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NRL Round 13 preview panel

Preview of League Round 13 matches (all times AEST):
NRL Round 13 preview panel
by AAP

By James MacSmith

SYDNEY, June 5 AAP - Preview of League Round 13 matches (all times AEST):

FRIDAY, June 6

Manly v Canterbury at Brookvale Oval 7.40pm

Head to Head: Sea Eagles 62 Bulldogs 51 drawn 5

Last clash: Round 14 2013 - Bulldogs 32 bt Sea Eagles 30 at Brookvale Oval

Tab Sportsbet: Sea Eagles $1.80 Bulldogs $2.05

FootyTAB: Bulldogs +2.5

Des Hasler returns to Brookvale for the third time since his controversial exit at the end of 2011 and he is yet to oversee a loss as Bulldogs coach at the iconic ground. Daly Cherry-Evans and Anthony Watmough are vital inclusions for the home side, still minus Glenn Stewart but almost at full strength. Manly played their worst game of the year last week in their 36-10 loss to Brisbane and will be keen to bounce back hard. Dogs halves Trent Hodkinson and Josh Reynolds play their first match since Origin I, after Canterbury had the bye last week. 1 v 3, a potential finals preview.

Key: The halves. The two best combinations in the NRL go head-to-head. The Canterbury duo's confidence will be sky high but DCE and Kieran Foran's intimate knowledge of Brookie could tip the scales Manly's way.

Tip: Sea Eagles

Parramatta v North Queensland at Pirtek Stadium 7.40pm

Head to Head: Eels 16 Cowboys 13 drawn 1

Last clash: Round 8 2014 - Cowboys 42 bt Eels 14 at 1300SMILES Stadium

Tab Sportsbet: Eels $1.80 Cowboys $2.05

FootyTAB: Eels +2.5

Jarryd Hayne is back for the Eels but they are suffering a hooking crisis with Nathan Peats out for the season with a knee injury and youngster Kaysa Pritchard sidelined with a shoulder problem. The untested Luke Kelly will slot in at No.9. England forward Lee Mossop will finally make his NRL debut off the bench after recovering from a shoulder injury to replace the suspended Mitch Allgood. Willie Tonga is back for the Eels against the unchanged Cowboys who can snare some vital premiership points with their Origin players available.

Key: Sydney. The Cowboys' recent record in the harbour city is woeful. They can further push their premiership credentials with a rare Sydney win.

Tip: Cowboys

SATURDAY, June 7

Gold Coast v Penrith at Cbus Super Stadium 5.30pm

Head to Head: Titans 4 Panthers 6

Last clash: Round 7 2014 - Panthers 14 bt Titans 12 at Sportingbet Stadium

Tab Sportsbet: Titans $2.30 Panthers $1.65

FootyTAB: Titans +3.5

An intriguing clash between the two season surprise packets. Penrith are deservedly sitting second and, unaffected by Origin, they can almost cement a finals berth over this period. After their early-season march to the top of the ladder, the Titans desperately need a win after last week's bye was preceded by three successive losses. Penrith enjoyed an easy kill against a Hayne-less Eels - this will be a sterner test. The Titans welcome back Greg Bird, Nate Myles, Kevin Gordon, Albert Kelly and Brad Takairangi, while the Panthers are unchanged. Penrith defeated the Titans 14-12 in an gritty round-seven clash.

Key: Bird is back and, make no mistake, he will be angry. Hopefully, for NSW's sake, that will be controlled aggression.

Tip: Titans

St George-Illawarra v Cronulla at WIN Stadium 7.30pm

Head to Head: Dragons 16 Sharks 16 drawn 1

Last clash: Round 3 2014 - Dragons 14 bt Sharks 12 at Remondis Stadium

Tab Sportsbet: Dragons $1.50 Sharks $2.65

FootyTAB: Sharks +5.5

A clash between two sides desperate for a win, and any win will do. The Dragons have won just one of their past eight; the Sharks have lost six straight. Inspirational skipper Paul Gallen is out for the Sharks and coach Peter Sharp has made a number of changes to try to reinvigorate his side. Winger Jacob Gagan and re-signed five-eighth Fa'amanu Brown make their NRL debuts with fullback Michael Gordon moving to centre. For the Dragons, Josh Dugan has been retained at centre.

