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NRL round-six preview

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 5/04/2017 Steve Zemek, Scott Bailey, Laine Clark and Matt Coughlan

PREVIEW OF NRL ROUND-SIX MATCHES (all times AEST):

THURSDAY April 6

Brisbane v Sydney Roosters at Suncorp Stadium, 8.05pm

Head to Head: Broncos 27 Roosters 17

Last clash: Round 26, 2016 - Broncos 24 bt Roosters 14 at Suncorp Stadium

Tab Sportsbet: Broncos $1.77 Roosters $2.05

FootyTAB: Roosters +1.5

Can Brisbane finally put it all together? They've had a patchy opening five weeks, winning two and losing three. However they've been in every match with their past four games decided by three points or fewer. Pressure continues to mount on Anthony Milford who is misfiring. The Roosters suffered their first loss last week but won't be too concerned. They've been one of the best attacking teams in the comp this year with Mitchell Pearce and Luke Keary both equal third in the league for try assists with six.

Key: Jordan Kahu has a lot to atone for following his drop-out blunder last week. Can he kick a third straight field goal?

Tip: Broncos

FRIDAY April 7

Newcastle v Canterbury at McDonald Jones Stadium, 6.00pm

Head to Head: Knights 20 Bulldogs 23

Last clash: Round 22, 2016 - Bulldogs 28 bt Knights 14 at McDonald Jones Stadium

Tab Sportsbet: Knights $2.70 Bulldogs $1.47

FootyTAB: Knights +6.5

Canterbury have finally put Des Hasler's contract wrangling behind him, and his two-year extension should give them clear air. They're searching for back-to-back wins for the first time since August last year and should do it easily against the struggling Knights. Nathan Brown's side are showing signs of improvement - they came within a whisker of upsetting the Sharks last week. Keeping that up week to week is a different proposition.

Key: Five-eighth Josh Reynolds is off contract and has a point to prove after the club was this week linked with Cooper Cronk.

Tip: Bulldogs

Penrith v South Sydney at Pepper Stadium, 8.05pm

Head to Head: Panthers 34 Rabbitohs 43 Draw 1

Last clash: Round 16, 2016 - Panthers 28 bt Rabbitohs 26 at Pepper Stadium

Tab Sportsbet: Panthers $1.60 Rabbitohs $2.35 Draw $21

FootyTAB: Rabbitohs +10.5

Penrith should have been in the box seat for this clash, but have been rocked by the axing of three players for a late-night drinking session in Melbourne last week. Captain Matt Moylan is the most high-profile of those players, however the fact he will be joined in reserve grade by Peta Hiku and Waqa Blake further weakens a backline that has already been hit by a rib injury to Tyrone Peachey. Meanwhile Souths enter the match off two straight losses and desperately need a win.

Key: How Dylan Edwards slots into the No.1 jersey for the Panthers, with an equally inexperienced backline, will be pivotal.

Tip: Panthers

SATURDAY April 8

Manly v St George Illawarra at Lottoland, 3.00pm

Head to head: Sea Eagles 9 Dragons 15

Last clash: Round 17, 2016 - Sea Eagles 36 bt Dragons 6 at Lottoland

Tab Sportsbet: Sea Eagles $1.48 Dragons $2.65 Draw $23

FootyTAB: Dragons +5.5

Few would have thought this would have been a clash between second and fifth at the start of the season. Both teams were tipped during the pre-season to finish in the bottom four, but have shocked the competition to go unbeaten for the past three weeks. The Dragons have been dealt a blow with the loss of Josh Dugan at the back with a hamstring injury. Meanwhile Manly will welcome back prop Darcy Lussick from a wrist injury for the first time this season.

Key: The Dragons have scored almost a third of their tries through kicks, while Manly are the second-best at defusing them in the NRL. Whoever continues their successful run should be a shoo-in to win.

