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globalrugbyleague - Thu, 16 Aug 2007 11:07:00 GMT
The battle to lift the Wooden Spoon trophy in 2007 heats up in round 23 as three teams outside the top eight remain hopeful of being able to play their way into this year's finals series.

Friday, 17th August 2007

BRISBANE V CANTERBURY
Suncorp Stadium, 7.30pm
Referee: Steve Clark
GRL Tip: Broncos

A massive danger game for Brisbane. Last weekend Canterbury put 52-points on a team missing 4 key players. This week they face a team that could be without half a dozen of their best starting line-up stars including 3 internationals in Darren Lockyer (season), Shaun Berrigan (season) and Karmichael Hunt (round 24). Brisbane lost with dignity last week and performed better then everybody thought they would for a band aid team up against the soon to be minor premiers, Melbourne. Having said that big performances do physically take their toll on teams the following week as we’ve seen all this season and that might be where Canterbury is vulnerable. Look to the Bulldogs to score the first points via the hands of Sonny Bill Williams, Luke Patten or Andrew Ryan while for Brisbane put your slab of xxxx on Justin Hodges, Tonie Caroll or Steve Michaels.

BRONCOS: Darius Boyd, Steve Michaels, Nick Emmett, Justin Hodges, Craig Frawley, Tonie Carroll, Shane Perry, Dane Carlaw, Mick Roberts, Petero Civoniceva (c), Corey Parker, Brad Thorn, Greg Eastwood. Interchange: Nick Kenny, Dave Taylor, Sam Thaiday, Ian Lacey, Clifford Manua (one to be omitted). Coach: Wayne Bennett

BULLDOGS: Luke Patten, Hazem El Masri, Daryl Millard, Andrew Emelio, Cameron Phelps, Ben Roberts, Brent Sherwin, Mark O'Meley, Corey Hughes, Chris Armit, Sonny Bill Williams, Andrew Ryan (c), Reni Maitua. Interchange: Adam Perry, Nick Kouparitsas, Fred Briggs, Jon Green. Coach: Steve Folkes

MELBOURNE V PARRAMATTA
Olympic Park, 7.45pm
Referee: Tony Archer
GRL Tip: Eels

Both of these teams have been accused of putting their foot on the brakes prematurely at various times this season. Three weeks ago the Storm did it against the Roosters and then the Eels performed their own version against Cronulla at home in round 22. Attitude probably contributed to the flat football we saw from Parramatta last week but there is no doubt their minds will be switched on for a game that perhaps will tell the punters just how far the blue and gold can go in 2007.Melbourne remain unbeaten at home this season and that should give the Eels another enthusiastic challenge. The Storm have been averaging 15.66 points in their last three games while the Eels have 27.33 points in them despite winning only 1 of their last three clashes. If the Eels of round 21 turn up, the Storm will have their hands full all over the ball park and that could cause them some trouble. In the first point scoring category, Eels fans should put their trust in Krisnan Inu, Feleti Mateo and PJ Marsh while the Storm can count on Billy Slater, Israel Folau and Greg Inglis. It’s hard to grapple with an outcome from this game. Both teams on their day produce scintillating football that sets apart the contenders from the pretenders.

STORM: Billy Slater, Matt Geyer, Anthony Quinn, Israel Folau, Will Chambers, Greg Inglis, Cooper Cronk, Ben Cross, Cameron Smith (c), Brett White, Clint Newton, Ryan Hoffman, Dallas Johnson. Interchange: Jeremy Smith, Adam Blair, Garret Crossman, Jeff Lima, Michael Crocker (one to be omitted). Coach: Craig Bellamy

EELS: Jarryd Hayne, Krisnan Inu, Ben Smith, Timana Tahu, Eric Grothe, Brett Finch, Tim Smith, Nathan Cayless (c), Mark Riddell, Fuifui Moimoi, Nathan Hindmarsh, Ian Hindmarsh, Feleti Mateo. Interchange: PJ Marsh, Josh Cordoba, Chad Robinson, Daniel Wagon, Aaron Cannings, Joel Reddy, Todd Lowrie (three to be omitted). Coach: Michael Hagan

Saturday, 18th August 2007

CRONULLA V Wests Tigers
Toyota Park, 5.30pm
Referee: Paul Simpkins
GRL Tip: Wests Tigers

Cronulla might have won in golden-point extra time last weekend but a better football team with a 22-12 lead would not have put themselves in that position. They would have capitalized on it. Wests Tigers will travel to Cronulla to try and cement their top eight spot and then work on where they want to finish come round 25. But talk of hooker Robbie Farah possibly missing this week’s game due to a bruised hip will hurt the Tigers ability in attack, particularly in their kicking game. Cronulla have too many quality players out to be able to win consistently. Back the Tigers by a margin of 6. First point scorers for Cronulla will be Ben Pomeroy, Greg Bird or David Simmons while the Tigers have some great options to choose from including Chris Lawrence, the rampaging Taniela Tuiaki and Daniel Fitzhenry.