Key: Desperation stakes. Who wants a win the most?

Tip: Dragons

South Sydney v Warriors at nib Stadium 9.30pm Head to Head: Souths 9 Warriors 18 drawn 1

Last clash: Round 17 2013 - Souths 30 bt Warriors 13 at nib Stadium

Tab Sportsbet: Souths $1.47 Warriors $2.75

FootyTAB: Warriors +6.5

The canny Rabbitohs have given the Warriors the longest road trip in the NRL as they seek westward expansion for the greatest game of all. Souths sit fourth but their attack continues to splutter along behind their monster forward pack, relying more on individual brilliance than teamwork. The Warriors have looked a different team since Andrew McFadden took over as coach, and have won four of their past five. Alex Johnston is back on the Souths' wing for Nathan Merritt.

Key: Perth. No team has to travel further than the Warriors to Perth, and the trip could take its toll late in the game.

Tip: Souths

SUNDAY, June 8

Newcastle v Wests Tigers at Hunter Stadium 2.00pm

Head to Head: Knights 9 Tigers 9

Last clash: Round 1 2013 - Knights 42 bt Tigers 10 at Hunter Stadium

Tab Sportsbet: Knights $2.00 Tigers $1.85

FootyTAB: Knights +1.5

James Tedesco's midweek re-signing has provided a massive boost for the Tigers, with the boom fullback set for his first game since suffering an ankle injury in round five. Beau Scott and Akuila Uate return from injury for the Knights who haven't won since round six. Captain Kurt Gidley insists Newcastle haven't given up on their season. They need to prove that here against a Tigers outfit who will want to continue that top-eight logjam wrestle with a win.

Key: The enigmatic Darius Boyd plays his 200th game. Will he and the Knights lift for his milestone match?

Tip: Tigers

Melbourne v Sydney Roosters at AAMI Park 3.00pm

Head to Head: Storm 14 Roosters 11

Last clash: Round 11 2013 - Storm 26 bt Roosters 18 at Allianz Stadium

Tab Sportsbet: Storm $4.00 Roosters $1.26

FootyTAB: Storm +10.5

Mitchell Pearce's and James Maloney's NSW omission has the Roosters well placed over the Origin period, especially here against a Storm side minus Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater. The premiers have won five of six and are slowly getting back to their title-winning form of 2013. Tohu Harris has been named at five-eighth in a sign of the tough times Melbourne are experiencing. Both sides are unchanged from last week, the Roosters disposing of Canberra easily 26-12 and Melbourne losing 22-0 to the Cowboys in Townsville.

Key: Cameron Smith. The Storm captain returns to hooker and will need to be at his best against a Roosters side ominously gathering momentum.

Tip: Roosters

MONDAY, June 9

Canberra v Brisbane at GIO Stadium 7.00pm

Head to Head: Raiders 19 Broncos 24 drawn 1

Last clash: Round 13 2013 - Raiders 30 bt Broncos 18 at GIO Stadium

Tab Sportsbet: Raiders $1.55 Broncos $2.50

FootyTAB: Raiders +5.5

The Raiders' brass will be smarting after failing to snare a big-name signing, while players continue to be on audition for a future role at the club given the stalled nature of Ricky Stuart's proposed cleanout. Brisbane need to back up their 36-10 drubbing of Manly to prove they have the consistency to be a genuine finals threat. Sam Thaiday will be better for the run against the Sea Eagles and Justin Hodges returns.

Key: The weather. If Canberra can put on a chilly winter's evening, that might be the Raiders' best chance of a win.

Tip: Broncos




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