NRL Round 21 Previews and Tips


Sea Eagles v Broncos

Fri 1 Aug, 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.Anthony Watmough 12. Jamie Buhrer  13. Tom Symonds
Interchange: 14. Jesse Sene-Lefao 15. Tyson Andrews 16. James Hasson 17. Jason King
Broncos: 1. Josh Hoffman 2. Daniel Vidot 3. Dale Copley 4. Justin Hodges 5. Jack Reed 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. Todd Lowrie 16. Ben Hannant 17. Corey Oates 18. Martin Kennedy


It would appear that the Broncos didn’t handle the announcement of Wayne Bennett’s return to the club very well last week. It was understandable that a lot of the players were upset with current Coach Anthony Griffin’s decided sacking at the end of the year and a 30-8 loss to the Storm suggests that the player’s minds may have been elsewhere.

So not only are they battling themselves but they have to battle the team on top of the ladder this week in the Manly Sea Eagles.

The Sea Eagles are simply going from strength to strength at the moment and it’s not surprising that they sit alone at the top of the competition ladder and look to have a top 4 spot sewn up.

They return home after a tough win over the Warriors and will no doubt thrive once more on the Brookvale turf.

Their set pieces in attack look absolutely crisp, as if they have rehearsed each play 5,000 times and their defence has a toughness to match.

The Broncos’ attack on the other hand is a bit hit and miss at times and luckily they have Ben Hunt at halfback who is doing a stellar job of organising the team’s attack.

Whether or not Hunt can lift enough to take on the second best defensive team in the comp is another question and perhaps it’s time for him to approach a game the same way he may have been preparing to approach Origin game 3 before he was cut from the team.

Hunt holds the key for the Broncos to produce an upset but nonetheless I’m backing the Sea Eagles as they are simply too hard to go past given the form they are in along with the home ground advantage.


Mike’s Tip: Sea Eagles

Mike’s Best Bet: Sea Eagles/Sea Eagles in Half Time/Full Time betting @ $1.75 (Bet365)



Bulldogs v Panthers

Fri 1 Aug, 7:45PM, ANZ Stadium

Bulldogs:  1. Sam Perrett 2. Corey Thompson 3. Moses Mbye 4. Timoteo Lafai 5. Mitch Brown 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. David Klemmer 17. Lloyd Perrett
Panthers: 1. Matt Moylan 2. Josh Mansour 3. Dean Whare 4. Jamal Idris 5. David Simmons 6. Will Smith 7. Jamie Soward 8. Nigel Plum 9. James Segeyaro 10. Brent Kite 11. Sika Manu 12. Elijah Taylor 13. Adam Docker
Interchange: 14. Lewis Brown 15. Jeremy Latimore 16. Bryce Cartwright 17. Sam McKendry 18. Isaah Yeo


The Bulldogs get their Origin representative five-eighth Josh Reynolds back this week and his return comes at a crucial time. The Panthers and Bulldogs sit equal on the ladder in 3rd and 4th spots respectively and will want to avoid a loss in this match unless they are happy to take a potential tumble down the ladder. Teams right down to 12th place are just two wins behind so it’s inevitable that some of them will make ground on the loser of this match.

The Panthers look set to struggle for a few reasons: the first being that they are short on halves with all the first choice men who would partner Jamie Soward injured.

The second being that the game is away from home and the Panthers have struggled all year away from Penrith.

The third, and seemingly most important is that the Panthers have only beaten teams in the top 9 twice this year; the Bulldogs by 2 points back in R2 and the Broncos back in R18 by 1 point. So it’s likely they will struggle against the 3rd placed side.

The Bulldogs big men will be spread out across the field once more thanks to the return of Josh Reynolds to jersey number 6 and they have shown in recent rounds more of a willingness to play effective, lateral footy and will likely run the Panthers ragged.

All signs point towards a Bulldogs win and the -6.0 line for them to cover seems pretty generous when I was expecting 8.5.