SHARKS: Mitch Brown, David Simmons, Ben Pomeroy, Fraser Anderson, Luke Covell, Greg Bird, Brett Seymour, Ben Ross, Isaac De Gois, Craig Stapleton, Reece Williams, Luke Douglas, Paul Gallen (c). Interchange: Eddie Su'a, Cameron Ciraldo, Paul Stephenson, Kevin Kingston, Dayne Weston (one to be omitted). Coach: Ricky Stuart

TIGERS: Brett Hodgson (c), Daniel Fitzhenry, Dean Collis, Chris Lawrence, Taniela Tuiaki, John Morris, Benji Marshall, Todd Payten, Stuart Flanagan, Keith Galloway, Liam Fulton, Chris Heighington, Ben Te'o. Interchange: Dene Halatau, Paul Whatuira, Bronson Harrison, Ben Galea. Coach: Tim Sheens.

NORTH QUEENSLAND V ST GEORGE-ILLAWARRA
Dairy Farmers Stadium, 7.30pm
Referee: Ben Cummins
GRL Tip: Dragons

The finals football fire has been put out by the Dragons loss to South Sydney last weekend. What is there left to play for? Pride may not be enough. But certainly Nathan Brown will be talking up his team’s chances against the Cowboys given that very few teams have won coming off the back of a Monday night game. The test then for St George-Illawarra is whether or not they are tactically smart enough to take advantage of vulnerable teams. This will be a game of nuisance value for North Queensland against a team which will have very little pressure on it. St George will look to Hornby, Chase Stanley and Matt Cooper to get the first points while North Queensland can rely on Matt Bowen, Brenton Bowen and Ashley Graham

COWBOYS: Matt Bowen, Brenton Bowen, Ashley Graham, Paul Bowman, Neil Sweeney, Justin Smith, Johnathan Thurston (c), Ray Cashmere, Aaron Payne, Carl Webb, Sam Faust, Jacob Lillyman, Sione Faumuina. Interchange: David Faiumu, Shane Muspratt, Matthew Bartlett, Matt Scott, Jason Smith (one to be omitted). Coach: Graham Murray

DRAGONS: Ben Hornby, Jason Nightingale, Chase Stanley, Matt Cooper, Josh Morris, Mark Gasnier, Jamie Soward, Dan Hunt, Simon Woolford, Jason Ryles (c), Beau Scott, Chris Houston, Ben Creagh. Interchange: Adam Peek, Ashton Simms, Corey Payne, Rangi Chase, Lagi Setu (one to be omitted). Coach: Nathan Brown

CANBERRA V NEW ZEALAND
Canberra Stadium, 7.30pm
Referee: Jarred Maxwell
GRL Tip: New Zealand

This game is like Nelson versus Bart Simpson in an old episode of the Simpsons. The Warriors in this case play the role of Nelson They are big, strong and keeping coming back for more. They never relent and have the sort of attitude that wins premierships.Canberra will be down on confidence after last week’s clash and will be looking for a big game. But the only thing big in this game they’ll find are the forwards running into them. Can’t see Canberra being able to match it with the Warriors for 80 minutes. For the Raiders, don’t overlook Phil Graham, Colin Best or Brett Kelly to steal first points while the Warriors will no doubt look to Wade McKinnon, Simon Mannering and Manu Vatuvei to do inflict some early damage.

RAIDERS: David Howell, David Milne, Phil Graham, Colin Best, Brett Kelly, Terry Campese, Todd Carney, Dane Tilse, Ryan Hinchcliffe, Scott Logan, Matt Bickerstaff, Glen Turner, Alan Tongue (c). Interchange: Lincoln Withers, Trevor Thurling, Neville Costigan, Michael Weyman, Tom Learoyd-Lahrs (one to be omitted). Coach: Neil Henry

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

Sunday, 19th August 2007

GOLD COAST V roosters
Carrara Stadium, 2.00pm
Referee: Gavin Badger
GRL Tip: Gold Coast

Earlier this week an article in a Sydney newspaper tantalized readers by suggesting a top eight spot for the Roosters might come down to their round 25 clash with arch-rivals South Sydney.That’s an insult to the teams the Roosters will be playing in round 23 and 24 and the Gold Coast will be out to prove some so-called ‘experts’ wrong. It was only two weeks ago that the Titans sprung a surprise 30-14 win over the Wests Tigers yet their record against teams lower then them on the NRL ladder at the moment isn’t impressive. It’s terrifying. The last time they played a team below them on the NRL ladder, Canberra walloped them by 46-points.Brad Fittler’s squad have found some form and a bit of the old cockyness that fans of other teams love to hate.The Titans will set themselves small goals in order to stay in contention for a top eight birth and cause the upset of the round. Put your rent money on Preston Campbell, Brett Delaney or Jake Webster to cross over first for the Titans while you can’t go past Amos Robert, Mitchell Aubusson or Sam Perrett for the chooks.

TITANS: Preston Campbell, Jake Webster, Mat Rogers, Brett Delaney, Smith Sa - Read More, Here