CANBERRA V MANLY Friday night, GIO Stadium

The Raiders will be aiming for a hat-trick of wins for the first time this season when they host Manly in Friday Night Football. Canberra has proven to be somewhat of a surprise packet this season but just when it looks as though they are going to go on a run, they drop a few games they're expected to win. They head into this one off the back of beating the Warriors and Raiders but will have to overcome an enormous hoodoo if they are to knock off the visitors.

Manly has had the wood on the Green Machine in recent years, winning 13 of the last 16 clashes between the sides. Travelling to GIO Stadium won't be a deterrent either if you fancy taking the juicy price for them - they've won their last five at the venue! The Sea Eagles will be desperate to get back into the winners circle having dropped three straight matches, however, they have been against premiership heavyweights North Queensland, Brisbane and Cronulla.

One of the positives for Trent Barrett's side is that they've been competitive for the most of those performances. They go into this game fresh off the bye last week.

HAPPY TRAILS
There is a case to make for the Sea Eagles going on the above, however, it's gets a little stronger when you look at their road form in 2016. Three of their four wins this season have come away and when you go back even further they've won seven of their past nine. Their two losses away from Brookvale have been to Cronulla and Wests Tigers while their loss to Brisbane was effectively an away game, as they took their 'home' game to Suncorp Stadium.

GO FOR VALUE
Canberra could be starting to hit their straps but we are happy to risk them for this one. Manly are a better team than what they've shown and we can argue they probably should've beaten the Sharks last start in Cronulla. Go for a Manly win ($2.80 Bet365) to hopefully kick off the round with some value.

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Manly - 1pt @ 2.80

NEW ZEALAND V BRISBANE Saturday, Mt Smart Stadium

Logic says Brisbane will win this one against the Warriors on Saturday afternoon. Their record against the Kiwis is formidable with just five losses in their last 20 games. They are also on their longest winning streak (three) against the Warriors since 2000.

One of the main stumbling blocks they could encounter though is Mt Smart Stadium which is a venue that has brought the Broncos undone 75 percent of the time they've played there in their last 15 games. Another issue they will have to contend with is a number of their players backing up from State Of Origin. After Origin the last thing those players will want to see is a menacing Warriors forward pack!

TRAVEL SICKNESS
Brisbane has lost four matches this season and three of those have been on the road. One of the impressive things is the fact their average losing margin is a measly 1.25 points! They head into this one off back-to-back losses including a shock defeat to the Tigers (19-18) at Suncorp last week. It must be remembered that they were missing a number of their Origin stars for that one.

HARD TO BEAT
If we have learnt anything about the Broncos is that they are ultra competitive and hard to beat. Even in defeat their biggest loss this season has been by two points! For us that gives them the advantage over a Warriors side that has been so disappointing so far this season. New Zealand has just five wins from their last 20 games going back to last season and were thrashed by Canberra at this venue a fortnight ago. Although coach Andrew McFadden has rung in the changes, we don't think it will be enough to see them score the upset. Take the Broncos straight out here ($1.60 UNIBET).

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Broncos - 1pt @ 1.60

NORTH QUEENSLAND V NEWCASTLE Saturday night, 1300Smiles Stadium

The Knights face a formidable task against the Cowboys when they venture to 1300Smiles Stadium on Saturday night. Newcastle has the worst attacking and defensive stats in the entire competition and that doesn’t bode well considering the Cowboys have been near unbeatable at home for the last few seasons.

North Queensland has beaten visiting sides 31 out of the past 35 times in Townsville, however, one of those four losses was to the Knights in Round 2 of last year.

The Cowboys will have a few players backing up from Origin including captains Johnathan Thurston and Matt Scott, however, the team as a whole will be looking to bounce back from their defeat in Wollongong to the Dragons last week. Although depleted thanks to Origin, this Cowboys outfit has shown they don't like to lose no matter what the conditions.

North Queensland's four losses this season have come on the road while their average losing margin is just two points.

COMPETIVIVE STREAK
Newcastle have been the easy beats of the competition for much of 2016 but many will argue they were dudded in their Monday Night Football clash against the Eels. Going down by just two points, several calls went against them that could have easily changed the result. Although that performance was one of their best for the season the fact remains they have just three points from the opening 12 rounds.

BOYS VERSUS MEN
One of the other ominous signs for the Knights is that their worst losses have come against premiership heavyweights. They copped a 62-0 flogging at home against Cronulla a fortnight ago while they were held scoreless in a 53-0 romp against the Broncos earlier in the year. This could be another long night for Nathan Brown's men.

ANCHOR BET
The Cowboys do look good things and even if some of their Origin players don't back up, they showed enough against the Dragons last week to suggest they will be too good for Newcastle here. Cowboys 13+ ($1.53 bet365).
Cowboys 13+ - 1pt @ 1.53

MELBOURNE V PENRITH Saturday night, AAMI Park

Punters wanting to take the Storm should bet with caution in this one as two of their star players are likely to miss the clash. Melbourne could front up without Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk after coach Craig Bellamy failed to name them in his side earlier in the week.

Considering they had Origin commitments midweek and the form that the Storm has shown in recent times, the thinking could be that they could rest the duo and still be competitive in this one.

We urge you to check the team lists as close as possible to kick off for any late inclusions!

