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globalrugbyleague - Fri, 31 Aug 2007 08:32:00 GMT
A loss this weekend could mean the beginning of the end for some teams while for others it could be the start of a fairy tale. Round 25 will have no shortage of interest.

Friday August 31st

NORTH QLD V CANTERBURY
Dairy Farmers Stadium, 7.30pm
Referee: Shayne Hayne
GRL Tip:Cowboys

North QLD are coming into this clash off the back of 4 consecutive wins and that’s a handy trendy to be setting given they’ve only beaten the Bulldogs in one of their last 10 clashes at Dairy Farmers Stadium. The Dogs will be desperate to play themselves instead of the opposition back into form this week. Could Willie Mason be the spark plug player they needed last week? Possibly. I think against very good sides though the Dogs can only play for 60 minutes and if they don’t have a decent lead on the scoreboard by the back of the end of the game, then they’ll implode defensively. Cowboys by 8

COWBOYS: Matt Bowen, Ty Williams, Ashley Graham, Paul Bowman, Neil Sweeney, Justin Smith, Johnathan Thurston (captain), Matt Scott, Aaron Payne, Carl Webb, Sam Faust, Matthew Bartlett, Mark Henry. Interchange: David Faiumu, Jason Smith, Jacob Lillyman, Ray Cashmere, Ben Farrar (one to be omitted) Coach: Graham Murray

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

Wests Tigers V NEWCASTLE
Telstra Stadium, 7.30pm
Referee: Paul Simpkins
GRL Tip: Tigers

A loss to the Knights would ruin a season of great opportunity for the Wests Tigers. On the cusp of returning to the top eight for the first time since winning the premiership in 2005, it depends which side turns up. Without Robbie Farah in the team, you can’t completely write off Newcastle from finishing their season the way they started…with a win. And what a win it would be if it prevented them from winning the club’s 2nd wooden spoon. Attitude and defense up the middle will be the keystrokes to success in this game. Tigers by 4.

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

KNIGHTS: Kurt Gidley, James McManus, Brad Tighe, George Carmont, Cooper Vuna, Chris Bailey, Luke Walsh, Josh Perry, Danny Buderus (captain), Adam Woolnough, Steve Simpson, Daniel Abraham, Reegan Tanner. Interchange: Michael Young, Zeb Taia, Mitchell Sargent, Jesse Royal, Cory Paterson (one to be omitted) Coach: Brian Smith

Saturday September 1st

SOUTH SYDNEY V roosters
Telstra Stadium, 5.30pm
Referee: Paul Simpkins
GRL Tip: South Sydney


This game should attract one of the biggest crowds of the round. Craig Wing will get to test-run his new home-ground for next season. Will his new teammates go easy on him? You can bet your bottom dollar that one Jeremy Smith will be looking to outplay Wing to keep himself in contention for halfback role for next season. Two great halfbacks up against each other…what more could you want amongst two great-arch rivals. The Bunnies have won their past five games at Telstra Stadium while keeping their opposition scoreless in nine halves of football this season. The roosters attack will have their work cut out for them in a very low-scoring game. Souths know what is at stake and will want this game more. Souths by 8. A tactically very good test for two of the finest minds to enter the coaching world in recent years also.

RABBITOHS: Fetuli Talanoa, Shannon Hegarty, Nigel Vagana, Yileen Gordon, Paul Mellor, Joe Williams, Jeremy Smith, Peter Cusack (co-captain), Shane Rigon, Roy Asotasi (co-captain), John Sutton, David Faalogo, Ben Rogers. Interchange: Issac Luke, Dean Widders, Luke Stuart, Michael Greenfield. Coach: Jason Taylor

ROOSTERS: Sam Perrett, Amos Roberts, Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Joel Monaghan, John Williams, Braith Anasta, Craig Wing, David Shillington, Heath L'Estrange, Lopini Paea, Anthony Tupou, Craig Fitzgibbon (captain), Ashley Harrison. Interchange: Danny Nutley, Nate Myles, Shane Shackleton, Mitchell Pearce, Anthony Cherrington (one to be omitted) Coach: Brad Fittler

CANBERRA V CRONULLA
Canberra Stadium, 7.30pm
Referee: Bernard Sutton
GRL Tip: Raiders

A non-entity game which will be the hang-out for the bored citizens of Canberra with nothing better to do on a Saturday night. This is the only match of the round not involving a team in the running for the finals. Canberra have saved some of their best performances for home games under coach Neil Henry and this should be another one to add to the history books. Scoring an average of 32 points per game at Canberra Stadium this season, they’ll give the faithful one last cheer before hanging up the boots for an off-season vacation.

