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The sneak peak. - Australian Rugby league News
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globalrugbyleague - Fri, 13 Apr 2007 16:58:00 GMT
A lot of important questions which could hold significant ramifications for how the rest of the season unfolds for some clubs will be answered in round 5 of the NRL.

FRIDAY

Panthers V Eels
Referee: Shayne Hayne
Venue: Penrith Football Stadium
KO: 7:30pm
GRL Tip: Panthers by 6.

Will he or won’t he? The big question is for this game is whether Eels coach Michael Hagan will take a gamble in the halves and place Brett Finch back at five-eighth.

The experts and many Parramatta fans want Blake Green wearing the number 6 jersey instead of the former Rooster. This is the first big test for Parramatta in 2007 as their last two wins were against bottom dwelling teams.

The Panthers only lost last week due to a poor possession rate in the first half. If that problem is fixed, the Eels will be very busy holding them out.

The home side looks more confident and have a halves combination that is merging so very well early in the season.

Matthew Elliot should however be worried about his side’s poor form when it comes to giving away penalties early in the game.

The Eels goal kicking is extremely accurate. On all-round form though, Penrith should win this game in the final 20 minutes of play.

Panthers: 1.Rhys Wesser, 2.Michael Gordon, 3.Michael Jennings, 4.Luke Lewis, 5.Luke Rooney, 6.Peter Wallace, 7.Craig Gower ©, 8.Joel Clinton, 9.Luke Priddis, 10.Frank Puletua, 11.Frank Pritchard, 12.Tony Puletua, 13.Nathan Smith. Interchange: 14.M Bell, 15.J Moors 16.B Norrie, 17.P Alton. Coach: Mathew Elliot

Eels: 1.Luke Burt, 2.Jarryd Hayne, 3.Ben Smith, 4.Timana Tahu, 5.Eric Grothe, 6.Brett Finch, 7.Tim Smith, 8.Nathan Cayless ©, 9.PJ Marsh, 10.Aaron Cannings, 11.Nathan Hindmarsh, 12.Ian Hindmarsh, 13.Daniel Wagon. Interchange: 14.B Green, 15.J Cordoba, 16.R Fa’aoso, 17.F Mateo, 18.F Moimoi. Coach: Michael Hagan.’

GAME TWO:

Gold Coast V Brisbane
Referee: Steve Clark
Venue: Suncorp Stadium
KO: 7:30pm
GRL Tip: Titans by 4.

Consistency is the theme of this game. Neither of these two sides have been able to put together back to back wins in 2007, so expect one hell of a dog-fight to be able to achieve this goal.

Brisbane controlled the Roosters very well last week but they won’t get as many opportunities handed to Darren Lockyer quite so easily.

Expect Lockyer however to saturate Titans fullback Preston Campbell with lots of high-balls until the points start leaking.

The Titans are still learning what their best and least effective plays are and against a more experienced opposition containing 10 internationals, they could struggle to put them away.

Titans: 1.Preston Campbell, 2.Lelea Paea, 3.Brett Delaney, 4.Josh Graham, 5.Jake Webster, 6.Matt Hilder, 7.Scott Prince ©, 8.Luke Bailey ©, 9.Clint Amos, 10.Michael Henderson, 11.Anthony Laffranchi, 12.Mark Minichello, 13.Luke Swain. Interchange: 14. K Kahler, 15.B Meyers, 16.G Cooper, 17.N Friend. Coach: John Cartwright.

Broncos: 1.Karmichael Hunt, 2.Steve Michaels, 3.Tonie Carroll, 4.Justin Hodges, 5.Brent Tate, 6.Darren Lockyer ©, 7.Shane Perry, 8.Dane Carlaw, 9.Shaun Berrigan, 10.Petero Civoniceva, 11.Sam Thaiday, 12.Brad Thorn, 13.Greg Eastwood. Interchange: 14.N Knenny, 15.B Hannant, 16. I Lacey, 17. M Ennis, 18.D Stagg. Coach: Wayne Bennett.

SATURDAY:

GAME THREE:

St Geo-Illawarra V Melbourne Storm
Referee: Ben Cummins
Venue: Oki Jubilee Stadium
KO: 5:30pm
GRL Tip: Storm by 20

The Storm have history, form and a healthier roster on their side heading into their clash with the Dragons at Oki Jubilee Stadium.

Melbourne have lost only one of their past 12 games against the candy canes, remain undefeated after four rounds and have only two of their stars out injured (Adam Blair – ankle, Rd 8 and Jeremy Smith – leg, Rd 8).

This has been the week from hell for the Saints. Speculation in the media about the future of the coach on top of their dreadful performance against the Sharks last Monday cannot be helping preparations.

Teams backing up from a Monday night game also do not tend to win their next game either.

The Storm are like Sharks when it comes to sniffing out a team which has fallen on hard times and this I expect will be the first and probably only blowout game of the round.

Watch for Billy Slater, Israel Folau and Matt King to really slice the Dragons defense.

Dragons:1. Brett Morris, 2. Josh Morris, 3. Wes Naiqama, 4. Matt Cooper, 5. Luke Macdougall, 6. Richard Williams, 7. Ben Hornby (c), 8. Justin Poore, 9. Tony Caine, 10. Jason Ryles (c), 11. Ashton Sims, 12. Beau Scott, 13. Ben Creagh. Interchange: 14. Adam Peek, 15. Danny Wicks, 16. Dan Hunt, 17. Sam Isemonger. Coach: Nathan Brown.

