Friday night: Sydney Roosters v Souths, SFS
Another chapter of the traditional rivalry is asterixed by the Origin split round. The Roosters are missing Blake Ferguson, Dylan Napa and Mitchell Pearce which gives Souths a big sniff. If the Roosters lose this, Brisbane will take fourth spot with the bye points. Souths have their little fluffy bunny tails up after wins against Gold Coast and Penrith. In a normal weekend, the Roosters would win this comfortably, but Souths may have enough momentum for an upset.
SOUTHS BY FOUR
Saturday night: Penrith v Manly, Pepper Stadium
Who would have thought Manly would sit in third in July? Credit to the Sea Eagles, they’re rebounded wonderfully from a horrible start. Penrith also recovered from an awful start but seem to have regressed, sitting in ninth. The Sea Eagles came back against the Warriors in Perth last weekend while Penrith had a big loss to Souths. With Origin absences not a big factor, Manly should win this.
MANLY BY 12
Saturday night: Melbourne v Parramatta, AAMI Park
Punished for their Origin success, Melbourne have been forced to field a weak team against Parramatta. They’re missing Billy Slater, Cameron Smith, Cameron Munster, Cooper Cronk, Tim Glasby and Will Chambers. Luckily the Storm have a two-win buffer at the top (though second-placed Cronulla pick up two points for the bye) so a loss won’t affect their ladder position. The Storm will have to wear a loss, but they get the bye next weekend before resuming full-strength against a struggling Canberra. Parramatta’s win will solidify their top eight spot.
PARRAMATTA BY EIGHT
Sunday afternoon: Canterbury v Newcastle, Belmore
Canterbury go “Back to Belmore” for the second time this season. The timing is perfect as they host perennial punching bags Newcastle. The Dogs are missing Brett Morris, David Klemmer, Josh Jackson while Newcastle are without Dane Gagai. Canterbury put up a fight against Parramatta, so they should beat Newcastle comfortably, even with all their omissions.
CANTERBURY BY 20