Thursday night: Parramatta v Canterbury, Homebush
Fresh from the bye, Parramatta face a struggling Canterbury. The Eels can cement themselves in the eight while who knows which Bulldogs side will turn up. Parra are the safer bet.
PARRAMATTA BY 10
Friday night: Gold Coast v St. George-Illawarra, Robina
Both teams come off good wins last weekend, albiet against Wests Tigers and Newcastle. It may be a Titans home game, but the Dragons have far more to play for as a win will inch them closer to the top four. Hayne will look to inspire the Titans but the Dragons should have this covered.
ST. GEORGE-ILLAWARRA BY 16
Friday night: Brisbane v Melbourne, Lang Park
This time last year, Melbourne belted Brisbane by 40 points. While Friday night should be much closer, the Storm will be keen to avenge the surprise loss in Adelaide last Saturday while Brisbane left Canberra with a handy win. Melbourne’s brilliant Lang Park record – and the return of Smith, Cronk and Slater – will get Melbourne home.
MELBOURNE BY FOUR
Saturday afternoon: Sydney Roosters v Cronulla, Gosford
After Adelaide last week, the Roosters travel again – this time to Gosford. Cronulla should vastly improve after the Manly loss, while the Roosters can establish second spot. The Roosters should win a close one.
SYDNEY ROOSTERS BY TWO
Saturday afternoon (WA): Manly v NZ Warriors, Perth
Another journey to Perth, with Manly sacrificing a home game (though considering their poor Brooky record this season, it may not be a bad thing). After two straight wins, the Warriors face a huge trip across Australia. Expect Manly to exploit their jetlag.
MANLY BY 20
Saturday night: Canberra v North Qld, Bruce Stadium
Welcome to another episode of “how will Canberra stuff it up this week?”
Seriously, the Raiders inability to win close games derives more frustration from Canberra then hypocritical politicians.
Again, this is a must win for Canberra. If they can’t beat a JT-less Cowboys adjusting to a freezing Saturday night at Bruce, then start planning for 2018.
CANBERRA BY SIX
Sunday afternoon: Newcastle v Wests Tigers, Newcastle
Whoever has to promote this game deserves a raise, because they’d be better off calling it a draw and splitting the points. Newcastle have been brave but outclassed, Wests have been just awful. Still, the stoic Knights fans deserve another home win.
NEWCASTLE BY FOUR
Sunday afternoon: Souths v Penrith, Homebush
Expect Penrith to rebound hard after a last-minute loss in Townsville. The Panthers have a top eight spot on the line, while Souths are somewhere between the top eight and bottom four.
PENRITH BY 16