NRL Round 20 Previews and Tips
Broncos v Titans
Fri 24 Jul, 7:35pm, Suncorp Stadium
The Brisbane Broncos will take on their struggling Queensland counterparts in the Gold Coast Titans in Brisbane on Friday night as the Titans now face their 5th consecutive loss. Now with the worst defence in the competition, Titans coach Neil Henry has introduced a number of changes after his team’s poor loss against the Knights last week. Aiden Sezer will return for the Gold Coast at the expense of Chad Redman while Kevin Gordon, Lachlan Burr and Matt White come in for Anthony Don, Nathaniel Peteru and David Taylor.
For the Broncos, Jack Reed’s suspension will see Dale Copley come into the side on the bench, while Kodi Nikorima replaces Matt Parcell as the bench Hooker.
The Broncos will go into this match as heavy favourites, but given the Titans’ reinforcements the Broncos must be wary of complacency having not lost a game since round 10. The Titans will look to exploit Jordan Kahu’s inexperience in the centres in the absence of Jack Reed but considering both teams’ recent form, expect the Broncos to come away with the points.
Ben’s Tip: Total Match Points Under 41.5 (Sportsbet)
Tigers v Roosters
Fri 24 Jul, 7:35pm, ANZ Stadium
The Wests Tigers will play the Sydney Roosters on Friday night as the Sydney club finally looks to be hitting their straps heading into the NRL finals series. With star recruit Blake Fergusson firing after an extended absence due to injury, the Roosters now sit in the top four and will look to dominate the last placed Tigers.
David Nofoaluma returns for Wests at Centre, while Jack Buchanan comes onto the bench. For the Roosters, Boyd Cordner returns from suspension, relegating Isaac Lui to the bench.
The Roosters go into this match confident as the Premiership favourites look to intimidate their top four rivals. The Tigers will struggle to compete now facing their 5th consecutive loss while the Roosters have won five straight. While controversy surrounding Roosters winger Shaun Kenny-Dowall may have an impact on the ‘Chooks performance, expect the Roosters to come away with the points.
Ben’s Tip: Roosters -14.5 @ $1.94 (Pinnacle Sports)
Rabbitohs v Knights
Sat 25 Jul, 5:30pm, ANZ Stadium
The South Sydney Rabbitohs will take on the Newcastle Knights as the former start to come into form heading into the NRL finals series. Now fielding a healthy roster, the Rabbitohs will have few excuses as they draw on the leadership of Adam Reynolds and Glenn Stuart after extended absences through injury.
The Knights continue to struggle but they have also welcomed back a number of key players of late. Adam Clydsdale returns at Hooker for the injured Tyler Randell, while the Rabbitohs have a straight swap in the same position, with Issac Luke coming in for Cameron McInnes.
The Rabbitohs have are a proven performer and with a healthy squad on the field will likely come away from this contest with the two points. With the Knight’s finals chances slim at best, the men from Newcastle will be playing for pride, but expect the Rabbitohs to push hard to hold their spot in the top four. Rabbitohs to come away with the win.
Ben’s Tip: Rabbitohs -14.0 @ $1.93 (Pinnacle Sports)
Storm v Dragons
Sat 25 Jul, 7:30pm, AAMI Park
The Melbourne Storm will take on the St George Dragons on Saturday night after a dominant display against Penrith last week made many critics change their tune after the Victorian club was written off after Billy Slater’s season ending injury.
Both sides have named unchanged squads as the Dragons will look to turn around their bad run of losses against the Storm to put themselves back into the top eight. Having recovered from their injury crisis, the Dragons will have no excuses against the Storm as they need to come up with results fast as the finals approach.
With so many first-graders back on the park, the Dragons should see much improvement as they start to get desperate heading into the finals. Paul McGregor’s men will need to start winning soon if they hope to crack the top eight so their desperation should see them win against the Storm on Saturday.
