NRL Round 9 preview: Every game analysis

The ninth round of the NRL competition is here! With a favorite son ready to face his old team and a few big names ready to return from injury, I think we’re in for a sensational weekend of football.

South Sydney Rabbitohs v Brisbane Broncos, Thursday 7:50 p.m., Accor Stadium

We’ve been waiting for this for nine rounds, and tonight we finally see Adam Reynolds against his former club. He missed their first game of the first round due to injury, but is now ready to face the Bunnies.

The Souths have been a real mixed bag this season and will be looking to steady the ship. They won last week 40-22 against a manly team that had just 12 men, and the previous round they fell to the Tigers 23-22. They’re currently 6th on the ladder and won’t like not to be in the top four.

Brisbane enters this game looking for their third win on the trot. After a shock 16-7 victory over the Sharks in the last round, the Broncos squeezed in 8and place for 24 hours before the results of the rest of the weekend bring them back to 9and.

Brisbane will enter the game without two of their big boys. Payne Haas is out after injuring his shoulder while playing soccer, and Kurt Capewell is out after injuring his neck in the unusual way of drying himself off with a towel. Souths welcome back Liam Knight after injury, and Latrell’s brother Shaquai Mitchell has been ruled out.

As impressive as their victory was over the Sharks, I think missing Haas and Capewell will be too much to overcome. And with the likes of Cody Walker and Damien Cook back in top form, it should be the Bunnies for the win.

Adam Reynolds. Credit: Alamy

Canberra Raiders v Canterbury Bulldogs, Friday 6pm, GIO Stadium

When 14and plays 15andwe can either be in for an absolute trash fire or an exciting game.

The Bulldogs have been full of heart but underperforming. They finally snapped a sixth consecutive losing streak last week with a 16-12 win over the Roosters and celebrated as if they had won the Grand Final.

The Raiders have been dismal. Last week’s 21-20 loss to the Warriors was their fifth in a row and yet another game where they were leading at halftime and then decided they didn’t want to score any more points that day.

Both teams have a few changes coming to this game, including the return of their captains for this battle who must win. The Bulldogs were without Josh Jackson for their last game due to Covid protocols, and the Raiders have been without Jarrod Croker all season, hoping he can inject some much-needed leadership into the team.

Elliot Whitehead also returns from the Canberra side, but a huge omission is Jack Wighton who was a naughty boy and was suspended. Adam Elliott will wear the number nine shirt and Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad is back with number one.

Brent Naden returns to the wing for the Bulldogs after missing last week’s game due to the birth of his son Onyx. Congratulations to him and his wife.

Despite Croker’s inclusion, I don’t think it will be enough to trigger a Raiders victory. They seem fair in all sorts at the moment and Canterbury will start to find their feet after winning last week. Two points for the Dogs.

Josh Addo-Carr.  Credit: Alamy
Josh Addo-Carr. Credit: Alamy

Penrith Panthers v Parramatta Eels, Friday 7.55pm, BlueBet Stadium

This battle of the west is usually heated, but I have a bad feeling that this one might be a bubbly.

Penrith have been untouchable this season, remaining the only unbeaten team. Despite their 18-4 win over the Titans last week, it came on the heels of a performance well below what we’re used to seeing from Premiers. They even went scoreless after the first half but fought back to put 18 unanswered points on the board and claim the victory.

Parramatta was also sailing pretty well, until a last-minute loss to the Tigers and then last week’s beating at the hands of the Cowboys derailed things a bit. Despite numerous injured players, there were questions about the role of coach Brad Arthur’s son Jakob at five-eights and Dylan Brown’s move to crosses. With Tom Opacic back this week, Brown can return to his normal halftime role and Jakob finds himself on the bench.

The Panthers named the same team that beat the Gold Coast last week, but there’s a chance injured Panther Brian To’o could make a comeback, having been named to the 24-man squad.

I think with the Eel’s recent injuries and form, and the Panthers wanting to make up for a terrible first half last week, it could be a whitewash of Penrith. I hope I’m wrong, and we get a cracker from a Friday night game.

Manly Sea Eagles vs Wests Tigers, Saturday 3pm, 4 Pines Park

After two thrilling wins to finally shake off the monkey, the Tigers were brought down to earth last week with a 12-6 loss to the Dragons. Manly had to play with a man down for most of their match against Souths, with the overlap proving too strong to overcome and going down 40-22.

In a boost of confidence – Tommy Turbo is in the house! Manly welcomes his star back for this round, and Rueben Garrick, who replaced Turbo, will return to the wing. Trbojevic’s younger brother, Ben, replaces the injured Brad Parker.

