NRL Round Nine preview

Thursday night: Brisbane v Penrith, Lang Park
Based on current form, this should be an easy win for Brisbane. The Broncos have won three straight, banking important points before the Origin interruption.
With just two wins, Penrith have been arguably the most disappointing team.
It’s hard to see them turning it around in Brisbane, with the Broncos enjoying a 3-1 home record, the only loss by a point against North Qld.


Friday night: Souths v Manly, SFS
Souths and Manly had contrasting fortunes last week: the Rabbitohs lost (controversially) by a point to Brisbane, while Manly won by two in Canberra.
Manly will be buoyed by that win and will be keen to cement their spot in the eight against Souths, who welcome back Adam Reynolds.


Friday night: North Qld v Parramatta, Townsville 
After a confidence-boosting home win against Newcastle, more good news for North Qld: Johnathan Thurston is back.
While Parramatta are coming off a good win against Penrith, the Cowboys should extend their home record to 4-2.


Saturday afternoon: Gold Coast v Newcastle, Robina
Back in round two, Newcastle won their first game in forever, beating the Titans. Now the Titans have Hayne back and coming off a win against Cronulla, while Newcastle have lost six straight.
Once again, Newcastle will try hard, but the Titans should have them covered.


Saturday night: Canterbury v Canberra, Homebush
This could be one of the tightest games of the round.
Both teams are 4-4; a win will keep them in the eight, a loss will see them slip from the mid-table jam.
Canberra have played three away games – all in Queensland – for a big win and two close losses.
Canberra haven’t played at Homebush since July 2016 – when they belted Souths by 50 – and haven’t played in Sydney since September 2016. Canterbury have played their last two at Homebush for one win and one loss.
That familiarity could be enough for Canterbury.


Saturday night: Wests Tigers v Cronulla, Leichhardt Oval
No doubt Cronulla will be filthy after the surprise loss to the Gold Coast.
Wests’ season of drama took an upturn this week, with the win against Canterbury and Josh Reynolds’ signing.
Still, the Sharks will be desperate to get back into the top three, so the Tigers’ good news week may not last long.


Sunday afternoon: NZ Warriors v Sydney Roosters, Auckland
After losses in Canberra and Melbourne, the Warriors are back home, where they enjoy a 3-1 record.
The Roosters – who sit third with a 6-2 record – will be keen to ruin the Warriors’ return to Auckland.
The Warriors will be desperate, as another loss will see them slip further from finals contention.


Sunday afternoon: St. George-Illawarra v Melbourne
In an even competition, the Storm have been almost perfect, enjoying the outright premiership lead. The Dragons are one win behind in second place, though have lost Gareth Widdop for six weeks.
Melbourne have form in Sydney, with three wins from three games.
That should be enough for the Storm to extend their lead at the top.


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