Titans vs Panthers (Sat 3pm, CBus)
Last Five: Panthers 3 wins, Titans 2 wins
A sensational week so far at Penrith. Anthony Griffin’s departure, followed by speculation about the club’s next move. Let’s not forget that Penrith could have been six losses from their last eight had it not been for miracle comebacks at Lottoland, and last week against the Raiders at home. Expect them to jump better out of the blocks this week under Cameron Ciraldo. Reagan Campbell-Gillard will be better for last week’s run. Gold Coast surrendered quite easily to the Eels last week, coming off a big win over the Warriors a week earlier. Ashley Taylor coming under criticism for his efforts at ANZ. The Titans worry will be Penrith’s big forward pack after not handling Parra’s big men last week.
PREDICTION: Panthers 30 Titans 22
Sea Eagles vs Bulldogs (Sat 5:30pm, McGrath Foundation Stadium)
Last Five: Bulldogs 4 wins, Sea Eagles 1 win
One of those interesting games with no bearing on the finals, given both sides knocked off top eight challengers last weekend. Manly learnt a lot from their loss to Penrith and matched the Sharks in attack, which is not easy to do considering Val Holmes has been on fire lately. Canterbury have gone back-to-back, something they hadn’t managed to do all year until the past fortnight. Interestingly enough the Bulldogs have won 9 of 15 since 2000 at Lottoland but failed miserably last year. With both sides evenly matched, the home ground advantage might be enough to get the Eagles home.
PREDICTION: Sea Eagles 28 Bulldogs 24
Eels vs Dragons (Sat 7:35pm, ANZ)
Last Five: Eels 4 wins, Dragons 1 win
Who would have thought this game would have so much bearing on the make-up of the top four? St George-Illawarra Dragons have flat-lined since round 11. Their four wins in nine matches have come from sides sitting outside the top 8 (Bulldogs, Manly, Parramatta and Cowboys). Parramatta can sniff blood in the air with their recent run, including their lead against South Sydney followed by last weekend’s victory over the Titans. The sting has gone out of the Dragons pack and a willing and somewhat inexperienced Eels forward line-up can muscle up. Realistically all remaining Dragons matches should be victories but this one might be the most likely to be an upset. Dragons have won one of their last 5 at ANZ.
PREDICTION: Eels 25 Dragons 18