NRL Round 20 Previews and Tips


Knights v Roosters

Fri 25 Jul, 7:40pm, Hunter Stadium

Knights: 1. Darius Boyd 2. James McManus 3. Dane Gagai 4. Joseph Leilua 5. Akuila Uate 6. Jarrod Mullen 7. Tyrone Roberts 8. Kade Snowden 9. Adam Clydsdale 10. Willie Mason 11. Beau Scott 12. Robbie Rochow 13. Jeremy Smith
Interchange:  14. Travis Waddell 15. Korbin Sims 17. Adam Cuthbertson 18. David Fa’alogo
Roosters: 1. Anthony Minichiello 2. Nene Macdonald 3. Mitchell Aubusson 4. Shaun Kenny-Dowall 5. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck 6. James Maloney 7. Mitchell Pearce 8. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves 9. Jake Friend 10. Sam Moa 11. Boyd Cordner 12. Sonny Bill Williams 13. Aidan Guerra
Interchange: 14. Frank-Paul Nu’uausala 15. Isaac Liu 16. Dylan Napa 17. Remi Casty


The ‘Rise for Alex’ week in Round 19 was a fantastic initiative from the NRL community and one must commend the Knights’ playing group for the way they have gotten behind Alex and shown unwavering support for the young man.

Their match against the Titans last week was flooded with emotion and a Knights victory looked the goods.

Unfortunately the players couldn’t rally and were ultimately beaten by 22-8. Getting to my point and it sounds harsh to say it: If the Knights couldn’t get up during the ‘Rise for Alex’ round then do they have any hope of getting up for the first game of the year where it’s not possible for them to make the finals?

The Roosters defeated the top placed Panthers quite convincingly last week and believe it or not it was the team’s first win in over a month. Ironically that previous win was against the Knights in a game that was a bit closer than expected with the Knights hanging in for most of the game before the Roosters ran away with points late in the game.

The Roosters’ form has been pretty solid throughout the season and when they commit they are one of the best sides in the comp but their downfall is not playing for the full 80 minutes.

Especially against lower ranked sides where they have a tendency to either get off to slow starts before realising towards the end of matches that they need to get their butts into gear, or the opposite where they get out to early leads then take the foot off the gas thinking the fat lady has sung.
I’m not really interested in talking about Wayne Bennett. Enough has been said throughout the week and the players are already aware that he is leaving for the Broncos.

Jump on the Roosters to cover the Bet365 8.0 line.


Mike’s Tip: Roosters

Mike’s Best Bet: Roosters -8.0 @ $2.00 (Bet365)



Broncos v Storm

Fri 25 Jul, 7:40pm, Suncorp Stadium

Broncos: 1. Josh Hoffman 2. Lachlan Maranta 3. Dale Copley 4. Justin Hodges 5. Jordan Kahu 6. Ben Barba 7. Ben Hunt 8. Josh McGuire 9. Andrew McCullough 10. Corey Parker 11. Alex Glenn 12. Matt Gillett 13. Sam Thaiday
Interchange: 14. Jake Granville 15. Ben Hannant 16. Martin Kennedy 17. Todd Lowrie 17.  18. Jarrod Wallace 19. Jack Reed 20. Corey Oates 21. Daniel Vidot
Storm: 1. Billy Slater 2. Sisa Waqa 3. Will Chambers 4. Mahe Fonua 5. Marika Koroibete 6. Ben Roberts 7. Cooper Cronk 8. Jesse Bromwich 9. Cameron Smith (c) 10. Bryan Norrie 11. Kevin Proctor 12. Ryan Hoffman 13. Ryan Hinchcliffe
Interchange: 14. Tim Glasby 15. Tohu Harris 16. Kenny Bromwich 17. Jordan McLean 18. Dayne Weston 19. Young Tonumaipea


Judging by some of the Broncos’ players’ reactions to the news of Coach Anthony Griffin’s sacking for next year, they’re not impressed. You can expect those players to no doubt lift for their under siege coach but I have questions over some of the younger players who may be feeling a bit jaded by the whirlwind news.

The big plus for the Broncos this week is the return of Matt Gillett to the side, adding so much more potency in the forwards thanks to his brilliant work ethic.

The three players that were dropped from the side last week due to disciplinary reasons, Reed, Oates and Vidot, have all been named on an extended bench.

