The Cowboys have been heavily affected by Origin selections this season with Jeremiah Nanai, Reuben Cotter, Tom Dearden and Valentine Holmes all unavailable for the Queensladn derby against the Titans. The side were brought back to reality last week against the Panthers, being held to zero, but do have the services of Jason Taumalolo who returns from injury. The Titans, meanwhile, continue to disappoint, blowing a 20-point halftime lead against a depleted Brisbane to loss 35-24. The Cowboys have won 11 of their last 14 against the Titans, snapping a three-match losing run in the Queensland rivalry and I’m going to just back them straight out to kick us off for the weekend.
The Penrith Panthers appear to be a clear length ahead of the competition, comfortably taking care of the Storm, Roosters and Cowboys in recent rounds. Stars Nathan Cleary, Jarome Luai, Brian To’o, Isaah Yeo, Liam Martin and Stephen Crichton are all in Blues camp but still have the services of Dylan Edwards, James Fisher-Harris and Api Koroisau. Even with these big holes, the systems of the defending premiers wont change and against a Bulldogs side who look favourites to claim the wooden spoon I again a Penrith win is likely. In saying that I am going with the unders between two sides who may struggle to find continuity (Panthers) and a side averaging just 10 points per game (Bulldogs).
The Sea Eagles and Warriors face off as two struggling sides desperate for a win this round. TheSea Eagles have lost three on the trot and sit with only 5 wins for the season and risk losing touch with the top eight should they go down to the Warriors. The New Zealand franchise however are not faring much better winning just one of their last seven and seem to be losing a new player each week. The Sea Eagles won both games against the Warriors in 2021 and now get to face a side which has statistically the worst defence in the competition. Once again, I’m not reinventing the wheel but you can’t go wrong backing Manly to win on Saturday.
These sides have put together a rivalry over the back half of the last decade, owing to their perennial finals appearances and close out the weekend’s games in Canberra. The Raiders have turned their season around with big wins over the Sharks and Rabbitohs and despite a loss to the Eels last week, would not have lost many admirers. The Roosters have won three of their last four and six of their last eight against the Raiders and whilst they have lost several of their stars to Origin, a halves pairing of Walker and Keary is still enough for me to side with them on Sunday.
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