Storm: 1. Billy Slater, 2. Matt Geyer, 3. Matt King, 4. Anthony Quinn, 5. Israel Folau, 6. Greg Inglis, 7. Cooper Cronk, 8. Antonio Kaufusi, 9. Cameron Smith, 10. Brett White, 11. Michael Crocker, 12. Ryan Hoffman, 13. Dallas Johnson. Interchange: 14. Sam Tagataese, 15. Jeff Lima, 16. Ben Cross, 17. Steve Turner, 18. Garret Crossman. Coach: Craig Bellamy.

GAME FOUR:

Canterbury V Manly
Referee: Paul Simpkins
Venue: Telstra Stadium
KO: 7:30pm
GRL Tip: Bulldogs by 6

The Bulldogs love to spoil a party and it would massage their football egos big time if they could end the undefeated streak of another team for a second week in a row.

While the Dogs forwards are setting the benchmark for the rest of the competition, their opponents from the northern beaches are no slouches either. Jason King, Brent Kite and Anthony Watmough are reliable, consistent hard workers but without much of the media limelight on them.

I rate Manly ahead of the Dogs in the halves. Michael Monaghan can only get better in his former position while Ben Roberts is still on a learning curve.

For a second week in a row, Kane Cleal players another former side. Will he score a try this week too? I don’t think Canterbury are capable of back to back big wins purely because last week’s game will have drained them physically.

These two sides saved their best performances for the second-half last week and I expect more of the same. It’s 50-50 contest, one of the few you’ll see this season.

Bulldogs:1. Luke Patten, 2. Hazem El Masri, 3. Daryl Millard, 4. Willie Tonga, 5. Trent Cutler, 6. Daniel Holdsworth, 7. Ben Roberts, 8. Mark O'Meley, 9. Corey Hughes, 10. Willie Mason, 11. Sonny Bill Williams, 12. Andrew Ryan, 13. Reni Maitua Interchange: 14. Dallas McIlwain, 15. Nick Kouparitsas, 16. Kane Cleal, 17. Chris Armit Coach: Steve Folkes.


Sea Eagles: 1.Brett Stewart, 2.Michael Robertson, 3.Steve Bell, 4.Jamie Lyon, 5.Chris Hicks, 6.Travis Burns, 7.Michael Monaghan, 8.Jason King, 9.Matt Ballin, 10.Brent Kite ©, 11.Anthony Watmough, 12.Glenn Stewart, 13.Luke Williamson Interchange: 14. Clint Halden, 15.Glenn Hall, 16.George Rose, 17. Mark Bryant Coach: Des Hasler.

SUNDAY:

GAME FIVE:

New Zealand V North QLD
Referee: Tony Archer
Venue: Ericsson Stadium
KO: 12:00pm
GRL Tip: The Warriors by 6.

The Warriors remain undefeated at home and are due for a win having lost their last two away fixtures against Manly and Melbourne.

But they’ll be playing a side featuring the man who wants to take his game to a whole new level Joey Johns style, Johnathan Thurston.

Expect a big game from him. Last year, New Zealand spoiled Melbourne’s undefeated streak at home and this time they’ll try hand NQLD their first loss of 07.

The Cowboys have won 5 of their last 6 games against the trans-tasman mob.

Expect the Warriors to opt for a long-range kicking game early in the tackle count so they concentrate on forcing some errors deep inside the Cowboys territory.

Why not? Their final try last weekend came off the back of an opposition error 10 metres out.

Warriors: 1 Wade McKinnon, 2 Todd Byrne, 3 Tony Martin, 4 Lance Hohaia, 5 Manu Vatuvei, 6 Michael Witt, 7 Grant Rovelli, 8 Ruben Wiki (vc), 9 Nathan Fien, 10 Steve Price (c), 11 Simon Mannering, 12 Logan Swann, 13 Micheal Luck Interchange: 14 George Gatis, 15 Evarn Tuimavave, 16 Epalahame Lauaki, 17 Sam Rapira Coach: Ivan Cleary.


Cowboys: 1. Matthew Bowen, 2. Brenton Bowen, 3. Ashley Graham, 4. Paul Bowman, 5. Neil Sweeney, 6. Jason Smith, 7. Johnathan Thurston (c), 8. Matthew Scott, 9. Aaron Payne (vc), 10. Shane Tronc, 11. Steve Southern, 12. Jacob Lillyman, 13. Justin Smith Interchange: 14. David Faiumu, 15. Scott Bolton, 16. Sione Faumuina, 17. Ray Cashmere Coach: Graham Murray.

GAME SIX:

Souths V Newcastle
Referee: Gavin Badger
Venue: Bluetongue Stadium
KO: 2:00pm
GRL Tip: Rabbitohs by 10.

Two big questions will be answered in this game.

What does the future look like for Newcastle following the retirement of Andrew Johns earlier this week and how will South Sydney respond to the mauling they received at the hands of the Bulldogs last weekend.

The venue is relatively neutral for these sides even if it is listed officially as a Bunnies home game. This game h - Read More, Here