The Tigers miss Luciano Leilua who had a real impact for the team and is replaced by Alex Seyfarth. Stefano Utoikamanu returns from injury and Jake Simpkin returns to hooker with Jacob Liddle dropped.

Manly put in a ton of effort with just 12 men last weekend, and the Tigers really lost the spark they showed in their previous two games. But something tells me they will bounce back from their loss and put on a better performance against the Sea Eagles. Call me crazy, but I go Tigers for the upset.

Tom Trbojevic.  Credit:
Tom Trbojevic. Credit:

Sydney Roosters v Gold Coast Titans, Saturday 5.30pm, BB Print Stadium

I really like my football. But I’m not going to lie, I won’t be counting the seconds until kickoff for this one.

The Roosters have been mediocre this season, but the Titans have been terrible. Both teams are coming off last-round losses, with the Roosters shocked by the Dogs and the Titans less shocked by the Panthers.

Daniel Tupou returns from suspension for the Habs, and Adam Keighran’s return to the team last week was short-lived as he is now ruled out with an ankle injury.

It is the Titans who will be missing their biggest star though, with David Fifita set to sit out the next four games with a knee injury. The one that makes me scratch my head is the fact that Kevin Proctor retained his place in the 13 – coach Justin Holbrook obviously didn’t see my comment last week that he should cut the oranges.

Maybe the teams will surprise us and put on a show for everyone in Mackay, but I doubt it. Roosters to win.

North Queensland Cowboys v Newcastle Knights, Saturday 7.30pm, Queensland Country Bet Stadium

The Cowboys are on fire right now! Playing sensational footy, shutting down all their critics and enjoying their view for 3rd place. They crushed the Eels last week and have every right to do it again this week against the Knights.

Newcastle come into this game with all sorts of problems. Plagued by injuries, a lack of confidence and seemingly short of effort, their final round at the hands of Melbourne was their sixth straight loss.

The same Cowboys team from last week will run out Saturday night, and why not? Everyone is playing superbly – Scott Drinkwater is in top form, Valentine Holmes is playing like he’s stepped back in time and Jason Taumalolo is back to his best wrecking ball.

The poor Knights had to put together another makeshift combination, with Tex Hoy and Phoenix Crossland replacing Jake Clifford and Adam Clune. In positive news, Dominic Young and Lachlan Fitzgibbon have been named to the squad, both back from injury.

I’m sure the Knights will put on a better performance against the Cowboys, and maybe even score a try. But not being earn enough. The Cowboys will get both points very comfortably.

Scott Drinkwater.  Credit: Alamy
Scott Drinkwater. Credit: Alamy

Melbourne Storm v St George Illawarra Dragons, Sunday 2pm, AAMI Park

The Storm are just another level to most of the competition, winning their last two games 120-14. Not that you would expect anything less from a team with the likes of Munster, Grant and Paps.

The Dragons have touched a purple spot themselves, with last week’s victory over the Tigers their third in a row. Ben Hunt is in fine form, guiding his team through the park and raising his hand for the Origin selection.

Not too many disruptions either side, with Jordan Grant taking the place of injured Tepai Moeroa on the bench for the Storm, and Jack Bird named for the Red V but not a certainty to play while dealing with an injured knee .

I think the Dragons will play well, but then the Storm will shift into another gear and do what they do best. A Storm victory to help celebrate 200 years of Kenny Bromwichand Game.

Cronulla Sharks vs. New Zealand Warriors, Sunday 4pm, PointsBet Stadium

A very interesting match to end the round.

Cronulla were one of the teams informed about the competition, whose latest performances have seen them lose ground. After a surprise loss to the Broncos last week, they will be looking to turn things around.

Despite sitting 11and on the scale, when it comes to the Warriors, you never know which team is going to get off the bus. Two weeks ago they were thrashed 70-10 by Melbourne, and last week they fought their way from behind to beat the Raiders 21-20 to the gold point.

Shark captain Dale Finucane is another star set to return from injury, while Cam McInnes comes on the bench. Sitting alongside McInnes is Wade Graham, who returned last week after a long break with a blow to the head and walked through the game unscathed.

Another player returning after a blow to the head is Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, who lost a fight to Nelson Asofa-Solomona’s knee in Warrior’s game against Storm on ANZAC Day.

Cronulla is expected to win this, with the Sharks wanting to return to winning form. But if the likes of Shaun Johnson and Reece Walsh take control of the game, it could be much closer than many predict.

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Raymond I. Langston