A week is a long time in rugby league – the Bulldogs finally finding a way to score points and win after only having won 1 match in their previous 7 leading into their clash with Manly. On the other side, the Titans were well beaten by Parramatta and coach Neil Henry was subsequently shown the door on Monday.
The Titans will be without skipper Ryan James but welcome back Jarrod Wallace and the ever-controversial Jarryd Hayne from injury. As the assistant coaches take over for the remainder of the season, they’ve stuck with a similar side to previous weeks. They’ve conceded a minimum of 30 points over the last 3 weeks but beware the team in crisis.
The Bulldogs showed that they haven’t quite shut up shop in 2017 with Hasler getting one back over his old club. Their fans (myself included) will be wondering where last week’s performance was this entire season but will grudgingly be optimistic for this week’s clash. They’ve won 3 of their last 4 against the Titans and should put them away again this week. Bulldogs H2H @ 2.20
Storm v Rabbitohs
While the Rabbitohs will be looking to end their season on a positive note, this looks somewhat unlikely against a Storm side not short on confidence. It’s not the Melbourne way to just cruise into the finals and they will be looking to fire on all cylinders leading into the finals having the minorpremiership sewn up.
The Storm showed that they’re merciless even with a home qualifying final guaranteed, recording a 44-12 win over the in-form Knights. Brodie Croft scored 3 tries and 1 assist but makes way for Cooper Cronkwho was rested last week.
The Rabbitohs have strung together 3 consecutive wins and are really purring in attack, albeit against mid-to-lower positioned sides. They will fancy their chances here – the clashes with the Storm have been close contests over the last few years. While fullback Johnston is gone for the year, they welcome back Sam Burgess and Robert Jennings.
Not an easy game to pick here with contrasting history and form. Storm 1-12 @ 3.40
Sharks v Roosters
Both teams should provide no shock that they are in the top 4 and this clash seems like the perfect opportunity to send a message to the competition leading into the finals. The Sharks bounced back from a few disappointing losses to defeat the injury-ravaged Cowboys while the Roosters snuck over the line against the 15th-placed Tigers.
The Sharks pummelled their opposition the last time they met with a 44-12 victory up in Gosford. They look a very different side than they did in that fixture 2 months ago but did show some signs of it last week. Their forwards were particularly dominant that day and will be looking to replicate that performance.
The Roosters are a much-improved side since that fateful Saturday afternoon mentioned above and have skipper Boyd Cordner in their lineup who was missing the last time they met. The halves pairing of Mitchell Pearce and Luke Keary have produced more try assists than anyone in the competition and the Roosters have beaten most of the teams in the top 8.
Plenty of points in their last few clashes and while the Sharks haven’t lost to the Roosters since 2014, current form puts me off them for now.