Whichever final line up Griffin opts for, I hope for the Broncos sake he finds room for the talented young Dale Copley who showed last week with his brilliant performance that he is a talent that will no doubt go far in the NRL.

Both sides sit on 22 points on the ladder with the Broncos at 6th and the Storm maintaining their 8th position thanks to a thorough win over the Raiders on Saturday evening.

If the Storm put in a good performance against the Broncos now that the State of Origin period is over, it could be proof that they are about to turn up the wick heading into the finals.

Surely the Storm would be motivated enough to win knowing that a loss could see them drop to 10th on the ladder at rounds end and leave them positioned one win out of the 8. But I’m sure I’ve spoken about such motivation prior to previous Storm matches this year that they have gone on to lose thanks to a complete lack of defensive commitment. Let’s see if they can turn that trend around.

In betting I’m not too keen on trying to place my finger on a winner when I don’t know where the Broncos’ player’s heads are at, but I expect a high scoring match nonetheless.


Mike’s Tip: Broncos

Mike’s Best Bet: Total match points over 40.5 @ $1.91 (Bet365)



Panthers v Sharks

Sat 26 Jul, 3.00pm, Centrebet Stadium

Panthers: 1. Matt Moylan 2. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 3. Dean Whare 4. Jamal Idris 5. Kevin Naiqama 6. Jamie Soward 7. Peter Wallace 8. Nigel Plum 9. James Segeyaro 10. Brent Kite 11. Bryce Cartwright 12. Isaah Yeo 13. Elijah Taylor
Interchange: 14. Lewis Brown 15. Jeremy Latimore 16. Adam Docker 17. Sam McKendry 23. Sika Manu
Sharks: 1. Michael Gordon 2. Sosaia Feki 3. Jonathan Wright 4. Ricky Leutele 5. Jacob Gagan 6. Fa’amanu Brown 7. Jeff Robson 8. Andrew Fifita 9. Michael Lichaa 10. Bryce Gibbs 11. Luke Lewis 12. Wade Graham 13. Anthony Tupou
Interchange: 14. Pat Politoni 15. Chris Heighington 16. Tinirau Arona 17. Sam Tagataese 18. Tim Robinson 19. Matt Prior


The NRL heads to Bathurst for a Saturday arvo match between the Panthers and the Sharks and the weather looks unlikely to be very uninviting at a predicted 12 degrees.

I had posted my best bet for this game on very early in the week as there are plenty of factors in this game that point to a high scoring affair.

Firstly, the Sharks who clearly want to put this horror season behind them asap, showed last week they would rather play touch footy than first grade Rugby League and will no doubt leak points as well as acquiring a few of their own with some adlib attacking plays.

Secondly the neutral venue; when neither team has a home ground advantage which makes the game play out a bit more ‘loosely’ for want of a better word.

Imagine when, part way through the second half, the Panthers are on top, controlling the game and as a Sharks’ player, all you’re doing is thinking about the warm bus trip back to Penrith rather than focusing on the defensive task at hand.

The Panthers could also benefit from the early return of Peter Wallace who has been named in the side to make a return from injury. If it is deemed that Wallace is still unfit to play, I’m sure Matt Moylan will have few problems slotting into the number 6 jersey with Soward pushing into halfback.

The Panthers have a plethora of men that can cover the outside backs if Moylan does move into the halves and no doubt Watene-Zelezniak would play fullback with Lewis Brown shifting into the centres.

So get on the ‘Over’ option in the total match points line on Bet 365 and also get on the Panthers to cover the -8.5 line as it could be quite a hefty margin if the Sharks don’t stop prematurely thinking about mad Monday.


Mike’s Tip: Panthers

Mike’s Best Bets:

1. Total match points over 40.5 @ $1.91 (Bet365)

2. Panthers -8.5 @ $1.95 (Bet365)



Titans v Eels

Sat 26 Jul, 5:30pm, Robina Stadium

Titans:  1. Kevin Gordon 2. Anthony Don 3. James Roberts 4. Dave Taylor 5. Kalifa Faifai Loa 6. Brad Takairangi 7. Daniel Mortimer 8. Luke Douglas 9. Beau Falloon 10. Nate Myles 11. Mark Minichiello 12. Paul Carter 13. Greg Bird
Interchange: 14. Matt White 15. Mark Ioane 16. Tom Kingston 17. Maurice Blair 18. Cody Nelson
Eels: 1. Jarryd Hayne 2. Semi Radradra 3. Ryan Morgan 4. Willie Tonga 5. Vai Toutai 6. Corey Norman 7. Chris Sandow 8. Junior Paulo 9. Isaac De Gois 10. Fuifui Moimoi 11. Kenny Edwards 12. Tepai Moeroa 13. David Gower
Interchange: 14. Joseph Paulo 15. Peni Terepo 16. Pauli Pauli 17. Ben Smith


