It’s the penultimate round of the NRL and the stakes couldn’t be higher in the race for the top eight. Here’s our best picks for Round 25.
Tigers v Cowboys
It has been an extremely disappointing 2017 season for the Tigers but the past month has well and truly proven there is light at the end of the tunnel with Ivan Cleary at the helm of the joint venture. Wests have won three of their past four matches and could consider themselves unlucky not to have held on against the Roosters last week.
As for the Cowboys, it looks like the wheels have fallen off. The injury depleted outfit have been brave for most of the season but four straight defeats have them on the verge of dropping out of the top eight.
This match is quite simply a clash between a club in form and one that is struggling to perform. And the fact that this is at Leichhardt is all the more reason to back the home side.
Prediction: Tigers @ $1.92
Sharks v Roosters
The Sharks bounced back from an extremely disappointing two weeks with a big win over the Cowboys up north. The premiers haven’t set the world on fire the past month but there is an inevitable feeling that they are building towards something yet again.
The Roosters are considered by many as the one side who can challenge Melbourne for the title but they look far from the Storm at the moment. The Tricolours struggled, against the Tigers last week, lost to the Storm and were pummelled by the Sea Eagles prior to that. On the positive end, the Roosters do have trio Michael Gordon, Jake Friend and Boyd Cordner back fit and healthy.
This clash has huge ramifications in the race for the top four and the Sharks come against an opponent who they have absolutely owned of late. Shane Flanagan’s side have beaten the Roosters the past six times they have faced them and we’re confident they’ll make it seven on Sunday at Southern Cross Radiology Stadium.
Prediction: Sharks @ $1.78
Panthers v Dragons
The Panthers have somehow turned their season around, winning seven straight and now have the chance to lock down an all-important top four finish.
Seven straight wins in this league is no small feat but it’s fair to say that they haven’t played their best football during this run. The men from the foot of the mountains snared victory against the desperate Raiders last week and they face another desperate side in the Dragons on Sunday.
The Red V have been stuttering for the best part of two months but with two rounds to play, Paul McGregor’s side still control their own destiny. The Dragons possess one of the toughest packs in the competition and back in round one, they steamrolled the Panthers and will look to do the same in this one. Penrith captain Matt Moylan won’t play due to injury and that is one hell of a loss.
Prediction: Dragons +5.5 @$1.90
Raiders v Knights
The Raiders’ loss to the Panthers last week all but ended their finals hopes but, they’re still a mathematical chance and you could believe they’ll keep fighting until the end.
The Knights saw their impressive three-game winning streak come to a sudden end with a heavy loss to the Knights. However, Nathan Brown’s side are playing some really attractive footy at the moment and will come to play in the nation’s capital.
Canberra will look to control this one from the outset with their big pack and that should create plenty of attacking chances for big Joey Leilua plenty to add to his 10 tries for the season.
Prediction: Leilua to score anytime @ $2.00