Thursday night: Brisbane v Canterbury, Lang Park
Last time Brisbane played at Lang Park, they lost heavily to Melbourne. Expect the Broncos to redeem themselves against Canterbury, who were lucky to beat Newcastle and are struggling to stay in finals contention.
BRISBANE BY 16
Friday night: Sydney Roosters v Newcastle, SFS
This will be a big win for the Roosters against poor old Newcastle. The Knights – again – were competitive against Brisbane but couldn’t close it out. A win is vital for the Roosters to stay in second spot, with Manly, Brisbane, Cronulla and North Qld at their heels.
SYDNEY ROOSTERS BY 20
Friday night: Cronulla v Souths, Shark Park
Betraying their nickname, the Sharks were awful in the wet against the Gold Coast and will be grateful to return home in friendlier conditions. Souths’ season is practically over, though they could provide nuisance value between now and September. For now, Cronulla have too much to play for, needing to stay with the top four.
CRONULLA BY 14
Saturday afternoon: Penrith v Gold Coast, Penrith Park
A encouraging win in New Zealand seems to put Penrith back in top eight contention. The Titans did well against Cronulla but Penrith should exploit their home ground advantage, especially if Nathan Cleary fires again.
PENRITH BY EIGHT
Saturday night: Canberra v Melbourne, Bruce Stadium
Canberra had a crucial win against the Dragons last Friday night, but Melbourne – rested after the bye and with their Origin stars back – should be too good, even in chilly Canberra. A win will cement the Storm’s minor premiership hopes and they have a decent record at Bruce Stadium. Canberra will push them all the way though.
MELBOURNE BY 10
Saturday night: North QLD v NZ Warriors, Townsville
North Queensland are humming along nicely without JT and face a Warriors team who seem to keep on stumbling. Without Shaun Johnson, the Warriors don’t have a hope of getting close to the Cowboys. Should be a nice percentage booster for the locals.
NORTH QUEENSLAND BY 40
Sunday afternoon: St. George-Illawarra v Manly, WIN Stadium
This could be the closest game of the round. The Dragons were unlucky in Canberra while Manly had to come from behind against Wests Tigers. The Dragons’ home ground advantage could be enough in this one (they beat Manly 35-10 earlier this season). A Golden Point thriller wouldn’t surprise.
ST. GEORGE-ILLAWARRA BY TWO
Sunday afternoon: Wests v Parramatta, Homebush
Coming off the bye, Parramatta can continue their rise up the eight against the Wests Tigers. The Tigers are second last and should probably start booking their September holidays. If Wests turn up, they could make life tricky for Parramatta but the Eels have too much to play for.
PARRAMATTA BY 12