HOT FORM
Both sides are in decent form heading into this one with the home side looking for six straight wins. Melbourne have a strong record against the Panthers in recent times and have lost just once in the past 10 against them. For Penrith, they have been one of the hardest teams to beat in the competition and come into this off the back of three wins from their last four outings. Even in their six defeats so far in 2016, Penrith’s biggest losing margin is just eight points.

ORIGIN HANGOVER?
While the Storm could be without Smith and Cronk the Panthers have named their young Origin debutants, Matt Moylan and Josh Mansour to start.

How will they recover for this one just days after their first Origin outing? Only time will tell.

TOSS OF THE COIN
We believe this is a harder one to pick than most. If Smith and Cronk line up then we are definitely with the Storm, however, if they aren’t then take the price for the Panthers ($2.40 UNIBET) to score an upset.

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Panthers - 1pt @ 2.40

SYDNEY ROOSTERS V WESTS TIGERS Sunday afternoon, Allianz Stadium

The Roosters won’t get a better chance to get their season back on track than against the Tigers on Sunday afternoon. Winning just two games so far this season, the Minor Premiers of the last three years are in danger of missing the Finals altogether if they don’t pick up their act.

If they needed extra motivation then it seems as though they will find it against the Tigers who they’ve beaten in 10 of their last 11 clashes. Furthermore, the Tigers haven’t beaten the Roosters at Allianz Stadium in seven years!

All the ingredients from a statistical point of view are there for the chooks but they really need to put it together as a group. Fresh off a bye, they will have Boyd Cordner and Blake Ferguson backing up from Origin duties but otherwise they will be all rested and ready to go.

This Tigers outfit won’t roll over lightly though despite having a disappointing season so far themselves.

Jason Taylor’s outfit go into this off back-to-back wins for just the second time this season but what’s more impressive is the fact that they became the first team to beat the Broncos at Suncorp Stadium in 2016 (last week).

One of their biggest concerns could be the fitness of Origin players Robbie Farah and Aaron Woods.

NOW OR NEVER
We are reluctant to go with the Roosters with any real confidence but they are our picks here. This is based on their recent domination of the Tigers and pure desperation – if they are to get anything out of this season it needs to happen now. Roosters 1-12 ($3.10 William Hill).

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Roosters 1-12 - 1pt @ 3.10

SOUTHS SYDNEY V GOLD COAST Sunday afternoon, NIB Stadium

This will be the Bunnies’ annual ‘home’ fixture in the west as they face the Titans at NIB Stadium.

Taking a game to Western Australia has been commonplace for Souths in recent years and it’s turned out to be somewhat of a fortress for them. In seven games at the venue the Rabbitohs have won on five occasions, with the only teams to beat them over there being Brisbane (by eight points) and Melbourne (by six points). Souths are on a three-match winning streak at NIB having beaten the Warriors there every year since 2013.

Souths also seem to have snapped out of their funk by notching back-to-back wins against Stgeorge Illawarra and Parramatta, notching an average of 28 points in both victories.

Their record against the Gold Coast in recent years only cements our opinion about backing them to win this one. They have six wins in their last seven against them!

BIG IMPROVERS?
Gold Coast has won consecutive games for just the second time this season, both being huge upsets against the Roosters and Panthers respectively.

Their form has been patchy to say the least and on the road they only have two wins from five, however, one of those wins was in Round 11 against the Panthers.

Neil Henry’s side have actually been competitive in a number of away fixtures too so we wouldn’t totally ride them off here.

BUNNY HOPPING
Should Souths ($1.60 UNIBET) get Greg Inglis and Adam Reynolds back from Origin duties unscathed, then they should get the money. Combined with their imposing record in the west it may be a bridge too far for the Gold Coast.

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Rabbitohs - 1pt @ 1.60

CANTERBURY-BANKSTOWN V CRONULLA Monday, ANZ Stadium

We have to wait until Monday for the match of the round between the Bulldogs and the Sharks.

Cronulla are deserved ladder leaders, along with Melbourne, heading into this round and have got there by playing a smart but exciting brand of footy. There will be a few questions marks about them heading in this one, mainly their ability to beat the Bulldogs who have won 14 of the past 18 against them.

On top of that they have lost eight of the past nine at the venue so this will be a big test for the Sharkies.

Cronulla have won eight straight and are in cracking form. They the second best attacking team in the cop (27.3ppg) and are conceding a little over 15 points each week.

FLYING UNDER THE RADAR
Are Des Hasler’s Bulldogs flying under the radar or has the master of the mind games finally run out of tricks at Belmore? They haven’t been able to get a roll on all season but still have seven wins from their 12 games. Last week they were in it for a long way before going down 32-20 to the Raiders.

GOOD VIBRATIONS
The Dogs will get Will Hopoate back for this one along with Origin players Dave Klemmer, Josh Morris and Josh Jackson in a huge boost for their side. While ANZ Stadium isn’t any replacement for their spiritual home of Belmore, they’ve made it a fortress by winning eight of their last 10 there with the Eels the only side to beat them during that run.

FAST START
No matter what happens here we are expecting an extremely fast start from both sides.

Cronulla has scored the opening try in their last seven games while the Dogs have scored the first four-pointer in their last four matches.

CONTENDERS
Relying on James Maloney, Andrew Fifita and Paul Gallen to come through Origin unscathed, we are tipping the Sharks to win a close one here despite what the stats would suggest. We believe the Sharks ($1.90 UNIBET) are genuine premiership contenders and if they have hopes of lifting the NRL trophy for the first time then learning to win at ANZ Stadium is a must.

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Sharks - 1pt @ 1.90