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NRL round 24 preview panel

Preview of NRL Round 24 matches (all times AEST):
NRL round 24 preview panel
by AAP

By Ed Jackson

BRISBANE, Aug 21 AAP - Preview of NRL Round 24 matches (all times AEST):

FRIDAY, Aug 22

Parramatta v Manly at Pirtek Stadium 7.45pm

Head to Head: Eels 45 Sea Eagles 82 drawn 4

Last clash: Round 3 2014 - Sea Eagles 22 bt Eels 18 at Brookvale Oval

Tab Sportsbet: Eels $2.50 Sea Eagles $1.55

FootyTAB: Eels +5.5

Following last week's "ballboy-gate" incident, the Eels come up against Manly having suffered a 22-18 loss to the Sea Eagles in round three on the back of a controversial video referee call in the dying minutes of that match. Manly bounced back to the winner's circle last weekend with a gritty, if unconvincing, win over Gold Coast. They've named centre Steve Matai to make a comeback from the shoulder injury which kept him out of the Titans' clash but doubts remain over whether the Kiwi veteran will actually start. Parramatta know they need to win in the hunt for a finals spot following their loss to Canterbury last weekend and coach Brad Arthur has Junior Paulo back from suspension at prop while Peni Terepo returns from a knee injury in place of Pauli Pauli.

Key: Who else but Jarryd Hayne? Heavily marked against the Dogs, his stunning tap-on pass set up Semi Radradra as the NRL's form player keeps on dragging the Eels to the line. Can he haul them past the ladder leaders?

Tip: Sea Eagles

SATURDAY, Aug 23

Brisbane v Newcastle at Suncorp Stadium 5.30pm

Head to Head: Broncos 28 Knights 13 drawn 1

Last clash: Round 7 2014 - Broncos 32 bt Knights 6 at Hunter Stadium

Tab Sportsbet: Broncos $1.33 Knights $3.45

FootyTAB: Knights +8.5

Just when Wayne Bennett's annual pilgrimage to the Broncos was becoming a non-story, he goes and decides to come back as coach next year, meaning all the pre-game talk will be about the Brisbane players trying to impress their future boss. The home team knows however this match means much more than that. Following their loss to a Greg Inglis-inspired South Sydney, the Broncos are almost at the last-chance saloon when it comes to their finals hopes. Josh Hoffman's ankle injury rules him out with Lachlan Maranta named at fullback although speculation persists that veteran Justin Hodges might spend some time in the position. The Knights head north full of confidence after six wins in their past eight. Willie Mason is back for the visitors with David Fa'alogo dropping to the bench and Chris Houston named as 18th man.

Key: The combination of home advantage and simply needing to win should be enough to get the Broncos over the line.

Tip: Broncos

South Sydney v North Queensland at ANZ Stadium 7.30pm

Head to Head: Souths 13 Cowboys 11 drawn 1

Last clash: Round 16 2014 - Cowboys 20 bt Souths 18 at 1300SMILES Stadium

Tab Sportsbet: Souths $1.38 Cowboys $3.15

FootyTAB: Cowboys +7.5

North Queensland have been embedded in Sydney's southern beaches all week following Monday night's one-point loss to try to maximise their preparations for this clash with the in-form Rabbitohs. Tariq Sims' return from suspension pushes Gavin Cooper to the bench while NSW and Australian prop James Tamou remains off the team sheet due to a neck complaint. Souths have simply been relentless the past few weeks with their only change being Kyle Turner coming back from injury to replace suspended Ben Te'o. Back-to-back wins at ANZ Stadium after going eight years without one would be a huge boost to the Cowboys ahead of any finals campaign for Paul Green's men.

Key: Greg Inglis was a one-man wrecking ball against the Broncos last weekend, scoring a hat-trick and having a hand in at least one other try. Diminutive Cowboys' fullback Michael Morgan can expect plenty of attention from the 195cm superstar.

