5 Things to Watch: Everything to keep an eye on in NRL Round 15 - The Sporting Base

5 Things to Watch: Everything to keep an eye on in NRL Round 15

June 16, 2022

5 Things to Watch: Everything to keep an eye on in NRL Round 15

There is a heap of excitement in the rugby league air at present, with Origin and international football starting to ramp up and NRL sides daring to dream as we cross the midway point of the season. Here are 5 Things to Watch in Round 15.

South Sydney’s rare Wollongong trip

The South Sydney Rabbitohs will play their first premiership game in Wollongong in almost 11 years when they take on St. George Illawarra on Thursday night. The last time the two sides faced each other in a premiership clash at the venue was in Round 21, 2011 when a John Lang-coached Souths side upset a Wayne Bennett-coached Dragons side 34-24. A Dylan Farrell hat-trick was the difference for the Michael Crocker-captained side, whilst doubles to Matt Cooper and Jason Nightingale were not enough for the Dragons. This Thursday night, however, will look a little different. The Dragons will welcome back Tariq Sims, Mathew Feagai, and Mikaele Ravalawa after stints on the sideline, whilst the Rabbits have made just the one change with Blake Taaffe replacing Peter Mamouzelos on the bench after Latrell Mitchell’s highly-anticipated return was halted due to COVID. Back-to-back hat-tricks have helped Souths’ flyer Alex Johnston rocket atop the NRL’s try-scoring leaderboard, with the 27-year-old having crossed eight times over his past four. St. George Illawarra have, however, allowed just one try to left wingers over their past four and will welcome Ravalawa back onto their right flank this Thursday night. South Sydney have dominated St. George Illawarra in recent times, having won their past eight against the red-and-white and 15 of their past 17.

Understrength Broncos eye Melbourne upset

In one of the clashes of the round, the Broncos will have their sights set on an eighth-consecutive win when they face the Storm in Melbourne on Friday night. Adam Reynolds, Herbie Farnworth, TC Robati and Corey Paix will all miss the contest after a last-start win over Canberra, whilst Melbourne will trot out the same 17 that took down the Roosters by eight points. Rookie sensation Ezra Mam has lit it up in his opening three matches in the NRL, having crossed for two tries, assisted on three, and made four line breaks. This weekend, he will play alongside his third halves partner in three games with Tyrone Roberts filling in for the injured Reynolds. The Broncos will, however, be boosted by the returns of Kurt Capewell, Kotoni Staggs, and Selwyn Cobbo after being rested following Origin. Brisbane’s record against Melbourne has been diabolical over the past decade, with just three wins from their previous 25 matchups against Melbourne and zero from their past 10. Despite their hot run of form, a loss could see Brisbane slip back out of the top four, so Kevin Walters’ men will be desperate to continue their winning ways in what is somewhat of a gauge match for them.

Broncos are $5 to beat the Storm Bet Here

Volkman to debut

Season 2022 has not been kind to the Warriors who are in the midst of a six-game losing streak and are without a full-time coach. Life will also not get any easier this weekend when they take on the premiership-leading Panthers in Redcliffe. Prized recruit Ronald Volkman will, however, make his NRL debut and perhaps offer a glimpse into the future for Warriors fans. The 19-year-old hails from Sydney and came through the Roosters system before inking a three-year deal with the Warriors. He is set to line-up in the six jumper this Saturday afternoon alongside Shaun Johnson, with Chanel Harris-Tavita pushed back onto the interchange. The Warriors will be eager for Volkman to put his best foot forward against Penrith in what is their final match before re-locating back to Auckland. With Harris-Tavita set to step away from football at the end of the season and an ageing Johnson struggling to find form, Volkman will have every opportunity to lock down a halves position at the club long-term. Interim coach Stacey Jones is the Warriors’ greatest ever half and will be an invaluable resource for Volkman to learn from as he kicks off his NRL journey.

Volkman is $9.25 to score a try Bet Here

Eels look to bounce back against the Roosters

Parramatta are reeling after a shock 34-4 defeat at the hands of the lowly Bulldogs on Monday afternoon but will have a chance to bounce back against the up-and-down Roosters on Saturday night. Head coach Brad Arthur has opted against making changes to their 17 after they were embarrassed by Canterbury. The likes of Junior Paulo, Reagan Campbell-Gillard, and Ryan Matterson will be desperate to put a disappointing week behind them as they push for another Origin opportunity. The Roosters, meanwhile, will welcome back hooker Sam Verrills into the starting lineup, pushing Drew Hutchison back onto the interchange, whilst left centre Paul Momirovksi has been dropped for Billy Smith after being outmuscled by Storm centre Marion Seve in their last-start defeat. The Eels have lost six of their past seven to the tricolours and have conceded an average of over 32 points per game during that stretch. The Chooks have had no issues finding points against the Eels in recent times, which bodes well for the likes of Joseph Suaalii – who has scored seven tries over his past seven – and James Tedesco – who has scored seven over his past six.

The Eels are $1.77 to beat the Roosters Bet Here

Doueihi returns

Plenty has been happening at Concord in recent times, with Michael Maguire and Luciano Leilua no longer at the club and Brett Kimmorley promoted to interim. With just one win from their past six, the Wests Tigers will be desperate to bag a pair of competition points this Sunday afternoon when they face Canterbury at CommBank Stadium. In brighter news, 2021 Players’ Player Adam Doueihi has been named to make his NRL return off the interchange bench after a 302-day ACL layoff. Whilst it is unclear what role the Lebanese international will play, Wests Tigers fans will rejoice seeing their star back on the field. Doueihi finished 2021 with nine tries and 16 try assists in 20 games and proved himself as a star five-eighth in the NRL. This Sunday will be a big-time outing for the Wests Tigers; Canterbury are fresh off their biggest win of the year and will be eager to win back-to-back games for the first time in the same season since late-2019. The Dogs’ three wins this season have come against top eight sides the Cowboys, Roosters, and Eels but they have had a tough time displaying the required intensity and focus to dispatch of sides lower on the competition ladder. With Canterbury sitting on just three wins and the Wests Tigers on just four, this game could be an important factor in determining the wooden spooners. Both sides have spent time in 16th this season and will have marked this game down on their calendars.

Doueihi is $3.35 to score a try Bet Here

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