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After an amazing representative weekend, it's back to business for club footy.
Not only do we have some sensational games ahead of us, but this round also happens to be the very important Beanies for Brain Cancer Round.
Make sure you get out and purchase a beanie to help the Mark Hughes Foundation raise funds to fight brain cancer.
Let's check out the upcoming matches for round 16!
Manly Sea Eagles v Melbourne Storm, Thursday 7.50pm at 4 Pines Park
The Sea Eagles were left red-faced after having their pants pulled down last round. They were sitting pretty with seven minutes to go and leading 26-12, only for the Cowboys to score three quick tries to snatch a 28-26 victory. Manly now find themselves in tenth spot and trying to get back into the top eight.
The Storm were down 16-6 at halftime in their last match against the Broncos, but the halves combination of Munster and Hughes steered the ship back on track beautifully for a 32-20 win. Currently second on the ladder, Melbourne just seem to keep on keeping on.
Manly have named Jurbo and DCE to back up from Origin, along with Tongan players Christian Tuipulotu and Tolutau Koula. Samoan stars Josh Schuster and Marty Taupau will also play, but their teammate Josh Aloiai is out with a concussion he picked up during the test match.
Munster and Harry Grant have been picked to play for Melbourne, despite Munster looking a little worse for wear in the sheds after Origin. Their fellow Maroon Felise Kaufusi will miss this match for family reasons. The Bromwich brothers, Hughes and Brandon Smith have all been named after representing the Kiwis, same as Fiji's Tui Kamikamika and PNG's Justin Olam. Ryan Papenhuyzen has been named on the reserves list after being out with injury and Covid, but he may make his way into the 17.
Both teams have a lot of players backing up from rep duty and aren't at 100 per cent, but Manly still haven't beaten a top eight side this season. It won't start with this game, unfortunately - Storm for the win.
Newcastle Knights v Gold Coast Titans, Friday 6.00pm, McDonald Jones Stadium
Oh wow. What a game this will be! (Yes, that was sarcasm. Sorry!)
The Knights were unlucky last round, after coming back from 14-0 down to be ahead 18-14 with only minutes to go for Canberra to score a converted try at the death. They have slipped down to 12th on the ladder, with coach Adam O'Brien feeling the noose around his neck getting tighter.
Same for Titans coach Justin Holbrook, he must be sleeping with one eye open. He watched his side go down 18-10 to the Sharks despite so many chances to get back into the game, and they now find themselves outright last.
Kalyn Ponga won't be playing after copping a concussion in Origin, so Tex Hoy jumps in at fullback. Dane Gagai is set to back up, and there is also a very slim chance for Daniel Saifiti and Bradman Best to return from injury.
Big Tino will be back after playing for the Maroons, same for Moeaki Fotuaika who played for Tonga. A big plus for the visitors is the return of David Fifita from knee injury, who has been named on the bench.
This is not going to be high end viewing. Both teams are struggling and their coaches hanging on for dear life. If you have anything better to do, go and do that. But if you do find yourself watching this match, you should see a Knights victory at home.
Penrith Panthers v Sydney Roosters, Friday 7.55pm, BlueBet Stadium
The Panthers made light work of the lowly ranked Warriors last round, handing them a 40-6 hiding. Still enjoying their view form the top, the premiers don't seem to be slowing down on their way to back-to-back premierships.
The hot and cold season for the Roosters continues, after their 26-16 loss to the Eels. While it was a very exciting game, the tricolours came up with too many errors and were overrun by Parramatta. They have since fallen out of the top eight and find themselves in ninth spot.
Penrith have a million players backing up from Origin and test duties. The Rooster's Luke Keary has another week out as he is still suffering with concussion, so Sam Walker jumps into halfback with Drew Hutchison to wear the number six. All representative players have been named, along with Victor Radley who returns from an ankle injury.
I don't have a good read on this one. There should be enough time between rep round and this game for the players to have rested, but there are so many players backing up. I'm going the Panthers but not convincingly.
Canterbury Bulldogs v Cronulla Sharks, Saturday 3.00pm, CommBank Stadium
The Bulldogs made it two wins last round, proving too strong in their 36-12 win over the Tigers. Matt Burton is proving to be one of the signs of the season, with another strong performance leading to a Blues jersey. They are slowly making their way up the ladder, now sitting in 13th spot, and are determined to keep on going. Mick Potter seems to be doing everything right in the coach's box.
The Sharks were one of the inform teams of season 2022, but the wheels seem to have fallen off a bit recently. While still getting wins, and sitting nicely in fourth spot, they just don't seem to be playing with the same flare as they were earlier on. They beat the Titans 18-10 last round, but this is a side that they should have thrashed. They made more errors and just couldn't seem to get out of their own way.
Burton has been named to play after his Origin debut, so the Bulldogs will play with the same 17 that beat the Tigers. Likewise for Cronulla, with Siosifa Talakai and Nicho Hynes named to play, as well as Ronaldo Mulitalo after he represented New Zealand, coach Craig Fitzgibbon has selected the same side that beat the Titans.
I know the Sharks are the favourites, and the Dogs are still only sitting on four wins with a long way to go. But they have produced some great footy that last two rounds, and Cronulla have been average. Call me crazy, but I'm tipping Canterbury.
Nth Queensland Cowboys v Brisbane Broncos, Saturday 5.30pm at Queensland Country Bank Stadium
The local derby between the Queensland siblings has rolled around again!
