There’s only three rounds to go and the stakes couldn’t be higher as the race for the top eight heats up. Here’s our best tips for round 24.
Rabbitohs v Warriors
The Rabbitohs are doing their best impression of the way they finished the 2016 season when they missed the finals but finished the year with four straight wins. Currently, Michael Maguire’s side are on a two game winning streak and will certainly fancy their chances of making it three this week when they face the horrendous Warriors at home.
The New Zealand-based outfit have put the cue in the rack and will likely not win another game in 2017. Shaun Johnson is still out, Kieran Foran has his mind on the Bulldogs and Issac Luke is a shadow of the player he once was.
Souths are in better form, more motivated and will likely put the hapless Warriors to the sword early.
Prediction: Rabbitohs -8.5 @ $1.90
Eels v Titans
Surprisingly, the surging Eels suffered a heavy loss to the bottom-placed Knights last week that has severely dented their top four aspirations. Luckily for the Blue and Golds, they get to make amends this week against a side that is free-fall and can’t stay out of the headlines for the wrong reasons.
The Titans coach Neil Henry will likely be relieved of his duties at the conclusion of Thursday night’s clash and don’t expect Gold Coast to send him out a winner. Aside from all the Jarryd Hayne/Henry turmoil, on the field, the Titans have been atrocious of late – conceding a whopping 96 points in their past two games.
Hayne will not lineup against his former side, which may or may not be a good thing. However, the Eels have too much to play for and too much firepower for the embattled Titans.
Prediction: Eels -12.5 @ $1.80
Raiders v Panthers
The Raiders are finally starting to play the kind of footy almost everyone expected of them at the start of the 2017 season. Unfortunately for Raiders fans, it might be too little too late but as long as there is hope Ricky Stuart’s side will likely keep fighting.
The Panthers haven’t been playing their best footy of late but at this stage of the year, winning is all that counts and that is exactly what they’re doing. Playmaker Nathan Cleary is spearheading the men from the foot of the mountains and the return of captain Matt Moylan from injury last week, sure was a welcome boost.
This clash will likely have a huge impact on the make up of the top eight and both sides will put everything on the line. However, the heartbreaking last minute loss Canberra suffered to the Panthers back in round 14 will be firmly at the front of the players’ minds and that will drive the home side.
Prediction: Raiders halftime/fulltime @ $2.20
Knights v Storm
The Knights are on a three-game winning streak and they’re playing an attractive brand of footy at the same time. Young guns Sione Mata’utia, Lachlan Fitzgibbon and Brock Lamb have really hit their straps and they no longer look like the competition easy beats.
As for the Storm, well, they’re on another level and look destined to lift the premiership come the first Sunday in October. Maroons star Will Chambers isn’t having his most productive try-scoring seasons but he has rarely put a foot wrong in defence and is enjoying another stellar campaign.
Despite the improved performance of the Knights in recent weeks, if the Storm’s big men get a roll on up the middle, Craig Bellamy’s dangerous backs could be in for a very big day. And Chambers will certainly get plenty opportunities to add to his six tries for the year.
Prediction: Chambers to score a try @ $2.25