After the brutal action of State of Origin Game 2 on Wednesday night that has ensured a thrilling Suncorp decider next month, this weekend the 2012 NRL Telstra Premiership continues with Round 15 lighting up stadiums around Australia.
There were injuries a plenty in the New South Wales Blues 16 – 12 win over Queensland in Origin II and these injuries are going to have an impact on the NRL Round 15 team lists and odds.
Our Upset Tip of the Week is the Sharks to beat the Warriors on Saturday night – back them now at bookmaker.com.au!
No game will this be more apparent than in tonight’s Queensland Derby up at Dairy Farmers with the North Queensland Cowboys hosting the Brisbane Broncos.
The Cowboys will back Johnathan Thurston up of course but the Broncs are depleted with Corey Parker out after a nasty leg cut from Wednesday night, captain Sam Thaiday still on the sidelines with a shoulder problem that saw him miss Origin, and big Petero Civoniceva and Justin Hodges to be rested.
The other Friday night feature is then the third-ranked Canterbury Bulldogs taking on a slipping St George Illawarra Dragons at WIN Stadium.
What else is on the cards for the fans in Round 15? The big one is of course on Monday night at Brookvale when the Manly Sea Eagles host the Melbourne Storm, the home team to start favourites in the markets.
The reigning premiers will be looking to move into a Top 4 position on the NRL ladder while the current premiership favourites will be forced to play without star fullback Billy Slater for at least a month after his Origin knee injury.
Meanwhile two teams have a Round 15 bye with the Newcastle Knights and Canberra Raiders having a week off.
Below the team at NRLleague.com.au take a good look at the full 2012 Round 15 draw providing our insider preview and footy tips to have you backing a winner at bookmaker.com.au this weekend.
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2012 NRL Telstra Premiership Round 15
Friday June 15, 2012 (7:35pm) – WIN Stadium
- St George Illawarra Dragons ($2.21) v Canterbury Bulldogs ($1.67)
Dragons fans have been some of the most frustrated in the NRL this year, their once supreme team struggling for a top eight finish this year currently sitting 10th on the ladder after suffering seven losses for the season so far.
They had a bye last week which was well needed after their Round 13 loss to the Sea Eagles, the red and white V’s having won just one of their past five games.
Bulldogs are definitely the deserved favourites here. They have snuck their way into a top three position on the ladder after beating the Rabbitohs (Round 13), Roosters (Round 12) and Sharks (Round 11). They’ll miss Josh Morris if he doesn’t back up from Origin, Morris having scored a hatrick to give the Bulldogs an easy 30 – 4 win over the Dragons when these two last met back in Round 2 at ANZ.
Still the Dogs have the definite advantage here even though it’s an away game for them having won four of their past five games played at Wollongong, and having suffered just two losses at WIN in the past two decades.Bulldogs by 8
Friday June 15, 2012 (7:35pm) – Dairy Farmers Stadium
- North Queensland Cowboys ($1.83) v Brisbane Broncos ($1.98)
This is a really important game for the second-ranked Brisbane who many are starting to tip as the team to beat in the competition this year.
They enjoyed a massive 40 – 22 win over the Roosters last week which came on the back of their 50 – 24 annihilation of the Knights in Round 13.
The Broncos however have a big injury and Origin resting list as mentioned above, so the remainder of the crew really need to step it up here if they are to beat the Cowboys at Dairy Farmers.
Still North Queensland fans won’t be going into this one with much more confidence. They did enjoy a bye last week but how the dynamic trio of JT, Tate and Scott recover from Origin is crucial.
Before the bye the Cowboys played in another Sunshine State derby going down in a shock loss to the Titans.
If they can’t beat the 11th team on the ladder beating the Broncos is going to be tough.Brisbane by 12
Saturday June 16, 2012 (5:30pm) – Toyota Stadium
- Cronulla Sharks ($2.25) v New Zealand Warriors ($1.65)
The Sharks are another team that once sat inside the top four and looked one of the most dangerous in the competition but after a couple of losses have dropped down to sixth spot.
Last week they enjoyed a confidence boosters defeating the Titans 22 – 12 but in Round 13 they lost 29 – 20 to the Eels which is saying something.
Carney had a blinder in Origin on Wednesday night and he has a few days to recover so should be there guns blazing on Saturday along with the always gallant Gallen, both sourly missed when they lost to the Gold Coast.
