Despite a range of teams enjoying the bye and some of the remaining teams missing key personnel due to State of Origin, Round 16 still tossed up some epic moments.
The North Queensland Cowboys nailed thrilling Golden Point match against the Penrith Panthers with Scott Drinkwater icing the game with a scintillating solo try after both sides, who were missing five Origin stars each, had landed last-gasp field goals.
The Sydney Roosters continue to struggle but showed grit and determination without their captain, James Tedesco, and took down the Knights in Newcastle.
And finally, despite suffering a heavy loss to the Storm, there would have been a few post-match bevvies to honour cult-hero Alex Twal’s first ever NRL try – after a staggering 116 first grade appearances. It really was a ‘where were you when…’ moment!
* Teams with the Bye in Round 17: Bulldogs, Sharks, Tigers
Round 17: Tips and SuperCoach Notes
St George Illawarra Dragons vs New Zealand Warriors
Friday 23rd June 8:00pm | WIN Stadium, Wollongong
Why the Dragons will win: Captain Ben Hunt has attracted all of the headlines this week and has been outspoken about the reasons for wanting out. Importantly, his position appears borne out of a frustration for Dragons’ management, rather than with players or coaching staff. As such, don’t be surprised to see the Hunt issue galvanise the team while many speculate that it will divide and distract.
Why the Warriors will win: Both teams are fresh off the bye, but the Warriors form against the Raiders in Canberra for Jarrod Croker’s emotional 300th game was inspirational. The Dragons have shown resilience, going close to defeating a Cleary-less Panthers in Round 14 and edging a severely depleted South Sydney side in Round 15, but where the Dragons are fighting for every win, the Warriors are back on a role and sitting pretty in sixth position.
Fansided tip: Warriors by 6
SuperCoach notes: At $660K, Ben Hunt is owned by just 2.8% yet has 3-round average of 76.3 and is the backbone of the Dragons. With Origin sealed for Queensland and Hunt potentially now auditioning for a new club, he might go on a tear. Luke Metcalf ($316K) is poised to increase in value by around $50K, named again in the 6 and averagine 53.3.
The Dolphins vs Parramatta Eels
Saturday 24th June 3:00pm | Sunshine Coast Stadium, Sunshine Coast
Why the Dolphins will win: Good news for the Dolphins with Sean O’Sullivan big chance at making his return to the halves this week. Jeremy Marshall-King is also poised for a return. Parramatta haven’t been tested for a while, knocking over two depleted sides in the past fortnight in the Sea Eagles and Bulldogs. Mitchell Moses will undoubtedly be fatigued after a deflating Origin loss in Brisbane leading into this one. Alternatively, the Dolphins will be well-rested after enjoying a last-round bye and will enjoy the home ground advantage in Queensland.
Why the Eels will win: The Eels are humming along, and back in the premiership conversation. Clint Gutherson has been in superb form, picking up the slack and taking the team with him. Daejarn Asi has been solid replacement for Dylan Brown, and Mitchell Moses is firey competitor – every game is a must-win for him. Shaun Lane threatens as a last minute inclusion which would be a massive lift for the blue and golds.
Fansided tip: Eels by 8
SuperCoach notes: Josh Kerr ($331K) plays his first match for the Dolphins after his mid-season switch from the Dragons, and he has PPM of 1.3. Wayne Bennett may need him for more than his usual average of around 25 minutes per game. A number of Eels are set for price increases after Round 17 for those looking for cash, including Brendan Hands, Makahesi Makatoa, Bryce Cartwright, Clint Gutherson and Mitchell Moses.
Penrith Panthers vs Newcastle Knights
Saturday 24th June 5:30pm | BlueBet Stadium, Penrith
Why the Panthers will win: The Panthers have still been a force to be reckoned with with Origin absences and while they await the return of captain Nathan Cleary. Meanwhile, the Knights had looked solid until they let a home match against a struggling Roosters outfit slip last round. Welcoming back 4-5 Origin stars and a home-ground advantage will be too much for Newcastle to overcome.
Why the Knights will win: After resting Greg Marzhew for disciplinary reasons, the booming winger returns this week and will bring attacking prowess to fatigued Penrith edge of Stephen Crichton and Brian To’o. Kalyn Ponga is back in sparkling form, once again in his favoured fullback position. The Knights haven’t won since the end of May, but showed that they aren’t far off the pace when they took the Broncos down to the wire in Round 15.
Fansided tip: Panthers by 10
SuperCoach notes: Kalyn Ponga continues his redemption run and is rising quickly in price. He has 3-round average of 88. Dominic Young is set to make some more cash and has been far more involved over the past several rounds and scoring a bunch of tries. The Lindsay Smith boat is getting further from the shore, but he’s still affordable at $391K with a PPM of 1.2 and easily passing the eye test.
