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Preview of NRL round 25 matches

Preview of NRL Round 25 matches (all times AEST):
Preview of NRL round 25 matches
by AAP

By David Barbeler

CANBERRA, Aug 29 AAP - Preview of NRL Round 25 matches (all times AEST):

FRIDAY, Aug 30

Brisbane v Newcastle at Suncorp Stadium, 7.35pm

Head to Head: Broncos 27 Knights 12 drawn 1

Last clash: Round 21 2013 - Broncos 18 drew Knights 18 at Hunter Stadium

Tab Sportsbet: Broncos $1.70 Knights $2.20

FootyTAB: Knights +2.5

These two sides are at opposite ends of the seven team log jam vying for the remaining two finals spots. There's no two ways about it for the 13th placed Broncos, they need to win their remaining two games for an outside chance of sneaking into the top eight. The seventh placed Knights might get another chance next week, but they'll be looking to seal it here after a lacklustre 26-6 loss to the Cowboys on Saturday. After being overrun by the Panthers last Friday, the Broncos will be buoyed by the return of Alex Glenn at centre, while Knights enforcer Willie Mason returns for the suspended Kade Snowden.

Key: Knights fullback Darius Boyd. He'll need to lift his game following the loss to the Cowboys as the Knights' attack relies on him firing.

Tip: Broncos

FRIDAY, Aug 30

Wests Tigers v South Sydney at Allianz Stadium, 7.35pm

Head to Head: Tigers 9 Rabbitohs 12

Last clash: Round 10 2013 - Rabbitohs 54 bt Tigers 10 at ANZ Stadium

Tab Sportsbet: Tigers $11 Rabbitohs $1.05

FootyTAB: Tigers +18.5

A big mismatch here. Second place takes on third last. A win for the Rabbitohs sets up a blockbuster next week against the Roosters for the minor premiership. Sam Burgess' return from suspension means all four Burgess brothers will play together for the first time in the NRL. The Tigers ended a six game losing streak last week, albeit against the lowly Dragons. While Tigers skipper Robbie Farah returns from injury and Benji Marshall will be playing his 200th NRL game, this one should be all one-way traffic in favour of the Bunnies.

Key: Rabbitohs playmakers Adam Reynolds and John Sutton. With the likes of Greg Inglis and Nathan Merritt outside them, they will carve up if given room to move.

Tip: Rabbitohs


Warriors v Canberra at Mt Smart Stadium, 3pm

Head to Head: Warriors 12 Raiders 17

Last clash: Round 6 2013 - Raiders 20 bt Warriors 16 at Canberra Stadium

Tab Sportsbet: Warriors $1.26 Raiders $4

FootyTAB: Raiders +8.5

This is another do-or-die clash as both teams need a win to have a crack at making the top eight. The 12th placed Raiders have been through a week from hell. Coach David Furner was sacked, they racked up a fourth straight loss when they were beaten by Manly, and now their main strike weapon Blake Ferguson has been stood down for going AWOL, drinking while injured and being charged by police for allegedly driving under suspension. However the good news for the Raiders is the return of captain Terry Campese and forward Tom Learoyd-Lahrs. The Warriors go into this clash unchanged from their narrow win over the Titans. It would take a massive turnaround for the Raiders to get up in Auckland. They've lost nine of their 11 away matches this year.

Key: Warriors centre Konrad Hurrell. He'll aim to back up last week's rampaging performance where he scored one try, ran 197 metres and made 10 tackle breaks.

Tip: Warriors


Canterbury v Penrith at ANZ Stadium, 5.30pm

Head to Head: Bulldogs 47 Panthers 32 drawn 3

Last clash: Round 1 2012 - Bulldogs 22 bt Panthers 14 at Centrebet Stadium

Tab Sportsbet: Bulldogs $1.35 Panthers $3.25

FootyTAB: Panthers +7.5

Here's another match-up with significant finals ramifications. Looking dead and buried after four straight losses, the Panthers have resurrected their finals hopes with two wins against fellow finals contenders the Warriors and Broncos. While the Bulldogs are pretty much assured a top eight spot, they'll want a win here to secure a home final. However they'll have to do so without second rower Frank Pritchard, who has accepted a two week suspension after a shoulder charge in the loss to the Rabbitohs on Friday. With their season on the line, the Panthers have a lot more to play for and might just force a third consecutive upset.

Key: Panthers bench hooker James Segeyaro bagged a hat-trick against Brisbane last week. The Bulldogs will need to keep a close eye on him while defending close to their line.