The Warriors occupy ninth spot on the ladder and have been typically hit and miss this season. Last week they beat the Panther 30 – 16, but the big cats didn’t put up much of a fight, before which they lost 22 – 12 to the Storm.
Expect a cracker clash with the Sharks looking to regain their surprise contenders’ status. With NZ on a short back-up and Gallen and Carney back in the pack it is hard to see the Sharks giving it away, but it’s going to be close.Sharks by 4
Saturday June 16, 2012 (7:30pm) – ANZ Stadium
- Parramatta Eels ($2.50) v South Sydney Rabbitohs ($1.53)
Ahh the Eels. They have won just two games this year but one of those was over the Sharks in Round 13 meaning anything can happen.
Parramatta might have preferred not to have had the bye last week in an attempt to keep the winning momentum going, but that’s the way the cards fell and they’ll probably fall off the wagon again here.
The Rabittohs also had a rest last week which they would have relished after a hard fought 23 – 18 loss to the Bulldogs the previous round.
The last time these two met Parra went down in a huge 56 – 6 loss at ANZ in Round 22 last year, and while they aren’t travelling well at all this year a big margin like that is unlikely this time.
Hayne or not the Eels are not impressing anyone this year and based on the consistency of the Souths the green and reds are the ones we are sticking with.Rabbitohs by 16
Sunday June 17, 2012 (2:00pm) – Skilled Park
- Gold Coast Titans ($1.52) v Penrith Panthers ($2.55)
The Gold Coast upset the Cowboys two back but it was back in the loser’s circle last week when they went down 22 – 12 to the Sharks at Toyota Stadium.
They get the home ground advantage here but it hasn’t counted for much this season.
Still they face one of the easiest teams to beat in the competition this year in Penrith.
The Panthers have been really weak and all but unbackable based on their poor form.
In Round 14 they went down 30 – 16 to NZ on the back of a bye, before which they scored one of the biggest upsets of 2012 so far when they got the better of Manly 22 – 4.
Gold Coast aren’t living up to their on-paper potential yet again but Penrith are crumbling hard and fast and should get beaten here even if Jennings comes back from Origin okay.Titans by 4
Sunday June 17, 2012 (3:00pm) – Leichardt Oval
- Wests Tigers ($1.38) v Sydney Roosters ($3.07)
The Roosters look to have their work cut out for them as a big sea of Tiger fans are set to turn out at Leichardt on Sunday arvo.
Sydney were sent off licking their wounds after a massive 40 – 22 loss to the Broncos last week which came on the back of a bye.
The round before (12) they faced another of the competition’s best in the Bulldogs going down 30 – 12 and they won’t have it any easier coming up against the fourth-ranked Tigers.
The Tigers had their fans screaming when they defeated a depleted Storm outfit in a tight 10 – 6 win last Friday night, they get a nice break, have no Origin losses, and were also impressive two back whipping the Raiders 40 – nil.
Wests go for their eighth on the trot and it is very unlikely that the Roosters will be the ones to bring it to an end.Wests by 22
Monday June 18, 2012 (7:00pm) – Brookvale Oval
- Manly Sea Eagles ($1.63) v Melbourne Storm ($2.28)
This is another of Round 15’s crucial clashes with the Storm out to prove they still deserve top spot on the ladder, and the Sea Eagles out to prove they shouldn’t be written off for back-to-back premiership wins just yet.
Sea Eagles, currently fifth, start favourites here as they fight for a Top 4 position.
They had a bye last week whereas the Storm suffered just their second loss of the season going down to the Tigers.
Before the break Manly beat the Dragons 20 – 8 (Round 13), but lost to one of the worst performers in Penrith 22 – 4 in Round 12, which was their only defeat from their past six games played.
It’s one of the great rivalries of the modern era, and Melbourne look in trouble.
There’s no Billy Slater for one after his knee injury from Origin.
Manly beat the Sea Eagles last time they met back in Round 25 in a bitter battle that will forever be remembered for the nasty brawl that broke out in the “battle of Brookvale”.
With a vocal Sea Eagles’ crowd, Slater’s sidelining and recent form the Storm are at the right price and are likely to be handed their third loss of the year here.Sea Eagles by 6
*All odds quoted are provided by bookmaker.com.au and subject to change