St George-Illawarra Dragons vs New Zealand Warriors (Sat 3pm, WIN)
Last Five: Dragons 3 wins, Warriors 2 wins
The second of this weekend’s blockbusters as we turn the corner towards the finals. Just like with the Knights and Tigers game, both sides were on the canvas last week with losses to the Roosters and Titans. The Warriors big loss to Titans most incredible given the half-time score and the way they defended in the middle after the break which was woeful. The return of Luke, Harris and Blair might solve that problem. St George-Illawarra didn’t handle the pressure as well as they did on ANZAC Day against the Roosters and were well beaten, maybe the scoreboard was kind. New Zealand Warriors are yet to win at WIN Stadium against the Dragons franchise in ten outings. That in itself doesn’t paint a good picture for how the afternoon will turn out.
PREDICTION: Dragons 30 Warriors 18
Parramatta Eels vs Gold Coast Titans (Sat 5:30pm, ANZ)
Last Five: Titans 3 wins, Eels 2 wins
This game appears to be a better match-up than the ladder suggests given the Titans big win over the Warriors on a Sunday afternoon at home, and Parramatta went close to knocking off the Rabbitohs. Despite winning just two of their last six, the Eels are improving and close losses to the Dragons and last week prove that. Mitch Moses needs to have a big game for the home side to get the points. The Titans have only won 4 from 12 at ANZ, their last coming on July 7 2014 when they beat the Rabbitohs 14-10. Their key players in Michael Gordon, Ashley Taylor, Jarrod Wallace and Jai Arrow have to step up for the Titans to be any chance.
PREDICTION: Eels 34 Titans 18
Sydney Roosters vs North Queensland Cowboys (Sat 7:35pm, Allianz)
Last Five: Roosters 3 wins, Cowboys 2 wins
This game is being touted as the last time Queensland legends Cooper Cronk and Johnathan Thurston will oppose each on the footy field. It’s also the first Saturday night game on free-to-air for 2018. After a slow start, North Queensland fired home thanks to JT and got the points against Newcastle. The Roosters on the other hand flew out of the blocks and were too good for the Red V. All eyes will be on Ryan Matterson to see how he fills Luke Keary’s boots, and this game provides an excellent test with an experienced Cowboys pack on paper. The NSW version of JT (Tedesco) and Cronk might just be too elusive for the out-of-form visitors.
PREDICTION: Roosters 40 Cowboys 14