Tip: Panthers


Manly v Melbourne at Brookvale Oval, 7.30pm

Head to Head: Sea Eagles 10 Storm 13 drawn 1

Last clash: Round 10 2013 - Storm 10 drew Sea Eagles 10 at AAMI Park

Tab Sportsbet: Sea Eagles $2.25 Storm $1.67

FootyTAB: Storm +0.5

The Storm (third) can still finish in the top two, while Manly (fourth) are yet to lock down a top four finals spot. Manly haven't beaten a top four side all year, and they'll be looking to do so here to lift their confidence heading into the finals. Manly have lost Anthony Watmough but get back fullback Brett Stewart, while Tohu Harris returns for Melbourne at the expense of Tim Glasby. Not much separates these two sides, as the Storm have won four of their last five, and Manly seven of their last eight. Like most games between these two rivals, this one will be a cracker. The Storm's recent hot form, including last week's 64-4 win over the Eels, edges them ahead as narrow favourites.

Key: The battle between fullbacks Billy Slater and Brett Stewart. There's match ups across the park, but these two excitement machines will tip the scales either way.

Tip: Storm

SUNDAY, Sept 1

Cronulla v North Queensland at Remondis Stadium, 2pm

Head to Head: Sharks 20 Cowboys 11

Last clash: Round 16 2013 - Cowboys 24 bt Sharks 4 at 1300SMILES Stadium

Tab Sportsbet: Sharks $1.53 Cowboys $2.55

FootyTAB: Cowboys +4.5

Both sides head into this clash in red hot form. Since North Queensland coach Neil Henry was informed he wasn't required at the club in 2014, the Cowboys have won four straight to jump up to eighth spot. But their last month could come crashing down at the hands of the Sharks, who can still pinch a top four finish after upsetting the Roosters on Monday. With Ray Thompson injured, Rory Kostjasyn will start at hooker for the Cowboys and Jayden Hodges, cousin of Broncos star Justin, will make his debut off the bench. The Sharks' are unchanged and their dominant win over the competition leaders last round earns them the narrow favouritism in this one.

Key: Cowboys playmaker Johnathan Thurston has been the main driver behind his side's last four wins and will pull out all the stops to sneak his side into the finals.

Tip: Sharks

SUNDAY, Sept 1

Sydney Roosters v Gold Coast at Allianz Stadium, 3pm

Head to Head: Roosters 4 Titans 6

Last clash: Round 21 2012 - Titans 36 bt Roosters 16 at Allianz Stadium

Tab Sportsbet: Roosters $1.05 Titans $11

FootyTAB: Titans +12.5

The ninth placed Titans are on the ropes. With an away match against Melbourne next week, a third straight loss here will make it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to reach the top eight. Roosters captain Anthony Minichiello returns, shifting Roger Tuivasa-Sheck to wing and Shaun Kenny-Dowall to centre. The Titans will be without Ashley Harrison and Mark Minichiello, but fortunately have Luke Bailey and Greg Bird returning. The Roosters will be out to make up for Monday night's loss against the Sharks, which ended an eight game winning streak. Expect them to bounce back for their run up towards the finals.

Key: The Titans will need to contain Roosters lock Sonny Bill Williams if they're to have any hope of saving their season.

Tip: Roosters

MONDAY, Sept 2

Parramatta v St George Illawarra at Parramatta Stadium, 7pm

Head to Head: Eels 11 Dragons 14 drawn 2

Last clash: Round 10 2013 - Dragons 32 bt Eels 12 at WIN Stadium

Tab Sportsbet: Eels $1.91 Dragons $1.91

FootyTAB: Eels +1.5

Pride. That's pretty much all there is to play for in this battle of the cellar dwellers with the wooden spoon already in the firm grips of the Eels. Eels superstar Jarryd Hayne returns to the side at fullback for Jake Mullaney, while the Dragons have brought Josh Drinkwater onto the bench for Craig Garvey. The Dragons have lost eight of their last nine games, including the last five, the most recent being a 34-18 defeat to the lowly Wests Tigers. The Eels are arguably travelling worse, losing 12 of their last 13, which culminated with a 60 point thrashing at the hands of the Storm on Sunday. The irony is that in a round full of sudden death clashes, this is probably the hardest winner to pick.

Key: The return of Jarryd Hayne to fullback could just give the Eels the firepower they need to rack up their fifth win of the season.

Tip: Eels

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