NRL round 13 preview panel
Preview of NRL round 13 matches (all times AEST).
FRIDAY, June 1
Gold Coast Titans v North Queensland Cowboys at Skilled Park 7.35pm
Head to Head: Titans 5 Cowboys 5
Last clash: Round 1 2012 – Titans 18 bt Cowboys 0 at Dairy Farmers Stadium
Tab Sportsbet: Titans $2.20 Cowboys $1.70
FootyTAB: Titans +4.5
After a dull start to the season, are the Gold Coast in the midst of a resurgence? They looked composed in attack against Newcastle last weekend, following on from strong showings against Manly, Wests Tigers and Canterbury in recent weeks. The injection of Aidan Sezer has energised the attack and the team finally looks balanced – with off-season signings Jamal Idris, Luke Douglas and Nate Myles all having an impact. The Cowboys pose perhaps their biggest challenge yet. They fell to the Tigers last week but outside of Sydney they’ve been brilliant.
Key: Hold the ball. In their round one encounter, the Cowboys made a staggering 28 errors while the Titans won 18-0. It goes without saying if they do that again the result will be the same.
Manly Sea Eagles v St George-Illawarra Dragons at Brookvale Oval 7.35pm
Head to Head: Sea Eagles 5 Dragons 14
Last clash: Round 4 2012 – Dragons 17 bt Sea Eagles 6 at Oki Jubilee Stadium
Tab Sportsbet: Sea Eagles $1.45 Dragons $2.85
FootyTAB: Dragons +6.5
The Sea Eagles will need to overcome their ridiculously poor record against the Dragons without the help of international pair Steve Matai (suspension) and Tony Williams (back). The Dragons have a stranglehold over Manly in recent times, winning five of the past six clashes. NSW pair Jamie Buhrer (Manly) and Ben Creagh (Dragons) will need big games to retain their spots in the Blues team after nondescript efforts in game one, while Anthony Watmough could force his way into Ricky Stuart’s squad. Neither side is in good form however. Manly got pumped by Penrith last week, while the Dragons scraped past Parramatta – after losing to the Panthers and Rabbitohs the previous two rounds.
Key: Both teams are struggling in attack so points will be at a premium. A fast start is essential.
Tip: Sea Eagles
SATURDAY, June 2
Canberra Raiders v Wests Tigers at Canberra Stadium 5.30pm
Head to Head: Raiders 10 Tigers 14
Last clash: Round 4 2012 – Raiders 30 bt Tigers 16 at Campbelltown Sports Stadium
Tab Sportsbet: Raiders $2.65 Tigers $1.50
FootyTAB: Raiders +6.5
The Tigers have won five in a row but have only looked semi-convincing in their past two, so a cold Saturday night in Canberra could test them. The Raiders form is patchy, but they welcome back Josh Dugan and Blake Ferguson from one-week bans for breaching the club’s alcohol policy. Dugan will line up at five-eighth. The Tigers welcome back Liam Fulton from a shoulder injury. Expect the Tigers to fire up with the memory of their round four stinker against Canberra still fresh in their minds.
Key: Canberra’s attack has fallen off in recent weeks. Moving Dugan into the halves to partner Josh McCrone could be a masterstroke – or a desperate failure.
Canterbury Bulldogs v South Sydney Rabbitohs at ANZ Stadium 7.30pm
Head to Head: Bulldogs 75 Souths 64 drawn 4
Last clash: Round 6 2012 – Souths 20 bt Bulldogs 10 at ANZ Stadium
Tab Sportsbet: Bulldogs $2.05 Souths $1.80
FootyTAB: Bulldogs +2.5
Canterbury looked slick on Monday night against the Roosters, but the short turnaround to a Saturday game is the toughest in the competition. Even more fearsome is a Bunnies team that is running rampant right now – Greg Inglis looks unstoppable, Adam Reynolds unflappable and they’ve turned that into a four-game winning streak. The Bulldogs are humming along nicely as well thanks to smart-passing forwards and their own brilliant fullback, Ben Barba.
Key: Could it be Krisnan Inu again? The former Parramatta and Warriors centre was brilliant in his Bulldogs debut.
SUNDAY, June 3
Warriors v Melbourne Storm at Mt Smart Stadium 2.00pm
Head to Head: Warriors 15 Storm 13 drawn 2
Last clash: Round 8 2012 – Storm 32 bt Warriors 14 at AAMI Park
Tab Sportsbet: Warriors $2.50 Storm $1.55
FootyTAB: Warriors +4.5
Can the curse strike again? Despite Melbourne’s dominance in the past six seasons, the boys across the Tasman seem to be able to push them harder than any other team, having won three of their past five encounters. Melbourne will again be spearheaded by their Big Three, while the Warriors are still without fullback Kevin Locke (leg). The Warriors look like they’re warming up to something special and have moved up to ninth spot with three wins from their past five. Melbourne? They just keep winning, accounting for the Broncos easily last week.
Key: Shut down Billy Slater. Seems fair enough? The Storm No.1 was untouchable against the Broncos and is certainly the biggest threat on the field.
Brisbane Broncos v Newcastle Knights at Suncorp Stadium 3.00pm
Head to Head: Broncos 26 Knights 12
Last clash: Round 3 2012 – Broncos 24 bt Knights 10 at Hunter Stadium
Tab Sportsbet: Broncos $1.18 Knights $5.00
FootyTAB: Knights +12.5
Newcastle are going so badly even their favourite son, Andrew Johns, savaged them this week. Joey said the Knights attack was boring and the team looked inept in their loss to the Titans. And it’s hard to argue with him. Against Gold Coast only controversial signing Willie Mason looked like he was putting in for Wayne Bennett. This should be a walk in the park for Brisbane against their former coach. They are on a three-game skid themselves, but welcome back Origin trio Petero Civoniceva, Sam Thaiday and Justin Hodges, while Newcastle’s Jarrod Mullen (eye) has been cleared to play.
Key: Titan Matt Srama made the Knights look silly last round, and Wayne Bennett would be wise to advise his team to look out for Brisbane’s Andrew McCullough – another crafty young hooker.
MONDAY, June 4
Parramatta Eels v Cronulla Sharks at Parramatta Stadium 7.00pm
Head to Head: Eels 35 Sharks 40
Last clash: Round 7 2012 – Sharks 24 bt Eels 18 at Toyota Stadium
Tab Sportsbet: Eels $2.50 Sharks $1.55
FootyTAB: Eels +4.5
When will the heartbreak end for Parramatta coach Stephen Kearney? Surely they did enough to beat the Dragons last week… but still came away two-point losers. It doesn’t seem fair but things just aren’t going their way this year. They’ll be without five-eighth Casey McGuire (pectoral) for the rest of the season. Cronulla had the bye last round, giving skipper Paul Gallen a well-earned rest after Origin. Five-eighth Todd Carney also got a rest – hopefully giving him time to forget about his woeful Origin debut for the Blues.
Key: Ben Roberts returns at five-eighth after a stint with Wentworthville, linking with under-pressure halfback Chris Sandow again – Kearney’s preferred halves pairing at the start of the year. Can they work it out this time?
Tip: Sharks© AAP 2013