NRL Preview: Fifita boosts Broncos, Morgan returns & Green set for Knights debut

We’ve previewed each game in round 13 of the NRL.

Thursday, August 6

St George Illawarra Dragons v Sydney Roosters (10:55am)

The Dragons again put in plenty of effort and were well and truly in the game but despite their attack yielding plenty of positives, their defence showcased its weaknesses in conceding 32 points against the Bunnies last week. The Dragons now sit four points outside the top eight in 12th as they struggle to find some form of consistency. The Roosters, meanwhile, have done well to stick within the top four as they have not had it all their own way the last couple of weeks against the likes of the Warriors or the Titans as they deal with injuries.

Team news: Adam Clune returns from injury to slot in the Dragons halves as Corey Norman is dropped. Trent Merrin is back on the Dragons bench.

Lachlan Lam is in the Roosters halves with Kyle Flanagan out. Josh Morris is back after a calf issue.

Friday, August 7

Manly Sea Eagles v New Zealand Warriors (9am)

The Sea Eagles come into this one undoubtedly looking to rectify a huge loss to Penrith last week but with their current injury concerns that sees the likes of Tom Trbojevic, Dylan Walker, Brad Parker and Curtis Sironen all facing knocks, and it looks to be no easy task as they now sit outside the top eight. They also now face a Warriors side that have seen a slight resurgence over the last two rounds after putting in a valiant effort against Sydney before then being triumphant over the Tigers last week.

Team news: The injury bug strikes Manly yet again as Dylan Walker (foot) is replaced by Cade Cust and Tevita Funa replaces Brad Parker at centre.

After Blake Green’s mid-season move to Newcastle, Chanel Harris-Tavita starts at half-back for the Warriors.

South Sydney Rabbitohs v Brisbane Broncos (10:55am)

The Rabbitohs fought back to take an impressive come from behind win over the Dragons in last week’s Indigenous Round. Even more amazing is the fact that all the points scored by the Bunnies were by their own superstar Indigenous players in Cody Walker, Latrell Mitchell and Alex Johnston. The victory sees Wayne Bennett’s men thrust themselves back into the top eight. The Broncos still continue to find a way to end their horror run of nine losses in 10 games but despite having a win slip through their fingers against Cronulla, there were still some impressive performers on show with Kotoni Staggs showcasing why he is one of the best young centres in the world.

Team news: South Sydney’s Adam Reynolds has been selected despite leaving the field with a knock last week. Jaydn Su’A is out due to being suspended for dangerous contact and Jack Johns is expected to come into the squad.

The Broncos will be bolstered by the returning David Fifita while Brodie Croft moves back into the halves to partner Tom Dearden. Anthony Milford is set to be out for a few weeks due to a hamstring injury.

Saturday, August 8

Melbourne Storm v Canterbury Bulldogs (6am)

After dismantling the Knights last week, Melbourne continue on track for back-to-back Minor Premierships as they sit just behind Penrith in second. The loss of Cameron Smith due to injury may have its effects but the Storm have plenty of firepower at their disposal with Cameron Munster certainly more than capable of pulling the strings. The last placed Bulldogs have made a go of things in recent weeks after knocking over Newcastle before then putting a together a valiant display against Parramatta in last week’s Indigenous Round. However, nothing less than 100% will be needed if they want to upset Craig Bellamy’s side.

Team news: Cameron Smith’s shoulder injury means Brandon Smith starts at hooker while Nicho Hynes is named at full-back with Ryan Papenhuyzen being rested. Marion Seve (ear) is out with Justin Olam returning at centre for Melbourne.

Aiden Tolman moves to bench with Ofahiki Ogden selected at prop while Sione Katoa starts at hooker for the Bulldogs.

Newcastle Knights v Wests Tigers (8:30am)

After being perfectly situated in the race for the top four, Newcastle are now on the back of two straight defeats after falling to both Canterbury and Melbourne in the last couple of rounds and sit on the cusp of the NRL finals in seventh. The Tigers, meanwhile, have looked red hot at some points this year but again inconsistency creeps into the situation in 10th and two points away from a play-off spot. Both of their quests to stay within the top eight race makes this one a lot more enticing and could come down to which pair of halves are able to orchestrate their side the best as Mitchell Pearce partners up with new recruit Blake Green for Newcastle and Luke Brooks once again links up with Benji Marshall for the Tigers.

Team news: New Knights signing Blake Green starts at stand-off with Kurt Mann filling the hooker role. Bradman Best (ankle) is replaced by Gehamat Shibasaki at centre.

A host of changes for the Tigers as Moses Mbye slots in at dummy half and Matt Eisenhuth moves to loose forward due to the injuries of Harry Grant (knne) and Alex Twal (ribs). Joey Leilua (suspension) returns at centre and Luke Brooks replaces Billy Walters in the Tigers halves.

Penrith Panthers v Canberra Raiders (10:35am)

The last match up on Saturday has all the potential to be one of the games of the round as table toppers Penrith take on a Canberra side that despite their own injuries worries have fought well to be fifth in the league. There is no question the Panthers remain the most in form side of the competition after seven straight wins, their last of which was a demolition of Manly last week. The Raiders were boosted by a returning John Bateman in their win over North Queensland last week. The Raiders maybe situated on a decent spot on the ladder but their attack and defence will have step it up a gear if they want to get themselves into the top four.

Team news: Young Penrith star Charlie Staines sits out with a hamstring issue, with Malaki Watene-Zelezniak being the new face on the wing.

A let off for Canberra sees Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad (finger) return at full-back for Canberra and with that Jordan Rapana moves over the wing.

Sunday, August 9

Gold Coast Titans v North Queensland Cowboys (5:05am)

A Queensland shootout kicks off Sunday and with both sides way outside the top eight, there does not look to be much to play for in terms of a finals spot but no doubt either side will be looking to get one over their interstate rivals. The Titans gave the Roosters a scare last week after an 18-12 loss while the Cowboys fell just short in their attempt to knock over Canberra.

Team news: Only noteworthy change for the Titans sees Sam Lisone moving back onto the bench and Sam Stone drop out.

The biggest change for North Queensland sees Michael Morgan makes his comeback from injury to start at stand-off and Jake Clifford drop to the reserves. Tom Opacic is back at centre and Josh McGuire (suspension) starts at prop.

Cronulla Sharks v Parramatta Eels (7:05am)

After an outstanding comeback win over Brisbane last week, Cronulla come into the last game of round 13 full of confidence as they now sit with six wins from their last seven games and are now well within the top four race if they keep this most recent form. However, this is a much stiffer test than Brisbane as Parramatta sit one point off first and even though they have not been in their best form as of late, they are still a very dangerous outfit that can split open any defence on a given day.

Team news: Matt Moylan is back in the Sharks halves and Briton Nikora drops to the extended bench.

There is still no Ryan Matterson for the Eels and Ray Stone is the new face on the Parramatta bench.

Watch NRL and live stream every NRL game to keep up with how Tom Burgess, John Bateman, Ryan Sutton, Elliott Whitehead, Luke Thompson and George Williams and all the others are getting on Down Under.

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