The Titans’ form is about as predictable as the weather this year. Their last four games have been all over the place starting with their loss against the Dragons back in Round 15 when they had every chance to beat a lesser side.

Next they played the Rabbitohs and when given no hope of winning, they came out and won at long odds. If a team can down the Rabbitohs then surely they can down the lowly placed Raiders right? Not the Titans. They found a way to get beaten at home by the second to last placed green machine.

Next up was the Knights during Rise for Alex round and the money came heavily for the Newcastle side yet come game time, the Titans were the ones rising unexpectedly and stealing an upset win.

These last four games are simply a long winded way for me to say that I won’t be placing any money on them whilst they cough up such unpredictable results.

The Eels on the other hand are consistent in the way they lose away from home and are not surprisingly the outsiders in this game.

If the Eels are to give themselves the best chance of winning, I’d like to see them target Dave Taylor in attack. No this is not a mistake, I’d like to see them target the biggest man on the field.

Why? Because Dave Taylor has always had a poor work ethic and it still surprises me today that he was chosen for Origin game 3.

Coach John Cartwright got the best out of Taylor last week by moving him into the centres and finally putting Takairangi into the second row.

As a result of the positional change, Taylor had to do less defending and had plenty more to offer in attack.

If the Eels can run the likes of Tepai Moeroa straight at Taylor, and get Ryan Morgan and Vai Toutai making the big fella move laterally, he will wear himself out because the blunt truth is that Dave Taylor would rather tackle a bucket of chicken than his opposition.


Mike’s Tip: Titans

Mike’s Best Bet: Total match points under 44.5 @ $1.91 (Bet365)



Bulldogs v Cowboys

Sat 26 Jul, 7:30pm, ANZ Stadium

Bulldogs: 1. Mitch Brown 2. Corey Thompson 3. Josh Morris 4. Tim Lafai 5. Drury Low 6. Moses Mbye 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. Pat O’Hanlon 17. Lloyd Perrett 20. Damien Cook
Cowboys: 1. Michael Morgan 2. Matthew Wright 3. Tautau Moga 4. Kane Linnett 5. Antonio Winterstein 6. Robert Lui  7. Johnathan Thurston 8. Ashton Sims 9. Rory Kostjasyn 10. James Tamou 11. Tariq Sims 12. Jason Taumalolo 13. Glenn Hall
Interchange: 14. Ray Thompson 15. Scott Bolton 16. John Asiata 17. Sam Hoare


The Bulldogs copped a fair old beating from the Tigers last week, but the biggest walloping they absorbed would have no doubt come from Coach Des Hasler at half time.

The Bulldogs do still sit equal 2nd on the ladder with the Panthers and will be ready to bounce back this week to appease Des and the players will no doubt be licking their lips at the prospect of redeeming themselves against a side that severely struggles to win a game on the road.

The Cowboys finally scored themselves an away win last week but alas, it was against the lowly Sharks who are playing like a bunch of nevilles and for one to feel happy about their first win on the road being against Cronulla is akin to cheering about stealing candy from a baby.

I would like to say that this week is a chance to prove they are capable of more but the reality is that the Cowboys have already had plenty of those chances and squandered them.

Facing a Bulldogs side that got severely burnt by the Tigers last week might prove a task too much for the Cowboys and whilst they might go close I still have the Bulldogs winning this one.

Betting is interesting in this game and I find the option of the Bulldogs covering the line alluring but at the current odds I think it’s about spot on.

$1.55 is a good head to head price but if you get your caboose into gear and head over to Pinnacle Sports you can get the value price of $1.65. Take it as my best bet of the game.


