We’ve finally found something he can’t do!
Indigenous Round continues, with a double-header at Suncorp Stadium featuring the Melbourne Storm, Gold Coast Titans, Manly Sea Eagles and Brisbane Broncos the main act.
Melbourne Storm versus Gold Coast Titans
Saturday, 13 May
Kick-off: 5:30pm at Suncorp Stadium
A crowd of well over 50,000 will be on hand at Suncorp Stadium for another edition of the Brisbane double-header, which has had such great success in the past. The Melbourne Storm once again feature, this time ‘hosting’ the Titans.
Both sides come into this fixture after gathering unwanted headlines during representative round, with New Zealand internationals Jesse Bromwich of the Storm and Kevin Proctor of the Titans stood down for two and four matches respectively.
The Storm welcome back another international player, Tohu Harris, off the bench, with Tim Glasby starting in place of Bromwich in the front row. Melbourne are also without Nelson Asofa-Solomona to a broken hand and Christian Welch to a season-ending ACL injury. This will certainly test their forward depth and gives the Titans a chance to exploit this newfound weakness.
The Gold Coast were beginning to gather momentum before the representative weekend, with two consecutive victories. They welcome Dale Copley off the bench into the strongest, most settled side Neil Henry has named all season – Proctor being the only exclusion from their best team.
This match will be closer than most would expect. The Titans will be able to attack the Storm line and score points with their fluid style, while the former’s defence has been much better in the past fortnight.
Still, Melbourne’s experienced spine should clinch them the two points at a ground where they enjoy playing.
Prediction: Melbourne by 4.
Manly Sea Eagles versus Brisbane Broncos
Saturday, 13 May
Kick-off: 7:30pm at Suncorp Stadium
The Sea Eagles were superb in their last start, crushing the Rabbitohs. The Broncos also held their foot to the throats of their opponents in their dominating victory against the Panthers – the final scoreline flattered Penrith.
Manly make no changes from their last game. With James Roberts ruled out of this game, the Broncos will also go in unchanged, with Ben Hunt still missing and Kodi Nikorima playing halfback.
This has the potential to be the match of the round. The Sea Eagles have tended to fall short against better opposition this year, losses against the Dragons and Storm standing out. Brisbane are one of the better teams in the premiership and playing them on their own turf will not be easy – look for the Broncos to curtail Manly’s forward pack and more than match them in the backline.
If this match was at Brookvale I would be switching my prediction, but the Broncos will be too good at home.
Prediction: Brisbane by 8.
[latest_videos_strip category=”rugby-league” name=”League”]
Newcastle Knights versus Canberra Raiders
Sunday, 14 May
Kick-off: 2pm at McDonald Jones Stadium
Both sides come into this one after last-start losses from disappointing performances. The Raiders blew a halftime lead and were completely outplayed by the Dogs, while the Knights started their match against the Titans promisingly, before the wheels fell off in a 32-point loss.
For Newcastle, captain Trent Hodkinson is a chance to return, after being named 18th man, which would squeeze out current halfback Jaelen Feeney. For Canberra, Josh Papalii has been stood down for an off-field indiscretion relating to drink driving. Sia Soliola replaces him in the starting side, with Dunamis Lui joining the bench.
If the Raiders really wanted to, they could blow the Knights away in the first half, but Newcastle have been more than serviceable at home this season and the Raiders really haven’t flexed their muscle against an opponent for the full 80.
This game will follow a familiar pattern to most Newcastle games this year: they will hang in for the first half but fall away late.
Prediction: Canberra by 14.
Sydney Roosters versus Parramatta Eels
Sunday, 14 May
Kick-off: 4pm at Allianz Stadium
Controversy followed the Roosters across to New Zealand and back home from their last game until now. The Chooks lost at the death to a last-gasp Warriors penalty goal and Shaun Kenny-Dowall was embroiled in a cocaine scandal. They will need to put their disappointments and dramas aside for this clash.
The loss of Kenny-Dowall paves the way for the return of Latrell Mitchell at centre in an otherwise unchanged line-up.
For the Eels, Bevan French is close to a return and has been named in the reserves. Should he be fit, Clint Gutherson would move to five-eighth and Will Smith would drop out of the side.
Parra have steadied themselves after a four-game run of losses and are looking to conjure a four-game winning streak now.
The Roosters have a powerful side capable of matching it with any team in the league, but they have played patchy this season. They were lethargic against the Warriors for the first half, then turned it on for 25 minutes and looked to have the game in hand. They can play in second gear, flick the switch and win a game, but I don’t know how effective that ploy will be against the better sides down the stretch.
In an upset and off the back off a Corey Norman masterclass, the Eels will pinch this one. Gutherson has been exceptional at fullback and even if French doesn’t return, Smith remains serviceable in the halves
Prediction: Eels by 2.