The following are previews with betting tips for Round 8 of the 2020 NRL season.
Storm v Roosters
Thursday, Jul 2, 7:50 PM AEST
Thursday night will bring a titanic clash between the Storm and Roosters with both clubs showcasing superb form in their last game. The reigning premiers were courageous in victory after losing key duo Victor Radley and Sam Verrills to season-ending knee injuries in a devastating blow for the club. Meanwhile, Melbourne flexed their muscle with a dominant 50-6 win over a struggling Warriors team in a sign the Victorian club may be returning to their top-form.
Cameron Munster has suffered a knee injury in a massive blow to the Storm, with Ryley Jacks joining the halves as cover. For the Roosters, Jake Friend and Nat Butcher will shift to the starting side at hooker and lock respectively while superstar James Tedesco will return at fullback. Josh Morris has also joined the starting side at centre as Mitch Aubusson and Poasa Faamausili join the bench.
Given the absence of key players for both clubs, this match shapes as in interesting insight into the adaptability of both teams. The Roosters will enter this match as firm favourites, and while Melbourne will certainly push their opposition to the limit, expect the Roosters to get over the line with their first-choice spine on the field.
Betting Tip: Roosters -6.5 @ $1.90 (Sportsbet)
Raiders v Dragons
Friday, Jul 3, 6:00 PM AEST
Canberra faithful were left heartbroken after conceding a disappointing field-goal victory to a red-hot Parramatta outfit. They will face an improved St George squad who were outclassed by the Roosters in their last match but with only two wins to their name this season, the Dragons will be desperate to prove their mettle against a quality team in the Raiders.
Corey Horsburgh is facing a long injury layover in a big blow for Canberra, but Joe Tapine is a handy replacement coming into the lock position. Centre Curtis Scott has also been benched in a back-line shuffle sees Bailey Simonsson and Michael Oldfield shift to the starting side on the wing and at centre respectively. St George have named an unchanged squad heading into this match.
The Raiders were agonizingly close to victory against the Eels but expect St George to bring their best against quality opposition. Expect a big performance from Ricky Stuart’s troops after the disappointment of consecutive losses. Raiders to get the win.
Betting Tip: Dragons +9.5 @ $1.90 (Unibet)
Eels v Cowboys
Friday, Jul 3, 7:55 PM AEST
Parramatta responded to their disappointing round six loss to the reigning premiers in style with a courageous field-goal victory over the highly-rated Raiders last week. They will face a North Queensland outfit who bounced back from their own round-six disappointment with a dominant win over the Knights.
Rookie Jai Field will replace the injured Mitch Moses for the Eels in a massive blow to the club as David Gower displaces Daniel Alvaro on the bench in an otherwise unchanged squad. Meanwhile, North Queensland have also named an unchanged squad with Tom Opacic and Justin O’Neill switching between centre and wing.
While Parramatta will enter this match as firm favourites, they should be wary of a Cowboys outfit who have underperformed so far this year. After a superb performance from rookie halves Scott Drinkwater and Jake Clifford, coach Paul Green will be backing his big-men to go toe-to-toe with Parramatta’s monster forward rotation. While the Eels will be without Mitchell Moses, winning has become a persistent habit for the Parramatta club and expect their energy and class around the ruck to get them over the line.
Betting Tip: Eels -6.5 @ $1.88 (Unibet)
Titans v Sharks
Saturday, Jul 4, 3:00 PM AEST
The Gold Coast produced a stunning upset victory over Brisbane last week in a superb performance that has Titans’ faithful convinced coach Justin Holbrook is the real deal. They will face a Sharks squad who look to be returning to their best after a difficult start to the year off the back of consecutive victories over the Bulldogs and Manly in an encouraging turnaround for the Cronulla club.
The Titans have named Tyrone Peachey to replace the injured Dale Copley in the centres as Bryce Cartwright also joins the bench in an otherwise unchanged line-up. Meanwhile, Cronulla have named an unchanged squad in fantastic signs for the club, particularly with a slew of back-line injuries at the start of the season.
Matt Moylan’s return has been a revelation for Cronulla and he will need to earn his wages this week against an in-form Titans spine who have been controlling games superbly. The Sharks struggled for continuity earlier this season but with a stable squad they look to be returning to their best football. The Gold Coast certainly have the quality to win this match but expect the Sharks’ experience and mongrel around the ruck to get them over the line.
