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globalrugbyleague - Fri, 13 Jul 2007 09:09:00 GMT
All teams sitting in the top eight are on notice this weekend by at least five other sides looking to stay in contention for a spot in the finals. Find out as Josh King previews round 18.

FRIDAY

MANLY SEA EAGLES v Wests Tigers
Brookvale Oval, 7.30pm
Referee: Steve Clark
GRL Tips: Manly

The Wests Tigers will need to start this match a lot better then the way they did against Penrith at home last Friday. Against other teams, they wouldn’t have scrambled their way out of trouble. Manly haven’t beaten a top eight team since edging out Melbourne 13-12 in round 11, so they will need to beat one of the possible title contenders to convince their fans they are back in the premiership fray. Wests Tigers have only won 3 from 9 night games this season and have not walked away with the 2 competition points from Brookvale Oval since 2003.
SEA EAGLES: Brett Stewart, Michael Robertson, Steve Bell, Steve Matai, Chris Hicks, Jamie Lyon, Matt Orford (captain), Jason King, Michael Monaghan, Brent Kite, Anthony Watmough, Glenn Stewart, Luke Williamson. Interchange: Glenn Hall, Mark Bryant, Steve Menzies, Travis Burns, Jack Afamasaga, Adam Cuthbertson (two to be omitted) Coach: Des Hasler.
TIGERS: Daniel Fitzhenry, Beau Ryan, Dean Collis, Paul Whatuira, Chris Lawrence, John Morris, Robbie Farah, Todd Payten (captain), Dene Halatau, Bryce Gibbs, Taniela Tuiaki, Chris Heighington, Ben Galea. Interchange: Liam Fulton, Stuart Flanagan, Bronson Harrison, Keith Galloway, Shannon McDonnell (one to be omitted). Coach: Tim Sheens.

cowboys v Brisbane Broncos
Dairy Farmers Stadium, 7.30pm
Referee: Steve Clark
GRL Tips: Cowboys

News that Johnathan Thurston participated in a full training session on Thursday is a good sign for the Cowboys who always lose by big margins without the direction of their consistent halfback and captain. Brisbane are without Justin Hodges, Karmichael Hunt and Brent Tate due to injury and that does take a lot of firepower out of their attack but this Broncos outfit loves a challenge and in the form of players like regular QLD cup fullback Denan Kemp are more then capable of scoring points. The pressure is all on Brisbane with five of their last 7 games against top eight teams. Could a loss see them come crashing down again? They won’t want to find out and will lift to win this one.

COWBOYS: Matt Bowen, Ashley Graham, Scott Minto, Paul Bowman, Ty Williams, Jason Smith, Johnathan Thurston (captain), Shane Tronc, Aaron Payne, Carl Webb, Steve Southern, Justin Smith, Sione Faumuina. Interchange: David Faiumu, Ben Farrar, Jacob Lillyman, Ray Cashmere, Matt Scott (one to be omitted). Coach: Graham Murray

BRONCOS: Karmichael Hunt, Steve Michaels, Darius Boyd, David Stagg, Craig Frawley, Darren Lockyer (captain), Michael Ennis, Ben Hannant, Shaun Berrigan, Petero Civoniceva, Corey Parker, Dane Carlaw, Tonie Carroll. Interchange: Greg Eastwood, Dave Taylor, Brad Thorn, John TeReo, Nick Kenny, Nick Emmett (two to be omitted). Coach: Wayne Bennett

SATURDAY

BULLDOGS v panthers
Telstra Stadium, 5.30pm
Referee: Tony De Las Heras
GRL Tips: Bulldogs

The Panthers snatched the jaws of defeat from the Tigers last weekend by conceding 33-points in the second-half, a defensive effort that coach Mathew Elliot had no sarcastic quips for after the match. Why? Because there is nothing funny about how the Panthers season is going. The Panthers can’t play the sort of footy we saw from them in the first half last week for long enough periods. That effort will have taken a lot out of the team physically and mentally. Even though Canterbury have only won 50 per cent of games played at Telstra Stadium this year, they value 2 competition points a lot more then the Panthers team and they play like it. For Steve Folkes, this will be a walk in the park though he won't coach like that.

BULLDOGS: Luke Patten, Hazem El Masri, Daryl Millard, Willie Tonga, Cameron Phelps, Ben Roberts, Brent Sherwin, Mark O'Meley, Corey Hughes, Willie Mason, Sonny Bill Williams, Andrew Ryan (captain), Reni Maitua. Interchange: Adam Perry, Nick Kouparitsas, Brad Morrin, Jarrad Hickey. Coach: Steve Folkes

PANTHERS: Michael Gordon, Geoff Daniela, Michael Jennings, Maurice Blair, Nick Youngquest, Richie Williams, Craig Gower (captain), Joel Clinton, Keith Peters, Bryan Norrie, Frank Pritchard, Tony Puletua, Nathan Smith. Interchange: Frank Puletua, Matthew Bell, Peter Wallace, Luke Lewis, Paul Aiton (one to be omitted). Coach: Mathew Elliot

roosters v CRONULLA SHARKS
Aussie Stadium, 7.30pm
Referee: Ben Cummins
GRL Tips: Sharks

