Preston’s previews NRL Round 8

James Preston Roar Guru

By , James Preston is a Roar Guru

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    After another eventful Easter weekend of football we are treated to a marathon round with games spread from Friday until Tuesday, and it’s a tough one for tipsters!

    Last week’s tips, 7/8 running tip total, 37/56

    Raiders versus Manly
    The Raiders continued their hot run of form picking up their third consecutive win on the trot against the Warriors in Round 7, while Manly picked up their second loss is as many weeks – another slow start costing the Northern Beaches club.

    BJ Leilua continues to push his claims for a Kangaroos spot and his combination with Jordan Rapana remains the best in the NRL. Travelling to Canberra is always a tough task and unfortunately for Manly they meet a Raiders side on a roll.

    Tip: Raiders 13+

    Souths versus Broncos
    Souths suffered from ‘second half syndrome’ against the Bulldogs, failing to register a point in the second stanza. The Broncos did the exact opposite collecting 14 second half points to seal an unlikely late victory over the Titans.

    The big news in this match is the late withdrawal of South Sydney halfback Adam Reynolds. This forces a reshuffle with John Sutton shifting into the halves. The most concerning thing for Souths outside of Reynolds absence is the relatively weak sides they’ve defeated thus far.

    With a 3-4 record they have only managed victories over cellar dwellers the Knights, a victory over Manly before they had hit their straps and a one point over a Penrith side missing six key players.

    All of that spells trouble for South Sydney who take on a Broncos side that looks to be clicking into gear.

    Tip: Broncos 13+

    Eels versus Panthers
    Despite getting a win against the Tigers in Round 7, the Eels were anything but impressive. They still lack structure and spark and there were plenty of defensive frailties. The Panthers similarly didn’t look like scoring a try against Cronulla and the pressure is now mounting on coach Anthony Griffin.

    On paper the Panthers have named a formidable side and realistically this has become a do or die clash for the pre-season premiership favourites. Couple that with Parramatta’s poor record at ANZ Stadium and the recipe is ripe for Penrith to get back on track.

    Tip: Panthers 1-12

    Cowboys versus Knights
    Despite a stellar performance from the world;s biggest makeshift halfback in the form of John Assiata the Cowboys fell short of victory against the Dragons. Similarly, the Knights were once again competitive last round but lacked the firepower to secure a victory over the Roosters.

    The Knights are presently in the midst of a five-game losing streak and face the daunting prospect of the NRL’s toughest road trip to Townsville. They have also made the shock decision to drop captain and chief playmaker Trent Hodkinson.

    All the signs point to a Cowboys victory but this is definitely a danger match for the men from the north. They are down on troops and down on form and if they turn up expecting an easy win they will be in for a rude shock.

    Nathan Ross for the Newcastle Knights

    Tip: Cowboys 13+

    Sharks versus Titans
    On form, Cronulla is one of the hottest team in the competition at the moment after securing their fourth consecutive victory against the Panthers. The most impressive aspect of the performance wasn’t the 28 points they piled on, it was the miserly defensive display that prevented a talented Panthers outfit from securing a single try.

    The Titans on the other hand were incredibly unlucky after seemingly having secured victory over the Broncos. Their performance overall though was a great improvement on that of the past month and it’s no coincidence the improvement coincided with getting some key troops back from injury.

    The Titans welcome back even more of their personnel for this week’s match, with a potential return for Jarryd Hayne on the cards. However, all the Hayne Planes in the world won’t be able to stop the Sharks in Cronulla!

    Tip: Sharks 13+

    Wests Tigers versus Bulldogs
    Tigers fans have a right to feel ripped off after bearing the brunt of some disgraceful refereeing in the final 20 minutes against the Eels. That said, a quality side still would have been able to close out the game.

    The Bulldogs were able to pick up their third victory on the trot and now find themselves in the top eight. But, their victories have been far from impressive and the last two have come against the Knights and Souths, hardly victories to ride home about.

    The Tigers have a lot to overcome in this match to earn a victory. Firstly, there’s the mental component of being in a side captained by a pathetic leader in the form of Aaron Woods – who has supposedly claimed he was tired of being the only quality forward within his squad.

    There’s also the mental component of these players playing alongside Moses and Tedesco in addition to Woods, three key players who apparently want out of Concord and in a haste.

    Secondly, there’s the most glaring on-field issue – the right side edge defence. Until Ivan Cleary stops the rot on that flank the Tigers won’t win a game.

    Despite their massive forward pack, it would be a mistake for the Dogs to focus too much on the middle third of the field. The Tigers have shown reasonable resolve in the centre of the park in 2017 and the Dogs must exploit the joint ventures notable weakness.

    Tip: Dogs 1-12

    Roosters versus Dragons
    Without a doubt this is the hardest match to tip of the round.

    The Roosters jumped back in the winner’s circle in Round 7 with a victory over the Knights whereas the Dragons kept the good times rolling with their fifth consecutive victory coming over the Cowboys in Wollongong.

    Despite the Roosters picking up a victory last week the jury is still out on the Bondi club. That relates to the level of opposition they have defeated so far.

    To date the Roosters have recorded wins against the Titans (1-6, 15th), a narrow victory over the Bulldogs (who at the time were playing abysmal football), the Panthers (2-5), Souths (who have only accounted for Manly who were in terrible form at the time, the Knights and a Panthers outfit missing six top line first graders) – it doesn’t exactly make for convincing reading.

    In fact the only side the Roosters have played who were sitting in the top eight at the time of the clash were the Broncos and they were soundly beaten.

    The Dragons on the other hand put a stop to Manly’s hot form in round 6 and accounted for last year’s premiers the in round 3 in Cronulla. In between they have defeated all comers and have proven over the opening seven rounds that they should be regarded as a genuine contender in 2017.

    Further helping their claims for victory in this match is the return of talismanic fullback Josh Dugan.

    Expect the Dragons massive pack to have just a bit too much firepower for the Roosters in another close and classic Anzac Day encounter.

    Tip: Dragons 1-12

    Storm versus Warriors
    To close out round 8, it’s another potential blockbuster in what has now become a traditional Anzac Day clash between the Storm and the Warriors.

    The Storm continue to be the benchmark despite playing a tad below their usual lofty standards. But, the key thing for Melbourne is that they keep finding a way to win.

    For the Warriors, travelling remains an issue despite the return of Kieran Foran. A trip to Canberra was always going to be tough but Stephen Kearney will be looking to rectify this ongoing problem moving forward.

    It doesn’t get any easier for the Aucklanders though as they take a trip to the graveyard – AAMI Park.

    This should be a high quality match and the score just might match it.

    Storm: 1-12

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