Friday, April 16, 2010

Laurie Daley's round six preview

Laurie Daley's round six preview

Fox Sports commentator Laurie Daley offers his thoughts and predictions for round six of the NRL premiership.

Wests Tigers v Canterbury-Bankstown, SFS, Friday 7.35pm (EST)
The Tigers have been very impressive this season in the way that they have moved the football around. The Bulldogs are down on troops but get Hickey back, which will give them a bit of size. Last time the Bulldogs had their backs against the wall they smashed the Roosters, so this is a danger game for the Tigers. I think we will see whether or not this Tigers team are a chance to contend for this year’s premiership, given their injury concerns. The Bulldogs will be stung by their performance the other night and with Todd Payton, Kieth Galloway and Tim Moltzen out for the Tigers, I think Canterbury will cause an upset.

Gold Coast Titans v St George Illawarra, Skilled Park, Friday 7.35pm (EST)
I would have to tip Gold Coast at home against the Dragons. They were very good against the Melbourne Storm, which is always a good confidence booster. The Dragons are weakened with injuries and the Titans would have taken a lot of confidence from winning without Scott Prince last week. Greg Bird really found a home in the six jersey and played his best game. Obviously they will have to stop the go-forward of the Dragons team and put pressure on the kicking game of Soward. I don’t think there will be much in it but the Titans will have confidence and against an under-strength Dragons I think they will get the cookies.

Newcastle Knights v North Queensland Cowboys, EnergyAustralia Stadium, Saturday 5.30pm (EST)
Newcastle Knights welcome back Kurt Gidley, which is a massive bonus for them. He adds so much to this footy team with his leadership, his ability to pop up all over the park and play the short side. I think he plays down short sides as well as anyone in the competition. The Cowboys are missing their three strongest options in attack in Thurston, Payne and Bowen – even though Bowen hasn’t played at all yet this season. Those three have been very effective for the Cowboys for such a long time and without them I just don’t know if they have got the points in them to really trouble the Newcastle side, which will also be strengthened by playing home.

Sydney Roosters v Canberra, SFS, Saturday 7.30pm (EST)
The Roosters are a very good footy team and always tough to beat at home, but I like that the Raiders were able to win under pressure last week. Usually I don’t tip the Raiders away from home but if they play like they did against the Eels and believe in themselves I think they can really test the Roosters. Obviously a lot will be made of Todd Carney playing against his old club and the Raiders will need to try and limit he and Mitchell Pearce’s impact. Pearce has been in sensational form this season, so applying pressure to his kicking and passing game will be important. The Raiders have got a big forward pack and will try and roll through the middle to give time for Terry Campese. It’s a good test for the Raiders to see if they can win consistently on the road rather than just occasionally. But I think they can get up here.

Warriors v Penrith, Mt Smart Stadium, Sunday miiday (EST)
I think Penrith can win here as long as Luke Walsh can control the play like he did last week with his kicking game. He has a tendency to get flustered sometimes under pressure so I would be pretty confident that the Warriors will try to unsettle him. Michael Jennings when he gets the ball looks fantastic but I think it is the forwards that will line up on the Warriors that will be the key. I think the fact that the Panthers have won two on the trot, including the victory coming from behind against Newcastle gives them the confidence to know they can win from any situation. Warriors were very impressive against the Bulldogs with Manu Vatuvei having plenty of impact in the first half but he isn’t there this week. There won’t be much in it but with the Panthers welcoming back a couple of key players I think they will get over the line.

Brisbane Broncos v Cronulla, Suncorp Stadium, Sunday 2pm (EST)
Brisbane welcome back some troops, in particular Folau and Yow Yeh, who will each give them plenty of strike, which is something they will need. They could also have Corey Parker back so they are slowly getting the nucleus of their team back. The Sharks are really struggling at the moment for form. Ricky Stuart said his team gave up against Manly, which is disappointing. As a result he will have them ready for a strong performance but I still don’t see where the points are coming from. They will be competitive and they will try hard but I just think the Lockyer, Wallace, Folau combination will mean the Broncos have too many points for the Sharks.

Parramatta v South Sydney, ANZ Stadium, Sunday 3pm (EST)

I think if the Eels are to challenge in this competition this is the game where they need to stand up. For any other reason it is Nathan Hindmarsh’s day where he gets to celebrate Brett Kenny’s record for most games for Parramatta. With everything he has done for the club, you would think the players will rise to the challenge and make it a day that he will remember. I think they may cause an upset. I couldn’t be more impressed with the Rabbitohs but I think this will be their toughest game so far, given their previous victories all came against teams that are struggling. The Eels are have only won one game as well but they will have plenty to play for. One thing is for sure we will find out a lot about where these two teams are at after this week but I am tipping the Eels.

Melbourne Storm v Manly, Etihad Stadium, Monday 7pm (EST)

This game sees two of the mentally stronger clubs in the competition come together but you never tip against Melbourne at home. Manly with the football have been awesome this year, they are playing more direct and giving their outside backs a bit more room to move than what they have done in the past. But Melbourne rebounding off the loss last week will be hard to beat, they have very rarely lost two games in a row over the last few years. I think it will be close and Manly will certainly give the Storm a run for their money, especially in the forwards. But they will need to contain Etihad Stadium specialist Billy Slater, which will be difficult so I am going to stick with the Storm.

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