Mike’s Tip: Bulldogs

Mike’s Best Bet: Bulldogs Head to Head @ $1.65 (Pinnacle)



Warriors v Sea Eagles

Sun 27 Jul, 2:00pm, Mt Smart Stadium

Warriors: 1. Sam Tomkins 2. Ngani Laumape 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. Ben Henry 12. Simon Mannering 13. Sebastine Ikahihifo
Interchange: 14. Feleti Mateo 15. Ben Matulino 16. Jayson Bukuya 17. Thomas Leuluai 20. Sam Rapira
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.Anthony Watmough 12. Jamie Buhrer  13. Tom Symonds
Interchange: 14. Jesse Sene-Lefao 15. Dunamis Lui 16. James Hasson 17. Jason King


The Sea Eagles have dominated a lot of the media this week with stories regarding the alleged disharmony amongst the players.

I for one don’t think it will be a distraction to the players simply because it’s an issue that has clearly been going on for a year or more. If the player’s emotions on the issue were to affect the way they play then the team’s results would have suffered long ago.

Although I don’t think it will prove to be a distraction, I do think Manly will be up against it regardless this week as they travel to New Zealand, and Mt Smart Stadium in particular where the Warriors are proving to be a real force.

The Warriors certainly played themselves out of a win last week against the Broncos with silly errors costing them dearly. But having only lost three games since round 7, the Warriors are still one of the form teams of the competition and the bounce back factor will likely come into effect this week as no doubt Coach Andrew McFadden would have had his troops practicing basic ball handling skills this week.

David Fusitu’a had a shocker and has been dropped for Ngani Laumape who will return from suspension this week to take over the right wing position.

The Warriors opened in betting as slight outsiders and a bit of money came in their direction although it has been a pretty weak betting affair.

We will be taking the Warriors and this match represents a perfect opportunity to take advantage of Ladbrokes’ $2.00 lines which become available in the hour prior to kickoff.


Mike’s Tip: Warriors

Mike’s Best Bet: Warriors +1.5 @ $2.00 (Ladbrokes one hour prior to the 2pm AEST kickoff)



Tigers v Dragons

Sun 27 Jul, 3:00pm, ANZ Stadium

Tigers: 1. Mitchell Moses 2. Keith Lulia 3. Tim Simona 4. Chris Lawrence 5. Pat Richards 6. Blake Austin 7. Luke Brooks 8. Aaron Woods 9. Robbie Farah 10. Keith Galloway 11. Curtis Sironen 12. Bodene Thompson 13. Adam Blair
Interchange: 14. Ava Seumanufagai 15. Martin Taupau 16. Dene Halatau 17. James Gavet 18. Sauaso Sue
Dragons: 1. Adam Quinlan 2. Brett Morris 3. Josh Dugan 4. Gerard Beale 5. Jason Nightingale 6. Gareth Widdop 7. Benji Marshall 8. Ben Creagh (c) 9. Mitch Rein 10. Mike Cooper 11. Leeson Ah Mau 12. Joel Thompson 13. Jack de Belin.
Interchange: 15. Bronson Harrison 16. Shane Pumipi 17. Will Matthews  17. Jack Stockwell 19. Nathan Green 24. Charly Runciman


It will be interesting to see what kind of reception Benji Marshall receives from the Tigers’ supporters at ANZ Stadium today. Benji will front his former team for the first time since his ill fated defection to Rugby Union.

I don’t expect that playing against his former team mates will have any negative effect on Marshall who has been doing a solid job for the Dragons since his recent return to the NRL. Marshall’s halves partner Gareth Widdop may need to produce some of his best footy if he is to get his side over the line against a Tigers team that smoked the Bulldogs last week by putting on 46 points on them.

The Tigers side has so much more unity about them when Robbie Farah is steering the ship from dummy half and his leadership combined with rapid ruck speed means that the forwards are able to keep their opposition on the back foot until halfback Luke Brooks strikes the blows that gets his side over the tryline.

I don’t want to try and back a winner in this game with the reasons being that the Tigers might struggle to produce another 46 point performance and the Dragons’ loss to the Sea Eagles last week would sure have taught them a thing or two about their defensive deficiencies.

These and other factors point towards a close game but with the way these sides play and the daytime weather I have confidence it will be a high scoring affair.

Jump on the ‘Over’ option in total match point betting.


