This Friday night the Dragons cross the ditch Waikato way to take on the Warriors while the Tigers take a shorter trip over the state line to play Brisbane at Suncorp.
This is a must-win game for the Tigers after last week’s rout at the hands of South Sydney.
The Warriors are also in the same boat after last Saturday’s capitulation to the Panthers. The equation is simple for both teams; win now and get to get their respective seasons back on track.
WARRIORS V DRAGONS
Friday 19 May, 6:00pm at FMG Stadium Waikato
For as long as I remember there are two words that have been associated with the Auckland based franchise.
This was seen in all its glory last week when they blew a 22 point lead to the Panthers last Saturday.
This week they are without their “heart and soul” Simon Mannering, as well as nuggetty right centre Solomone Kata and winger, Manu Vatuvei.
If they are any chance of winning, Shaun Johnson, Isaac Luke and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck need to inject themselves into the game wholeheartedly for 80 minutes. Especially the scrum half who has gone missing aplenty this season.
If there was a bogey team for the Kiwis, it is defiantly the Red V. Since the Warriors inception they have won only 5 of 25 games between the two.
The Dragons also have their injury concerns with hard running, defensive right centre, Euan Aitkin, joining Josh Dugan and Gareth Widdop on the sidelines.
Should they win, it will come down to Josh McCrone better executing their 5th tackle options and the forward pack aiming up in defence and attack as they have done for the past 10 rounds.
Tip: It’s very hard to tip the Warriors at all. Besides standoff Kieran Foran practically willing his team over the line each week he’s had little help from the other three members of the vaunted “All Test Spine”.
The Dragons forward pack, especially Prop Paul Vaughn have been outstanding on both their wins and losses this season and I’ll be very surprised if the former Raider and Italian representative does not get picked for the Blues.
With a fit and firing forward pack and a practical, functioning backline I’ll tip the Dragons by 10.
BRONCOS V TIGERS
Friday 19 May, 7:50pm at Suncorp Stadium
If the warning bells, ahh no wait, the air raid sirens aren’t going full tilt at the Tigers shed they should be. If they thought last week’s 20 point shellacking at the hands of the Rabbitohs in “so-so” form was tough then they’ve got ‘another think coming’.
The Tigers have finally cut ties with Mitchell Moses who is now an Eel. They also welcome back captain Aaron Woods in a boost to the Leichhardt based side. Jack Littlejohn is the new halves partner for maligned number 7 Luke Brooks and though they’ve finally rid themselves of the Mitchell Moses drama, he was hands down the best playmaker at the club. Someone needs to step up quick smart.
The Broncos can really take this one by the scruff of the neck. The only change to the team that put the sword to Manly last week is the return of speed demon James “Jimmy the Jet” Roberts. They’re riding a 5 game winning streak and have found ways to win where lesser teams would have folded.
Five eighth Anthony Milford, backrower Matt Gillett and ever reliable Hooker Andrew McCullough have been exceptional recently and should carry that form into Friday night’s game.
Tip: A new halves paring, a misfiring attack and questionable defence are worrying signs for the Tigers. Add to that a rampant Broncos forward pack, the sublime Anthony Milford and the finishing finesse of James Roberts, Corey Oates and Co. in the backline and this could be a long night for the Joint venture.
The Broncos by 18.
– The 3rd Ref. –