Two teams sit in the last chance saloon as Round 18 of the NRL rolls around, and it’s going to be an intriguing week ahead with plenty of other matches between top eight sides. This is The Roar’s NRL expert tipping.
The biggest game this week in terms of finals calculations is quite clearly the final one as the Sharks play the Warriors. If the Sharks win, the top eight is locked in, but if they don’t, their advantage over the Warriors would be cut to just two points.
The only other team in with a chance of playing finals footy are the Tigers, who are also four points back from the Sharks, but a tough contest to open the round against the in-form Rabbitohs might put paid to any idea of a late charge.
In between, Friday starts with a match of little consequence to the wider picture but plenty on the line as the Bulldogs look to move away from the wooden spoon against battling Manly.
The Panthers then play the Eels in a huge battle of the west. Saturday brings us the Dragons against old hoodoo club the Raiders, the Titans against the Broncos and the Roosters taking on the Knights to close things out.
The early Sunday game sees the Storm play the Cowboys in what could be an absolute pasting on the Sunshine Coast.
Last week I had the highest score for a change, grabbing seven to drag myself off the bottom of our tipping leaderboard.
AJ made a meal of his tips, though, getting only four. The Crowd got six, meaning you readers of The Roar now hold a two-point lead with three weeks and the finals to go.
Remember to get your tips into the form below by 6pm (AEST) on Thursday to join The Roar’s NRL tipping competition for 2020 and be featured as part of The Crowd’s tips for Round 18.
Tips: Rabbitohs, Sea Eagles, Panthers, Raiders, Titans, Roosters, Storm, Warriors
What a week! Canberra and Souths both get absolutely cheated and suffer disgraceful reversals of fortune. What makes things even more galling is that it royally stuffed my tipping. I suppose the NRL finally got what it wanted and pushed me to second spot. They clearly don’t want AJ winning his second Roar tipping comp in three years. So they’ve made it personal now – and this victory will be even sweeter when I stick it to all of you. All of you!
Bunnies will get the victory they deserved last week when they roll the Tigers, who were complete garbage for 73 minutes before performing a miracle.
Eagles over Dogs, but who really cares, to be quite frank. I only tip this game because I have to.
Panthers to beat the Eels, who are still staggering around like a drunk at closing time who just wants to go home, get into bed and be left alone till 6pm the next day.
The mighty Canberra Raiders will take out their well-justified frustrations on the hapless Dragons by at least 56 points.
Titans over Broncos, who are just terrible.
Newcastle are actually being quite smart in resting all their best players against the Roosters. More teams should be giving players a breather before 17 weeks straight of hard battle takes the edge off just at finals time. Sure, they’ll get smashed up here, but they’re locked into the eight so no harm done.
Storm over Cowboys by a thousand.
Warriors over Sharks, who I am never, ever tipping again. What an abject bunch they have shown to be. And believe it or not, they’re going to be playing finals football too. What an indictment on everyone below them…
Tips: Rabbitohs, Sea Eagles, Panthers, Raiders, Titans, Roosters, Storm, Sharks
The Tigers’ finals hopes are hanging by a thread. If my maths is correct (and it may not be), the Tigers need to win all their remaining games and have some results go their way. Unfortunately, I don’t think they can beat the Rabbitohs. Despite a loss to the Storm, the Bunnies seem to be finding form at the right time. The loss of Latrell is a big one, but given the Tigers have conceded 30 or more in four out of their last five, I expect the Bunnies to run away.
The next game is a cripple fight. I’m loath to tip either team. The Bulldogs are ‘due’ a win and the Sea Eagles have been absolutely appalling. With Kieran Foran out, I’m tipping Manly. Keep an eye out on Trbojevic too, and I don’t mean Jake or Tom – their brother Ben is set to make his debut.
My heart is screaming to tip Parramatta in this next game, but the last few weeks have scarred me. The Eels attack has been a little bit off and Mitch Moses hasn’t looked the same since returning from injury. The Panthers have strike power all over the field and they will beat the Eels, but it will be closer than what most are tipping.
The Raiders will beat the Dragons, and my other prediction is Jarrod Croker will kick two goals, which will make him just the tenth player in history to kick 800.
In a strange new world I’m tipping the Titans to beat the Broncos. While the Broncos have been much improved with Tom Dearden in the halves, the Titans have also been big improvers and have rightfully earnt the title of the best club in Queensland. If the Broncos do lose this game, it will be a club-record nine consecutive losses.
The Roosters are starting to get all their players back and talk of the three-peat is on. They will beat the Knights this week. But I am interested to see how much the Knights attack is impacted by the decision to rest Kalyn Ponga.
The Storm will beat the Cowboys. My only question is by how much.
In one of the toughest games of the round I’m predicting the Sharks will beat the Warriors. With a loss to Parramatta last week, the Warriors chances of playing finals footy diminished, and while the Sharks were destroyed by Newcastle, it does follow a pattern where they are unable to beat a team in the top eight. With the Warriors sitting outside the eight, the Sharkies will win.
Tips: Rabbitohs, Sea Eagles, Panthers, Raiders, Titans, Roosters, Storm, Sharks
NRL tipping is a dangerous game. It sneaks up on you when you least expect it. There I was, cruising last week at four from four and about to bank another point as the Sea Eagles were well up on the Tigers. I was dreaming of a full round. Those dreams were crushed when Manly forgot they were playing at Lottoland. From there it got worse, with my only correct tip being a very lucky Parramatta. Still, I close the gap on Mary and am a couple clear of the spoon.
I should have known better. The Tigers were always going to regain their traditional spot of ninth, so they were specials to beat Manly. The Rabbitohs looked like world-beaters in the first half against the Storm. However, too many handling errors and a dubious Cameron Smith pass from dummy half proved too much for them. The Tigers are not the Storm, and the Rabbits will win.
