Penrith Panthers vs Manly Sea Eagles (Saturday 3pm, Panthers Stadium)
Last Five Meetings: Penrith 4 wins, Manly 1 win
It’s unbelievable to think how far apart these two teams are on the ladder considering they both played finals footy last September. Manly may be starting to sort out their roster with the club parting with Jackson Hastings mid-season and rumours that Lloyd Perrett may move on to the Panthers following the departure of two players from their roster. The Panthers are six from seven at home (their loss to the Cowboys in Bathurst), unbeaten at Panthers Stadium since August 27, 2017. Manly’s only win on the road this year was the infamous Storm clash in Melbourne which featured Curtis Scott dismissal. It’s hard to see the Eagles winning with an opposing halves combination living the dream after winning the series for New South Wales. Good news for both sides with Viliame Kikau, Moses Leota and Dylan Walker return for their respective sides.
PRECITION: Panthers 34 Sea Eagles 10
Newcastle Knights vs Canterbury Bulldogs (Saturday 5:30pm, McDonald Jones)
Last Five Meetings: Bulldogs 5 wins, Knights 0 wins
This might be the toughest each-way game of the round. Another turbulent week at Belmore as the player off-load continues. A fortnight ago it was Moses Mbye to Wests Tigers, this week it was Aaron Woods to Cronulla. It appears back-ended player deals are set to put the club back two to three years which is not good for hard-working Dean Pay, rookie coach and all trying his best to return the Bulldogs to being a family club.
Maybe adversity may bring the best out in them. Newcastle are looking to put back-to-back losses behind them against the Sydney Roosters and Melbourne Storm. A weaker opponent and the form of Kalyn Ponga following his Origin debut last week gives the club hope. What isn’t so good is the Knights home record winning two of seven at McDonald Jones this year, making this game so difficult to predict.
PRECITION: Bulldogs 18 Knights 16
Brisbane Broncos vs Canberra Raiders (Saturday 7:30pm, Suncorp)
Last Five Meetings: Broncos 5 wins, Raiders 0 wins
It’s a rare Saturday night game at Suncorp Stadium with both sides last start winners. It’s fair to say that Josh Hodgson’s return inspired the Raiders to a superb second half victory over the Wests Tigers at Campbelltown a fortnight ago. While on the other side it was Corey Oates’ spectacular dive in the corner which got the Broncos home against Cronulla in Sydney.
If this is to be a tight affair, you have to look at the Raiders inability to close out matches. This is demonstrated in the loss to Penrith and the Dragons in the last month. However, if Canberra were able to win for the first time at Suncorp since September 3 2010 it would bridge the gap between eight and ninth. A loss could be curtains, three wins outside the top eight with nine games to play. With more to play for, could the Raiders do the unthinkable?
PRECITION: Broncos 22 Raiders 18