Parramatta Eels v Penrith Panthers, Parramatta Stadium, Friday 7.30pm (EDT)
Poor old Eels fans... It looks like it will be another year of looking through the photo books from the 80's for them. 2012 promised so much; a clean out of the old guys, a flashy new halfback and a couple of fast (and big) outside backs which had them looking like they were destined for at least the top 8 this year. Now after only 3 weeks it looks like they are destined for the spoon. They face a Panthers side smarting from a flogging at the hands of the Rabbitohs and surely Mr. Gould, ahem I mean Mr. Cleary will have his mountain men up for this one. Tip: Panthers to take out the Western Sydney derby.
South Sydney Rabbitohs v Brisbane Broncos, NIB Stadium Perth, Friday 9.00pm (EDT)
Last year in Perth the heavens opened and didn't close for 80 minutes, allowing the Bunnies to swim and dive their way to victory. This year the Bunnies look even more formidable in attack with Greg Inglis lining up at fullback and a back row that looks like Tarzan, but plays like Jane (in an athletic and skilful sort of way). We know Souths like to throw it around (ask Penrith) but this week they run into a Broncos team that prides themselves in holding their line intact. Should be a belter and the battle between Hodges and Inglis (even if he is at fullback) is worth the price of admission alone. Tip: Broncos defence to hold firm.
Warriors v Gold Coast Titans, Mt Smart Stadium, Saturday 5.30pm (EDT)
This looks as one sided as the backyard battles with my younger brother when he still hadn't gone through his growth spurt. The Warriors were taken down by a red hot Bulldogs last week and even though they are still missing a lot of class and experience in the forwards (Luck, Rapira and Lillyman) they should have too many tricks in their bag for a Titans outfit that still isn't clicking. Expect big Feleti Mateo to turn Scott Prince into a human turnstile. Tip: Warriors to continue the Titans misery
St George Illawarra Dragons v Manly Sea Eagles, WIN Jubilee Oval, Saturday 7.30pm (EDT)
I think someone needs to have a quiet word to Tony Williams to explain to him just how strong he really is. We have become accustomed to seeing T-Rex bulldoze his opponents but on Monday night he showed us his mixed martial arts skills as well when he performed a perfectly executed (and perfectly illegal) 360 degree flip with Sharks hooker Isaac De Gois. The loss of Williams is a huge blow for Manly, already missing Glenn Stewart and Steve Matai, and if the Dragons can maintain the rage from last week they should be able to get the lollies. Tip: Dragons to edge the Sea Eagles out in a grind.
North Queensland Cowboys v Cronulla Sharks, Dairy Farmers, Saturday 9.30pm (EDT)
Cronulla's first 40 minutes against Manly on Monday night was outstanding, led by indefatigable captain and Super Coach favourite, Paul Gallen. But the short turnaround and parochial crowd at Dairy Farmers could count against the Sharkies this week. Not to mention, one Jonathan Thurston and giant youngster Jason Taumalolo who has been the focus of an eligibility tug of war between New Zealand and Queensland. Tip: Cowboys will be to good and too fresh for the Sharks this week.
Melbourne Storm v Sydney Roosters, AAMI Park, Sunday 2.00pm (EDT)
Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater + AAMI Park + a Roosters side lacking cohesion & grit = A big win for Melbourne. Not even Anthony Minnichello and his Houdini tricks will be able to save the Chooks from a defeat in this one. Tip: Melbourne will win in a canter.
Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs v Newcastle Knights, ANZ Stadium, Sunday 3.00pm (EDT)
It's not going to script for the Novocastrians... Yet. Things aren't always as they seem with Wayne Bennett and although his side seem to be struggling at the moment it might not be long before things fall into place and we see what the Knights are really capable of. Sadly, for Newcastle fans, it won't be this week. Des Hasler has the Bulldogs firing on all cylinders, with his big forwards laying the platform and Ben Barba wreaking havoc from the back. Look out for Darius Boyd to bounce back after a disappointing performance last week and take on a bigger role in attack. Tip: Bulldogs to stretch their unbeaten streak to 4.
Wests Tigers v Canberra Raiders, Campbelltown Stadium, Monday 7.00pm (EDT)
It was one of those weeks for the Raiders. Not only did they lose the game to the struggling Roosters but they also lost back row work horse Shaun Fensom and whiz kid fullback Josh Dugan to injury. Now they have to travel to Campbelltown to face a Wests Tigers team smarting from a whooping at the hands of the Dragons. The Tigers were the early favourites for the crown this year but after a few weeks of bumbled attack and leaky defence the punters have deserted them. But I expect them to fire up this week, even without Robbie Farah and finish over the top of the Raiders who will miss the support play of Dugan too much. Tip: Benji Marshall to produce something special and the Tigers to win.
Adam Schoenmaker is a high school chaplain in the northern suburbs of Brisbane for three days each week and serves two days a week in his local church. Adam loves a good book, a classic album and all Queensland sporting teams.
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