Round 20 of the 2015 NRL Premiership appears likely to produce some of the biggest score lines of the season, as several genuine threats face off with teams that look likely to miss the eight.
The Broncos host the Titans in a Queensland Derby on Friday night, while the Sea Eagles can keep their slim hopes alive if they can beat the Warriors in New Zealand on Saturday. The Bulldogs return to their spiritual home on Sunday afternoon while the Cowboys are faced with the Eels in Monday night football.
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Friday, July 24th
Brisbane Broncos vs Gold Coast Titans
Round 20 of the 2015 NRL season will officially begin in Brisbane on Friday night when the Broncos host the Titans in a Queensland Derby. Many expected the Broncos to take a season to fall back into the patterns of Wayne Bennett but that has certainly not been the case, as exciting young halves pairing Ben Hunt and Anthony Milford have led an impressive outfit to first overall. The Titans have contested almost an opposite season to their South-East Queensland big brothers; failing to make much of an impact whatsoever and languishing dangerously close to the bottom of the table in 15th. There is not a lot to be said about this match-up, other than the Broncos will probably win with complete ease.
- Tip: Brisbane Broncos 13+
Wests Tigers vs Sydney Roosters
Friday night’s other game will see Wests Tigers lock horns with Premiership favourites the Roosters at ANZ stadium. The Tigers remain without captain Robbie Farah for this match but are otherwise full strength; Woods, Brooks, Moses and Tedesco included. The Roosters are yet to fully hit their straps, however it seems now Origin has finished all sights are set on their second title in three years and the team will be full of confidence after delivering the Warriors a 24-0 thumping in Round 19. If the Roosters are genuine title contenders they’ll win this match with no issue whatsoever.
- Tip: Sydney Roosters 13+
Saturday, July 25th
New Zealand Warriors vs Manly Sea Eagles
Following their Round 19 loss at Brookvale to the Cowboys, the situation for the Sea Eagles is now black at white – win every game for any chance of making the finals. Unfortunately for the Northern Beaches faithful however, they are charged with overcoming the Warriors, away from home. New Zealand will do everything in their power to reverse their disappointing showing last weekend and welcome Glen Fisiiahi and Sam Lisone back into their squad, while the Sea Eagles could be without Daly Cherry-Evans. Manly are capable on their day, but just what mindset they will turn up with has been a mystery week in, week out.
- Tip: Manly by 1
South Sydney Rabbitohs vs Newcastle Knights
Souths have been unable to post much of a consistent or devastating run of form through their title defence so far, but give off the vibe they are building towards another successful finals campaign. The Knights won their first five but have since been without doubt the league’s worst team, and look almost certain to finish the calendar in last position. Isaac Luke comes back in for the Bunnies while the Knights look likely to field a similar team to that which delivered the Titans a 28 point defeat in Round 19. Souths at home will probably win, but this match could very well be decided within ten points.
- Tip: Souths 13+
Melbourne Storm vs St George Illawarra Dragons
Melbourne Storm currently offer insane value for money in NRL Grand Final markets following a lean six weeks, however their impressive 52-10 win over the Panthers last weekend proves they are more than up to the mark and well worth consideration. The Dragons worked hard to find themselves amongst the top four at the season’s halfway post but all form seems to have gone by the wayside recently and the side are now looking down the barrel of a seventh-consecutive loss. Expect the Dragons to put up something of a fight early, by the Storm in Melbourne will probably be too great a task.
- Tip: Melbourne Storm 13+
Sunday, July 26th
Penrith Panthers vs Canberra Raiders
In what has every chance of being the most well-contested match of Round 20, Penrith will be looking to reverse their fortunes following last weekend’s flogging against the inconsistent Raiders at Peppers Stadium. The Panthers welcome back Sika Manu and David Simmons while Canberra has confirmed Josh McCrone will partner buy of the season Blake Austin in the halves. These two teams remain tied on points and remain chances for top eight positions and this fixture could play a pivotal role in the success of both clubs. Canberra in a thriller are more than worth consideration if you’re have a punt.
- Tip: Raiders 1-6
Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs vs Cronulla Sharks
NRL footy returns to Belmore on Sunday afternoon as the Dogs do battle with the Sharks. Both sides have so-far amassed 22 competition points in 2015 but will look to find consistent form and cement a position in the top eight through the season’s final rounds. The Bulldogs are at full strength, wrecking balls David Klemmer, Aiden Tolman and James Graham inclusive, while Moses Mbye returns to the utility role. Anthony Tupou and Ben Barba return for the Sharks.
- Tip: Bulldogs by 10
Monday, July 27th
North Queensland Cowboys vs Parramatta Eels
The North Queensland Cowboys return to Townsville to host an Eels outfit who officially parted ways with Chris Sandow mid-week, and will be looking to respond to their critics. With James Tamou back into the fold for Round 20, the Cowboys are at full strength and are ready to mount their charge towards the minor premiership and beyond. Parramatta are still a mathematical chance of making the eight but probably won’t; beginning with a heavy loss this weekend.
- Tip: Cowboys 13+
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