NRL Round 20 Previews and Tips

The following are previews with betting tips for Round 20 of the 2018 NRL season.

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Broncos v Sharks

Thu, Jul 26, 7:50pm
Suncorp Stadium


Despite a controversial refereeing blunder in Cronulla’s last start win over the Raiders, the Shire club are finding a way to win and now sit equal fourth on the competition ladder. They will face a Broncos outfit who once again displayed their rocks-and-diamonds form this season with a massive 50-18 win over the Panthers last week in positive signs for the Brisbane club.

The Sharks will welcome veteran Luke Lewis into the back-row at the expense of Joseph Paulo. Brisbane have the luxury of naming an unchanged squad with rookie Jamayne Isaako retaining the fullback role and Matt Lodge and Joe Ofahengaue swapping between the bench and front-row.

The Sharks were lucky to get a victory against the Raiders but will be wary of a Brisbane outfit who looked a different side with Isaako at fullback. The Broncos will enter the contest as narrow favourites given their performance last week, and as their young forward rotation and halves look to be standing up at the pressure point of the season expect Wayne Bennett’s inexperienced squad to take the points.

Betting Tip: Broncos Head to Head @ $1.83 (Neds)



Cowboys v Knights

Fri, Jul 27, 6:00pm
1300SMILES Stadium


The return of star halfback Mitchell Pearce has buoyed the Knights to consecutive wins over the Eels and Titans and with the Hunter Valley club showcasing some encouraging form in recent weeks, fans will be wondering what could have been with a healthy roster this season. They will face a Cowboys outfit who find themselves in unfamiliar territory as they fight to avoid the wooden-spoon. A disappointing loss to St George last week compounded their woes in Jonathan Thurston’s last season.

Paul Green will retain Te Maire Martin at fullback and rookie Jake Clifford in the halves in an unchanged squad. For the Knights, Kayln Ponga will return alongside Sione Mata’utia in the backline in a big boost.

The Cowboys are struggling for form, with the stark contrast between their 2017 grand-final appearance and current battle to avoid a last-place finish likely sapping their confidence. Meanwhile, the Knights will be eager to put their best foot forward for 2019 and may still be holding onto slim finals hopes. Knights to get the win.

Betting Tip: Knights +5.5 @ $1.97 (Neds)



Bulldogs v Tigers

Fri, Jul 27, 7:50pm
ANZ Stadium


The hapless Bulldogs failed to chalk up a win against the Eels last week, but they now face a fired-up Wests outfit who are making a late-season charge into finals contention. The Tigers’ record against 2018’s top teams is impeccable and after consecutive wins against the highly-rated Dragons and Rabbitohs, Ivan Cleary’s troops will be confident of shaking-up the play-offs if they sneak into the top-eight.

Canterbury have named only one change as Clay Priest makes way for Ofahiki Ogden on the bench. For the Tigers, Robbie Rochow will join the interchange as rookie Luke Garner shifts to the back-row to cover the injured Josh Aloiai.

The Tigers will enter this contest highly motivated but while they have been impressive in recent weeks – particularly in defense – the joint-venture club need to win consistently to leap-frog the Warriors on the competition ladder. Canterbury will be fighting to avoid the wooden-spoon but will struggle to match the Tigers’ defensive resolve. Tigers to get the points.

Betting Tip: Tigers Head to Head @ $1.45 (Neds)


Sea Eagles

Sea Eagles v Panthers

Sat, Jul 28, 3:00pm


Penrith conceded a woeful 50-18 loss to the Broncos last week – a result made more ominous for the fact that no team has won the premiership after conceding 50 points in a match. The Panthers will be looking to bounce back against a Manly outfit who were similarly poor against the Roosters in a 56-24 drubbing. Manly will be working hard to tighten up their middle after the Roosters won the forward-battle last week, while Penrith will be desperate to chalk up consistent victories as they look to break back into the top-four.

The Sea Eagles will welcome back Dylan Walker and Jorge Taufua at five-eighth and wing respectively in a big boost for the club as Kelepi Tanginoa also joins the bench. Meanwhile, Penrith have suffered more injury woes with Jarome Luai out injured. Normally played at fullback, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak has been named on the wing with Blues’ livewire Tyrone Peachey set to take the custodian role.

Penrith looked to be suffering from representative fatigue after they were fundamentally out-enthused by Brisbane last week. Coach Anthony Griffin will be looking for a big response from the Blues’ starting halves in Maloney and Cleary. The Sea Eagles’ focus should be in the middle of the field as they look to compete in the ruck against a powerful Panthers forward rotation. Could go either way but expect Penrith to get the win.

