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NRL: Queensland derby tops Super Saturday

Five of the top eight are in action on Saturday with the Cowboys set to face the Broncos in the Queensland derby, while South Sydney play the Eels and the Bulldogs entertain the Sharks.

Penrith are once again bossing the NRL as they sit pretty at the top of the ladder but the battle is hotting up below them with spots in the top four up for grabs.

It could not be much tighter. Just four points separate the next five teams and three of them all play on Saturday.

Arguably the game of the day sees the third-placed Cowboys take on the fifth-placed Broncos in front of what is sure to be a packed stadium in Townsville. The Cowboys are just two points ahead of the Broncos but have played a game more.

The Sharks, who sit in fourth, must take on the Bulldogs on their own patch and it is a much tougher game than it would have been a few weeks ago. The Bulldogs are on the up and two points for the Sharks are far from certain.

Then in the late game the Rabbitohs, who sit seventh, will be looking to close the four-point gap on the Eels who are directly above them.

It has all the makings of a ‘Super Saturday’ so let’s take a closer look at each game.

What: Canterbury Bulldogs v Cronulla Sharks
Where: CommBank Stadium, Sydney
When: 15:00 (AEST), Saturday 2nd July 2022
How to watch: Kayo, Foxtel
Odds: Bulldogs 9/4, Sharks 7/20,

The Bulldogs are on a roll and will be looking to make it three wins on the bounce when they take on the Sharks. That was almost unthinkable a few weeks ago.

However interim coach Mick Potter is getting the star-studded line-up to gel. In particular Matt Burton and Josh Addo-Carr who have ripped Parramatta and Wests Tigers apart in the last two games.

Addo-Carr has 11 tries this season, with five coming in the last three games. The Bulldogs have scored a combined 70 points in the last two games and confidence will be sky high.

Coach Potter is the big absentee this weekend as he is sick. Centre Corey Allan is also ruled out so Declan Casey is in line to make his debut.

The Sharks got the season off to a flyer with five wins from seven but have stuttered of late when losing to Brisbane, Canberra and the Sydney Roosters.

Craig Fitzgibbon’s side also have a tough run on the horizon with games against the Storm, Cowboys, Panthers and Rabbitohs to come. Which makes Saturday’s game even bigger.

The Sharks have named the same side that beat the Titans 18-10 in their last game.

What: North Queensland Cowboys v Brisbane Broncos
Where: Queensland Country Bank Stadium, Townsville
When: 17:30 (AEST), Saturday 2nd July 2022
How to watch: Kayo, Foxtel
Odds: Cowboys 12/25, Broncos 33/20

The Queensland derby is all set up to be the game of the round with both sides battling to make the top four.

The Cowboys are in there already after winning the last three games on the bounce, including a narrow 28-26 win over the Sea Eagles before the break for the representative round.

They did suffer a huge blow when losing Reuben Cotter before that game but still managed to fight back to win at the death. Cotter will be missing again however.

State of Origin trio Valentine Holmes, Murray Taulagi and Jeremiah Nanai all came through unscathed and are ready to figure, while Tom Gilbert returns following an eye injury.

New mid-season recruit Luciano Leilua will make his debut after arriving from Wests Tigers.

The Broncos have been handed a huge boost with the news influential skipper Adam Reynolds is ready to return after recovering from a rib injury.

Payne Haas has been named despite suffering an ankle injury in State of Origin. The Queensland contingent of Patrick Carrigan, Kurt Capewell and Selwyn Cobbo are also set to back-up.

What: South Sydney Rabbitohs v Parramatta Eels
Where: Accor Stadium, Sydney
When: 19:35 (AEST), Saturday 2nd July 2022
How to watch: Kayo, Foxtel
Odds: Rabbitohs 27/20, Eels 3/5

Parramatta have bounced back well from the shock defeat against the Bulldogs and put the Roosters to the sword before the bye.

Brad Arthur’s men could potentially jump into the top four if they can see off the Rabbitohs at Accor Stadium and other results go their way.

Arthur will stick to the same 17 that beat the Roosters and will be hoping to go back-to-back. They have been up and down this season and need to find consistency with the business end of the season fast approaching.

Seventh-placed South Sydney receive a huge boost with the news that star fullback Latrell Mitchell can return following a lengthy lay-off due to a hamstring injury.

They will need him as well as there is work to do to make the top eight. They lost by 20 points against the Dragons in round 15 and only two points separate them and the Raiders who are down in 11th spot.

Souths have had the edge over the Eels in recent meetings and need that trend to continue on Saturday.

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