Mike’s Tip: Tigers

Mike’s Best Bet: Total match points over 44.5 @ $1.91 (Bet365)



Raiders v Rabbitohs

Mon 28 Jul, 7:00pm, GIO Stadium

Raiders: 1. Anthony Milford 2. Reece Robinson 3. Jarrod Croker 4. Jarrad Kennedy 5. Sami Sauiluma 6. Terry Campese 7. Josh McCrone 8. David Shillington 9. Glen Buttriss 10. Brett White 11. Josh Papalii 12. Joel Edwards 13. Shaun Fensom
Interchange: 14. Kurt Baptiste 15. Paul Vaughan 16. Dane Tilse 17. Shannon Boyd 18. Matt Allwood
Rabbitohs: 1. Greg Inglis 2. Alex Johnston 3. Kirisome Auva’a 4. Dylan Walker 5. Bryson Goodwin 6. John Sutton 7. Adam Reynolds 8. George Burgess 9. Issac Luke 10. David Tyrrell 11. Kyle Turner 12. Ben Te’o 13. Sam Burgess
Interchange: 14. Luke Keary 15. Ben Lowe 16. Jason Clark 17. Thomas Burgess 18. Joe Picker 19. Joel Reddy


This is the first time these two sides have met in Canberra since 2011 and on that day it was a whopping 47-18 win for the Rabbitohs. But that’s ancient history as far as this game is concerned and if we go back to Round 4 of this season it was the Raiders producing the big result beating the Rabbitohs, who were $1.30 favourites, by 30 points to 18.

That score line was flattering to the Rabbitohs that day when they were clearly outplayed by some margin but since that match it’s been the Rabbitohs that have gone on to thrive in the competition.

The Raiders have won a measly 3 games since that day whilst the Rabbitohs have powered their way into the top 4, and as was the same in the lead up to the round 4 match up, they are short priced favourites to win.

They were runaway winners last week over the Eels but the Rabbitohs might find the Canberra weather at GIO Stadium a bit smothering to their abilities and not many teams enjoy making this trip during the year, let alone in winter.

The temperature is expected to be down to about 7 degrees come the 7pm kickoff and about 5 degrees by game’s end which no doubt gives the locals a bit of help but I can’t see it helping the Raiders win the game, and a 1-12 loss might be the best possible result for them.

Betting doesn’t interest me in this game but if you are keen to have a punt, then the Rabbitohs 1-12 is the best advice I can give. They simply have too much power, too much variety and too much overall ability compared to the struggling Raiders.


Mike’s Tip: Rabbitohs

Mike’s Best Bet: None

Mike’s Casual Bet: Rabbitohs 1-12 @ $3.10 (Sportingbet)



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5 Responses to "NRL Round 20 Previews and Tips"

  1. hi mike,

    good game coming up at suncorp for friday night footy!
    but I think it will be time for melbourne to start pulling the trigger
    now that they are within the top 8, they demonstrated it last week.
    I didnt expect alot from them last week but they showed what they can do,
    you could say that to the broncos aswell, but i think it was the warriors game to lose last week. if copely didnt score 2 within a 5min against a slack warriors line it couldnt been a different story, i think they run has reflected the odds. Storm for me, more experienced more set plays. broncos havent demonstrated much besides from individuality. hunt especially to me has been seen as over rated from my perspective- most solid set play from him seems to be the dummy. Hoffman set back to fullback seems to solid up the defence abit compared to barbra. broncos are lucky other teams are worse off record showing 1 win from 4 rds – playing against teams that have been lacking defence such as nz and sharks.

  2. What’s happening with these upsets coming from ridiculous teams? Lost way too much money on “sure things” thus far. NRL is doing my head in. Think I’ll stick to soccer which has been good to me last few weeks

  3. hahaha some ladder leaders falling from the trees.

    roosters had a tough night with the video refs.

    panthers beat themselves.

    and bulldogs have been lost without renolyds.

    there could be another upset with manly today, nothing confirmed but what ive heard is that manly could be missing 3 key players in the match, so watch out. i still like my manly but still no updates on who the 3 are possibly the 3 that have been on the news lately (stewart, matai and watmough).

    ive been lucky on a few games of soccer these clubs friendlys.
    perth glory v a strong malaga today

  4. watch the rabbits front rowers work hard on a monday night to get the job done down at raider territory! the forward pack will be doing all the work for renolyds work his wingers. raiders might break thru the defence line of rabbits but it will be difficult. after roosters, panthers and bulldogs being defeated good chance for the rabbits to grab some points. rabbits win by 11-20 margin!!! til i dieee


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