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2017 NRL Round 14 preview and expert tips

Posted on 07/06 by Joe Gann

2017 NRL Round 14 preview and expert tips

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Cronulla Sharks v Melbourne Storm betting
Team Odds
Cronulla Sharks $1.90 Bet Now
Melbourne Storm $1.90 Bet Now

The Sharks benefit from a bye round following Origin going into Round 14, and the break may prove to be important as they welcome the table-topping Melbourne Storm to the Shire this week. Andrew Fifita stole the headlines during Game 1 of the Origin series, and the Sharks will be hoping that his breathtaking form will continue for the remainder of the campaign.

The Sharks have the upper hand, triumphing in the last two meetings between the sides but the Storm will be desperate to avoid a hat-trick of defeats and help extend their lead at the top of the table. A big reason for the Sharks' success in those victories was the ability to nullify Cooper Cronk's influence on the match, and it will be interesting to see if similar tactics are deployed here; and if so, whether the Storm can counteract them.

Billy Slater has surely played his way back into the Origin reckoning after a towering performance last week against the Knights; with two tries in addition to two assists, it is almost impossible for Kevin Walters to ignore the clamour for the Queensland legend to be reinstated in the side. After enjoying a richly deserved post-Origin breather, it is highly unlikely that Cameron Smith will sit this one out against Melbourne's fierce rivals prior to the Knights match, the Storm had only won once in ten outings in the absence of their skipper.

With the sides currently battling it out for top spot on the ladder, this grand final rematch between these two bitter rivals will surely not disappoint.

Selection: Storm to win

Manly Sea Eagles v Newcastle Knights betting
Team Odds
Manly Sea Eagles $1.21 Bet Now
Newcastle Knights $4.45 Bet Now

The Sea Eagles improved a dismal home record with only their second win at Brookvale courtesy of a Daly Cherry-Evans field goal. The second half was a case of the notoriously flaky Silvertails managing to regain their composure to fend off a determined Raiders comeback.

Jorge Taufua, unfortunately, sustained an ACL injury that has ended his season but news that Tom Trbojevic could make a shock return this week, just four weeks after suffering knee and ankle injuries will be a huge boost. It could be said that Manly are overperforming this term considering that they are missing around $1m of their salary cap due to the retirements of Steve Matai and Brett Stewart, with coach Trent Barrett stamping his authority on the club in his second season at the helm.

Newcastle never really had a chance against the Storm last week as the Minor Premiers launched a devastating early assault on Nathan Brown's team. Faced with Suliasi Vunivalu's opening minute try and a Storm side enjoying 60% possession and 85% completion rate, it wasn't until the 72nd minute that the Novocastrians got a play of the ball in the Melbourne twenty metres and they were never seriously in the contest.

However, it won't be this kind of game, against the sides in the top echelon, that defines their year. The battling spirit they possess will ensure that they continue with the solid progression they have made so far.

Selection: Sea Eagles to win

Brisbane Broncos v South Sydney Rabbitohs betting
Team Odds
Brisbane Broncos $1.26 Bet Now
South Sydney Rabbitohs $3.90 Bet Now

Benji Marshall was outstanding in last week's loss to the Roosters, deputising for Anthony Milford who was recovering from a concussion suffered in Origin. Both Milford and Kodi Nikorima are expected to return in time to face the Rabbitohs this weekend, to help boost the ranks of a squad that has been shorn of its key personnel over recent rounds.

A battling display against the Roosters saw the Broncos lose out 18-16; it was a high-quality game, a fact that is especially impressive given that nine players were present that appeared in the Origin game just 72 hours previously. The Broncos are having to cope with the unfamiliar feeling of back-to-back defeats and will be confident of remedying that now they can boast a full complement of players once more.

A poor recruitment philosophy has contrived to weaken the Bunnies this year and losing the calibre of players of Luke Keary, Cameron McInnes and Nathan Brown, then subsequently watching as the trio enjoy stellar campaigns with their new teams must be particularly nauseating. The team doesn't seem to have advanced from winning the Premiership in 2014 and a non-existent succession plan in the intervening period has seen the club go backwards.

Coming up against a full-strength Broncos is a daunting prospect, but Souths will still recall the contentious circumstances in which they were narrowly edged out in the corresponding fixture back in Round 8.

Selection: Broncos to win

Gold Coast Titans v New Zealand Warriors betting
Team Odds
Gold Coast Titans $1.73 Bet Now
New Zealand Warriors $2.11 Bet Now

The Titans lack of control in matches is their biggest weakness. They have ample ability in the side, and that is reflected by their potential to amass sizeable scores this campaign. However, a lot of their points come from opportunism where off-the-cuff passages of play have been successful.

The burden on their defensive line is evident with the fatigue shown in the latter part the game against the Cowboys. The defensive workload eventually took its toll as the North Queensland side overhauled an 8-6 half-time lead for the Titans to run out 20-8 victors.

The game against the Eels last weekend was a game that the Warriors needed to, and should have, won. Up against a side that was rocked by a number of mid-match injuries, the fact that Stephen Kearney's men were undone by an inferior desire to win is unacceptable. The Kiwis were outmanoeuvred by a motivated Parramatta who displayed a grit and determination sorely lacking in their opponents.

The flashes of class that they offered up were not backed by any consistency of play and the difference in attitude between the two teams was stark. In what is usually a profitable time of the season for the Warriors, their inability to raise their performance level says a lot about the mentality at Mt Smart.

