We are getting to the pointy end of the season with just 5 rounds to go following today’s matches. There is still plenty of footy to be played and the bottom half of the top eight is extremely tight, with teams as far down as 13th still a chance to scrape in. Tonight we’ve got the Bulldogs taking on the resurgent Titans while Cronulla take on a Manly side who are pushing for a top four spot.
Suncorp Stadium, Monday 6.00pm (AEST)
While showing some signs of improvement recently, the Dogs are still struggling to put it all together for 80 minutes. They looked in with a good chance of pulling off a big upset for the first 40 minutes against the Rabbitohs two weeks ago before fading late in the game, and then took 40 minutes to hit their stride last week against the Sharks. Their slow start cost them there after piling on some points in the 2nd half. It’s clear that Trent Barrett has his side trending in the right direction but their lack of experience and leadership has been clear when the matches get tight.
The Titans come into this after a confidence-boosting win over the Dragons with David Fifita starring while debutant halfback Toby Sexton didn’t look out of place at the top level. Obviously playing all their games up on the Gold Coast at the moment is a massive boost and they have looked dangerous in recent weeks. They sit just one win outside the top eight and will need to go on a decent run to close out the season if they’re any hope of sneaking into the finals.
This is a match the Titans are expected to win and I think they’ve just got a bit more to play for than the struggling Bulldogs.
Suncorp Stadium, Monday 8.05pm (AEST)
Cronulla will look to build on last week’s win over the Bulldogs which came at a much needed time for a side which has been plagued by inconsistency all season. The Sharks sit in that highly contested 8th position on the ladder with four or five sides hot on their tail. They played well last week, piling on 44 points against the Bulldogs but fell away late to let in three second half tries. They face a much tougher task here coming up against one of the hottest sides in the NRL, the Manly Sea Eagles.
Manly continue to look dangerous and have been tipped by many to be real dark horses to challenge for the premiership. They overcame a slow start against a stubborn Tigers side to record a big 44-24 victory. Tom Trbjoveic once again was a stand out while skipper Daly Cherry Evans continued his good form and finished the match with a couple of tries and a handful of try assists. Scoring points has been no issue for Des Hasler’s side and their backline looks as dangerous as any in the competition at the moment.
With the Sea Eagles going in search of a top four finish and the Sharks looking to hold onto their position within the eight, this match looks setup to be a tightly fought contest. I think Manly might just have too much firepower and come out on top in a high-scoring affair.
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