The following are previews with betting tips for Round 12 of the 2018 NRL season.
Broncos v Eels
Thu, May 24, 7:50pm
After a wonderful performance against the highly-rated Roosters last week, Brisbane will be looking to back up their efforts against a dejected Parramatta outfit who will be fired up for a big match at Suncorp Stadium. The Eels lost their last match against the Warriors in another disappointing effort but have recently held the ascendency over Brisbane in their last few matches.
Jordan Kahu will return to the Broncos’ backline at centre with last week’s debutant Kotoni Staggs retaining his spot on the bench. George Fai will also be drafted into the side to replace the injured Korbin Sims. The Eels will swap Corey Norman and Clint Gutherson between fullback and five-eighth in a desperate bid to extract form from their spine with Siosaia Vave joining their front-row in a reshuffled pack to cover the injured Beau Scott, who went down with a season ending knee-injury last week.
The Eels have produced some wonderful form in their last few games against the Broncos, despite inconsistent form at the time. Expect Brisbane to answer in kind as they look to keep in touch with the top-four. This match could go either way but expect the home side to get the points.
Betting Tip: Eels +6.5 @ $1.92 (Sportsbet)
Raiders v Sea Eagles
Fri, May 25, 6:00pm
A resurgent Sea Eagles outfit looking for their third consecutive win will face the Raiders in the Australian capital after an impressive victory over the Storm last week. Canberra’s form has improved from the start of the year, but the club has conceded consecutive losses against quality opposition in the Sharks and Dragons. Both teams have displayed concerning early-season form but with a lot of potential, they should head into the contest fired up for a big performance.
Liam Knight will be drafted onto the Raiders’ bench to cover the suspended Joe Tapine. Manly will welcome much needed reinforcements as Jorge Taufua returns on the wing from a broken collarbone, new signing Trent Hodkinson joins the halves and Lewis Brown comes into dummy-half for the suspended Api Koroisau.
On recent form, Manly will be very confident heading into this match after dominant performances against Brisbane and Melbourne but will be wary of a Raiders outfit looking to avoid their third loss in a row. The addition of Trent Hodkinson could have a massive impact for the Sea Eagles but he may take some time to get back to his best. This one could go either way but expect the Manly to miss Api Koroisau at dummy-half as the enormous Raiders pack dominates the ruck. Canberra to get the points.
Betting Tip: Raiders -2.0 @ $1.92 (Crownbet)
Cowboys v Storm
Fri, May 25, 7:50pm
A match billed as a blockbuster in the pre-season has now become a desperate encounter between two clubs eager to stay in touch with the ladder positions that fit their lofty expectations. The Storm sit seventh on the competition ladder after a poor loss to Manly last week, albeit without captain Cameron Smith, while the Cowboys are placed second-last after a heart-breaking one-point loss to a red-hot Rabbitohs in their last game.
The Storm will welcome back superstars Cameron Smith and Jesse Bromwich from suspension and injury respectively in a massive boost. Young Tonumaipea will also join the centres in place of the suspended Curtis Scott. Sam Kasiano will also return on the bench. The Cowboys have elected to name an unchanged squad, with Paul Green persisting with Michael Morgan at fullback.
The Storm will enter the match as heavy favourites and expect a big performance from the Victorians after a disappointing loss last week. It is not often that the Storm are beaten so comprehensively, and coach Craig Bellamy will be sure to elicit a response from his troops. The Cowboys will struggle to match their opposition but should lift for this game. Expect a fiery encounter with Melbourne to get the win.
Betting Tip: Storm -3.5 @ $1.93 (Bet365)
Roosters v Titans
Sat, May 26, 3:00pm
After a disappointing loss to the Broncos last week – conceded in the dying stages of the game – the Roosters will be fired-up against a struggling Titans outfit this week. With the Gold Coast notching an encouraging but sloppy last-start win over the Knights, they now have the unenviable task of facing the tri-colours this week as they look to stay in touch with the top-eight.
The Roosters have named an unchanged side for the clash, while the Titans will welcome back Kevin Proctor in the back-row as Ryan James shifts back to prop.
Continuity in their squad is key to building combinations in defence and attack for the Titans as they look to recover from their woeful start to the year. The Roosters will be frustrated after errors and a controversial penalty conspired against them last week but the Sydney club may be closer to their best than they seem. Roosters should get the points.
