The following are previews with betting tips for Round 18 of the 2020 NRL season.
Tigers v Rabbitohs
Thursday, Sep 10, 7:50 PM AEST
Wests kept their mathematical chances of making the finals alive with a stunning last-gasp victory over Manly last week in a morale boosting result for the club. The joint-venture outfit now face a massive task against an in-form Rabbitohs outfit who were impressive in their narrow last-start loss to the Storm.
Souths will welcome Dane Gagai back from injury on the wing with Jed Cartwright set to join the bench to cover the injured Tevita Tatola. Wests’ mentor Michael Maguire has named an unchanged squad heading into this match.
Souths emphatically proved they are no spent force without Latrell Mitchell in an impressive performance against Melbourne last week, albeit one riddled with errors. Their focus will be a high completion rate and low error count against the Tigers, but expect Michael Maguire’s troops to answer with discipline in kind. The Tigers will be buzzing after their last-minute victory – expect an intense physical contest between these two well coached teams, but the class and composure of South Sydney should prove the difference.
Betting Tip: Rabbitohs -7.5 @ $1.91 (Bet365)
Bulldogs v Sea Eagles
Friday, Sep 11, 6:00 PM AEST
Manly were their own worst enemy in a crushing last-start loss to the Tigers with the northern beaches club conceding three tries in the finals 14 minutes of play to lose the game. Their opposition in Canterbury would have been similarly disappointed after a narrow loss to the Titans. Both of these teams are well out of finals contention but will be looking to finish their respective seasons on a high-note.
With season ending injuries to Jorge Taufua and boom rookie Josh Schuster, Manly’s injury troubles will continue with Abbas Miski and Cade Cust recalled on the wing and at five-eighth respectively in an otherwise unchanged squad. For the Bulldogs, Kieran Foran has played his last game this year in a massive blow with Marcelo Montoya and Kerrod Holland dropped. Jayden Okunbor will come onto the wing with Jake Averillo at five-eighth. With Dylan Napa out injured, Sauaso Sue and Brandon Wakeham will also join the bench.
Manly will enter this match as firm favourites and while their form has been patchy of late, particularly against elite teams, the game-management ability and experience in the Sea Eagles’ spine should prove the difference.
Betting Tip: Sea Eagles -5.5 @ $1.80 (Unibet)
Panthers v Eels
Friday, Sep 11, 7:55 PM AEST
Penrith impressed in their last-start victory over the Broncos for their 12th consecutive win, a rare achievement in the NRL competition. They will face an out-of-form Eels squad who did enough to overcome a powerful Warriors outfit last week, albeit in controversial circumstances. Expect plenty of passion in this contest with the Eels fielding two former Panthers in Reagan Campbell-Gillard and Waqa Blake.
Isaah Yeo will return at lock for the Panthers in a welcome boost to an otherwise unchanged team. For the Eels, Reed Mahoney is under an injury cloud, despite being named – with Ray Stone his likely replacement if he is a late withdrawal. Andrew Davey will replace the injured Marata Niukore on the bench in Brad Arthur’s only changes.
Expect an intense performance from Penrith given the Eels handed the Panthers their sole defeat this year in round five. The Parramatta club are struggling to regain their dominant early-season form, but they will almost certainly rise for the occasion against the competition leaders. Missing Dylan Brown and possibly Reed Mahoney, it is difficult to back Parramatta for this match. Penrith to get the points.
Betting Tip: Panthers -8.5 @ $1.95 (Unibet)
Dragons v Raiders
Saturday, Sep 12, 3:00 PM AEST
St George were left heartbroken after conceding a field-goal victory to the Cowboys last week in a disappointing performance from the club. They face a massive test against a Raiders outfit desperate to break into the top-four – a particularly difficult task given they now sit one win behind the fourth placed Roosters after a narrow loss to the reigning premiers in their last game.
Cody Ramsey will make his NRL debut on the wing for St George in place of Mikaele Ravalawa. Paul Vaughan will also return from suspension at prop in a big boost for the joint-venture. Meanwhile, Raiders’ mentor Ricky Stuart has named an unchanged squad.
Canberra will head into this match as firm favourites, but should be wary of a Dragons outfit buoyed by the recent appointment of Anthony Griffin as their head coach for next season. Expect a big performance from the Raiders with Ricky Stuart sure to have an eye on his club’s ladder position. Canberra to get the win.
