Later today we are going to see three massive games of rugby league. Pre-season favourites the Storm and Cowboys will take on the in-form Tigers and Warriors in an Auckland double header. At 7:35 Brisbane and Newcastle will face off, each side hoping to sneak into the 8.
The Melbourne Storm face a huge challenge in the 3 o’clock fixture. They have already faced Wests once this season, going down to a narrow defeat in Melbourne. They have also struggled with the new, stricter rulings from the referees this season.
The Tigers, meanwhile, will be full of confidence. They know that they have the defence to strangle any side out of a match. Benji Marshall also seems to have remembered that he made his name in rugby league as an attacking half, putting on a masterclass to down the Eels last week.
The Storm will be looking for revenge, and with the Tigers taking the game to a neutral Auckland venue the crowd will not impact this rugby league game much. If Melbourne have learned their lesson about staying onside, they have the firepower to overwhelm Wests. If they keep expecting the refs to ease off, on the other hand, the Tigers will pounce.
In the second match the undefeated Warriors will take on the hapless Cowboys in front of their home crowd. The Warriors have discovered some consistency this year, and are certainly capable of winning this game. They will welcome back Shaun Johnson, which will bring the Auckland side a lift.
The Cowboys will be stinging after a big loss at home last week, and with their roster can never be written off. With Jason Taumalolo, Johnathan Thurston and Michael Morgan in the team anything is possible. North Queensland will come good at some point this season – the only question is when.
The final game of the day will be between the Broncos and Knights, in Newcastle. These teams both look like mid-table sides this year, so it should be a close encounter. Mitchell Pearce and Anthony Milford will both try to remind the Origin coaches of what they can do.
Both sides will be trying to make up for losses in the last few weeks and get their seasons back on track. This will be a game between two very evenly matched sides, with the Broncos possibly having the edge in defence while in Pearce the Knights have a very good running half.