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Wednesday, December 2, 2020

NRL round 6 preview: Eels and Roosters the headline act

The two best sides since the NRL restarted three rounds ago will do battle on Saturday night.

The Sydney Roosters and the Parramatta Eels will square off at Bankwest Stadium for what promises to be an epic contest.

There are some other games to look forward to as well with the Panthers and Storm to face off on Friday night while the Raiders and Manly will play each other on Sunday. So, let’s get into it.

Newcastle Knights (4th) vs Brisbane Broncos (12th) Thursday 18 June 7.50pm @Central Coast Stadium

Thursday night footy dishes up a vital clash with the Knights trying to stay in the top 4 while the Broncos are still looking for their first win since the competition resumed 3 weeks ago.

The Knights regain backrower Lachlan Fitzgibbon for this one and will be looking to get back on the winners’ list after losing to the Storm last week.

In another boost for the Knights ahead of this game, star fullback Kalyn Ponga has signed a new $4.5 million deal to stay in Newcastle until at least the end of the 2024 season.

The Broncos put in a much-improved effort against Manly and if they can reproduce that performance, they will be right in this match.

They will be buoyed by some big inclusions with the return of captain Alex Glenn and Tevita Pangai Junior to the starting side but unfortunately lose Kotoni Staggs to a hamstring injury.

Anthony Milford will need to be at his best for the Broncos to beat the Knights. All images Getty

South Sydney Rabbitohs (10th) vs New Zealand Warriors (11th) Friday 19 June 6pm @Bankwest Stadium

Both sides will be looking to keep their momentum going after impressive wins last week.

The Rabbitohs looked much improved against the Titans last week and the sensational performance of Latrell Mitchell will give them confidence he is right man at fullback.

The Warriors got back to some attacking footy scoring 7 tries in their win over the Cowboys.

Their young forwards, Eliesa Katoa and Jamayne Taunoa-Brown, continue to impress while their halves, Blake Green and Kodi Nikorima, played their best games for the season.

They’ll need to back up that performance because the Bunnies will be a tougher team than the Cowboys were.

Penrith Panthers (5th) vs Melbourne Storm (3rd) Friday 19 June 7.55pm @Campbelltown Stadium

This one should be a beauty as two of the best teams in the competition will be at it on Friday night with both teams looking to cement their top 8 spot.

Penrith were gallant in defeat against the Eels last week and regain first choice fullback Dylan Edwards.

Nathan Cleary should be better in his second game back and they will need a better performance from their strike weapon Viliame Kikau to beat the Storm.

The Storm have improved each week since the COVID break and will need to improve again to beat the Panthers.

Cameron Smith silenced the doubters will a masterful performance last round while Cameron Munster continues to look dangerous.

This clash between two top 8 sides shapes as a ripper.

Gold Coast Titans (16th) vs St George Illawarra Dragons (14th) Saturday 20 June 3pm @Suncorp Stadium

The Titans were well off the pace last week against the Rabbitohs but receive a boost with Corey Thompson joining the club and immediately slotting in at fullback.

The Dragons finally got off the mark last round with a solid win over the Sharks and will be confident of making it two in a row against the Titans.

The change of Matt Dufty to fullback and Ben Hunt coming off the bench worked well for the Dragons so no surprise to see them named there again.

Wests Tigers (9th) vs North Queensland Cowboys (8th) Saturday 20 June 5.30pm @Campbelltown Stadium

Good luck picking the winner in this one with both sides continuing to prove how consistently inconsistent they can be.

The Tigers were much better defensively against the Raiders last round but struggled to pose many threats in attack.

Tigers coach Michael McGuire has again opted for Josh Reynolds at five-eighth instead of Benji Marshall, who is still on the outer. Another veteran of the side, Chris Lawrence, has also been dropped.

Marshall was dropped for his poor defence but based on last week’s display, the Tigers could’ve used his creativity in attack. A tough problem for McGuire.

The Cowboys form woes continued with a poor defensive effort against the Warriors and are now without star fullback Valentine Holmes.

Jason Taumalolo looked below his brilliant best last week although he still ran for 137 metres and made 53 tackles. The Warriors ran at him a lot to make sure he had to make plenty of tackles to tire him out in attack; perhaps we will see the Tigers do the same in this one.

Sydney Roosters (6th) vs Parramatta Eels (1st) Saturday 20 June 7.35pm @Bankwest Stadium

The match of the round. The two form teams of the competition do battle on Saturday night in a deadset blockbuster!

The Roosters have looked unbeatable since the NRL’s return, outscoring their opponents 129-18 in three weeks.

As if the Roosters needed to become stronger, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves returns after missing a week and will be a welcome addition coming up against an in-form Eels front-row.

The Eels produced a blistering 5 minutes of rugby league to come back and beat the Panthers last week in a cracking contest.

As mentioned before, the Eels front-row has been in great form with Reagan Campbell-Gillard and Junior Paulo both back to their best form. Their contest against Warea-Hargreaves and Siosiua Taukeiaho will be great to watch.

The Roosters and Eels promises to be a fantastic show down.

Canberra Raiders (2nd) vs Manly Sea Eagles (7th) Sunday 21 June 4.05pm @Campbelltown Stadium

Probably the other match of the round with these two sides building up a healthy rivalry over the past few seasons with some hard-fought contests.

The Raiders were back to their defensive best against the Tigers last round but will face a tougher task up against the likes of Tom Trbojevic, Dylan Walker and Daly Cherry-Evans.

The Raiders have been boosted by the return of Corey Horsburgh and Hudson Young in the battle of two heavyweight forward packs, while Dunamis Lui and Bailey Simonsson drop out of the 17.

Manly were lucky to escape last round’s game against the Broncos with a win and will need to bring their strong second-half form into this one.

They will be without Martin Taupau and Moses Suli, who are both out injured and will be big losses.

Manly beat the Raiders both times they met last year and will go into this one confident despite those omissions.  

Click here for full preview.

Jack Wighton was in superb touch last week.

Cronulla Sharks (13th) vs Canterbury Bulldogs (15th) Sunday 21 June 6.30pm @Bankwest Stadium

Both sides are in desperate need of a win if they want a chance of playing finals.

The Sharks went down to the lowly Dragons last week and have struggled to play consistently well all season.

Matt Moylan has been named as a reserve for the Sharks after missing last week with another soft tissue complaint but even if he misses again, they have enough talent to win this one.

The Bulldogs were simply beaten by a much better side last round, going down 42-6 to the Roosters.

This match is certainly a more winnable game for the Dogs and if they bring the grit they showed the week before against the Dragons, they will be right in this contest.

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