This weekend Round 22 of the 2015 NRL Telstra Premiership takes place with another full eight games headlined by the Broncos looking to atone for an upset loss on Friday night.
Last Saturday ladder-leaders Brisbane went down to Manly in one of many Round 21 upsets and on Friday night they host the Canterbury Bulldogs at Suncorp looking to return to the form that saw them secure eight on the trot.
The team that got the better of Bennett’s boys last weekend, the Sea Eagles play in the other Friday night blockbuster this week when they return to Brookvale to play the fourth-ranked Bunnies.
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Other Round 22 highlights include Cronulla (5th) taking on North Queensland (2nd) at Shark Park with the Cowboys hoping for a win away from home as they chase the Minor Premiership, and the New Zealand Warriors (9th) playing the Dragons (7th) in one of the weekend’s toughest games to tip.
Check out our full NRL Round 22 preview below.
Brisbane Broncos vs Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs
Friday, August 7 – 7:45pm (AEST) – Suncorp Stadium
Brisbane remain number one on the ladder despite their shock 44 – 14 loss to Manly last Saturday night and will be out to atone this weekend when back home at Lang Park in a supercharged Friday night showdown. Everything the Broncos had been doing right to win eight straight leading up to their big loss to the Sea Eagles they did wrong last week and you can Bennett gave the boys a tough week. Did they learn the lessons? We’ll find out on Friday night when they host the Bulldogs who went down by 10 (38 – 28) to the Roosters last week after putting in a gusty effort to put themselves back into the game after trailing 18 – nil. Canterbury welcome back a number of key players and it’ll be close, but Brisbane should just hold them out.
Manly Warringah Sea Eagles vs South Sydney Rabbitohs
Friday, August 7 – 7:45pm (AEST) – Brookvale Oval
Last weekend was full of upsets including Manly’s massive victory over the No. 1 team in the comp, Brisbane. They now chase their third on the trot and need to beat the Bunnies to keep their finals’ dreams alive. The Sea Eagles have the momentum, the form and are back playing at Brookvale where they are hardest to beat. Souths meanwhile only just held on by four points to defeat the Panthers who are one of the worst performed teams of 2015. South Sydney need to improve on that to hold off an in-form Manly outfit at home but they’ve been making a genuine charge towards the finals from inside the Top 4 over the past few weeks so have better in them. Steve Matai is back for Manly while former Sea Eagle Glenn Stewart plays at Brookvale for the first time for the competition. Overall for the season the Rabbitohs have been the far better team but Manly are peaking late so should be a beauty.
New Zealand Warriors vs St George Illawarra Dragons
Saturday, August 8 – 3:00pm (AEST) – Westpac Stadium
New Zealand became the latest form team to go down to the giant killing Sharks last week when Cronulla travelled across the Tasman and got the better of the Warriors by four points. NZ are slipping late after the season-ending injury of Shaun Johnson a fortnight back and need to learn how to win without him if they are to get back into the Top 8 having slipped into ninth. The Red Vs meanwhile were impressive with a 46 – 24 victory at home last round, but they did only beat the Knights who put up little in the way of opposition. New Zealand will be tougher to beat and this one is played out on neutral ground. Last week’s win was St George’s first in eight games played and the return of Trent Merrin off a four match suspension will aid their cause of going back-to-back this weekend.
Cronulla Sutherland Sharks vs North Queensland Cowboys
Saturday, August 8 – 5:30pm (AEST) – Remondis Stadium
The Sharks are sitting fifth on the ladder proving one of the season’s surprise packages as they continue to beat home better fancied rivals including New Zealand last week in New Zealand. This weekend they play at Shark Park but will need any advantage they can get hosting the Cowboys who are second on the ladder and a genuine Minor Premiership threat after suffering just the one loss in their last 15 played. Last weekend they came back from a deficit to account for the Raiders (32 – 24). That was closer than they would have liked and you can bet they’ll be shooting for a bigger margin this weekend as they look to knock their fellow Queenslanders (Brisbane) off top spot. The Sharks have won six of their last seven victories by six or less so will be a super close clash.
Parramatta Eels vs Penrith Panthers
Saturday, August 8 – 7:30pm (AEST) – TIO Stadium
The Eels vs Panthers clash is one of this round’s nothing matches. It is 13th vs 12th at TIO Stadium and only really die-hard fans care much about this clash. Last Monday night Parramatta were defeated by the Gold Coast (24 – 14) and so come off a poor loss and are on the short turnaround. They are the underdogs then to beat Penrith who, surprisingly, only lost by four to the Rabbitohs last Sunday afternoon. The Bunnies are one of the form teams of the competition so that was a solid effort by the Panthers and one they’ll be looking to put in again here. This game plays up in the Northern Territory, it’s just a shame fans up the Top End don’t get a better line-up to enjoy. While Penrith tick more boxes, they do have to win without winger Robert Jennings (hamstring) so will need to dig deep.
Melbourne Storm vs Gold Coast Titans
Sunday, August 9 – 2:00pm (AEST) – AAMI Park
Melbourne are sixth on the ladder and with five games left they can still make the Top 4 if they put it all on the table now. They suffered a blow with the loss of Slater a while back now and really did hit Struggle Street, a road they were still travelling down last week when going down 34 – 16 in a massive loss to the Tigers of all teams last Friday night at Leichhardt. They’ll enjoy the home ground advantage at AAMI Park this week taking on the Gold Coast who shouldn’t be too hard to beat after playing last Monday night.
Newcastle Knights vs Sydney Roosters
Sunday, August 9 – 4:00pm (AEST) – Hunter Stadium
Newcastle are at Hunter Stadium but it matters little where the Wooden Spoon ranked team play, they’ll still lose. Don’t expect many to show up and watch the Knights get flogged again. They were thrashed 46 – 24 by the Dragons last week, but they did put those 24 points on the board somehow so can score. Sydney meanwhile come off the win over the Bulldogs from last Friday night getting the nice turnaround. The Roosters shoot for eight straight this weekend and having let in just 240 points against them this season, Newcastle will struggle to stay in touch is our guess. The only negative for the Tri-Colours is the loss of Sam Moa (wrist).
Canberra Raiders vs Wests Tigers
Monday, August 10 – 7:00pm (AEST) – GIO Stadium
The Raiders had the better of the Cowboys early last Saturday night but let things really slip in the second half. While on paper the Tigers are 15th on the ladder and should be easy to beat in Canberra, Wests surprised last round and beat Melbourne 34 – 16 so are capable of more than their ladder position suggests. This is a must win for the Green Machine (10th) and they know it. Their history this season over the Tigers is good though when they enjoyed their biggest club comeback in history and with David Shillington celebrating his 200th game there’s lots in their favour. Plus it’ll be bloody cold in Canberra, and they love the icy conditions.