Ben’s Tip: Dragons +7.5 @ $1.93 (Bet365)
Warriors v Sea Eagles
Sat 25 Jul, 3:00pm, Mt Smart Stadium
The New Zealand Warriors will play the Manly Sea Eagles on Saturday evening as speculative reports indicating that Sea Eagles coach Geoff Toovey alongside 15 first grade players will be cut from the Manly club for the 2016 season spell trouble for the remainder of the ‘Eagles 2015 campaign. Sure to have an impact on their on-field results, the Sea Eagles may struggle to produce a consistent performance in the face of such controversy.
Facing a confident Warriors outfit this week, the Sea Eagles have named an unchanged squad, while their opposition will welcome back Glen Fisiiahi in place of David Fusitu’a on the wing.
The Warriors will look to kick the Sea Eagles while they are down, particularly with their home-ground advantage. The reported roster clean-out will look to solve issues in the Manly forward pack on which the Warriors will look to capitalise as the Sea Eagles continue to struggle up front. Warriors to come away with the points.
Ben’s Tip: Warriors -10.5 @ $1.95 (Unibet)
Bulldogs v Sharks
Sun 26 Jul, 4:00pm, Belmore Sportsground
The Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs will play the Cronulla Sharks on Sunday afternoon as the former looks to draw a line in the sand to put their finals chances for 2015 beyond doubt. Sitting at 7th, the Bulldogs have struggled this year with injuries and a draining Origin campaign. The Sharks will be equally eager to book their finals spot after the club scraped into the top eight with a field-goal win against the Raiders.
Now in the position to name an unchanged roster, Moses Mbye is the only inclusion on the bench for the ‘Dogs, while the Sharks are also unchanged with Anthony Tupou and Matt Prior coming onto the bench.
Despite the Sharks good form of late, expect Des Hasler to get his Bulldogs hungry for victory as the finals approach. The Bulldogs have a healthy roster and have settled after the Origin period so their hunger for the premiership that hasn’t come under Des Hasler should see them come out on top over the Sharks.
Ben’s Tip: Bulldogs -7.5 @ $1.93 (Pinnacle Sports)
Panthers v Raiders
Sun 26 Jul, 2:00pm, Sportingbet Stadium
The Penrith Panthers will play the Canberra Raiders on Sunday afternoon as both clubs face a crossroads in their season. Having displayed inconsistent form of late, both teams have the potential to make it into the top eight, but will need to win a majority of their remaining matches in the face of staunch opposition.
The Raiders will bring in Josh McCrone and Jack Wighton into their side due to injuries while Panthers coach Ivan Cleary has named David Simmons on the wing, with Sika Manu returning to the second row, relegating Bryce Cartwright to the bench.
It should be a close one between two clubs who have struggled of late, but expect the Raiders’ attacking flair to show against the fragile Panthers as the Raiders look to secure a top eight position. Raiders to come away with the points.
Ben’s Tip: Raiders +2.0 @ $1.92 (Pinnacle Sports)
Cowboys v Eels
Mon 27 Jul, 7:00pm, 1300Smiles Stadium
The North Queensland Cowboys will take on the Parramatta Eels as the latter’s 2015 season took another controversial turn for the worse last week. The relationship between the club’s management and mercurial playmaker Chris Sandow has reportedly broken down as the club refuse to pay him out the remainder of the value of his contact should he leave the club.
The Eels face an injury crisis with forwards Anthony Watmough and Danny Wicks out for the rest of the season. Reece Robinson returns at Fullback for the injured Corey Norman, with Joseph Paulo coming into the halves. Daniel Alvaro and Isaac De Gois will also come into the bench.
For the Cowboys, the suspended James Tamou returns, relegating Ben Hannant to the bench in place of Sam Hoare.
Given the Eels injury crisis, they will struggle to keep pace with the second-placed Cowboys. Expect the Eels to struggle in attack with both first-choice halves out. Cowboys to come away with the win.
Ben’s Tip: Total Match Points Under 47.5 @ $1.91 (Bet365)