NRL Round 18 Previews and Tips


Sea Eagles v Tigers

Fri 11 Jul, 7:45pm, Brookvale Oval

Sea Eagles: 1. Brett Stewart 2. Jorge Taufua 3. Jamie Lyon 4. Steve Matai 5. Peta Hiku 6. Kieran Foran 7. Daly Cherry-Evans 8. Josh Starling 9. Matt Ballin 10. Brenton Lawrence 11. Jamie Buhrer 12. Justin Horo 13. Dunamis Lui
Interchange: 14. Jesse Sene-Lefao 15. James Hasson 16. Tom Symonds 17. Jason King
Tigers: 1. Blake Austin 2. David Nofoaluma 3. Keith Lulia 4. Chris Lawrence 5. Pat Richards 6. Braith Anasta 7. Luke Brooks 8. Martin Taupau 9. Joel Luani 10. Keith Galloway 11. Curtis Sironen 12. Bodene Thompson 13. Adam Blair
Interchange: 14. Dean Halatau 15. Ava Seumanufagai 16. Sitaleki Akauola 17. Jack Buchanan


The Sydney Roosters took on the Sea Eagles in Friday night footy at Brookvale two weeks ago and were unable to best them despite being premiership favourites for many.

Three weeks earlier the Bulldogs were on top of the ladder when they were unable to best the same Sea Eagles side who once again defended their home turf whilst cheered on by the Manly faithful.

So what hope does a Tigers side without Robbie Farah have? With the game taking place just two days after Origin game 3, I’m going with the strong assumption that Farah will not play and even if he does you would have to wonder at what level he will perform.

So it sounds like an easy win for Manly right? Sure. As long as Manly can beat Manly then they are home and hosed. What am I talking about exactly? Just have a look at last week’s match between Manly and the Bulldogs where the Sea Eagles were short priced favourites to beat an Origin depleted Bulldogs team. Manly should have, could have and would have won but as usual they decided to take it easy against inferior opposition and got burnt as a result. The Sea Eagles have had a terrible habit of doing this for at least the last 5 years but it’s also unlikely they will produce a similar performance two weeks in a row.

Coach Geoff Toovey would have no doubt pointed out some terrible ‘arms’ tackles in this week’s video review of last week’s game and no player will want to be caught doing that again.

It’s Manly to win, but after last week’s performance we might be best served avoiding line betting and rather take advantage of a generous price offered by Bet365 for Manly to lead at halftime and go on to win the match. Whether or not Cherry-Evans backs up for Manly from Origin or not has little bearing on this bet. The bookies however might disagree if something was to happen to Cherry-Evans so wait until after Origin before placing your bet in case the $1.66 drifts out a bit further.


Mike’s Tip: Sea Eagles

Mike’s Best Bet: Sea Eagles/Sea Eagles in HalfTime/Fulltime betting @ $1.66 (Bet365)



Warriors v Eels

Sat 12 Jul, 5:30pm, Mt Smart Stadium

Warriors: 1. Sam Tomkins 2. David Fusitu’a 3. Konrad Hurrell 4. Dane Nielsen 5. Manu Vatuvei 6. Chad Townsend 7. Shaun Johnson 8. Jacob Lillyman 9. Nathan Friend 10. Suaia Matagi 11. Jayson Bukuya 12. Simon Mannering 13. Sebastine Ikahihifo
Interchange: 14. Feleti Mateo 15. Ben Matulino 16. Ben Henry 17. Charlie Gubb 18. Raymond Faitala-Mariner
Eels: 1. Chris Sandow 2. Semi Radradra 3. Ryan Morgan 4. Willie Tonga 5. Vai Toutai 6. Corey Norman 7. Luke Kelly 8. Darcy Lussick 9. Isaac De Gois 10. Junior Paulo 11. David Gower 12. Pauli Pauli 13. Joseph Paulo
Interchange: 14. Fuifui Moimoi 15. Mitchell Allgood 16. Peni Terepo 17. Ken Sio


It’s going to no doubt be a tough trip to Mt. Smart Stadium for the Eels, as it is for any team generally. But without Jarryd Hayne, things look a tad dire for a Parramatta side trying to stay in the top 8. A loss would see the top 6 teams on the ladder put a one win gap between themselves and the Eels thanks to the 4th and 5th placed sides being on byes this week.

If Jarryd Hayne does indeed play, the fact remains that the Eels struggle away from home and a trip all the way to New Zealand is probably the last place they will find their mojo away from Pirtek Stadium.

The Eels will need to get off to a good start because if they aren’t in the game with 20 minutes to go, they are likely to start thinking of the plane trip back to Sydney and will leak plenty of points.

The Warriors run at recovering their season after such a poor start continues to gather momentum and they now sit 7th on the ladder having won 6 of their last 8 games.

They proved once again how much they relish playing at their true home ground at Mt Smart stadium by beating top of the table Panthers two weeks ago and will likely find the Eels without Jarryd Hayne a much easier task.