Mike’s Tip: Bulldogs

Mike’s Best Bet: Bulldogs -6.0 @ $1.94 (Luxbet)



Sharks v Eels

Sat 2 Aug, 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. Andrew Fifita 9. Michael Lichaa 10. Sam Tagataese 11. Luke Lewis 12. Wade Graham 13. Chris Heighington
Interchange: 14. Pat Politoni 15. Anthony Tupou  16. Tinirau Arona 17.  18. Tim Robinson 19. Tupou Sopoaga
Eels:  1. Jarryd Hayne 2. Semi Radradra 3. Ryan Morgan 4. William Hopoate 5. Ken Sio 6. Corey Norman 7. Chris Sandow 8. Tim Mannah 9. Isaac De Gois 10. Fuifui Moimoi 11. Peni Terepo 12. Tepai Moeroa 13. David Gower
Interchange: 14. Joseph Paulo 15. Junior Paulo 16. Pauli Pauli 17. Ben Smith


The Sharks only have pride and avoidance of the wooden spoon to play for at this point in time but they still managed to get up last week and produce and upset win against the Panthers in Bathurst.

This week they return home to face an Eels outfit that will be desperate to get a win or risk dropping a couple of wins from the top 8.

They currently sit equal 7th on the table but with for and against not treating them too kindly, the Eels true position on the ladder is 12th.

They haven’t fared too well in away games all year but the Eels put that stat to bed last week when they travelled interstate to the Gold Coast and defeated the Titans on the back of a stellar performance by fullback Jarryd Hayne.

Having Hayne turn on the brilliance in attack is one thing but if the Eels are to get on top of the Sharks here they will want to be keeping a very close eye on the juggernaut that is Andrew Fifita.

Since Fifita’s return to the side he has picked up where he left off with that almost impossible style of hard running with a blend of lateral stepping and seemingly never ending offloads. For a man of his size it still baffles many.

Fifita is however capable of conceding many a penalty and really needs to stop letting his opponents out of their own half so easily off the back of penalties.

I’m taking the Eels to win this one as they have so much more to play for than the Sharks. The Sharks were brought closer to the Panthers last week by a boggy field and injury to Peter Wallace and as long as it’s dry weather for this match, the Eels should be too good.


Mike’s Tip: Eels

Mike’s Best Bet: Eels -1.5 @ $2.00 (Ladbrokes within 2 hours of the 3pm kickoff)



Cowboys v Titans

Sat 2 Aug, 5:30PM, 1300SMILES Stadium

Cowboys: 1. Michael Morgan 2. Tautau Moga 3. Matthew Wright 4. Kane Linnett 5. Antonio Winterstein 6. Robert Lui  7. Johnathan Thurston 8. Matt Scott 9. Rory Kostjasyn 10. James Tamou 11. Tariq Sims 12. Jason Taumalolo 13. Glenn Hall
Interchange: 14. Ray Thompson 15. Scott Bolton 16. Ashton Sims 17. John Asiata 18. Sam Hoare
Titans:  1. Kevin Gordon 2. Anthony Don 3. James Roberts 4. Dave Taylor 5. David Mead 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. Cody Nelson 17. Maurice Blair


It’s a Queensland derby hosted by Townsville but the crowd will be cheering for just one team; The Cowboys.

The Cowboys went through the first 18 rounds of the competition completely unable to win a game on the road which was severely hurting them all year.

Yet in the last two rounds they have potentially put their road demons to sleep winning against the Sharks and the Bulldogs in Sydney and with three wins from their last four matches they Cowboys have catapulted their way into the top 8.

The Cowboys now have plenty of momentum heading into a home match and the preseason hype and predictions of their success in 2014 that was made about them may finally be turning into reality.

Having that momentum this week is one thing but what a bonus it is for them to have test international prop Matt Scott back in the side when he returns to the front row to help get his side’s premiership campaign back on track.