The apprentice coach Brad Fittler makes his debut for the Roosters against the man he won a premiership with in 2002, Ricky Stuart. It will be an entertaining battle of tactical wit. Did Ricky teach Brad Fittler everything he knows when the former five-eighth was still playing? Have the Roosters given ‘Freddy’ any type of key performance indicators to meet before the end of the season? We’ll soon find out. Off the back of a thumping and under a new coach, the Roosters must be favoured to rise against a Sharks outfit which doesn’t have their starting no.1 halfback, Brett Kimmorley (Knee) or their best replacement no.7 in Brett Kearney (thigh)

ROOSTERS: Amos Roberts, John Williams, Joel Monaghan, Mitchell Aubusson, Sam Perrett, Setaimata Sa, Craig Wing, Nate Myles, Heath L'Estrange, Danny Nutley, Anthony Tupou, Craig Fitzgibbon (captain), Braith Anasta. Interchange: David Shillington, Lopini Paea, Danny Williams, Ashley Harrison. Coach: Brad Fittler

SHARKS: David Simmons, Mitch Brown, Ben Pomeroy, Fraser Anderson, Misi Taulapapa, Greg Bird, Anthony Watts, Luke Douglas, Isaac De Gois, Craig Stapleton, Paul Gallen, Lance Thompson, Reece Williams. Interchange: Henry Perenara, Jacob Selmes, Brett Kearney, Kevin Kingston. Coach: Ricky Stuart

SUNDAY

New Zealand Warriors v ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS
Mt Smart Stadium, 12pm
Referee: Jared Maxwell
GRL Tips: Warriors

The Warriors gave away 18-points last week before they scored but the good news for NZ coach Ivan Cleary is that the Cowboys didn’t gain any quick successive tries. They had to earn them. It was a fork in the road which NZ should be capable of removing against a Dragons outfit rising in confidence. If NZ can mix up their ball-running game and play with a bit more pride at home, they should win this one.


WARRIORS: Wade McKinnon, Michael Crockett, Todd Byrne, Simon Mannering, Manu Vatuvei, Michael Witt, Grant Rovelli, Ruben Wiki, George Gatis, Steve Price (captain), Louis Anderson, Logan Swann, Micheal Luck. Interchange: Nathan Fien, Wairangi Koopu, Epalahame Lauaki, Sam Rapira, Evarn Tuimavave (one to be omitted) Coach: Ivan Cleary

DRAGONS: Ben Hornby (captain), Jason Nightingale, Chase Stanley, Matt Cooper, Josh Morris, Rangi Chase, Jamie Soward, Justin Poore, Simon Woolford, Dan Hunt, Beau Scott, Chris Houston, Ben Creagh. Interchange: Adam Peek, Ben Ellis, Lagi Setu, Corey Payne. Coach: Nathan Brown

Canberra Raiders v Gold Coast Titans
Canberra Stadium, 2pm
Referee: Paul Simpkins
GRL Tips: Raiders

Canberra are staring at five-losses in a row if they succumb to the Titans. Their record at home hasn’t been flash as the season has worn on (4/8). Losing in golden-point, how will the Titans cope emotionally with that? The GG will play with a lot of confidence following news that Scott Prince was cleared of a potentially serious injury last weekend. It’s important the Titans win the games they are favourites in before they possibly experience playing in the finals. They must be able to win all types of games. Canberra however have a good record at bouncing back from big losses. This is a 50-50 game.

RAIDERS: William Zillman, David Milne, Phil Graham, Colin Best, Bronx Goodwin, Todd Carney, Michael Dobson, Troy Thompson, Lincoln Withers, Scott Logan, Nigel Plum, Glen Turner, Alan Tongue (captain). Interchange: Ryan Hinchcliffe, Dane Tilse, Marshall Chalk, Michael Weyman, Joe Picker, Trevor Thurling (two to be omitted). Coach: Neil Henry

TITANS: Preston Campbell, Matt Petersen, Luke O'Dwyer, Brett Delaney, Smith Samau, Josh Lewis, Scott Prince (captain), Luke Bailey, Nathan Friend, Ian Donnelly, Gavin Cooper, Mark Minichiello, Luke Swain. Interchange: Matthew Hilder, Daniel Conn, Kris Kahler, David Myles. Coach: John Cartwright

eels v rabbitohs
Parramatta Stadium, 3pm
Referee: Tony Archer
GRL Tips: Eels

Will the real Parramatta please stand-up? You bet they will when they take the field on Sunday afternoon against their former coach Jason Taylor. While Souths had the wood over Parra when they last met in round 2 (31-6), the Eels have improved as a new team as the season progresses. That comes from a good blend of youth in the form of Krisnan Inu, Feleti Mateo and Weller Hauraki, experience via Nathan Hindmarsh and Mark Riddell and the new ideas being executed by the improving halves combination of Brett Finch and Tim Smith. Ben Rogers has been scoring and setting up some very good tries for South Sydney in the last two weeks while Jeremy Smith has introduced some exciting pieces of play at vital stages in games since taking over the number 7 role from Joe Williams. Defensively, fans will see two very evenly matched teams but in the end the Eels will lift the attitudinal bar a bit higher then Souths given the nature of their loss last week to Newcastle and the fact that their top - Read More, Here