Betting will see us backing the Warriors by a margin. Post Origin games one and two, the Eels lost both their matches by 26 points and I’m of the thinking we can expect much of the same this time around.


Mike’s Tip: Warriors

Mike’s Best Bet: Warriors -12.0 @ $1.99 (Pinnacle)



Storm v Bulldogs

Sat 12 Jul, 7:30pm, AAMI Park

Storm: 1. Billy Slater 2. Sisa Waqa 3. Will Chambers 4. Kurt Mann 5. Mahe Fonua 6. Ben Hampton 7. Ben Roberts 8. Jesse Bromwich 9. Cameron Smith (c) 10. Bryan Norrie 11. Kevin Proctor 12. Ryan Hoffman 13. Ryan Hinchcliffe
Interchange: 14. Kenny Bromwich 15. Tohu Harris 16. Junior Moors 17. Jordan McLean 18. Tim Glasby 19. Joel Romelo
Bulldogs: 1. Mitch Brown 2. Corey Thompson 3. Josh Morris 4. Timoteo Lafai 5. Krisnan Inu 6. Josh Reynolds 7. Trent Hodkinson 8. Sam Kasiano 9. Michael Ennis 10. James Graham 11. Josh Jackson 12. Tony Williams 13. Greg Eastwood
Interchange: 14. Reni Maitua 15. Dale Finucane 16. Tim Browne 17. Lloyd Perrett 19. Damien Cook 20. Drury Low 22. Pat O’Hanlon


40-12. That was the score when these two sides met earlier in the season with the Bulldogs giving the Storm a lesson in wet weather footy. It’s rare to see the Storm cop such a hiding but that result may have been indicative of what was to come for the Storm over the next 3 months.

The Storm sit 8th on the ladder and will need to jump start their season from here on in now that the State of Origin period is over.

The Bulldogs had suffered a mid season lull themselves but snapped out of it with wins in their last two games including big upset win over last year’s Grand Finalists the Sea Eagles.

Whilst still being one of the form teams this year, it’s hard to predict what the Bulldogs will produce in this game in the wake of State of Origin 3. The same goes for the Storm and the overall situation leaves me with little confidence in regards to betting.

If I were you, I would avoid betting on this match and these teams until things have settled down next week.



Mike’s Tip: Storm

Mike’s Best Bet: None

Mike’s Casual Bet: None



Titans v Raiders

Sun 13 Jul, 2:00pm, Robina Stadium

Titans:  1. William Zillman 2. Kevin Gordon 3. James Roberts 4. Brad Takairangi 5. David Mead 6. Maurice Blair 7. Daniel Mortimer 8. Luke Bailey 9. Beau Falloon 10. Luke Douglas 11. Greg Bird 12. Mark Minichiello 13. Paul Carter
Interchange: 14. Matt White 15. Dave Taylor 16. Nate Myles 17. Albert Kelly 18. Cody Nelson 19. Mark Ioane 20. Matt Srama 21. Tom Kingston
Raiders: 1. Anthony Milford 2. Jeremy Hawkins 3. Jarrod Croker 4. Brenko Lee 5. Sami Sauiluma 6. Terry Campese 7. Josh McCrone 8. David Shillington 9. Glen Buttriss 10. Brett White 11. Josh Papalii 12. Jarrad Kennedy 13. Shaun Fensom
Interchange: 14. Kurt Baptiste 15. Paul Vaughan 16. Dane Tilse 17. Shannon Boyd 18. Joel Edwards


The Titan’s player’s confidence received a shot in the arm last week when they rolled the Rabbitohs in Sydney without the help of their representative players. The shot in the arm this week’s comes with those representative players retaking their place in the side now that Origin is done and dusted for another year.

Daniel Mortimer and Maurice Blair make up the Titans halves combo once more and whilst I’ve been impressed by Mortimer who is gaining experience with his new teammates each week but I’d prefer to see Blair in the centres applying his natural running game in attack rather than sending the ball along the backline like a statue at five/eighth.

With Blair in the centres it would probably beneficial to have Brad Takairangi dropped from the side as week in, week out we don’t ever see him playing up to first grade standards. If you disagree with me, ask yourself if Takairangi even holds a torch to the likes of other centres in the NRL like Jamie Lyon, Will Chambers, Josh Dugan or Josh Morris etc. He asks no questions of the opposition’s defence and attacking raids often die with Takairangi thanks to his seeming inability to offload.

The Raiders are coming off a bye which would normally give a side plenty of time to work on new strategies and set pieces but under Ricky Stuart’s style of coaching, I’m sure very little was learned in the last two weeks as the Raiders players fail to develop in their new environment.

Adding up all the aforementioned factors leads me to back the Titans to cover the line. If Dave Taylor has any sense of what the hell is going on around him, he will want to make amends for his bludger of a performance in Origin game 3, and lead the way in this match.


