The following are previews with betting tips for Round 22 of the 2018 NRL season.
Cowboys v Broncos
Thu, Aug 9, 7:50pm
Thursday night will be a massive Queensland derby between the Broncos and Cowboys with both teams sitting well below their expected ladder position in the pre-season. North Queensland look to be an improving outfit after an encouraging performance against the Roosters last week, despite losing the match by six points. Meanwhile, Brisbane came crashing back down to earth after a woeful effort against the Bulldogs in troubling signs for the premiership aspirations.
The Cowboys have named only one change as Corey Jensen replaces the injured Shaun Fensom on the bench. Brisbane will reshuffle their backline as boom rookie Gehamat Shibasaki makes his NRL debut in the centres at the expense of Jordan Kahu. The Broncos will also be without Josh McGuire and Tevita Pangai Jr as Patrick Mago and Sam Tagataese joins the bench as cover.
Expect a fiery encounter between these two sides as fans have come to expect from Queensland derbies. While it is tough to pick a winner, expect a big response from Brisbane after their terrible performance last week which should motivate them enough to get the win over the North Queenslanders.
Betting Tip: Cowboys +3.5 @ $1.92 (Neds)
Warriors v Knights
Fri, Aug 10, 6:00pm
The Warriors produced an impressive six-point victory over St George last week in encouraging signs for the Kiwi club’s run into the finals. Meanwhile, coach Stephen Kearney will be looking for more improvement against the Knights, who produced a disappointing result against an inconsistent Tigers outfit in a 25-16 loss.
Peta Hiku will join the Warriors’ bench to replace the suspended Sam Lisone in an otherwise unchanged outfit. For the Knights, Pasami Saulo will make his NRL debut from the interchange in place of Josh King. Mitchell Pearce and Kalyn Ponga have both been cleared of injury in a big boost for the Novacastrians.
The Kiwis should head into this match as favourites as their opposition struggle to perform consistently with so many inexperienced players. While the Warriors will be confident of matching their opposition right across the park, Kearney should be wary of complacency with ill-discipline a problem for his squad this year. Warriors to get the points.
Betting Tip: Warriors -7.5 @ $1.92 (Ladbrokes)
Rabbitohs v Roosters
Fri, Aug 10, 7:50pm
A Friday night blockbuster will see the first placed Rabbitohs take on the third placed Roosters in a massive clash that should be a sneak preview of the 2018 finals series. Souths returned to their damaging best last week in a powerful 30-20 win over the Storm – a particularly encouraging result given their flat performance against the Eels a week prior. After managing the stave-off a Cowboys comeback last week, the Roosters will be looking to aim up to secure their top-four berth after their long-time rival in Souths moved to outright first.
Souths will draft in Richie Kennar on the wing to replace the injured Adam Doueihi, while the Roosters have named an unchanged squad for the clash.
Both teams are building to peak form at the right stage of the season and should feature prominently in the play-offs. Expect a tough, physical contest between two highly effective forward rotations, but the absence of Luke Keary for the Roosters should give Souths the edge. Rabbitohs to take the win.
Betting Tip: Rabbitohs Head to Head @ $1.93 (Bet365)
Titans v Panthers
Sat, Aug 11, 3:00pm
Panthers fans will be hoping the controversial dumping of coach Anthony Griffin leading into the finals does not impact their team’s premiership aspirations after the club last produced another miraculous comeback victory against the Raiders, scoring three tries in the last ten minutes to win the match. Penrith will face a Titans outfit who have underperformed in 2018 – albeit with a woeful injury toll – and produced a disappointing display in a 28-12 loss to the Eels last week.
Penrith will welcome back Reagan Campbell-Gillard in the front-row in an otherwise unchanged squad. For the Titans, Keegan Hipgrave will join the back-row in their only change.
Despite Griffin’s departure, highly rated Penrith assistant coach Cameron Ciraldo will step in as a caretaker for the remainder of the season. With conflicting media reports on the circumstances of Griffin’s exit, it is tough to say what impact this will have on the Panthers’ performance, but bookies have still installed Penrith as favourites on recent form. Expect Penrith to make statement with a victory.
