NRL Round 16 preview panel
Preview of League Round 16 matches (all times AEST).
FRIDAY, June 22
Brisbane Broncos v South Sydney Rabbitohs at Suncorp Stadium 7.35pm
Head to Head: Broncos 20 Souths 5 drawn 1
Last clash: Round 4 2012 – Broncos 20 bt Souths 12 at nib Stadium
Tab Sportsbet: Broncos $1.45 Souths $2.80
FootyTAB: Souths +6.5
A true test of the Rabbitohs’ premiership credentials, and they meet the Broncos at the most testing of times. Ben Hannant aside, Brisbane will field a near full-strength side – a rarity during the Origin period – for Petero Civoniceva’s 300th NRL game. And the hosts will be desperate for a win given they have lost four of their past six games.
Key: How welcome, or unwelcome the Rabbitohs are made to feel at the celebration that will be Civoniceva’s milestone game.
St George-Illawarra Dragons v Gold Coast Titans at WIN Stadium 7.35pm
Head to Head: Dragons 7 Titans 3
Last clash: Round 14 2011 – Titans 28 bt Dragons 14 at Oki Jubilee Stadium
Tab Sportsbet: Dragons $1.40 Titans $3.00
FootyTAB: Titans +4.5
The Dragons have slumped badly in the middle part of the season, winning just one of six since their thrilling Anzac Day victory. The Titans, meanwhile, have done the opposite in totally reinvigorating their year by winning four of their last five. The worst attacking team in the NRL, the Dragons are usually very tough to beat in Wollongong. Last week they weren’t. Suspended Matt Prior returns for the hosts.
Key: Have the Dragons finally found their attacking mojo? If so they will need points before the game is out of reach.
SATURDAY, June 23
North Queensland Cowboys v Canberra at Dairy Farmers Stadium 5.30pm
Head to Head: Cowboys 11 Raiders 18
Last clash: Round 5 2012 – Cowboys 22 bt Raiders 6 at Canberra Stadium
Tab Sportsbet: Cowboys $1.28 Raiders $3.75
FootyTAB: Raiders +10.5
The Cowboys are putting together a series of efforts that has them stamped as premiership possibilities, including last round’s shutout of Brisbane. But they need to improve their consistency week-to-week. The Raiders, who look severely outgunned on paper, need a win to continue to keep their season alive and coach David Furner’s coaching career intact.
Key: With Matt Bowen auditioning for Billy Slater’s Maroons No.1 jersey the home side could rack up a cricket score.
Penrith Panthers v Parramatta Eels at Centrebet Stadium 7.30pm
Head to Head: Panthers 32 Eels 51 drawn 1
Last clash: Round 4 2012 – Panthers 39 bt Eels 6 at Parramatta Stadium
Tab Sportsbet: Panthers $1.70 Eels $2.20
FootyTAB: Eels +2.5
A match between one team that struggles badly to win at home and one who can’t win away. The Eels look like they could be capable of something, sometimes, while any momentum the Panthers might have had after a big win over Manly has stalled following back-to-back shockers after their bye. The stick that is the wooden spoon, rather than the carrot of finals football will be the prime motivator here.
Key: Chris Sandow. Sooner or later he has to put it together for the Eels.
SUNDAY, June 24
Canterbury v Melbourne Storm at Virgin Australia Stadium 2.00pm
Head to Head: Bulldogs 14 Storm 14
Last clash: Round 7 2012 – Storm 12 bt Bulldogs 6 at AAMI Park
Tab Sportsbet: Bulldogs $2.20 Storm $1.70
FootyTAB: Bulldogs +2.5
A true finals preview, this top-of-the-table clash on neutral ground will be a significant pointer to what we can expect in September. Canterbury can further continue their meteoric rise under new coach Des Hasler with a defeat of the premiership frontrunners. Melbourne are without Billy Slater but that won’t be offered up as any sort of excuse.
Key: The Dogs’ forwards’ chain passing around the ruck is proving a real handful for opposition defences. Can the Storm negate it?
Sydney Roosters v Manly Sea Eagles at Allianz Stadium 3.00pm
Head to Head: Roosters 39 Sea Eagles 78 drawn 2
Last clash: Round 11 2012 – Sea Eagles 18 bt Roosters 10 at Brookvale Oval
Tab Sportsbet: Roosters $2.50 Sea Eagles $1.55
FootyTAB: Roosters +4.5
The Roosters’ win over the Tigers that snapped a four-game losing streak comes with an asterix given the circumstances. But they played with a new-found intensity and will need to repeat that to stay in touch with the eight. An injury-hit Manly side, also minus their Origin stars, beat the Roosters five weeks ago so the hosts will need to lift dramatically. Glenn Stewart is a big loss for the visitors but the suspended Steve Matai returns.
Key: Long-serving Rooster Sam Perrett and his immediate release request. How will that affect his teammates?
Tip: Sea Eagles
MONDAY, June 25
Newcastle Knights v Wests Tigers at Hunter Stadium 7.00pm
Head to Head: Knights 7 Tigers 9
Last clash: Round 13 2011 – Tigers 17 bt Knights 16 at Leichhardt Oval
Tab Sportsbet: Knights $2.65 Tigers $1.50
FootyTAB: Knights +5.5
The Knights are experiencing one of the toughest periods in their proud history and a win any way they can get it will be a godsend. But they, including coach Wayne Bennett, look clueless as how to achieve that. The Tigers will be highly motivated to put a tough week behind them with an emphatic win and that will move Bennett closer to an almost unthinkable wooden spoon.
Key: Robbie Farah. The grieving hooker has asked to play but a final decision on his availability will be made closer to kick-off.
Tip: Tigers© AAP 2013