Melbourne Storm vs Manly Sea Eagles
Saturday 24th June 7:35pm | AAMI Park, Melbourne
Why the Storm will win: Long-suffering Manly Sea Eagles fans will have been heartbroken to see Tom Trbojevic return to the NRL Casualty Ward after only three minutes of Origin game two. When fit, he’s one of the three best players in the game. He is a massive out for Manly and without him, the Storm will be too strong at home.
Why the Sea Eagles will win: Melbourne have half their spine returning from a grueling Origin campaign, and there’s a chance they could come out a little flat after a dizzying week. The Storm are in good form at the moment, but they have been one of the most hot/cold teams in the competition. Incredibly, they sit in equal second position but have offered fans little consistency to be excited about. Daly Cherry-Evans has shown that he is the best halfback at representative level.
Fansided tip: Storm by 14
SuperCoach notes: Tom Trbojevic has torn his pec and will likely miss the remainder of the season, and is thus definite sell. If Reuben Garrick doesn’t take Turbo’s fullback role, Kaeo Weekes ($259K) could be a decent pick up. William Warbrick is starting to come into his own in the wing position, boasting a 3-round average of 67.3. Last round he had a massive 1.7PPM and 136 NRLSC points. He could score a few tries against the Sea Eagles.
Brisbane Broncos vs Gold Coast Titans
Sunday 25th June 2:00pm | Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Why the Broncos will win: The Titans are in absolute disarray after dispatching with coach Justin Holbrook midway through the week despite sitting in equal eighth. Holbrook is shattered, and that has possibly transferred through to number of players in the squad. The Broncos sit at the top of the table and boast a number of Origin stars who will return to the NRL brimming with confidence.
Why the Titans will win: The Titans have needed the level-headed Kieran Foran this year, and when he has played, they have looked more resolute, mature team. The inclusion of AJ Brimson at fullback gives them plenty of strike and a counterbalance to Reece Walsh. An interim coach taking over could see a number of under-performing players sharpen up this week.
Fansided tip: Broncos by 12
SuperCoach notes: Tino Fa’asuamaleaui has been in beast-mode of late, with 3-round average of 101.3 and a 5-round average of 92.4. Alexander Brimson could be a POD replacement for Tom Trbojevic at $524K and owned by only 1% of Supercoaches. Brisbane has a suite of superstars on offer at reasonable mid $500K – $600K territory, but they’re a fairly balanced team and there isn’t any one player dominating NRLSC points. Haas, Carrigan and Walsh are the team’s top performers, with recent form averages in the low 70s.
South Sydney Rabbitohs vs North Queensland Cowboys
Sunday 25th June 4:05pm | Accor Stadium, Sydney
Why the Rabbitohs will win: South Sydney are a considerably better outfit when Cody Walker is fit, and he is welcomed back to the home side this week, in addition to Thomas Burgess who will provide starch. The Cowboys have been rocks and diamonds this year, and have no less than five returning Origin players who could well be fatigued. A chilly Sunday afternoon at Accor Stadium will not provide the Queenslanders with a welcoming atmosphere.
Why the Cowboys will win: On one hand, fatigue could affect returning rep players, but on the other hand, the Cowboys boast youth and exuberance and there is no doubt the Queensland Origin series victory will have filled them with pride, confidence and top shelf experience. The Rabbitohs were mid-season premiership favourites but have tossed up average performances against the Dragons (loss), Titans (unconvincing win), Raiders (loss) and Eels (loss) since their last solid win against the Tigers in Round 11.
Fansided tip: Cowboys by 2
SuperCoach notes: Scott Drinkwater is one of the Cowboys’ best and produced sensational solo try to take the Golden Point win over the Panthers last round. He has an immensely high ceiling but can also post a very quiet score every now and then, so be careful. Averaging 79.3 over the past 3 rounds, Damien Cook ($637K) will now turn all of his attention to a Souths premiership after a disappointing State of Origin campaign where his confidence will have taken a big hit.
Sydney Roosters vs Canberra Raiders
Sunday 25th June 6:15pm | Allianz Stadium, Sydney
Why the Roosters will win: Without setting the competition on fire, the Roosters got another close win and remain in touch with the top eight. They’re the sleeping giants of the competition. After seemingly fracturing his jaw last week, the diagnosis may have been inaccurate for Luke Keary and he is currently named to play this week and what will be huge boost for the tri-colours. The return of James Tedesco and Lindsay Collins (who will be on top of the world after a man-of-the-match performance in Queensland’s series win) will be confidence-building.
Why the Raiders will win: Fresh off the Round 16 bye, the Raiders hit the field for the first time after a disappointing effort in Jarrod Croker’s 300th NRL game. The Roosters still have an unconvincing partnership in the halves, and are arguably better team with Joseph Manu at fullback – he’s moved back to the centres to accommodate for the return of James Tedesco. The Roosters got the job done against the Knights last week, but will not have filled their fans with much confidence.
Fansided tip: Roosters by 4
SuperCoach notes: At just $361K, Jake Turpin has been a solid second-string hooker for the Roosters and offers a 3-round average of 54.7. He looks likely to play 80 minutes with no other hookers named on the bench.