Wayne Bennett has declared no-one can doubt South Sydney’s ability to beat the best in the NRL’s finals after their record-shattering 60-8 flogging of the Sydney Roosters.
Round 14 provides us fans with some great games, including an absolute blockbuster with a potential grand final preview between the Storm and the Roosters.
There are also some intriguing encounters, with the Eels taking on the Dragons, as well as the Knights doing battle with a depleted Manly side.
My chances of tipping the full round last week were dashed when the Warriors pulled off an incredible upset win and my Sharkies narrowly lost to a gritty Parramatta side, leaving me with a six out of eight Round 13 total.
So here are my tips and predictions for Round 14, including tipping a margin of either 12 or less or 13 or more. Good luck to everyone with your tipping!
Sydney Roosters versus Melbourne Storm
Roosters by 12 or less
The Roosters are still not playing in their best form but got the job done against the Dragons last week. The Storm get Ryan Papenhuyzen back but lose Cameron Munster, while Cameron Smith has failed to make a miracle return from injury. The Roosters would need to win in order to avoid losing their top-four spot. The Roosters in a tight one.
New Zealand Warriors versus Penrith Panthers
Panthers by 12 or less
As I mentioned earlier, the Warriors pulled off a huge upset against the struggling Sea Eagles, while the Panthers continue to prove themselves as genuine premiership contenders with a solid win against the Raiders last week. Panthers are also boosted by the return of Dylan Edwards. I believe the Warriors could provide a scare, but the Panthers will win this one to keep themselves at the top of the ladder.
Parramatta Eels versus St George Illawarra Dragons
Eels by 13 or more
Parramatta are still experiencing a slight midseason slump despite a narrow victory against the Sharks. On the other hand, St George improved but fell short against the reigning premiers. As the Eels are playing their first game in a while at Bankwest stadium, and with the possible return of Ryan Matterson, they will prove too strong for the Dragons.
Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks versus Gold Coast Titans
Sharks by 12 or less
I believe Cronulla were hard done by in their clash against the Eels last week, especially when considering they scored more tries than their opponent. Meanwhile, the Titans probably played their most impressive match of the season against the Cowboys and will be keen to achieve two wins in a row. However, the Sharks will want to bounce back strongly from their tough defeat last week and should take home the two points.
North Queensland Cowboys versus South Sydney Rabbitohs
Rabbitohs by 13 or more
The Bunnies produced an impressive performance against the Broncos last week, while the Cowboys suffered an embarrassing loss to the Titans. The Cowboys do, however, get some troops back for this clash, including Scott Drinkwater, but the Bunnies will have too much class and strike out wide for a struggling Cowboys outfit.
Canberra Raiders versus Brisbane Broncos
Raiders by 13 or more
Canberra were dominated by the Panthers last week, while the Broncos continue their horrid season with yet another poor loss. This week does not get any easier for the Broncos, with coach Anthony Seibold being absent due to quarantine and Tevita Pangai Junior suspended indefinitely for indiscretions effective immediately. The Raiders should be way too strong and will come away with a comfortable win.
Newcastle Knights versus Manly Warringah Sea Eagles
Knights by 13 or more
Newcastle enjoyed a strong victory last week, annihilating the Tigers in a superb performance, and will look to back up last week’s effort with some more consistency this week. Manly missed a great opportunity to move into the eight by surprisingly going down to the Warriors last week. With Manly’s recent form slump and injuries to key players, I find it difficult to tip Manly this week, especially with the Knights recent good form and clicking into gear.
Wests Tigers versus Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs
Bulldogs by 12 or less
This will be my only upset tip for this round. The Tigers were absolutely embarrassed by the Knights last week and the Bulldogs were also outclassed by the Storm. Coach Madge has been pushing hard but may have squeezed too much petrol out of the Tigers tank, resulting in their poor form of recent weeks. With no Harry Grant and inconsistent form of some of their key playmakers, I just can’t see the Tigers turning it around anytime soon. Bulldogs to win in a tight one.