Tip: Souths

SUNDAY, Aug 24

Warriors v Sydney Roosters at Mt Smart Stadium 12.00pm

Head to Head: Warriors 18 Roosters 13 drawn 1

Last clash: Round 14 2013 - Warriors 23 bt Roosters 12 at Allianz Stadium

Tab Sportsbet: NZ Warriors $1.97 Roosters $1.87 FootyTAB: Warriors +1.5

Typical Warriors - having pushed themselves into the eight and looking set for a finals berth, the Kiwis were dragged back into the dogfight with a 28-22 loss to 14th-placed Newcastle last weekend. The Roosters however are priming themselves for September with last Saturday's 48-4 flogging of the hapless Wests Tigers their third win on the spin. The Warriors welcome back centre Konrad Hurrell from injury while Mitch Aubusson has been named at hooker for the premiers with Jake Friend and Heath L'Estrange both out. Highly rated young gun Jackson Hastings has also been named on a five-man bench by Roosters coach Trent Robinson.

Key: Kiwi big men Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Frank-Paul Nu'uausala and Sam Moa will all be pumped to deliver for the Roosters in their home country. If they fire, the Warriors might find it hard to get their attacking rhythm going.

Tip: Roosters

Cronulla v Canberra at Remondis Stadium 2.00pm

Head to Head: Sharks 33 Raiders 28

Last clash: Round 26 2013 - Sharks 38 bt Raiders 18 at GIO Stadium

Tab Sportsbet: Sharks $1.68 Raiders $2.24

FootyTAB: Raiders +3.5

Cronulla's players will be relieved to take out their frustrations over the ASADA affair against the Raiders or distracted by the off-field dramas sweeping through their ranks. Given the Sharks have been handling this for more than a year, you think they should be well practised at keeping their attention on the football, though the actual issuing of show-cause notices might be different to just being under investigation. Ricky Stuart will hope his old club aren't fully focused and the Raiders can steal a win to avoid the ignominy of back-to-back wooden spoons for their coach.

Key: The start. If the Raiders get off to a flyer, it's hard to see the Sharks being bothered about the game given their other issues.

Tip: Raiders

St George-Illawarra v Gold Coast at Oki Jubilee Stadium 3.00pm

Head to Head: Dragons 9 Titans 4

Last clash: Round 15 2014 - Dragons 19 bt Titans 18 at Cbus Super Stadium

Tab Sportsbet: Dragons $1.42 Titans $2.95

FootyTAB: Titans +6.5

St George Illawarra remain in finals contention while the Titans are already thinking of joining their former coach at an exotic locale such as Tahiti, where John Cartwright was spotted during the week supporting world championship surfer Joel Parkinson - a keen Titans fan. The Dragons have not named captain Ben Creagh and prop Dan Hunt although either or both could return from injury later in the week. Gold Coast head south with the same 17 which narrowly fell to Manly last Sunday although Paul Carter is believed to be battling a shoulder injury and interim coach Neil Henry will take Tom Kingston as cover. Titans co-captain Greg Bird plays his 200th NRL match while veteran Luke Bailey returns to his old stomping ground in what will be his 150th appearance for the Titans.

Key: The halves. Experienced pair Gareth Widdop and Benji Marshall have clicked well following the ex-Tiger's return to the NRL while Aidan Sezer and Daniel Mortimer are still working on their fledging partnership.

Tip: Dragons

MONDAY, Aug 25

Penrith v Melbourne at Sportingbet Stadium 7.00pm

Head to Head: Panthers 7 Storm 20

Last clash: Round 2 2014 - Storm 18 bt Panthers 17 at AAMI Park

Tab Sportsbet: Panthers $2.60 Storm $1.52

FootyTAB: Panthers +4.5

Penrith are the NRL top-four upstarts who refuse to go away while Craig Bellamy's quietly efficient Storm are building plenty of momentum ahead of finals football. Having held off then fifth-placed North Queensland by a point last Monday, the Panther again face a fifth-placed team after the Storm replaced the Cowboys with a big win over Cronulla. Both teams head into this one with unchanged line-ups although hooker James Segeyaro must be in doubt for the Panthers after injuring his ankle in atrocious conditions against the Cowboys. The Storm historically have the wood on the Panthers but Penrith won this clash last year and only lost by one point in round two in Melbourne this season.

Key: If Jamie Soward can repeat the stunning display he put in against the Cowboys, Penrith will feel confident of continuing their fine run.

Tip: Panthers




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