Little Brother Cowboys, continue to show the competition they are a force to be reckoned with after the heroic efforts in their last round match against Manly. Down 26-12 with seven minutes to go, the Cowboys smashed out three quick tries for a 28-26 to steal the victory. Holding firm their spot in third position, these guys are just on fire.
Then we have the Big Brother Broncos. Another team putting last season behind them, they have been forging ahead and find themselves in fifth spot. Even without star recruit Adam Reynolds for many of their games, Brisbane have been putting in a stellar effort, but were eventually outclassed in their last round match to go down to the Storm 32-20.
This is another game with a lot of players backing up from rep duty. Taumalolo played for Tonga, Holmes, Taulagi and Nanai all represented Queensland, and have all been named to play. Tom Gilbert returns from injury, and Luciano Leilua will make his debut for the Cowboys after his mid-year switch from the Tigers.
Adam Reynolds returns from injury which will be a huge boost for the Broncos. Payne Hass has been named despite picking up an injury playing for NSW, and Maroons players Carrigan, Capewell and Cobbo (sounds like a law firm) have also been named. Similarly, Kotoni Staggs and Keenan Palasai will back up after test duty.
Matches between these two are always entertaining. Brisbane is in great form and having Reynolds back will add some spark to their attack. But I cannot go past the Cowboys, especially at home. What they are doing at the moment is just incredible.
South Sydney Rabbitohs v Parramatta Eels, Saturday 7.35pm, Accor Stadium
This game should be a cracker. Both teams playing for pride and to show they are the real deal.
Souths are coming off a shock loss at the hands of the Dragons last round. After a horror start, they started to come good in the second half, but the damage had already been done, going down 32-12. The Bunnies are just inside the top eight and are desperate for a win.
The Eels bounced back from their embarrassing loss to the Bulldogs two rounds ago with a brilliant win against the Roosters last round. In a tough and entertaining match, Parramatta put in a superb effort to win 26-16. Just above Souths in sixth position, they will want to continue heading north.
It's ok Bunnies fans, you can breathe - he is back. Latrell Mitchell returns from injury for his first game since round five. Damien Cook, Cam Murray and Jai Arrow have also all been named after playing for NSW, and Tom Burgess heads to the bench to make way for Mark Nicholls returning to the front row.
The same 17 that beat the Roosters have been selected the Eels, with Junior Paulo all good after Origin, and Dylan Brown, Marata Niukore, Waqa Blake and Maika Sivo all set to play after their test matches.
Souths will me wanting to make amends for their poor efforts against the Dragons, and the Eels will be wanting to show everyone that what they did to the Roosters was not a fluke. The inclusion of Latrell is a huge for the Bunnies, but I don't think it will be enough. Parra in a close one.
New Zealand Warriors v Wests Tigers, Sunday 2.00pm, Mt Smart Stadium
Thank you, Warriors, and welcome home.
After two long years, the Warriors finally get to head back to New Zealand to play at their home ground in front of their fans.
They will be hoping for a much better performance than last round, after they were smashed by the Panthers 40-6. Their only points came in the final minutes, and their efforts pushed them further down the ladder, now in 15th spot.
The Tigers are in just as much trouble, also copping a hammering last round. The Bulldogs handed them a 36-12 loss, and the Tigers just slid down to 14th. They welcomed back Adam Douehi for the first time this season after a knee reconstruction from the interchange bench, but lost Alex Twal for the rest of the season after a serious head knock.
Everyone will be pumped and ready to run out for this one. In good news for the Warriors, all their test players are backing up, with Jazz Tevaga, Addin Fonua-Blake and Bunty Afoa all good to go.
Douehi will start again from the bench after his successful return last week, and James Tamou moves into the front row to take the place of Twal. James Roberts returns from back surgery and plays his first match since round six. David Nofoaluma will back up from representing Samoa - let' see if he can score four tries for his Tigers like he did in the test match.
Most teams would see the playing the Warriors as an easy win - and the Tigers are busting for an easy win - but not this time. There should be so much emotion to carry them over the line for their first win at home. In saying that, if finally getting play at home in front of a sell-out crowd can't get the Warriors over the line against the Tigers, then nothing will.
St George Illawarra Dragons v Canberra Raiders, Sunday 4.05pm, WIN Stadium
Both sides have found some form and are coming off last round wins - this one should be good.
The Dragons come into the match after causing a huge 32-12 upset against the Bunnies, shooting out to a 32-0 lead by half time. Ben Hunt is still proving to be one of Red V's best, leading his side beautifully and never giving up. They have pushed their way back into the top eight and will be doing everything they can to stay there.
The Raiders squandered a 14-0 lead against the Knights to find themselves trailing 18-14 with minutes to go last round. A little kick by Hudson Young - to himself - saw him score a converted try at the death to steal back a 20-18 win. Another brilliant effort from both Joseph Tapine and Adam Elliot who were enormous for the Green Machine, constantly grinding to keep their team in the match. Sitting in 11th spot, they will be hoping for a win and few other games to go their way to leapfrog a few sides.
Coach Anthony Griffin has named the same 17 that beat Souths last round, with Ben Hunt getting the green light despite carrying a leg injury from a bad tackle in Origin.
His Maroons teammate Josh Papalii has also been given the nod to back up for Canberra, along with Tapine and Jordan Rapana who represented New Zealand. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad returns from a dodgy hammy and Jack Wighton is back after beating the 'Rona.
Both teams have the potential to be brilliant and horrible. If the good versions of these sides get off the bus, this will be a great game. I know it's in the 'Gong, but I'm tipping the Raiders in another close one.
As always, enjoy the footy!
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