Betting Tip: Raiders -7.5 @ $1.87 (Bet365)
Titans v Broncos
Saturday, Sep 12, 5:30 PM AEST
Brisbane have showcased encouraging improvement in recent weeks relative to their woeful early-season form, but it was not enough to topple the competition leading Panthers last week. They will now face the Titans in a highly anticipated Queensland derby with the Gold Coast club having the opportunity to beat their Brisbane opponents twice in one season for the first time.
After their impressive last-start win over the Bulldogs, the Titans’ only changes come off the back of injury with Keegan Hipgrave joining the squad in the second-row and Jai Whitbread coming onto the bench to cover the injured Jaimin Jolliffe. For the Broncos, Alex Glenn will return in the second-row in a huge boost for the club, with Joe Ofahengaue and Xavier Coates also joining the bench.
The Broncos have been building into better form in recent times and despite their opposition holding the favourites tag, expect an intense performance from a squad desperate to restore lost pride. The Titans have the opportunity to win three consecutive games for the first time this year against Brisbane, and expect the improved Gold Coast outfit to do just that. Titans to get the win.
Betting Tip: Titans -2.5 @ $1.90 (Sportsbet)
Roosters v Knights
Saturday, Sep 12, 7:35 PM AEST
The Roosters produced a controlled, dominant performance against the Raiders last week in a result that went a long way toward securing a coveted top-four position, particularly given their opposition in Canberra would have been on equal competition points had they lost the game. They will face a Knights outfit who bounced back from their woeful round-16 loss to the Warriors in style with a much-improved performance against Cronulla last week.
Jake Friend will return for the Roosters in a massive boost to an otherwise unchanged squad. Newcastle have opted to rest Kalyn Ponga, Mitch Barnett and Hymel Hunt with rookie Tex Hoy named at fullback alongside Edrick Lee on the wing. Daniel Saifiti will return on the bench with Sione Mata’utia also a chance to return after he was included in the reserves.
The Roosters will enter this match as firm favourites and Trent Robinson will be eager to take strong form into the finals series. Expect the Knights to struggle against the class of the reining premiers in the absence of Kalyn Ponga. Roosters to get the win.
Betting Tip: Knights +19.5 @ $1.95 (Unibet)
Storm v Cowboys
Sunday, Sep 13, 4:05 PM AEST
Morale amongst the North Queensland squad is sure to be high after their field-goal victory over the Dragons last week and the recent appointment of Todd Payten as the club’s head coach for next year. The Cowboys will face a massive test in the Melbourne Storm, who produced a controlled performance against the Rabbitohs last week in a narrow victory.
An injury to Ryan Papenhuyzen will see Nicho Hynes join the starting team at fullback, alongside the returning Suliasi Vunivalu on the wing. Nelson Asofa-Solomona will also return at prop to cover the suspended Christian Welch. Ryley Jacks will also join the bench in an otherwise unchanged squad. The Cowboys have made no changes to their squad from last week heading into this game.
The Cowboys will need to produce a monumental performance to topple the Storm. While morale may be high amongst the North Queenslanders, expect Craig Bellamy to have his troops focused on maintaining their best form heading into the finals. Storm to get the win.
Betting Tip: Cowboys +18.5 @ $2.00 (Bet365)
Sharks v Warriors
Sunday, Sep 13, 6:30 PM AEST
The Sharks were left heart-broken their disappointing performance against the Knights last week was a hammer-blow to their confidence on the eve of the finals series. They will face an in-form Warriors outfit highly motivated to win their final three games in a desperate bid to break into the top-eight and with Cronulla the team standing in their way, this should be a quality contest.
The suspension of Chad Townsend will see Shaun Johnson return at halfback for Cronulla. Sione Katoa will also return on the wing with Andrew Fifita also set to make his return from injury on the bench. Meanwhile, the Warriors will welcome back loan duo George Jennings and Daniel Alvaro on the wing and bench respectively in a welcome boost to an otherwise unchanged squad.
Last week’s result confirmed the Sharks unfortunate trend of wilting against elite opposition with the Cronulla club likely to struggle against the in-form Warriors without the likes of Chad Townsend and Wade Graham. Warriors to get the points.
Betting Tip: Warriors H2H @ $2.45 (Sportsbet)
Warriors H2H @ $2.45 (Sportsbet)