Betting Tip: Roosters -10.0 @ $1.91 (William Hill)
Warriors v Rabbitohs
Sat, May 26, 5:30pm
In an unlikely top-four clash, the Warriors will host South Sydney this Saturday evening in a massive game that will be a good indicator for the form of two of the competition’s best teams. The Warriors responded to a round 10 hiding at the hands of the Roosters with a solid performance against Parramatta last week, while the Rabbitohs impressed in a narrow field-goal win over the Cowboys in their third consecutive victory.
Warriors fullback and captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck missed last week with the birth of his child but will return at the expense of Gerard Beale in the back-line in an otherwise unchanged squad. For the Rabbitohs, Greg Inglis will shift to fullback to cover the injured Alex Johnston with Adam Doueihi shifting to the centres and Mark Nicholls joining the bench.
Both teams boast powerful forward rotations and a classy spine but with each squad missing key members in Shaun Johnson and Alex Johnston, expect the game to be decided in the ruck. Both squads will focus on the energetic game-plan that has been so successful this year, so expect an intense physical contest. This one could go either way but expect the Warriors to take the win at their home-ground.
Betting Tip: Total Match Points Over 37.5 @ $1.91 (Ladbrokes)
Panthers v Dragons
Sat, May 26, 7:30pm
Saturday night will see another top-four clash between the first and second placed teams in the competition with over ten players on the field pushing for State of Origin selection. The Dragons notched yet another victory last week against the Raiders but the competition leaders should be wary of a Penrith outfit who impressed in their last-start victory over the Wests Tigers.
Both teams have named an unchanged line-up from their wins last week. A rare luxury for Penrith in particular, who have struggled with injuries this year.
St George will enter the contest as narrow favourites but there is little to split these two squads. The return of Nathan Cleary has been a massive boon for Penrith with the young halfback producing a solid performance last week to push for representative selection. This match will be a direct contest for NSW selection, particularly in the forwards – so expect a tough physical contest between two sides who will already be planning for a heavy representative toll. This contest could go either way but expect the Dragons to get the win.
Betting Tip: Total Match Points Under 37.5 @ $1.90 (Sportsbet)
Knights v Sharks
Sun, May 27, 2:00pm
After a disappointing loss to the Titans last week, the Knights face a massive challenge against the Sharks with the Cronulla club climbing the ladder and looking for their sixth consecutive win. It has been an adjustment period for the Sharks so far this season but Cronulla look to be returning to their best after producing consistent football for the last month.
Jamie Buhrer will make his injury return on the bench as Jack Cogger joins the halves for the injured Brock Lamb. Wade Graham and Luke Lewis will both return in the second row in a massive boost for the Sharks in an otherwise unchanged squad.
Cronulla will enter the contest as heavy favourites – rightly so given the club’s recent form. The mid-season release of Trent Hodkinson to Manly is a clear vote of confidence from coach Shane Flanagan for Matt Moylan to retain his position in the halves in a positive sign for the club. Cronulla are quickly establishing themselves as a dark horse candidate for the top-four and they should get the points on Saturday night.
Betting Tip: Sharks -6.0 @ $1.92 (Crownbet)
Tigers v Bulldogs
Sun, May 27, 4:10pm
A struggling Canterbury outfit will take on the Tigers this Sunday evening after the Canterbury club conceded their eighth loss of the season against the Sharks last week. Faced with a nightmare salary cap that effectively rules them out of the market for marquee players – Canterbury coach Dean Pay will need his men to lift if the ‘Dogs are any chance of making the top-four in his first-year coaching first grade.
Tuimoala Lolohea will return for the Tigers at fullback as Mahe Fonua also joins the centres. Josh Reynolds will also return on the bench in a reshuffled outfit as coach Ivan Cleary looks to get the best from his struggling squad. The Bulldogs have named John Olive to replace the injured Josh Morris in the centres as Raymond Faitala-Mariner also returns to the second-row in an otherwise unchanged side.
The Tigers have been struggling in recent weeks, winning only one of their last five matches. The Bulldogs will be desperate to capitalise on their poor-form as they look to keep in touch with the top-eight. Expect Ivan Cleary’s changes to his line-up to prove effective as they take the win.
Betting Tip: Tigers -3.5 @ $1.93 (Bet365)
Panthers v Dragons Total Match Points Under 37.5 @ $1.90 (Sportsbet)