The Tigers and Benji Marshall are together again when they return to their spiritual den, Leichhardt Oval, to start NRL Indigenous round against Johnathan Thurston’s Cowboys on Nine’s Wide World of Sports tonight from 7.30pm AEST.
Under new coach Ivan Cleary, the Tigers opened the season with a roar before dropping their last three games. But with tough prop Russell Packer returning and Elijah Taylor shifted to hooker they’ll be a more formidable outfit for the Cowboys on Thursday Night Football.
Lining up for his last ever match at Leichhardt Oval, Johnathan Thurston will get a final shot at winning here after five losing attempts.
Speaking on Six Tackles with Gus, Nine rugby league expert Phil Goud said: “I like the Tigers (to win), back at home after three losses, getting a couple of troops back now. Leichhardt Oval is important. As the game wears on I think the Tigers will finish over the top of the Cowboys.
“As good as the Cowboys were last week I don’t believe they are completely back. The Cowboys got 13 penalties last week. I don’t think they will get 13 penalties at Leichhardt Oval.”
On Friday Night Football, a bitter rugby league rivalry that was born in the 1980s when both teams dominated the competition will reignite when the Bulldogs and Eels cross warpaths.
This fixture still brings out the best in both clubs, who treat it like their personal Grand Final. Both teams are desperate for a win following a slow start to the season. Rhyse Martin, who scored a try on debut last week, has been promoted to the Bulldogs starting side led by Origin forward Josh Jackson, while the Eels will bank on the energy and enthusiasm of their captain, Clint Gutherson.
Nine rugby league expert, Brad Fittler, says: “The Bulldogs were unlucky in their close loss to the Broncos last week and showed that they’re not lacking effort. I’m expecting to see the Dogs of War once again on Friday night and desperation for victory in every position.
“The Eels started very slowly last week and before they could come back it was too late, so they’ll be out to make amends. Will Smith has been named at hooker, and he poses a threat with his speed around the ruck to any tired Bulldogs forward. Expect a fiery start.”
Sunday Football takes viewers to Canberra where the Raiders face the Sharks.
The Sharks enjoy a good record at the Raiders home ground, GIO Stadium, winning their last five matches there. They will line up with Valentine Holmes at fullback and Paul Gallen returning at lock after injury, while Wade Graham and Josh Dugan remain on the sidelines.
The Sharks will rely again on Matt Moylan and Andrew Fifita who have stepped up in recent weeks in the absence of key players.
The Raiders have flown under the radar in winning four of their last five. Halves Blake Austin and Aidan Sezer have found form and will be instrumental in breaking the Sharks’ Canberra streak. Winger Jordan Rapana will take some stopping – he has scored eight tries in his last seven games against the Sharks.
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Thursday, May 10, 2018