Friday 6pm matches should be reserved for clashes like this. Canterbury lose Kieran Foran so they may get one or two tries for the game. Can Manly beat that? They have got an extra Trbojevic named in the squad, but in a cruel twist for Manly fans, it’s younger brother Ben in jersey 21. He may get a run, but he’s no Tommy Turbo. This sounds a bit like Mark Waugh – played for Australia but clearly not the best in his family. I can’t pick the Dogs because they have forgotten how to win.
The Panthers only loss from the season so far came against the Eels early on. Things have changed since then. The Eels were lucky against the Warriors and their attack has stagnated to the point where it’s often five hit-ups and a kick. Perhaps they have peaked too early or they aren’t showing their hand in the lead up to the finals. The Panthers will continue their winning streak.
The Raiders were not quite up to the Roosters last weekend but will have too much for the Dragons. Back-to-back losses against the Titans and Cowboys have them now scoping NSW tourist spots for the end of season trip.
The Broncos have to win sometime, but I’m not picking them until they do. This is just the type of game they would win, though. They got flogged against the Titans earlier in the season and, even with just a slight amount of self-respect, the Broncos should be up for this. Like I said though, I can’t tip them. Titans to win.
Am I the only person close to vomiting with all the media’s love for Sonny Bill Williams? Sure, he was great, but now he’s 35 and I’ve never seen so much hype for about 15 minutes of action. My wife might beg to differ on that one. It won’t impact this result, though. Kalyn Ponga is being rested after being almost decapitated last round. Chad Townsend misheard John Morris’s instructions to tackle Ponga around the legs, not the head, and the rest is history. Roosters to win.
With Ryan Papenhuyzen out, a number of teams would fancy their chances against Melbourne. But we are talking about the Cowboys. Storm to win.
All year I’ve been picking against my team in close games to provide a bit of a Yin-and-Yang experience. But I can’t do it this weekend. I’m with Go West here and am the king of wishful thinking. With their season quite literally on the line, I have to put all my eggs in the Sharky basket. To the Warriors players, on the off chance they are regular readers of The Roar’s NRL tips, you’ve played well and had fun, but now is the time to quietly bow out of the race.
Tips: Rabbitohs, Bulldogs, Panthers, Raiders, Titans, Roosters, Storm, Sharks
Back into last! I claw my way ahead of Scott Pryde and then throw it all away in a round of fruitless upset tips! Never again!
Souths might have lost the game last week against the Storm, but they gained plenty of admirers, including me. I don’t think they have what it takes to win the competition, but they should easily account for the Wests Ninethers.
The Bulldogs have been pretty unlucky over the past two months. They’ve put themselves in positions to win but just don’t have the class to get the points to get them over the line. Meanwhile, they’re running an interesting experiment trying to turn fullbacks into wingers, wingers into centres and centres into five-eighths. If Steve Georgallis ever picks a team in their natural positions, who knows? Manly will probably be too strong, but I’m tipping the Bulldogs.
The Panthers will be looking to avenge their only loss of the season. They should do it easily against the out-of-sorts Eels who are desperate for a big performance to turn their season back around.
With a top-four spot still a chance the Raiders should be too much for the Dragons to handle.
The pride of Queensland takes on the Broncos in this week’s edition of the Who Cares Cup. I’m nominating the Titans early as everyone’s second favourite team of 2021.
The Sharks tactic of battering Kalyn Ponga into submission has finally paid off, just a week too late to do them any good. The next two games have remarkably similar backstories. The Knights and Cowboys put up some good Round 17 wins but face NRL juggernauts in the Roosters and the Storm, who both have troops returning en masse. Roosters and Storm.
A win for the brave Warriors would make the last couple of rounds interesting, while a Sharks victory will seal the final eight beyond doubt. A Warriors win wouldn’t blow the hair back but surely the Sharks have too much to play for to let this slip.
Sports opinion delivered daily
Tips: Rabbitohs, Sea Eagles, Eels, Dragons, Broncos, Roosters, Storm, Warriors
Right, to hell with all this nonsense about tipping favourites. It’s boring, I tell you. That being said, I’ll probably in last again come Sunday night.
Because the favourites are pretty self-explanatory, I’m going to start with all the upsets.
Parramatta have been pretty useless in recent weeks, although they did beat an undermanned Storm. The Panthers are overdue for a loss, though, and will have their only loss this season against the blue and gold hovering over the head. Eels to stage an upset and get back to their best.
The Dragons – I don’t really have a reason for this except I want to be able to call AJ out for tipping the Raiders by whatever ridiculous number he chooses this week. Dragons by 66, my friend.
Brisbane have already lost to the Titans once this year, and while the Titans have been improved, they haven’t been that good. The Broncos have had odd halves of decent footy, and with respect for the footy club on the mind – in other words, not losing to the Gold Coast twice – they should find a way to win.
And the Warriors? I don’t like the Sharks without Chad Townsend. They have just been outscoring teams this year and not doing much defence. This will be free-flowing, and that suits the Warriors, who are going to stage a dramatic upset.
As for the rest? The Tigers aren’t going to hold a candle to the Rabbitohs, who have run into form at exactly the right time; the Bulldogs don’t know where the tryline is; and the Knights don’t have Kalyn Ponga, so the Roosters will continue their mercifulness. Melbourne over the Cowboys too, because, well… obviously.
The key storyline out of those games could be the potential debut of Ben Trbojevic, who is talked up as better than both of his brothers, and whether Melbourne’s attack is as polished without Ryan Papenhuyzen.
Be sure to get your tips in on the form below by 6pm (AEST) this evening, and we will publish the results of The Crowd’s tips before the first game of the round kicks off.