Betting Tip: Titans +6.0 @ $1.91 (Beteasy)
Warriors v Broncos
Saturday, Jul 4, 5:30 PM AEST
The Broncos slumped to their fifth consecutive defeat against the Titans in yet another poor performance from Queensland’s flagship club. They will face a similarly struggling Warriors squad who suffered an embarrassing defeat at the hands of Melbourne last week with the club clearly struggling after the sudden departure of former coach Stephen Kearney.
Brisbane will be without Maroons forward Joe Ofahengaue in a blow to the club’s middle rotation. Origin winger Corey Oates has also been dropped in favour of Jamayne Isaako in a bold move from Brisbane mentor Anthony Seibold as both Patrick Carrigan and Thomas Flegler return at lock and on the bench respectively. Meanwhile, the Warriors will be missing their captain in the suspended Roger Tuivasa-Sheck in a massive blow. Peta Hiku will shift to fullback with Gerard Beale named in the centres. Jack Hetherington will play his first game for the club off the bench after being loaned from Penrith as Jamayne Taunoa-Brown and Agnatius Paasi form a new front-row combination for the club.
As the Warriors continue to grapple with their coaching structure, the Broncos will be desperate to return to the winner’s circle in a much-needed pressure release for the club. This match could go either way but expect the desperation of Brisbane to get them over the line, particularly in the back-end of each half.
Betting Tip: Broncos -5.5 @ $1.90 (Sportsbet)
Tigers v Panthers
Saturday, Jul 4, 7:35 PM AEST
The Tigers will be in the hunt for their third consecutive victory after a dominant performance against the Bulldogs last week. They will take on premiership heavyweights in the Penrith Panthers, who have been moving from strength to strength in recent weeks with an impressive victory over South Sydney in their last match.
The Tigers have unsurprisingly named an unchanged squad after scoring 70 points in their last two games. Meanwhile, Penrith have named Brent Naden in place of the injured Josh Mansour in an otherwise unchanged line-up.
While the Panthers will enter this match as firm favourites, the Penrith club should be wary of a Tigers outfit who are still improving under coach Michael Maguire. Penrith boast fantastic balance across their squad but the class and aggression within their forward-rotation should prove the difference in this match. Panthers to get the points.
Betting Tip: Panthers -4.5 @ $1.95 (Pointsbet)
Sea Eagles v Knights
Sunday, Jul 5, 4:05 PM AEST
Manly were beaten soundly by the Sharks last week and will be looking to turn around their poor form quickly given the long-term absence of key players. They will face a Newcastle outfit who were similarly disappointing against the Cowboys in their last game, particularly given their fantastic form earlier in the year.
Moses Suli will return from injury, displacing Brendan Elliot in the centres for Manly in an otherwise unchanged squad. For the Knights, star rookie Bradman Best will return at centre with Pasami Saulo joining the bench in Adam O’Brien’s only changes.
Newcastle will be looking to start the game strong after they were unable to overcome a woeful first-half performance against the Cowboys last week and the points deficit that followed. Expect a big response from Des Hasler’s troops given his squad’s uncharacteristically poor defense against the Sharks. While the Sea Eagles certainly won’t be lacking in confidence, they will need to improve quickly in the absence of Tom Trbojevic and Dylan Walker. Expect Newcastle to come away with the win.
Betting Tip: Knights -2.0 @ $1.95 (Pointsbet)
Bulldogs v Rabbitohs
Sunday, Jul 5, 6:30 PM AEST
The Bulldogs conceded a 34-6 loss against the Tigers last week in another disappointing performance. The Canterbury club will be desperate to avoid their fourth consecutive loss but face a massive challenge against a Rabbitohs outfit burning from one of their worst performances this year.
Mid-season English import Luke Thompson could make his club debut for Canterbury after he was named in their reserves. Coach Dean Pay has named Marcelo Montoya at centre with Nick Meaney and Christian Crichton on the wings in an otherwise unchanged squad. Meanwhile, Souths have named an unchanged squad.
The Rabbitohs will enter this match as firm favourites with a big response from Wayne Bennett’s troops likely after their performance against Penrith last week. A lack of execution is cruelling Souths’ ability to build pressure and score points but expect the class of the Rabbitohs’ pack to prove too much for the Bulldogs through the ruck.
Betting Tip: Rabbitohs -11.5 @ $1.96 (Beteasy)
Panthers -4.5 @ $1.95 (Pointsbet)