The following are previews with betting tips for Round 11 of the 2018 NRL season.
Panthers v Tigers
Thu, May 17, 7:50pm
Both teams taking the field notched encouraging wins last week with the Tigers snapping a three-game losing streak with a win over the Cowboys, while Penrith overcame a spirited Knights outfit despite their horrendous injury toll. Wests will be eager to build from last week’s victory after their losses saw them drop to seventh on the competition ladder with the Panthers looking to maintain their form after winning seven from ten games this year.
Wests’ only change comes as last week’s man-of-the-match Mahe Fonua was dropped in place of Kevin Naiqama for missing the team bus. Meanwhile, the Panthers will welcome back Nathan Cleary in the halves in a massive boost but will be without regular hooker Peter Wallace as Kaide Ellis and Jarome Luai join the bench.
Penrith will head into the match as favourites but their opposition will be confident after snapping their losing streak. Expect a motivated Tigers to make the Panthers’ lives difficult in an intense physical contest. Both squads have enormous talent but it will be their composure which ultimately decides the contest. Expect the Tigers to get the points in a tight game
Betting Tip: Tigers +4.5 @ $1.93 (Bet365)
Eels v Warriors
Fri, May 18, 6:00pm
The Eels have the unenviable task of facing a Warriors outfit smarting from one of their worst defeats of season 2018 after a poor 32-0 loss to the Roosters last week. Heading into the match without key players, expect a big response from the Kiwis against a Parramatta outfit who are still searching for the missing ingredient to top-flight NRL form with another poor performance against the Bulldogs in their last match.
Issac Luke will make his injury return at hooker in a big boost for his club as Chris Satae displaces Sam Lisone on the bench in an otherwise unchanged squad. The Eels have named Cameron King and Marata Niukore on the interchange with the latter set to make his NRL debut.
One of the key aspects of the Warriors’ new culture under Stephen Kearney is their response to losses, which have been impressive so far in 2018. While inconsistency is still something the new coaching staff are trying to stamp out, expect a physical response from the New Zealanders as they look to capitalise on the Eels’ lack of confidence. Parramatta will enter the match as underdogs but expect the Kiwis to get the points.
Betting Tip: Warriors Head to Head @ $2.00 (Sportsbet)
Broncos v Roosters
Fri, May 18, 7:50pm
The struggling Brisbane Broncos will take on a Roosters outfit building to their best NRL form after the Sydney club produced an impressive 32-0 victory over the Warriors in round ten. Brisbane were poor in their last-start loss against the Sea Eagles with their injury toll impacting the quality of their defence and with no experienced reinforcements in sight for the Queensland club, coach Wayne Bennett will be grasping to keep them in touch with the top four.
Victor Radley returns from suspension and displaces Nat Butcher on the tri-colours’ bench. Brisbane are missing Alex Glenn, Payne Haas and Jack Bird in a massive blow for the club as Sam Tagataese, Patrick Mago and Gehamat Shibasaki all join the bench with the latter making his NRL debut.
Much of the Roosters’ success in 2018 has come down to the performance of their forward-rotation. Their pack has been hot and cold this year but with key men performing well against the Warriors last week, coach Trent Robinson will hope their form holds so his enormously potent back-line can meet their potential. Much of this contest depends on the performance of the Broncos’ replacements but expect a hungry Roosters outfit to get the points.
Betting Tip: Total Match Points Over 40.5 @ $1.91 (Ladbrokes)
Titans v Knights
Sat, May 19, 3:00pm
A desperate Titans outfit will be hoping for a form-turnaround after their last start loss to Melbourne saw them slip to second last on the competition ladder. The Gold Coast’s defence has been the subject of much criticism as Garth Brennan’s squad struggle for consistency, but they will face a Knights team eager to avoid their third consecutive loss after producing a disappointing result against Penrith.
The Titans will welcome back Origin hopefuls Jai Arrow and Nathan Peats at lock and hooker respectively as Will Matthews also drops out of the side after suffering a concussion last week. Newcastle have elected to make a single change as Jacob Saifiti replaces Luke Yates on the bench.
There is no clear favourite at this stage with both teams struggling to produce consistent football. Much of the Titans’ trouble has come from their massive injury ward but the return of Peats and Arrow may enable them to dominate the ruck. Both teams have failed to execute with an unsettled spine but expect the Titans to get the points as they look to save their season.
