With the dead-rubber State Of Origin Game 3 taking place in Queensland next Wednesday where the Maroons will be fighting for a pride win, Round 17 of the 2014 NRL Telstra Premiership is another shortened affair with just five matches taking place.
Upset Round 17 Tip: Wests Tigers ($3.35) to upset Penrith at Ladbrokes.com.au in the battle of the big cats on Sunday
Heading towards the do-or-die time of the season for teams sitting outside that Top 8 with just nine weeks left after this Round before we move into footy finals time, these are the games that really count.
Teams with a bye this week and who they play next are: Parramatta Eels (v Warriors), Brisbane Broncos (v Penrith Panthers), New Zealand Warriors (v Eels), Melbourne Storm (v Bulldogs), Newcastle Knights (v Sharks), Canberra Raiders (v Titans).
The rest face off this weekend, many with depleted outfits thanks to the Origin camps being back in work, starting with just the one game in Sydney for Friday night football.
Friday July 4, 2014
Canterbury Bulldogs ($3.50) v Manly Sea Eagles ($1.30)
ANZ Stadium (7:45pm)
It’s a big top-of-the-table clash to start Round 17 with last year’s Grand Final runner-ups the Sea Eagles sitting No. 1 on the ladder with 24 points and keen to stay there when they play the third ranked Canterbury Bulldogs.
Manly, who play without Queensland rep Daly Cherry-Evans and the suspended Anthony Watmough, are clear favourites as they shoot for their fourth on the trot after their 24 – 6 win over the Roosters last Friday night.
The Bulldogs meanwhile come off a bye but play without a host of top Origin players including Josh Morris and their star halves combo of Josh Reynolds and Trent Hodkinson.
The Sea Eagles rolled the Doggies a month ago when these two last played in an upset and will do it as the favourites this time with Canterbury to feel the hit of Origin more than their rivals.
- Tip: Manly to secure No. 1 with a 12 point win over the Bulldogs
Saturday July 5, 2014
St George Illawarra Dragons ($1.29) v North Queensland Cowboys ($3.65)
Jubilee Oval Kogarah (5:30pm)
The first of the two Saturday games sees the Dragons start shorties to beat the Cowboys who could be in real trouble here with the likes of James Tamou and of course skipper Johnathan Thurston.
Last week NQ held on to beat the Bunnies by two points up in Townsville, but whether they can win again interstate without JT is another story.
The Dragons are on a shorter turnaround having played last Monday night, but it was a confidence boosting win for them as they beat Melbourne 24 – 12.
They lose a couple to Origin too with the Blues duo of Josh Dugan and Trent Merrin but will handle it better than their visitors to make it three straight against the Cowboys.
The Cowboys simply don’t know how to win away from home, their last non-North Queensland victory being back in Round 25 last year so can’t see that changing.
- Tip: Dragons to beat a Thurston-less Cowboys outfit by 16 points
Sydney Roosters ($1.08) v Cronulla Sharks ($8)
Allianz Stadium (7:30pm)
The smart winning streak of last year’s Premiers came undone last week when the Roosters went down to Manly last Friday night, but they can bounce back here against the Wooden Spoon favourites.
Odds are right out to nearly double figures for Cronulla to win after the loss of Todd Carney, sacked by the club for his off-field behaviour through the week.
It’s a real shame too because it was 15 minutes of Carney brilliance that saw the Sharks win their first game in a long while when coming back from 22 – nil at half time to beat the Broncos in an embarrassing result for their hosts 24 – 22 in Brisbane last week.
Before that Cronulla hadn’t scored a single point in five weeks (three matches) and it could be back to that here without Carney for a bad start for their new coach.
The Chooks are missing three to Origin with Daniel Tupou, Boyd Cordner and Aidan Guerra, while Michael Jennings is also out with injury but should still do it easy.
- Tip: Roosters to leave the Sharks scoreless again with a 24 – 0 result
Sunday July 6, 2014
Wests Tigers ($3.35) v Penrith Panthers ($1.33)
Leichhardt Oval (3:00pm)
Sunday arvo footy takes place at Leichhardt with a home game for the Tigers who will start outsiders after their hit-and-miss season continued last week when they held on by one point to beat the Raiders.
Home ground advantage however counts for little here as the sixth-ranked Wests play Penrith who have worked their way to second on the ladder.
Panthers lost last week to an in-form Warriors outfit (30 – 20) at Mt Smart, but back in Australia they will be looking to atone.
Tigers also lose Aaron Woods and Robbie Farah to Origin while the rep game doesn’t affect Penrith’s line-up.
It’s going to be closer than the odds suggest is our guess however with the big cats to put on a real show, but even with missing players for the Tigers we’re tipping an upset over full-strength favouirtes.
- Tip: Tigers to score an upset 4 point win over the Panthers
Monday July 7, 2014
South Sydney Rabbitohs ($1.13) v Gold Coast Titans ($6)
(ANZ Stadium, 7:00pm)
Footy returns to ANZ to see out the round on Monday night then with the Rabbitohs, inside the Top 4, red hot favourites to beat the down-and-out Titans who are 13th and coming off seven straight losses.
The Gold Coast has all but said good-bye to semis football after yet another loss last time out in Round 15 to the Dragons.
They had a bye last week but really they’re in trouble not just here, but for the season, and playing South Sydney who will be fired up and ready to atone for their two-point loss to the Cowboys last week won’t help.
Still, the Rabbitohs could be vulnerable coming off a loss and playing with Greg Inglis and Ben Te’o.
The Titans though also lose a couple to Origin duties with Nate Myles and Dave Taylor in the Maroons camp, and Greg Bird playing for the Blues and will struggle.
- Tip: Bunnies to bounce back with a 12 point win.
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