Round 23 was a tricky round even for the best of tipsters. How will Round 24 end up? Here’s Matt Pritchard’s thoughts
Wests Tigers vs Manly Sea Eagles (Thurs 7:50pm, Campbelltown)
Last Five: Tigers 3 wins, Sea Eagles 2 wins
Wests Tigers fans hopes of the finals series hinge on two things. Firstly, a considerable win against Manly. Second, the Broncos or Warriors losing by a considerable margin. After Manly’s lack of effort against the Gold Coast Titans in the final forty, I can’t see the Sea Eagles bouncing back and winning this one. Especially given the worsening cloud over the club as the Trent Barrett coaching fiasco continues to be drawn out. Benji Marshall and Luke Brooks to have a field day exposing the Manly defence out wide.
PREDICTION: Wests Tigers 40 Manly Sea Eagles 24
New Zealand Warriors vs Penrith Panthers (Fri 8pm – NZ, 6pm – AEST, Mount Smart)
Last Five: Panthers 4 wins, Warriors 1 win
Both sides come into this clash in Auckland with losses. Penrith slumped to Newcastle with the key to their win, the containment of Viliame Kikau on the left hand side of the field. Can the Warriors tighten up their right side defence after a horrible loss at Panthers Stadium during Origin period? Kikau destroyed Peta Hiku as he became a turnstile in defence. Penrith might have gone back to the right balance with DWZ at fullback and Peachey to five-eighth. Shaun Johnson as ever, will be important to the Warriors success along with Isaac Luke and Adam Blair. Don’t discount the Panthers given the Warriors five from ten wins at home in 2018.
PREDICTION: Panthers 30 Warriors 28
North Queensland Cowboys vs Parramatta Eels (Fri 7:55pm, 1300 Smiles)
Last Five: Cowboys 3 wins, Eels 2 wins
It’s an emotional night coming up in Townsville as Johnathan Thurston plays one last time in front of what will be a packed 1300 Smiles on Friday night. North Queensland were competitive against Cronulla up until Josh Dugan’s try five minutes from time. A respectful last four weeks of the season for the Cowboys. Parramatta couldn’t get into the contest last week with the Storm too dominant despite losing Cam Smith early. Their only blemish in the last four weeks where they’ve played good footy. It’s hard to see the Eels winning considering the spotlight is on one of the GOAT’s.
PREDICTION: Cowboys 34 Eels 18