Selection: Titans to win

Penrith Panthers v Canberra Raiders betting
Team Odds
Penrith Panthers $1.82 Bet Now
Canberra Raiders $1.99 Bet Now

After an inauspicious start to this campaign, the Panthers are finally beginning to make amends as they stretch their unbeaten run to three games. With their comprehensive win over the Bulldogs, they helped inflict more misery on the hapless Canterbury side.

The decision to move Matt Moylan to five-eighths paid dividends as the Panthers produced a record win over the Dogs and his prominent display will probably see him continue in the role this week. Josh Mansour enjoyed an ideal comeback with a try and an assist in his first game back after a long lay-off with a serious knee injury. The game was only the third time this season that they have gone into the sheds leading one of the major negatives of their performances so far. Could this finally be the start of their resurrection or just another false dawn? They are now just two points off a coveted top eight slot, and this has the potential to be a huge game for them.

The Canberra conundrum continues; the Green Machine have scored the most points in the competition with 296 and are starting to develop the instinct to grind out results, despite narrow reversal to the Sea Eagles last time out. The not insignificant problem lies in the fact that the Vikings are residing in ninth position on the ladder, a fact that can be mainly attributed to a leaky defence.

A valiant second-half fightback almost saw the Raiders record an unlikely victory against the Sea Eagles, with the reliable right-side combination of Jordan Rapana and Joey Leilua almost helping to drag the Green Machine back into this contest. This was the third time they have lost to a golden point in three months, and events worsened with the news of injuries to key props Shannon Boyd and Dunamis Lui - both to damaging knee injuries.

Selection: Panthers to win

Parramatta Eels v Nth Queensland Cowboys betting
Team Odds
Parramatta Eels $1.90 Bet Now
Nth Queensland Cowboys $1.90 Bet Now

The Eels finished their last match with just one fit player on the bench in a display of immense fortitude against the Warriors. A gargantuan performance from Nathan Brown helped pave the way for a victory that was testament to the spirit that is embedded in Brad Arthur's side. Corey Norman may be back this week which may prompt another positional switch for Clint Gutherson, whose versatility has been an invaluable commodity for the Eels this term.

It was a frustrating evening for the Cowboys against the Titans last round, with poor execution letting Paul Green's men down; in the first half, they had twenty tackles in the opposition's twenty without scoring, and it is these types of wasted opportunities that would have been punished by a better side. Coach Green has refused to be drawn on the subject of Johnathan Thurston's return to the team and instead chose to concentrate on a welcome victory for his side.

With Michael Morgan controlling the game, Jason Taumalolo and Coen Hess caused all sorts of problems for the opposition with a combined 365 metres. Hess illustrated why he should be included in the Maroons' squad for Game 2; NSW showed how the infusion of new blood can stimulate a group of players and Queensland boss Kevin Walters may imitate that thought process when it comes to selecting his next squad.

Selection: Cowboys to win

Wests Tigers v Sydney Roosters betting
Team Odds
Wests Tigers $3.85 Bet Now
Sydney Roosters $1.26 Bet Now

Wests suffered a fifth straight loss last weekend to leave them marooned in fifteenth place on the ladder. Despite the admirable efforts of New South Wales pair Aaron Woods and James Tedesco, the Tigers could not muster enough in the second period to enable them to take something from the game.

They can take solace from the fact that last week's defeat at the hands of the Dragons at least witnessed an improvement in the team - something that wasn't particularly difficult given the poor recent results. This was the first time the team had scored points since Round 10 a barren period of 155 minutes of game time.

The Roosters joined the Dragons and the Sharks on 18 points after emerging victorious from a fierce battle with the Broncos. Boyd Cordner, fresh from inspiring NSW to a record victory in Game one, followed up with a commanding performance that saw the new Blues' captain notch two match-altering tries to shift momentum the Roosters' way. He completed 24 from 25 tackles and 151 metres from 18 carries.

They have navigated the tricky opening Origin-influenced fixtures well with a gutsy defeat by the Raiders the only downside. They will be red-hot favourites this week, up against a struggling Wests.

Selection: Roosters to win

Canterbury Bulldogs v St George Illawarra Dragons betting
Team Odds
Canterbury Bulldogs $2.62 Bet Now
St George Illawarra Dragon $1.50 Bet Now

The Bulldogs look like a team completely devoid of spirit at the minute. A demoralising fourth successive loss has led to panic at Belmore, with a crisis meeting scheduled for Monday. With fans plotting a boycott of Monday's game, there is an air of desperation around the club.

The team are playing seemingly without attacking flair or even intent, and the absence of Josh Reynolds the Dogs haven't won since he was injured in Round 9 and have averaged just 10 points per game during the same period - is something they are going to have to get used to, with the playmaker switching to the Tigers at the close of the season.

They will be praying that he returns this week, alongside James Graham and Brett Morris to help alleviate some of the pressure at a club who find themselves down in fourteenth place - just two points ahead of the hapless Tigers.

Gareth Widdop starred for the Dragons on his return to the side against Wests last week; an effervescent display in which the Englishman delivered a double demonstrated the influence that the playmaker has on the side. This was the first time that the Red V has recorded back-to-back wins since he was injured on ANZAC day; six points from the last three rounds has helped propel the club back into the top four. Tyson Frizzell's rib injury is not as bad as first feared and he may be back to face the Bulldogs on Monday.

Selection: Dragons to win

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