The Titans’ season has been littered with major inconsistency and although they only sit one win behind the 7th placed Cowboys they just don’t look like finals material at this point and a 1400km road trip to Townsville is not idea right now.

With the Cowboys playing as more of a unit in the past few weeks they are good value in the tri-bet stakes @ $1.63 to cover the -6.5 line.


Mike’s Tip: Cowboys

Mike’s Best Bet: Cowboys -6.5 @ $1.63 (Sportsbet)



Roosters v Dragons

Sat 2 Aug, 7:30PM, Allianz Stadium

Roosters: 1. Anthony Minichiello 2. Nene Macdonald 3. Michael Jennings 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. Aidan Guerra 13. Frank-Paul Nu’uausala
Interchange: 14. Heath L’Estrange 15. Isaac Liu 16. Dylan Napa 17. Remi Casty 18. Vincent Leuluai
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 18. Shane Pumipi


It’s team Roosters v team Dragons. It’s also Captain America v Ironman as the Roosters and Dragons don their special edition super hero jerseys for the final instalment of Saturday footy.

The Roosters probably looked far from heroic in the eyes of their fans who expected them to trounce the Knights last week and continue their path towards the top 4 but it all went awry when the Knights rose to take an unlikely win.

The reigning premiers now face a Dragons side that are fresh off a win against the Tigers and are looking for a second consecutive victory that would see them draw level to the Roosters.

In the last month the Dragons have improved a little each week and even their loss to the first placed Sea Eagles two weeks ago had plenty of positives for them to draw on.

Five eighth Gareth Widdop was in smashing form last week and halfback Benji Marshall (or second five eighth as I like to refer to him) is getting his job done with little fuss.

In this game however, I don’t think the Dragons will be able to surpass the Roosters. They might be able to match them in attack but the Roosters’ defence is the key element that will likely get them over the line.

Betting doesn’t grab my interest here as the Roosters are unpredictable when it comes to margin and I couldn’t try and predict how much they would win by with any real clarity.

It’s best to stay out of this one but if you’re going to dive in anyway might I suggest taking a piece of the decent price of $2.02 for Roger Tuivasa-Sheck to score a try at anytime?


Mike’s Tip: Roosters

Mike’s Best Bet: None

Mike’s Casual Bet: Roger Tuivasa-Sheck to score a try at anytime @ $2.02 (Ladbrokes)



Raiders v Warriors

Sun 3 Aug, 2:00PM, 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
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. Sam Rapira 17. Thomas Leuluai 18. Tuimoala Lolohea 20. Sione Lousi


It’s not all going to plan for the Warriors who will travel to Canberra to take on the Raiders without star halfback Shaun Johnson.

Johnson is still suffering from a groin injury and despite trying, was unable to get through a complete training session this week.

His omission brings Thomas Leuluai into the halves and sees the Warriors’ opening market price of $1.50 drift right out to $1.67.

The Raiders were accused by their Coach Ricky Stuart of playing no better than NSW Cup standard last week when they conceded 34 points against the Rabbitohs.

They get a chance to redeem themselves in front of the home crowd but I can’t see where the improvement is going to come from when they are being led around the park by a sub standard halves pairing in Campese and McCrone.

The Raiders’ outside backs are doing a good job on the flanks in attack when they are provided with quality ball, but their collective defensive efforts are shaky with opposition backs finding their way through or around without being so much as touched.

We know defence is the key to winning matches on any given day, but if the Raiders can match the Warriors in intensity, they will go close to winning as we know New Zealand are going to struggle to post as many points as they normally would with Johnson playing.

To the Warriors and the key to victory for their side may be as simple as having Leuluai and Townsend creating good options for the team on the 6th tackle.

Last week against Manly their final tackle options and kicking game were horrible and applied no pressure to Manly at all.

I can’t say I’ll be betting on this match but I’m guessing the Warriors should get the better of the Raiders in what could ultimately be a close match.


