Friday night: South Sydney v Gold Coast, Homebush
The second split round brings one of the most unappealing Friday night games for a while. Souths have won one game since round six while the Gold Coast had a big home loss to the Warriors last week. The Titans lose Jarryd Hayne, Nathan Peats and Jarrod Wallace to Origin, while Souths are unaffected. The Titans will be brave as always but Souths should squeeze home. Neutral fans should see if there’s anything decent on Netflix.
SOUTHS BY TWO
Saturday night: Melbourne v North QLD, AAMI Park
A perfect advertisement for stand-alone Origin games, Melbourne and North Qld lost a combined nine players for this one. What could have been a cracking clash has been robbed of all its pep. The Cowboys are unlucky; they just got Thurston back to tear apart Parramatta, only to lose him for another week. The Cowboys will give it a shake, but Melbourne should win this.
MELBOURNE BY 10
Saturday night: Cronulla v Wests Tigers, Shark Park
Chalk up another big win for the Sharkies, still in third place despite the close loss to Melbourne (which ended a four-game winning streak). Wests continue to be horrible, with a big loss to the Sydney Roosters last Sunday blowing out their differential to -164, even worse than Newcastle’s (-141). The Sharks have already beaten Wests once – 22-16 in round nine – and will sweep the Tigers on Saturday night.
CRONULLA BY 20
Sunday afternoon: Parramatta v St. George-Illawarra, Homebush
The Dragons were surprise losers last Monday against Canterbury, while Parramatta’s Darwin trip ended in a big loss to North Qld. The Dragons, still in the top four, will be desperate to stay there. Their desire for redemption will be enough against Parramatta.
ST. GEORGE-ILLAWARRA BY EIGHT
BONUS GAME: Canberra v The Bye, Bruce Stadium
In another Raiders nailbiter, two freakish Jordan Rapana tries push Canberra to a comfortable halftime lead, before the Raiders drop too much ball, push unnecessary passes and give away silly penalties as The Bye lead by two points with five minutes left. Fearing another close loss, Ricky Stuart squeezes into a jersey, puts on some boots and engineers the winning try with a brilliant 40/20 and some classic Sticky magic from the following set. Canberra fans cry with relief and nobody gets mad on the Raiders Facebook fan pages.