Mike’s Tip: Titans

Mike’s Best Bet: Titans -3.5 @ $1.93 (Palmerbet)



Sharks v Knights

Sun 13 Jul, 3:00pm, Remondis Stadium

Sharks: 1. Michael Gordon 2. Sosaia Feki 3. Jonathan Wright 4. Ricky Leutele 5. Jacob Gagan 6. Fa’amanu Brown 7. Jeff Robson 8. Sam Tagataese 9. Michael Lichaa 10. Bryce Gibbs 11. Luke Lewis 12. Wade Graham 13. Paul Gallen
Interchange: 14. Pat Politoni 15. Siosaia Vave 16. Tinirau Arona 17. Anthony Tupou 18. Tim Robinson 19. Tupou Sopoaga
Knights: 1. Darius Boyd 2. James McManus 3. Dane Gagai 4. Joseph Leilua 5. Akuila Uate 6. Jarrod Mullen 7. Kurt Gidley 8. Kade Snowden 9. Adam Clydsdale 10. Willie Mason 11. Beau Scott 12. Robbie Rochow 13. Jeremy Smith
Interchange:  14. Tyrone Roberts 15. Chris Houston 17. Adam Cuthbertson 18. Korbin Sims 19. David Fa’alogo 20. Joseph Tapine


The Sharks are now dubbed the ‘Comeback Kings’ of the NRL as a result of their last two games ending in victories off the back of near impossible comebacks from being four tries down at stages of both games. They are now shooting for three wins in a row but so are their opponents the Knights.

The Knights finally got free of Nathan Tinkler and a lot of the club’s headaches disappeared. But only a few weeks later they received the news that Coach Wayne Bennett was leaving the club and as usual Darius Boyd dropped everything in preparation to follow Wayne straight out the door.

I’m trying to work out what effect this will have on the Knight’s playing group heading into this match. They basically need to win all of their remaining nine games if they are to make the finals but will their motivation to do so be sapped by Wayne’s announcement?

If you’re a player watching your coach abandon the sinking ship, do you still get up on game day ready to output 100% of your effort in the game? I’m thinking no.

I just hope the Sharks are prepared to put in for the full 80 minutes rather than taking the field expecting a third comeback win to fall into their laps.

Take the Sharks with the +1.5 line as a bit of field goal insurance in case the game goes down the wire and ends in a field goal shoot out.

If you are able to, wait until an hour before the game to take advantage of Ladbrokes’ $2.00 line offer.


Mike’s Tip: Sharks

Mike’s Best Bet: Sharks +1.5 @ $2.00 (Ladbrokes)



Panthers v Broncos

Mon 14 Jul, 7:00pm, Centrebet Stadium

Panthers: 1. Matt Moylan 2. Josh Mansour 3. Dean Whare 4. Jamal Idris 5. Kevin Naiqama 6. Tyrone Peachey 7. Jamie Soward 8. Sam McKendry 9. James Segeyaro 10. Brent Kite 11. Sika Manu 12. Elijah Taylor 13. Adam Docker
Interchange: 14. Lewis Brown 15. Jeremy Latimore 16. Nigel Plum 17. Bryce Cartwright
Broncos: 1. Ben Barba 2. Daniel Vidot 3. Jack Reed 4. Justin Hodges 5. Dale Copley 6. Josh Hoffman 7. Ben Hunt 8. Josh McGuire 9. Andrew McCullough 10. Corey Parker 11. Alex Glenn 12. Matt Gillett 13. Sam Thaiday
Interchange: 14. Ben Hannant 15. David Hala 16. Corey Oates 17. Todd Lowrie 18. Jake Granville 19.  Jarrod Wallace 20. David Stagg


Having not played at home for 4 weeks the Panthers return to Sportingbet Stadium to take on a Broncos side that are looking for a win to move them up to equal 4th place on the ladder.

The Panthers have a driving motivation of their own which has them pushing for a victory that will bump them up to equal first on the ladder.

The Panthers lads have made the most of not having any players representing NSW or QLD during the State of Origin period of the season and have only lost one game in their last six outings.

The Broncos however will prove to be a much sterner test of their abilities and without the experience of Peter Wallace steering them around from halfback, it’s up to Jamie Soward to lead the creative pieces of the Panthers’ attacking raids.

Soward will move to halfback and I like Coach Ivan Cleary’s choice to put Tyrone Peachy in at number six. Peachey is a damaging player when he gets a bit of space presented to him. I’m sure that anytime the Panthers can take advantage of quick play the balls we will see Soward hitting Peachy with some long, early passing in order to give the team the best chance at breaking the Broncos’ line.

No bets in this game interest me much. If you want to have some fun you might opt for the good old ‘any other result’ in the half time fulltime betting @ $9.00 (Centrebet) as I’m at least expecting a close game.


Mike’s Tip: Panthers

Mike’s Best Bet: None

Mike’s Casual Bet: Any Other result in Halftime/Fulltime betting @ $9.00 (Centrebet)



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