storm, too, have struck form of late. After getting out of jail against the Titans in round 14, they produced arguably their best performance of the year in trouncing Parramatta last Sunday. Billy Slater turned in a blinder, while their forwards totally out-muscled the Eels. The other big positive for Melbourne is the form of the enigmatic Ben Roberts, who is standing up admirably in the absence of Cooper Cronk. Storm should register their third-straight win here.

My tip: Storm 1-12

Mitchell Dale - Editor Rugby League Week @LeagueWeek

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