View UniBet’s preview of Round 17 of the 2016 NRL home and away season below.
Roosters v Bulldogs | Thursday, June 30, 7.50pm (AEDT), Allianz Stadium
Roosters prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves is refusing to write-off the season despite the club’s need to win virtually all of their remaining matches to make the playoffs.
The Chooks should be freshened by the bye and field arguably their strongest side of the season aided by the return of Mitchell Pearce and Dylan Napa, while both Blake Ferguson and Aidan Guerra have had the chance to recuperate from Origin.
The Dogs had a strong win over Brisbane but were perhaps flattered by the final margin with the Broncos tiring noticeably in the final 20 minutes.
Sniffing an upset here and think the Roosters have been priced on ladder position and not personnel.
Last time they met: Rd 11, – Bulldogs 32-20 Roosters
Unibet Odds: Roosters $2.55 Bulldogs $1.53
Line tip: Roosters +5.5
Brisbane v Melbourne | Friday, July 1, 7.50pm (AEDT), Suncorp Stadium
Brisbane have now lost five of their past seven matches but are still well placed to have an impact on this competition.
Anthony Milford’s form has mirrored that of his side and the enigmatic playmaker has admitted to a loss of confidence in his abilities over the past couple of months.
Andrew McCullough is a huge inclusion at hooker with Wayne Bennett forced to resort to some stop-gap measures in that key role in recent weeks.
Melbourne produced a real Jekyll and Hyde performance against the Tigers, surging to a 26-0 lead before surviving a huge scare after the break.
Likewise, Craig Bellamy would have been less than impressed with their drop in intensity so expect a tight game here with points at a premium.
Last time they met: Rd 26, 2015 – Brisbane 8-15 Melbourne
Unibet Odds: Brisbane $1.64 Melbourne $2.30
Line tip: Brisbane -3.5
New Zealand Warriors v Gold Coast | Saturday, July 2, 3pm (AEDT), Mt Smart Stadium
The Warriors went closer than anyone to knocking off the Sharks on their own patch this season and while the decision was surely correct, they had cause to be disappointed by the Jayson Bukuya penalty try call when similar offences have escaped enforcement.
With Thomas Leuluai forming a decent combination with Shaun Johnson (pictured above), the release ofJeff Robson, a strange signing to begin with, came as no real surprise with the ex-Cronulla man returning to Sydney on compassionate grounds.
A member of the Titans inaugural team back in 2007, hooker Nathan Friend has played in excess of 100 games for the club either side of a spell in Auckland and this week announced this will be his last year in the NRL.
Halfback Ashley Taylor has been named to play but is battling a groin injury and the mail from up north is that Cameron Cullen will take his place.
Last time they met: Rd 15, 2015 – Gold Coast 14-36 NZ Warriors
Unibet Odds: New Zealand Warriors $1.36 Gold Coast $3.25
Tip: New Zealand Warriors
Line tip: New Zealand Warriors -8.5
Wests Tigers v Penrith | Saturday, July 2, 5.30pm (AEDT), ANZ Stadium
An interesting sub-plot to this match is the battle between the fullbacks with James Tedesco and Matt Moylan set to go head-to-head for the Blues no.1 jersey.
Having back flipped on a deal to join Canberra as of last year, Tedesco was this week the subject of reports that he will be offered a million-dollar plus contract upgrade designed to make him a Tiger for life.
Continuing the trend of Englishmen trying their luck in the NRL (something that may increase post-Brexit?) former Man of Steel Zak Hardaker arrived at the foot of the mountains this week.
He’s no certainty to play on Saturday but nevertheless viewed as the club’s long-term solution at left centre.
Should be an entertaining game with Bryce Cartwright looming as a match winner.
Last time they met: Rd 16, 2015 – Wests Tigers 12-35 Penrith
Unibet Odds: Wests Tigers $2.35 Penrith $1.62
Line tip: Penrith -3.5
Cronulla v Parramatta | Saturday, July 2, 7.30pm (AEDT), Southern Cross Group Stadium
Key figures around the Cronulla club have downplayed their winning streak but they deserve great credit for their continued resolve in tight situations in an era of equalisation.
What else can go wrong at Parramatta? Semi Radradra failed to show at training on Wednesday as it was announced he now faces domestic violence allegations.
There’s a fair chance he has played his last game for the club with French rugby beckoning.
To top it off, star recruit Kieran Foran has been stripped of the captaincy after no-showing at several rehab sessions to work on his injured shoulder.
The Eels have proved remarkably resilient on-field but surely this is a bridge too far.
Last time they met: Rd 25, 2015 – Parramatta 28-35 Cronulla
Unibet Odds: Cronulla $1.27 Parramatta $3.85
Line tip: Parramatta +10.5
Canberra v Newcastle | Sunday, July 3, 2pm (AEDT), GIO Stadium
Canberra were good value for their win on the Gold Coast and with three consecutive fixtures in the capital in the middle of winter they can really set their sights on a top 4 finish.
Centre Joey Leilua didn’t really hide his thoughts on Raiders’ old boy Laurie Daley, suggesting the Blues had picked the wrong team for Origin. Not really politically-correct but surely he’s right!
Knights coach Nathan Brown refuses to buckle on his long-term vision for the club but with some tough matches ahead it’s hard to see where their next win is going to come from.
One of their few bright spots in 2016 was against this week’s opponents after they recovered from a 16-point deficit to force a draw in round 3.
An inferior points differential to clubs directly above them offers the Raiders genuine motivation to run up a cricket score.
Last time they met: Round 3 – Newcastle 24-24 Canberra
Unibet Odds: Canberra $1.06 Newcastle $10.00
Line tip: Canberra -24.5
South Sydney v North Queensland | Sunday, July 3, 4pm (AEDT), Barlow Park, Cairns
Souths had a real dig last week but their finals hopes all but evaporated with their loss to Penrith.
The Cowboys were given a fright by Manly but kept alive their unbeaten record in Townsville. Michael Morgan is a sizeable loss and it will take Johnathan Thurston some time to adjust to a new halves partner.
Noted for his speed when his NRL career launched, knee injuries have deprived Justin O’Neill of all his pace and he isn’t exactly going to qualify for the Olympic 100m dash based on consecutive failures to hunt downJames Maloney and Daly Cherry-Evans!
Hard to see Souths being up for this mentally and expecting a thumping win for the premiers.
Last time they met: Rd 7 – North Qld 44-18 Souths
Unibet Odds: Souths $3.30 North Qld $1.35
Tip: North Qld
Line tip: North Qld -8.5 (Best Bet)
Manly v St George-Illawarra | Monday, July 4, 7pm (AEDT), Brookvale Oval
The Eagles produced a committed display but ultimately had nothing to show for their trip to the tropics.
Brett Stewart has been on the wane for 18 months and with Tom Trbojevic ready to step into the custodian role on a permanent basis, he’s said to be in favour of joining his brother Glenn at French club Catalans as of next season.
The Dragons did enough to win in Newcastle and will quietly fancy their chances of knocking Manly off.
Benji Marshall was instrumental in the win but appears unlikely to be at the club beyond the end of this season.
Paul McGregor’s side will look to get to the front and tackle their way to victory.
Last time they met: Rd 4, 2015 – St George-Illawarra 12-4 Manly
Unibet Odds: Manly $1.62 St George-Illawarra $2.35
Tip: St George-Illawarra
Handicap: St George-Illawarra +3.5