Manly Sea Eagles vs Melbourne Storm 

Thursday June 30 | 4 Pines Park | 7.50pm AEST

The hot-and-cold Sea Eagles will be looking to make amends after last round when they let in three late tries to lose after dominating the Cowboys for 70+ minutes. They now play host to the Storm, who seem back on track after consecutive mid-season losses. The Storm has now won their past three and face a Manly side they’ve beaten on the past six occasions. Three of the Storm’s most recent four wins over Manly have been by 20+ points. The key here is the availability of a host of Origin stars – Jake Trbojevic and Daly Cherry-Evans for Manly, and whether Cameron Munster and Harry Grant back up for the Storm. Felise Kaifusi is already an out for the Storm, but Ryan Papenhuyzen returns for his first game since round nine.

Suggested bet: 1u Storm -6.5 at $1.90

Newcastle Knights vs Gold Coast Titans 

Friday July 1 | McDonald Jones Stadium | 6.00pm AEST

Two struggling sides face off here with the winner perhaps keeping their very, very slim finals hopes alive. The Titans have won only three games this season, while the Knights have hit a brick wall after a strong start to the season. For the Knights, Kalyn Ponga won’t back up from Origin, while the Titans get David Fifita back. The last time these two met at this venue was three years ago, but it was a convincing Knights victory. This is a difficult game to assess and I’m unsure which way the Knights will go without Ponga.

No suggested bet

Penrith Panthers vs Sydney Roosters 

Friday July 1 | BlueBet Stadium | 7.55pm AEST

This one shapes as a blockbuster if the best version of the Roosters show up for this heavyweight clash with the all-conquering Panthers. But I must highlight it’s a big ‘if’ and the market suggests it’s highly unlikely, with the Panthers red-hot favourites. Penrith ran away with this fixture earlier in the season, beating the Roosters by 20 points in round 11. Penrith has also won the last five straight meetings with the Roosters. It’s been a near-perfect season for the Panthers, winning 14 of their 15 games, while the Roosters have produced rare glimpses of form, but sit in seventh spot on the ladder. The reality is the Roosters have lost their past three and only tasted victory once from their past five matches. But if they can produce something near their best, they might be in this contest for some time.

Suggested bet: 1u Roosters +15.5 at $1.90

Canterbury Bulldogs vs Cronulla Sharks

Saturday July 2 | CommBank Stadium | 3.00pm AEST

The Bulldogs come into this off back-to-back wins – the first time in over two years they’ve achieved that feat. It gets much harder here, however, as they eye taking down a serious top four contender. But if winning their last two isn’t enough to bring confidence, then their recent record against the Sharks, winning two of the last three encounters, will do just that. They are now bringing a new brand of football, with interim coach Mick Potter unleashing the Bulldogs attack with a big boost in points scored in recent weeks. There’s no major changes for either side, with their respective Origin stars likely to back up. Whilst there’s plenty in the favour of the Bulldogs, the reality is there’s big question marks over whether they can sustain this mini-run of form. The Sharks will also be primed to hit their straps for the run home. They should be winning this – and comfortably.

Suggested bet: 1.5u Sharks -8.5 at $1.90

North Queensland Cowboys vs Brisbane Broncos

Saturday July 2 | Queensland Country Bank Stadium | 5.30pm AEST

Mouth-watering clash between the high-flying Queensland heavyweights. This Queensland derby up in Townsville shapes as the match of the round – and a big pointer to the legitimacy of each side’s finals credentials. The Cowboys have won 11 of their 15 games this season and sit in third spot on the table, while the Broncos are just behind in fifth with two less victories so far. When these two met back in Round 3, it was the Cowboys dominant winning by 26 points. It took their recent record against the Broncos to four wins from the last five. North Queensland come into this off an amazing late comeback to snatch victory from Manly, while the Broncos lost to the Storm, despite pressing their quality opponents all of the way. The Broncos did that without Adam Reynolds, but he returns for this clash. Luciano Leilua makes his club debut from the bench for the Cowboys – an interesting new recruit who should fit in well for the side.

Suggested bet: 1u Cowboys -5.5 at $1.90

South Sydney Rabbitohs vs Parramatta Eels

Saturday July 2 | Accor Stadium | 7.35pm AEST

Two inconsistent sides here as the Rabbitohs battle the Eels. The Rabbitohs own a 7-7 record, while the Eels’ topsy-turvy season is evidenced by beating top sides such as the Panthers and Storm, but failing against lowly types, the Bulldogs and Tigers. In an ominous sign for the Eels, Souths have won the last four meetings between the teams, scoring 38+ points in all four victories and winning by an average of 24.5 points. But this season the Rabbitohs have struggled against top eight sides, so it’ll be interesting to see if that continues. They do get Latrell Mitchell back for after not playing since round five. But on the basis that the Rabbitohs find it hard to beat genuine finals sides, the Eels should be too good if they can find something near their best.

Suggested bet: 1u Eels -4.5 at $1.90

New Zealand Warriors vs Wests Tigers

Sunday July 3 | Mt Smart Stadium | 2.00pm AEST

The Warriors are finally back on home soil, and they should reward adoring fans by taking the points against the Tigers. Back in Auckland for this clash, the Warriors will play their first home game in two years, and there’s barely a better opportunity to notch a win than against the struggling Tigers. Admittedly, the Warriors have also been woeful in recent weeks/months. But the Tigers couldn’t get lower, slipping to last on the ladder after going down to the Bulldogs last round. The Warriors should be too good and it’ll be unjust if they can’t produce for this rare home clash after such adversity in the past two seasons. The Warriors also took the points in this clash back in round three.

Suggested bet: 1.5u Warriors -4.5 at $1.90

St George Illawarra Dragons vs Canberra Raiders

Sunday July 3 | WIN Stadium | 4.05pm AEST

An important clash in the context of the top eight. Both the Dragons and Raiders have secured 14 points this season, and sit embedded in the logjam for the finals. They both come into this in winning form, with the Dragons winning three of their last four and the Raiders triumphant in four of their past six. Outside of beating the Rabbitohs last round, the Dragons haven’t been overly impressive, while the Raiders have toppled some top eight sides in their mid-season revival. Canberra has also won four of the last five meetings between the teams. They also get some important players back with Jack Wighton and Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad both returning.

Suggested bet: 2u Canberra -3.5 at $1.90