Betting Tip: Titans H2H @ $1.92 (Crownbet)
Cowboys v Rabbitohs
Sat, May 19, 5:30pm
A red-hot Rabbitohs outfit confirmed their credentials as premiership contenders with a powerful victory over the competition leading Dragons last week. They will face a struggling North Queensland outfit who have only managed three wins for the year but will be desperate to find a semblance of form with the State of Origin period looming closer.
Despite their last-start loss to the Tigers, the Cowboys have named an unchanged squad this week. The Rabbitohs are similarly unchanged, though more understandably so after a very good performance in their last game.
Souths will head into this match as firm favourites but will be wary of a form turnaround from the Cowboys. No one questions the fact that the Queensland club are massively under-performing but their forward rotation is more than capable of dominating the Rabbitohs’ if they play at their best. It is a possibility but after Souths’ performance last week, expect the Sydney club to notch their third consecutive win.
Betting Tip: Rabbitohs -2.0 @ $1.91 (William Hill)
Storm v Sea Eagles
Sat, May 19, 7:30pm
Manly proved they are not a spent force in 2018 with a powerful win over the Broncos last week, but they now face a massive test against an underperforming Storm outfit eager to remain within the top four. After a massive upset loss to the Dragons two weeks ago, Melbourne looked comfortable in a 28-14 win over the Titans but the age of the Victorian club’s stars continues to take the spotlight with the shock revelation this week that Australian and Queensland captain Cameron Smith is retiring from representative football.
Manly have rushed mid-season recruit Trent Hodkinson into their squad on the bench as Toafofoa Sipley also joins the interchange in place of the injured Taniela Paseka. Brandon Smith will shift to the starting side to cover the suspended Cam Smith as Jahrome Hughes and Tim Glasby join the bench.
Billy Slater will captain Melbourne for the first time in his career in the absence of Cam Smith. It will be an interesting look at the Storm without their skipper – an extremely rare occurrence – with the response of the squad difficult to predict. Melbourne will enter the match as favourites but a fired up Manly outfit could produce an upset. Storm to get the points.
Betting Tip: Storm -6.0 @ $1.92 (Crownbet)
Dragons v Raiders
Sun, May 20, 2:00pm
A highly-rated Dragons outfit were humbled last week against a powerful Rabbitohs team but will be eager to return to the winner’s circle against the Raiders, who would be disappointed with their last-round result against the Sharks. The Raiders have struggled against quality opposition this year so coach Ricky Stuart will look to this match as a useful litmus test for their big-game form.
St George have only named one change with Blake Lawrie replacing Zac Lomax on the bench. Canberra have named an unchanged squad but half Sam Williams is on standby to replace Blake Austin should the five-eighth fail to prove his fitness for the match.
Having lost only two games this year, the Dragons only match backing up from a loss was a powerful win over the Roosters. Expect a response from the St George squad as they look to bank premiership points to guard against their inevitably massive State of Origin representation with at least seven players in the mix to take the field for their state. The Raiders will struggle to match the class of their opposition so expect the Dragons to get the win.
Betting Tip: Dragons -9.5 @ $1.91 (Sportsbet)
Sharks v Bulldogs
Sun, May 20, 4:10pm
Cronulla have been grinding their way back into form and are now placed equal fourth on the competition ladder with another impressive win over the Raiders last week. Their opposition in the Bulldogs are still struggling against quality opposition and they will face a highly motivated, physical Sharks squad eager to climb the competition ladder to break into the ever-important top four.
Paul Gallen and Jayson Bukuya will return in the back row in a big boost for the Cronulla club in an otherwise unchanged squad. The ‘Dogs have only named one change as Clay Priest replaces the injured Danny Fualalo on the interchange.
The Sharks will head into the game as favourites and rightly so considering Canterbury’s recent form. Still struggling with basic execution, expect the more experience Sharks outfit to grind their opposition down in a dominant, physical performance. Cronulla to get the win.
Betting Tip: Sharks -6.0 @ $1.92 (Crownbet)
Warriors Head to Head @ $2.00 (Sportsbet)
Rabbitohs -2.0 @ $1.91 (William Hill)