Betting Tip: Panthers Head to Head @ $1.54 (Unibet)



Rabbitohs v Eels

Sat, Jul 28, 5:30pm
ANZ Stadium


The Rabbitohs’ coaching staff will be moving quickly to arrest any possible form slump after a poor performance against the Tigers last week snapped a massive winning streak for the South Sydney club. Their opposition in the Eels won a victory over the Bulldogs in their last match and will be highly motivated as the players and coaching staff fight to avoid the wooden-spoon.

Souths have named an unchanged squad for the clash, while the Eels will welcome back David Gower to their interchange in a reshuffled team. Brad Takairangi and Jarryd Hayne will form a new centre-wing combination as Tepai Moeroa is promoted to the starting back-row.

South Sydney will go into this match as favourites but should be wary of becoming victims of their own success. Their massive forward rotation and subsequent dominance through the ruck puts a target on their back and lays down a gauntlet for their opposition to match them in the middle. While the Eels are certainly capable of the physicality required to compete, expect the class in the Rabbitohs’ back-line to prove the difference.

Betting Tip: Rabbitohs -11.5 @ $1.90 (BlueBet)



Storm v Raiders

Sat, Jul 28, 7:30pm


Despite not enjoying the total dominance they have in years past, veteran Storm coach Craig Bellamy has done a tremendous job to spur his team to lead the competition. A gritty last-start win over the Warriors has the Victorian club hunting for their eighth consecutive victory against the Raiders, who had their hearts and likely their finals chances broken in a controversial loss to the Sharks last week.

Dale Finucane will return to Melbourne’s starting side from the bench in an otherwise unchanged squad, while the Raiders will welcome Joe Tapine back from suspension in the second-row with Nick Cotric and Michael Oldfield also swapping between centre and wing.

Melbourne will enter the match as firm favourites and are looking more dangerous as their spine-combinations settle with Jahrome Hughes looking to have tied-down the halfback jersey. The Raiders should aim to dominate the ruck with their powerful forward rotation but expect the expansive attacking game of the Victorians to tire their bigger opposition in the back-end of each half. Storm to get the win.

Betting Tip: Storm -9.5 @ $1.92 (Ladbrokes)



Titans v Warriors

Sun, Jul 29, 2:00pm
Cbus Super Stadium


Despite their improvement this season, the Warriors still display some concerning signs – particularly in their track-record against elite opposition. After a disappointing loss to the Storm last week, they will be desperate to consolidate their finals berth against the Titans who were poor in a narrow loss to the Knights last week as fans remain frustrated with the Gold Coast club’s failure to meet their lofty potential.

Blake Green will return at five-eighth as well as Tohu Harris in the second-row in a massive boost for the Kiwis. Sam Lisone will also join the interchange as Simon Mannering shifts to lock to cover the suspended Adam Blair. For the Titans, Will Matthews joins the bench in an otherwise unchanged squad.

The Gold Coast are struggling for confidence and cohesion as their inexperienced halves combination of Taylor and Brimson have failed to perform consistently this season. It is an area that should be coach Garth Brennan’s major focus in the lead-up to the 2019 season but expect the Warriors to capitalize in a defensively focused performance after limiting Melbourne to just 12 points last week. Kiwis to get the win.

Betting Tip: Warriors Head to Head @ $1.50 (Ladbrokes)



Roosters v Dragons

Sun, Jul 29, 4:10pm
Allianz Stadium


Round 20 of the 2018 NRL season will finish with a blockbuster top-four clash between the Dragons and Roosters as both squads look to shore-up their top-four berth and build form against the competition’s elite squads heading into the finals. An impressive 56-24 win over Manly last week saw the tri-colours retain fourth position but they also hold a big for/against advantage against other teams vying for their ladder position.

The Dragons last-start win over the Cowboys saw them avoid a third consecutive loss and the club will be welcoming back NSW second-rower Tyson Frizell in a big boost. For the Roosters, Isaac Liu and Mitchell Aubusson will return on the bench in an otherwise unchanged squad.

Both teams taking the field are stacked with representative talent and energetic spine-combinations. This will be a fascinating game and a good litmus test for both teams’ form heading into the play-offs. This one could go either way but the ‘Chooks’ defensive form should give them the edge as their attacking structures finally look to be clicking. Roosters to get the win.

Betting Tip: Roosters Head to Head @ $1.65 (bet365)


Best Bet

Broncos Head to Head @ $1.83 (Neds)


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