RAIDERS: David Howell, David Milne, Phil Graham, Colin Best, Brett Kelly, Terry Campese, Todd Carney, Trevor Thurling, Lincoln Withers, Scott Logan, Neville Costigan, Glen Turner, Alan Tongue (captain). Interchange: Ryan Hinchcliffe, Dane Tilse, Joe Picker, Michael Weyman, Ben Jones, Marshall Chalk (two to be omitted) Coach: Neil Henry

SHARKS: Mitch Brown, Bryson Goodwin, Ben Pomeroy, David Simmons, Luke Covell, Greg Bird, Brett Seymour, Eddie Su'a, Isaac De Gois, Craig Stapleton, Reece Williams, Luke Douglas, Paul Gallen (captain). Interchange: Ben Ross, Dayne Weston, Paul Stephenson, Kevin Kingston Coach: Ricky Stuart

PENRITH V NEW ZEALAND
Penrith Football Stadium, 7.30pm
Referee: Sean Hampstead
GRL Tip: Warriors

Craig Gower’s swan song before he uses his fly by points and heads off to France to play the game nobody watches in heaven. Penrith have won 3 of their last four games while New Zealand have only dropped two of their past 11 fixtures. Away from Mt Smart Stadium, NZ worries me. They’ve fallen short in Townsville and Canberra and most recently held a draw with the Roosters at Aussie Stadium. The home side have been starting games well but NZ are good odds to finish the game strongly. Warriors by 6.


PANTHERS: Jarrod Sammut, Geoff Daniela, Michael Jennings, Maurice Blair, Michael Gordon, Luke Lewis, Craig Gower (captain), Frank Puletua, Luke Priddis, Bryan Norrie, Frank Pritchard, Trent Waterhouse, Nathan Smith. Interchange: Matthew Cross, Tony Puletua, Matthew Bell, Paul Aiton, Luke Rooney (one to be omitted) Coach: Mathew Elliot

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

Sunday September 2nd

MANLY V ST GEO-ILLAWARRA
Brookvale Oval, 2.00pm
Referee: Steve Clark
GRL Tip: Manly

The Dragons will be out of huff and puff after their supreme effort against the Eels on Monday night. Against a Manly outfit desperate to end a two-match losing streak, don’t hope for much St George fans. You won your grand final last week against allegedly a very good team. Neither side can change their position on the ladder but given their winless record in the finals in recent years, Manly must take as much confidence out of the regular season if they don’t want to choke like lock Ray Price thinks they will in September. Manly by 10.

SEA EAGLES: Brett Stewart, Michael Robertson, Steve Bell, Steve Menzies, Chris Hicks, Jamie Lyon, Matt Orford (captain), Mark Bryant, Michael Monaghan, Brent Kite, Anthony Watmough, Glenn Stewart, Luke Williamson. Interchange: Travis Burns, Matt Ballin, Jason King, Jack Afamasaga, Adam Cuthbertson (two to be omitted) Coach: Des Hasler

DRAGONS: Josh Morris, Jason Nightingale, Mark Gasnier (captain), Matt Cooper, Chase Stanley, Rangi Chase, Jamie Soward, Dan Hunt, Simon Woolford, Ricky Thorby, Beau Scott, Corey Payne, Ben Creagh. Interchange: Adam Peek, Ashton Sims, Lagi Seetu, Ben Ellis, Chris Houston (one to be omitted) Coach: Nathan Brown


eels V BRISBANE
Parramatta Stadium, 3.00pm
Referee: Tony Archer
GRL Tip: Brisbane

Will the real Eels team turn up or will 2007 be another waste of time and heartbreak for the blue and gold fans who up until three weeks ago could have considered their side a ‘title’ contender? This is a high-wire game with both sides walking the top rope. If the Eels lose, they could miss the finals. Will they master the art of ‘choking’ before the finals or save it for September as they usually do? Brisbane have not missed finals football since 1991 and are keen to keep their enviable record in place despite the absence of Darren Lockyer and other vital personnel they will need to go all the way. Neither of these sides can be taken seriously in terms of arun towards the Grand Final. At Parramatta Stadium, the record isn’t good for the homeside. They have lost four of their past five matches to the Broncos. Perhaps, we could demand the game be moved to Suncorp Stadium? Broncos by 8.

EELS: Jarryd Hayne, Krisnan Inu, Ben Smith, Timana Tahu, Eric Grothe, Brett Finch, Tim Smith, Nathan Cayless (captain), M - Read More, Here