NRL Preview: Bulldogs bow for Watene-Zelezniak, Origin stars return, Mbye at centre

We have taken an in-depth look into the fixtures for round 14 of the NRL season.

Canberra Raiders v Cronulla Sharks

This is a perfect chance for both teams to try and breakaway as they both sit level in fourth on 16 points. This could potentially be the match of the round as the Raiders and Sharks look for back-to-back wins. From looking over past results, there has not been one team that consistently dominated the other and this game could prove to be a toss up once again. Canberra’s imperious defence with their British invasion will have to work hard again against a team headlined by the likes of Matt Moylan and Josh Morris.

Team news: The Raiders name the same 17-man squad that beat the Tigers but with Josh Papalii and Dunamis Lui coming into start. Ryan Sutton and Sio Soliola move to the bench.

After being rested last week, Sharks centre Morris comes back in at centre, with Josh Dugan moving onto the wing. Shaun Johnson is named in the reserves but could make his return from injury.

Gold Coast Titans v New Zealand Warriors

The Titans proved exactly what they are capable of in last week’s 26-18 win over the Broncos. Their under-pressure halves were at their creative best after a string of inconsistent displays.

They are not on their own though when it comes inconsistent performances, with the Warriors having their own issues in that regard. They come off a loss to Melbourne last week and now face more pressure to compete with some of the NRL’s bigger teams. Their star man, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, is undoubtedly the linchpin of the team and needs to cause a bigger threat here then he did against the Storm.

Team news: A reshuffle in the Titans back-row sees Bryce Cartwright and Tyrone Peachey named to start in place of Kevin Proctor (fractured eye socket) and Keegan Hipgrave (suspended).

There are no huge changes for the Warriors as they promote Patrick Herbert to the centre and place Jazz Tevaga on the bench.

North Queensland Cowboys v Wests Tigers

There is plenty to play for in this game in terms of a post-season spot as both teams sit equal on 12 points and just outside the top eight. The Cowboys fought hard against Manly but were unable to get across the line. However, they still have the better form and if the Tigers performed as they did in their loss to Canberra then North Queensland will fancy their chances. A big improvement defensively will be needed from the Tigers and the Cowboys will look for their half-backs to be much steadier in attack this time around.

Team news: The Cowboys see Enari Tuala move to centre for Mitchell Dunn (shoulder), while the front-row sees the injured Jordan McLean (hamstring) replaced by Scott Bolton.

Despite suffering injuries last week, Benji Marshall and Mahe Fonua are still both named to start, while Tigers captain Moses Mbye is back at centre and Robert Jennings slots back in on the wing.

Melbourne Storm v Newcastle Knights

What a match up we have here as Storm take on the high-flying Knights who now sit in fourth place after six wins in a row.  This will be a prime chance for Nathan Brown’s Knights to pull away from the top four themselves but face another tough test against Melbourne. If they can stick to playing with the confidence that they did against the Rabbitohs and the Roosters, then they can come away with the win here, too. Storm’s uncompromising forward pack and the genius of Cam Munster could make it exceptionally difficult for the Knights though and will want to cement their place at the top of the league with a win here.

Team news: Craig Bellamy has no trouble in naming the exact same 17 that beat the Warriors with ease last time out.

The biggest boost for Newcastle sees Queensland star Kalyn Ponga back in the number one jersey again.

South Sydney Rabbitohs v Penrith Panthers

After an impeccable run that saw seven straight wins, the Rabbitohs have seen their fortunes turn slightly as they have suffered back-to-back losses against Parramatta and Newcastle. The Origin period and a selection of injuries have not been kind to Souths and with captain Sam Burgess now on the sidelines, the Rabbitohs have it all to do.

The Panthers, however, are fresh off three consecutive wins after knocking over the Roosters last time out. Despite the turn in form for both teams, this still proves to be another strong test for Ivan Cleary’s Panthers. Penrith’s half-backs will have to be at their startling best as they were against Sydney last week, making most of their possession and not allowing the likes of Cody Walker and Damien Cook to take advantage.

Team news: The Rabbitohs see the return of both Cody Walker and Kyle Turner, while Liam Knight and Ethan Lowe are both given a shot with Tom (suspended) and Sam (shoulder) Burgess out.

Cleary takes comfort in naming the same squad that beat the reigning NRL premiers last time out.

Parramatta Eels v Brisbane Broncos

A game with plenty at stake here as Brisbane could see themselves jump into the top eight with a win. They face an Eels side short on confidence, with only one win in their last five games. However, Anthony Seibold’s men will have to overcome injuries to key players in the likes of Joe Ofahengaue and Tom Dearden.

The key battle will lie between the opposite halves in Anthony Milford for Brisbane and Mitchell Moses for Parramatta. The Eels will need to shape up defensively as they have one of the league’s worst defensive records and while Brisbane’s youngsters have stolen the show in recent weeks, the club’s veteran core need the step up to ease the pressure on these injuries.

Team news: The Eels bring back Jaeman Salmon at stand-off and Nathan Brown is selected at loose forward.

Dearden (syndesmosis) and Alex Glenn (medial) miss out for the Broncos. A lot of pressure on the shoulders of Sean O’Sullivan who replaces Dearden but are boosted by the returns of Matt Gillett and Corey Oates.

Manly Sea Eagles v St George Illawarra Dragons

The Sea Eagles will be looking for some revenge here after the last game between the pair ended in the most controversial and dramatic of circumstances. Manly will be feeling good as red-hot duo Daly Cherry-Evans and Tom Trbojevic are both back in the squad together.

The return of Corey Norman for the Dragons seemed to prove fruitful for Paul McGregor’s men as they bullied their way past Canterbury. The Sea Eagles boast a good deal of attacking weaponry with Martin Taupau and Addin Fonua-Blake being such effective ball carriers this season and St George will have to be composed to keep them quiet.

Team news: There are no problems for either team as they both name the same 17-man squads.

Sydney Roosters v Canterbury Bulldogs

It’s hard to believe that this could be seen as must-win game for Sydney as they look to keep pace with Melbourne and South Sydney near the top. They have lost their last three games, with injuries and the Origin period affecting them somewhat and they will need to get back on track against the bottom-placed Bulldogs. However, despite sitting at the foot of the ladder, Canterbury have shown they are no pushovers against the bigger teams.

Team news: Both Latrell Mitchell and Angus Crichton are both included after being rested, while Victor Radley moves into the hooker role.

The Bulldogs are set to give a debut to Dallin Watene-Zelezniak in the centre.

Watch NRL and live stream every NRL game to keep up with how the Burgess boys, John Bateman, Ryan Sutton, Elliott Whitehead, James Graham and all the others are getting on Down Under.

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