With only three weeks until the finals, The Newsroom previews round 23 of the National Rugby League.
Canterbury Bulldogs v Manly Sea Eagles
The Bulldogs will take on Manly tonight at ANZ Stadium with Canterbury aiming for a guaranteed top four spot. The Bulldogs had an ugly win last week holding off the last-placed Knights to win 28-14. If the Bulldogs win, coach Des Hasler will have won 200 games at premiership level. Manly were unlucky not to come away with a victory over Parramatta, going down 10-9. It is a do or die clash for Manly who still have a slim chance of making the finals. Kerrod Holland and Lloyd Perrett have been named on an extended bench for the Bulldogs while Manly welcome back skipper Jamie Lyon who will play at five-eighth. Dylan Walker will move back to centre while Lewis Brown will go back to the bench. Players to watch are the two fullbacks William Hopoate and Tom Trbojevic. Hopoate is a former Manly player and former Manly Cove junior and is expected to put in a big performance against his former club. Trbojevic is arguably Manly’s best player who can prove a handful and has filled the spot for the absent Brett Stewart brilliantly.
Wests Tigers v Gold Coast Titans
The Tigers and the Titans will battle at Campbelltown Stadium on Saturday afternoon at 3pm in an important game for both sides, who sit ninth and 10th respectively. The Tigers are riding high after defeating the North Queensland Cowboys at Leichhardt Oval last Sunday while the Titans went down to the Warriors in front of a packed crowd on the Gold Coast. Jarryd Hayne will start at five eighth for the Titans after making his long awaited return to Rugby League last week. The crowd at Campbelltown is expected to be a sell out. With the Tigers looking for a fourth consecutive win, coach Jason Taylor has left out Robbie Farah again. Players to watch are Tigers prop Aaron Woods and Titans prop Ryan James. Both players are powerful, have great leadership and can inspire a team with their defence and hit-ups.
St George Illawarra Dragons v Cronulla Sharks
The Dragons and the Sharks will play on Saturday night at 7:30pm at Jubilee Oval. The Dragons welcome back their star fullback Josh Dugan who sustained a broken jaw in Origin 3. The return of Dugan see’s Adam Quinlan ousted from the side and he is expected to line up for the Illawarra Cutters. The Dragons also welcome back Tyson Frizzle after serving a one week suspension for touching a referee. The Sharks lost to the Raiders convincingly last week which ended their amazing 15-game winning streak. Cronulla will look to get back in the winners circle as the Melbourne Storm are inching closer to claiming the minor premiership in a battle for first position. Michael Ennis and Ricky Leutele return for the sharks which will really help structure their attack. Players to watch are five-eighths Benji Marshall and James Maloney. Marshall is playing for a contract and is in a form slump. Maloney is a changed player and has become a leader for Cronulla, Maloney has a great kicking game and when he takes the line on he can prove a handful. – Jesse Mullens
Brisbane Broncos v Parramatta Eels, Suncorp Stadium, Friday, 7:50pm
New Zealand Warriors v South Sydney Rabbitohs, Mt Smart Stadium, Saturday, 5:30pm
Newcastle Knights v Penrith Panthers, Hunter Stadium, Sunday, 2pm
Sydney Roosters v North Queensland Cowboys, Allianz Stadium, Sunday, 4pm
Canberra Raiders v Melbourne Storm, GIO Stadium, Monday, 7pm
Photo of Jamie Lyon at Brookvale Oval earlier this year from the Manly Sea Eagles Facebook page.