Tip: Sea Eagles

Gold Coast v Canberra at CBus Super Stadium, 5.30pm

Head to Head: Titans 11 Raiders 8

Last clash: Round 16, 2016 - Raiders 30 bt Titans 22 at Cbus Super Stadium

Tab Sportsbet: Titans $3.30 Raiders $1.33

FootyTAB: Titans +6.5

Different week, same old problem for Gold Coast - injuries. Titans coach Neil Henry admits he has not seen anything like their horror injury toll in his 20 year coaching career and it's easy to see why. Paterika Vaivai is set to become Gold Coast's 11th debutant of the year with back-rower Joe Greenwood (concussion) in doubt. They have their fourth different fullback in six weeks. Gold Coast (1-4 record) are desperate for a win to lift morale while sweating on the return of the likes of Jarryd Hayne and Nathan Peats. Canberra have no such problems after welcoming back second-rower Elliott Whitehead from suspension and injecting him into an otherwise unchanged starting side following last round's win over Parramatta.

Key: Titans halves Ash Taylor and Kane Elgey have shown good signs but need to click to give the depleted Gold Coast any chance of a much needed victory

Tip: Canberra

North Queensland v Wests Tigers at 1300SMILES Stadium, 7.30pm

Head to Head: Cowboys 15 Tigers 17

Last clash: Round 22, 2016 - Tigers 26 bt Cowboys 14

Tab Sportsbet: Cowboys $1.15 Tigers $5

FootyTAB: Tigers +16.5

On paper, fourth-placed North Queensland look set to roll over the dead-last Wests Tigers. But Cowboys coach Paul Green has his team on high alert after the Tigers unveiled Ivan Cleary as their new mentor. Green says the Tigers will be keen to impress their new coach, describing the clash as a "danger game". Cowboys have replaced injured hooker Jake Granville (broken leg) with Ben Hampton and are sweating on fullback Lachlan Coote (calf). Kalyn Ponga has been named on the Cowboys bench but is on standby for Coote. Tigers' Matt Ballin (knee) has been replaced on the bench by Jacob Liddle in their only change to the 17 that were thrashed last round by St George Illawarra.

Key: How will Wests Tigers respond to new coach Ivan Cleary after he signed a deal until the end of 2020 with the battling club?

Tip: North Queensland

SUNDAY April 9

Warriors v Parramatta at Mt Smart Stadium, 2.00pm

Head to Head: Warriors 16 Eels 20

Last clash: Round 26, 2016 - Parramatta 40 bt Warriors 18 at Mt Smart Stadium

Tab Sportsbet: Warriors $1.77 Parramatta $2.05

FootyTAB: Parramatta +2.5

With Kieran Foran back, the Warriors will look to their spine to help them build momentum as they search for back-to-back wins. Foran along with Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Isaac Luke and Shaun Johnson have the potential to inflict serious damage if they can find their mojo. After looking like they were in for a hiding at half-time, the Eels' second-half fightback against Canberra saved them from an embarrassing capitulation. Parramatta head to New Zealand with the prospect of four losses on the trot hanging over their heads.

Key: With 80 minutes under his belt, look for Kieran Foran to have increased influence against the Eels.

Tip: Warriors

Melbourne v Cronulla at AAMI Park, 4.00pm

Head to Head: Storm 21 Sharks 11

Last clash: Grand final 2016 - Sharks 14 bt Storm 12 at ANZ Stadium

Tab Sportsbet: Storm $1.40 Sharks $3

FootyTAB: Sharks +6.5

Last year's grand finalists meet under the backdrop of Storm star Cooper Cronk announcing he will move to Sydney next year. Melbourne will be out to continue their perfect start to the season while Cronulla will have to improve sharply off last week's one-point win over lowly Newcastle with their blushes saved thanks to a 78th minute James Maloney field goal. The Storm are by far the NRL's best defensive outfit having conceded 48 points in their five wins.

Key: Cronulla will have to stamp out inconsistencies which have riddled their start to the season if they are to have any chance against Melbourne who are in superb touch.

Tip: Melbourne

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