The following are previews with betting tips for Round 17 of the 2018 NRL season.
Storm v Dragons
Thu, Jul 5, 7:50pm
It’s not often Melbourne are beaten comprehensively but the Victorian club will burning from their 34-14 round nine loss to the Dragons earlier this year. After a shaky start to the season, the Storm have recovered well with four consecutive wins, the most recent of which being a 9-8 thriller against the Roosters.
Meanwhile, the Dragons have been down on the early season form, understandably so during the Origin period. They have done well to consistently notch victories with a narrow win over the Eels last week handing them outright first position on the competition ladder.
Both teams will be without their Origin stars with the Storm missing Tim Glasby, Josh Addo-Carr, Felise Kaufusi, Cameron Munster, Will Chambers and Billy Slater. Young Tonumaipea, Ryley Jacks, Cheyse Blair and Justin Olam and Christian Welch will be drafted into the run-on side as cover as Brodie Croft joins the bench.
St George will be without Ben Hunt, Tyson Frizell, Jack de Belin, Paul Vaughan and Tariq Sims. 29 year-old Darren Nicholls will make his NRL debut at halfback as Luciano Leilua, Jacob Host and Blake Lawrie form a new back-row. Leeson Ah Mau will also return at prop with Hame Sele and Reece Robson included on the bench.
A total of 11 representative players will be missing from this game. Expect the experience of Melbourne’s squad to give them an edge over a very junior St George squad. It will be a tough one to pick with so many untested players but expect the Storm to get the win.
Betting Tip: Storm -4.0 @ $1.90 (Palmerbet)
Panthers v Warriors
Fri, Jul 6, 7:50pm
Friday night’s contest between the Panthers and Warriors will go a long way toward deciding the make-up of the 2018 finals series. With massive congestion around the top-four, Penrith will be desperate to arrest a mid-season form slump that has seen them concede consecutive losses to the Roosters and Manly. While Warriors’ coach Stephen Kearney has extracted a massive improvement in his squad this year he will not be happy with their inconsistency, particularly against other top-teams. His squad will be burning after a controversial last-gasp loss to the Sharks saw them drop out of the top-four.
The Panthers will miss halves James Maloney, Nathan Cleary and Tyrone Peachy for the match with Tyrone May and Jarome Luai forming a new halves combination as Waqa Blake makes his injury return in the centres. Kaide Ellis has also been displaced by Corey Harawira-Naera on the interchange. For the Warriors, Ken Maumalo and David Fusitu’a will return on the wings. Injuries to key forwards Bunty Afoa and Tohu Harris are a big blow, but Adam Blair and Ligi Sao are capable replacements at lock and on the bench respectively.
The Warriors will enter the contest as favourites with the Panthers’ absent Origin stars. This is a hugely important game for both clubs as they look to tie-up a top four spot but expect the Kiwi’s to capitalise on the inexperience of the Panthers’ halves to take the match.
Betting Tip: Warriors -5.5 @ $2.02 (Crownbet)
Bulldogs v Raiders
Sat, Jul 7, 7:30pm
With club turmoil interfering with the Bulldogs’ on-field performance, an upset win over the Knights last week was a welcome victory. The struggling Canterbury outfit will now face the Raiders after they once again failed to close out a match after conceding a 26-22 loss to the Broncos after leading by 16-points at half time.
Sam Williams has been recalled at five-eighth for Canberra with Blake Austin relegated to the interchange. Siliva Havili will also start for the absent Maroons forward Josh Papalii. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs have named only one change as Clay Priest joins the bench to cover for Blues prop David Klemmer.
Last week’s loss saw Canberra miss an opportunity to close within one win of the top eight. Instead, they are now three wins outside finals contention. The Bulldogs showed some heart against the Knights but expect a fired-up Raiders to charge out of the blocks to take the win.
Betting Tip: Raiders -9.5 @ $2.20 (Unibet)
Titans v Broncos
Sun, Jul 8, 4:10pm
Both the Broncos and Titans will be looking for their third consecutive win this week in a massive Queensland Derby that is hugely important to both clubs. After a miraculous comeback win against the Raiders last week, Brisbane will be looking to make a desperate push for the top four, while the 11th placed Titans have the opportunity to narrow the gap to eighth-position to just two wins.
After their dominant victory over the Tigers last week, the Titans only changes come as Morgan Boyle and Konrad Hurrell join the bench to cover Maroons forwards Jarrod Wallace and Jai Arrow. Brisbane will be missing Corey Oates, James Roberts, Josh McGuire and Andrew McCullough to Origin III as Jonus Pearson and Tom Opacic form a new centre-wing combination. Tevita Pangai Jr will make his injury return on the bench with Jake Turpin set to make his NRL debut at dummy-half.
Brisbane will enter the contest as favourites but expect this Titans outfit to push their opposition to their limit. Much will depend on Jake Turpin’s performance at hooker for Brisbane but with absent representatives missing, this one could go either way. Expect the Broncos to get the points in a sloppy affair.
Betting Tip: Broncos -2.5 @ $1.93 (Bet365)
Warriors -5.5 @ $2.02 (Crownbet)
Raiders -9.5 @ $2.20 (Unibet)