Mike’s Tip: Warriors

Mike’s Best Bet: None

Mike’s Casual Bet: Warriors Head to Head @ $1.67 (Sportsbet)



Rabbitohs v Knights

Sun 3 Aug, 3:00PM, Barlow Park

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
Knights: 1. Sione Mata’utia 2. Jake Mamo 3. Dane Gagai 4. Joseph Leilua 5. Chanel Mata’utia 6. Kurt Gidley 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


The Rabbitohs were successful on the road last week leaving a freezing cold Canberra with 2 competition points. Their quest for more points this week takes them to the opposite end of the east coast to Cairns where playing conditions are expected to be 20 degrees hotter than when they played in the nation’s capital the week before.

Standing in their way is the Newcastle Knights who believe it or not have won four of their last five games having taken down teams including the Cowboys and reigning premiers the Roosters.

The Knights will have to do it all without chief playmaker Jarrod Mullen and it will be young Tyrone Roberts who comes into the halves as replacement.

Roberts was called upon during last week’s match against the Roosters when Mullen left the field and played some outstanding footy that helped his side snatch an unlikely victory.

The Rabbitohs suffered losses of their own with the most notable being five-eighth John Sutton who could be missing for around three to six weeks with a medial strain.

Luke Keary will act as Sutton’s replacement and although quite capable of doing his job, it’s fair to say that the Rabbitohs are a lesser side when Sutton isn’t playing five-eighth.

Regardless of that point, I’m tipping the Rabbitohs will be too good at the neutral venue in what should be a high scoring match on a fast Cairns surface.


Mike’s Tip: Rabbitohs

Mike’s Best Bet:

1. Rabbitohs -9.5 @ $1.91 (Centrebet)

2. Total match points over 42.0 @ $1.90 (Luxbet)



Tigers v Storm

Mon 4 Aug, 7:00PM, Campbelltown Stadium

Tigers:  1. Mitchell Moses 2. Keith Lulia 3. Tim Simona 4. Bodene Thompson 5. Pat Richards 6. Blake Austin 7. Luke Brooks 8. Aaron Woods 9. Robbie Farah 10. Keith Galloway 11. Curtis Sironen 12. Dene Halatau 13. Adam Blair
Interchange: 14. Ava Seumanufagai 15. Martin Taupau 16. Sauaso Sue 17. James Gavet
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 10. Bryan Norrie 11. Kevin Proctor 12. Ryan Hoffman 13. Ryan Hinchcliffe
Interchange: 14. Tim Glasby 15. Tohu Harris 16. Kenneath Bromwich 17. Jordan McLean 18. Dayne Weston 19. Kurt Mann


I’m not expecting the Tigers to triumph in the week where club turmoil has overshadowed all and anything to do with on field focus.

Captain Robbie Farah took time out from the club following his public rivalry with Gorden Tallis which was carried out in the media, returning only late in the week to train with the club.

Obviously the whole saga is playing on his mind and is going to no doubt have an effect on his performance in the game, and when Farah isn’t at 100%, neither is the rest of the side.

The general punting public agree with my sentiments as plenty of money has come in support of the Storm which has seen the line fly out from 6.0 to 8.5

The Storm come into this match with a pretty good opportunity to embed themselves further into the top 8 but need to show no fear in the face of an away game with a very loyal and vocal Tigers fan base in their faces.

The overall picture is looking good for the Storm too, especially now that Cooper Cronk is back in the side fully recovered from his broken arm. They have won their last two games and it’s fair to say that the Storm have one of the easier runs into the finals.

Expect the Storm to grind this match out in the first 60 odd minutes and if the going gets too tough for the Tigers by the end of the game, the players will likely capitulate accepting that all the media speculation of them not being able to win this game was correct.


Mike’s Tip: Storm

Mike’s Best Bet: Storm -8.5 @ $1.95 (Bet365)



Share this:


Post Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.