NRL Weekly Watch: Everything to keep an eye on in Round 9
April 27, 2023
Cowboys back in the Shire for first time since postseason epic
The North Queensland Cowboys will be back in the Shire to face the Sharks this Thursday for the first time since their 92-minute, qualifying finals epic last September.
The Sharks have named the same 17 that got the job done against the Dogs last weekend with Dale Finucane still a week away from returning from suspension.
The Cowboys have also named the same 17 that snapped a three-game losing streak against Newcastle in Round 8 with Reuben Cotter named to start and Jake Granville on the interchange despite Todd Payten opting to switch the two prior to kick-off last week.
Cronulla have won eight of their past nine against the Cowboys and five of their past six against them at PointsBet Stadium.
Sharks fullback William Kennedy has scored nine tries in his past six games including a pair of hat-tricks.
Can Newcastle return to winning ways with Ponga back starting?
The Knights will look to put a pair of heartbreaking defeats behind them when they take on Parramatta at CommBank Stadium on Friday evening with Kalyn Ponga set to start in the halves for the first time since Round 1 after coming off the pine in their last-start loss.
The Eels will be without Reagan Campbell-Gillard after the star prop suffered a groin injury set to sideline him for 8-to-10 weeks which means Wiremu Greig comes into the starting side and Makahesi Makatoa joins the bench.
Bailey Simonsson (head knock) is also missing with Sean Russell shifting into the centres and Haze Dunster coming onto the wing.
Parramatta have won their past five versus Newcastle and won the only meeting between the sides at CommBank Stadium back in 2019.
Parramatta’s Maika Sivo has scored 10 past over his past seven including four doubles whilst Newcastle’s Greg Marzhew has scored six tries in six games this season including a pair of doubles.
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Broncos host Bunnies in mouth-watering Friday night showdown
The first-placed Broncos will host the fourth-placed Rabbitohs at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night in a fixture that has developed into an enticing rivalry in recent years.
Keenan Palasia has been named to start in the front-row in place of the suspended Payne Haas whilst Jock Madden makes his Broncos debut in place of the suspended Ezra Mam.
For the Rabbitohs, Tevita Tatola (knee) has been named to start pushing Hame Sele to the interchange and Daniel Suluka-Fifita to the reserves.
Brisbane have won seven of eight to start the season whilst the Bunnies have snagged four wins from their past five as they have begun hitting their straps.
Brisbane won both meetings between the sides last season and have won five of their past seven against South Sydney at Suncorp.
Dolphins make the trip to the nation’s capital fresh off historic comeback
The Dolphins make their inaugural trip to Canberra on Saturday afternoon to face a reinvigorated Raiders outfit less than a week on from their historic 26-point comeback against the Gold Coast.
Fresh off a bye, the hosts will welcome back Jordan Rapana (head) who replaces Nick Čotrić (hamstring) whilst Xavier Savage (jaw) has been named among the reserves after playing NSW Cup two weeks ago.
The Dolphins, meanwhile, welcome Kenny Bromwich back from suspension into the starting front-row with Herman Ese’ese reverting to the interchange and Kurt Donoghoe among the reserves.
Raiders star Jack Wighton this week announced that he will be departing at the club at season’s end to link up with South Sydney after 12 years in the nation’s capital.
The oftentimes awkward and sometimes zapping ‘player playing for a club he won’t be at next year’ period begins this week for the Raiders who will be eager to send Wighton – the 2019 Clive Churchill Medallist – off a winner.
Can Titans bounce back from horror second half versus Manly?
The Titans will be desperate to put a horror, 26-point choke job behind them when they make the trip to Manly on Saturday to face the second-placed Sea Eagles.
Reuben Garrick shifts into the centres to cover the loss of Brad Parker (knee) with Christian Tu’ipulotu coming onto the wing whilst Kelma Tuilagi (head knock) returns into the second-row pushing Ethan Bullemor back to the bench and Aaron Woods to the reserves.
Josh Schuster (quad) is being rested with Cooper Johns starting at six whilst Tom Trbojevic has been named despite failing to finish their Round 8 win against the Wests Tigers due to a groin issue.
For the Titans, midseason Super League additions Kruise Leeming and Thomas Mikaele drop out of 17 with Joe Vuna and Klese Haas their replacements.
4 Pines Park has proven a happy hunting ground for the Titans in recent years with the side having won five of their past seven at the venue.
Clashes between the two have historically been high-scoring affairs; over their past 14 meetings, Manly have surpassed 30 points on seven occasions whilst the Gold Coast have surpassed the 30-point mark six times.
Wests Tigers in search of opening win against busted Panthers
Still in search of their first win of the season, the Wests Tigers make the trip to Penrith on Saturday night to take on a Penrith side battling several injury niggles.
Izack Tago (pec) misses this one for the Panthers with Tyrone Peachey coming into the centres whilst Nathan Cleary and Sunia Turuva will both be monitored prior to kick-off as they battle niggling injuries.
For the Wests Tigers, Asu Kepaoa (tonsilitis) and Charlie Staines (bowel perforation) are out with David Nofoaluma coming onto the wing and Brent Naden into the centres.
Penrith have beaten the Wests Tigers in nine of their past 11 meetings and have not lost to them at BlueBet Stadium since mid-2013.
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Chooks in Auckland to face impressive Warriors
The Roosters will make the trans-Tasman trip to Auckland to face off against a stoic Warriors unit just five days after both sides were involved in wearisome ANZAC Day clashes.
The Warriors will be without Tohu Harris (knee), Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad (head knock), and Jazz Tevaga (achilles) after a decimating ANZAC Day loss to the Storm.
Bunty Afoa replaces Tevaga in starting lineup with Viliami Vailea coming onto the interchange whilst Josh Curran starts in place of Harris.
Wayde Egan (head knock) returns at hooker pushing Freddy Lussick back to the interchange whilst Taine Tuaupiki replaces Nicoll-Klokstad at one.
Dylan Walker will front the judiciary in an attempt to have his ban for a head slam overturned; should his suspension remain, Ronald Volkman firms as his most likely replacement in the halves.
For the Roosters, Nat Butcher (suspension) returns pushing Angus Crichton back to the interchange and Naufahu Whyte out of the 17 whilst Corey Allan comes in for Daniel Tupou (hamstring) on the wing.
The Roosters have won six in-a-row against the Warriors but have lost three of their past five at Mount Smart Stadium.
Reynolds to start as Dogs journey south to face Dragons
The Dragons and Bulldogs will face off at WIN Stadium in the final game of the round with both sides in desperate need of a victory.
Tautau Moga, who picked up a shoulder injury in the process of scoring his third try on ANZAC Day, misses this one for the Dragons with Max Feagai coming in to partner twin brother Mathew on the wing.
For the Dogs, Kyle Flanagan’s omission paves the way for Josh Reynolds to make his first start in a Bulldogs jumper since Round 26, 2017.
Andrew Davey is also missing with Kurtis Morrin and Sam Hughes coming onto the interchange.
St. George Illawarra have won five of their past seven against Canterbury.
This one marks just the second time the Dogs have made the trip to Wollongong over the past decade with the only other outing a COVID-affected clash in 2020 in which Corey Norman scored a match-winner off a knock-on and did his best Mark Riddell impersonation to celebrate.