Betting Tip: Panthers -7.5 @ $1.93 (Bet365)
Sea Eagles v Bulldogs
Sat, Aug 11, 5:30pm
Both teams taking the field have had disappointing seasons and were completely ruled out of finals contention early in the year, but inspirational victories over the likes of the Sharks and Broncos last week will give fans hope for season 2019. The Bulldogs managed an energetic 36-22 win over Brisbane in an impressive display, while Manly edged the Sharks with a Daly Cherry-Evans field goal in extra-time.
Canterbury will welcome back David Klemmer and Jeremy Marshall-King to their run on squad at prop and halfback respectively, while Manly have named an unchanged squad.
Despite being ruled out of finals contention, rookie coaches Trent Barret and Dean Pay will be working overtime to nail their combinations for next year. Both teams have enormous potential and look to be thriving without the pressure of finals football. Canterbury displayed admirable enthusiasm across the park but the experience and poise of Maroons halfback Daly Chery-Evans should prove the difference once again as Manly get the win.
Betting Tip: Sea Eagles -3.5 @ $1.92 (Crownbet)
Eels v Dragons
Sat, Aug 11, 7:30pm
St George have now lost four from their last five and are in danger of dropping out of the top-four with Penrith nipping at their heels. They will face a revamped Eels outfit – despite the Parramatta club’s victory over the Titans last week – who will be looking for their second win from three matches after improving on their woeful early season form.
The injured Paul Vaughan will be replaced by Blake Lawrie on the bench as Leeson Ah Mau shifts to the starting side. Parramatta will deploy rookie Jaeman Salmon in the halves in a back-line reshuffle that claims Bevan French’s position with Will Smith also joining the bench.
St George will enter the match as favourites, despite their concerning form slide. Paul McGregor’s men will need a big turnaround for the remainder of the year or face losing their top-four position. The Eels will be eager for victory after a disappointing year. They certainly will not make it easy but expect the Dragons to bounce back to take the win.
Betting Tip: Dragons -6.5 @ $1.95 (Palmerbet)
Raiders v Tigers
Sun, Aug 12, 2:00pm
Both the Tigers and Raiders have come agonizingly close to making the play-offs. While Wests are still a slight chance, the Raiders have been virtually ruled out after conceding another loss to the Panthers with the Penrith club scoring three tries in the last 10 minutes of play. The Tigers produced an encouraging victory over the Knights, but their inconsistency is their biggest enemy after they continuously fail to back up after big performances.
Canberra have named an unchanged squad for the clash, while the Tigers will bring in Malakai Watene-Zelezniak on the wing to replace the injured Corey Thompson. Robbie Rochow will also join the bench in an otherwise unchanged squad.
Both clubs’ inconsistent record makes the result a tough pick on form alone. Canberra now face the embarrassment of leading the competition in points scored while missing the play-offs as they remain unable to close out a match of football. Canberra will enter the contest as favourites and while they have the advantage across the park, the result is far from guaranteed. Raiders to get the win.
Betting Tip: Raiders -4.0 @ $1.92 (Sportsbet)
Storm v Sharks
Sun, Aug 12, 4:10pm
After a disappointing loss to the Rabbitohs last week knocked the Storm from their perch as competition leaders, they will face a Sharks outfit who were again left heart-broken after conceding a field-goal loss to Manly in the dying stages of their last game. Just a few weeks ago both teams looked nigh unstoppable but will need to work ever harder to maintain their momentum heading into the play-offs.
Cronulla have named an unchanged outfit for the game, while the Storm will welcome Suliasi Vunivalu back on the wing in an otherwise unchanged squad.
Both teams are capable of grinding out gritty wins and producing expansive attacking play, but it will be discipline and ball control that separates them on Sunday afternoon. Each team has struggled in this department – relative to previous years’ form – and both coaches in Craig Bellamy and Shane Flanagan will be looking for ball control and execution from their troops after they failed to produce last week. Could go either way but expect the class within the Storm’s spine to prove the difference. Melbourne to get the win.
Betting Tip: Storm -5.5 @ $1.92 (Crownbet)
Panthers -7.5 @ $1.93 (Bet365)