With less than 48 hours left before the State of Origin teams are read out, this is the last audition for a few hopefuls to cement their place or get a call up.
It is sure to bring around some extra spice to the weekend’s matches. Let the games begin!
TITANS V SEA EAGLES
Saturday 20 May, 5:30pm at Cbus Super Stadium
How about them Titans aye? No other team commands more respect than this lot from the holiday strip. They’ve been falling like flies all season with more troops in the infirmary than the training paddock at times.
With all this happening they’ve remained competitive every week, astoundingly accounting for both of last year’s grand finalists and pushing the Broncos all the way to a last ditch 2 point loss in the past 4 months.
Jarryd Hayne and Konrad Hurrell are a monster centre pairing combining silky ball skills and raw, brute power who can turn games on the head at any time.
Their forwards are hardnosed and no nonsense, the likes of Jarrod Wallace, Chris McQueen and Joe Greenwood willing to run the ball into the thick of things all day and they’ll need to against an aggressive Manly pack.
Before their loss to the Broncos, the Eagles were riding a 2 game winning streak and had pushed into the top 8. Their seasons hit a snag with mercurial fullback Tom Trbojevic out for the next 8 weeks. He has been in outstanding form for the Eagles and his incisive runs will be missed.
Aside from that, the Eagles spine is still working beautifully with Blake Green, Daly Cherry Evans and Apisai Koroisau marshalling their troops around the field with great success.
Tip: Expect big games from Jarryd Hayne, Daly Cherry Evans, Apisai Koroisau, Nathan Peats, Jarrod Wallace, Ryan James and Jake Trbojovic. They’ve all had their names thrown around for Origin selection and a good game here would be timely reminder to selectors that they’re ready.
It’s too close to call but because of the loss Turbo Trbojovic and the fight the Titans have shown the past month I’m siding with the home team by 8.
EELS V RAIDERS
Saturday 20 May, 7:30pm at ANZ Stadium
Besides the Panthers and the Warriors, the Eels and Raiders have been disappointing. The men from the capital had many tipping to be premiers or atleast reach the final this year but after last week’s embarrassing loss to cellar dwellers, the Knights, this doesn’t seem too achievable at the moment. They still have the top 8 in their sights but they will need to start that ascent this weekend or the wheels on the green wagon might start falling off.
The Eels were coasting smoothly along before their last start loss to the Roosters, having one three on the trot. They may want to get their mojo back on Saturday night when they face a Raiders team smarting from three consecutive losses and searching for a way back into the top half of the table.
Tip: Parramatta welcome back excitement machine Bevan French, his inclusion moving makeshift custodian Clint Gutherson back to standoff. It is also assumed new recruit Mitchell Moses will be rushed in to cover for star half Corey Norman. This adds more attacking options to the Blue and Golds and should help release their potent mobile pack and danger men Semi Radradra and Michael Jennings.
For the Raiders, their potent backs have been stifled of late. Expect the right edge if “Leipana” to explode at ANZ stadium on Saturday night after Hooker Josh Hodgson and halves Aidan Sezer and Blake Austin promised earlier, quality ball to all their runners. Josh Papalii also makes a welcome return from suspension adding much needed defensive starch to their left edge.
The Green Machine have more to prove after last week’s loss to the last placed Knights. Raiders by 4.
– The 3rd Ref –