The following are previews with betting tips for Round 20 of the 2020 NRL season.
Broncos v Cowboys
Thursday, Sep 24, 7:50 PM AEST
The results of Brisbane’s Thursday night Queensland derby will be a huge factor in whether the Broncos land the first wooden spoon in the club’s history. After defeating the Broncos in the 2015 grand-final, the Cowboys have a massive opportunity to pile further misery on their opposition but will also be looking at their own form after disappointing last start loss to the Panthers.
A halves injury crisis will see Kotoni Staggs shift to five-eighth for Brisbane, with Jesse Arthars joining the centres as cover. Payne Haas will return in the front-row in a massive boost for the club with Jordan Riki also returning from suspension in the second-row. For the Cowboys, Josh McGuire and John Asiata return at lock and on the bench respectively in an otherwise unchanged squad.
On recent form, the Cowboys will enter this match as favourites. Both teams will be fielding inexperienced halves combinations, but expect a brutally physical contest between two talented forward rotations. The result will ultimately come down to execution, and while Brisbane will be desperate to avoid the wooden-spoon, the Cowboys will also be eager to send club legend Gavin Cooper out on a high-note. North Queensland to get the win.
Betting Tip: Cowboys -1.5 @ $1.90 (Bluebet)
Titans v Knights
Friday, Sep 25, 6:00 PM AEST
Newcastle produced a dominant win over St George in their last outing in an encouraging result after their round-18 mauling at the hands of the reigning premiers. They will face a much tougher test this week however against an in-form Titans outfit looking for their fifth consecutive win to finish the year. Justin Holbrook’s troops were dynamic against a struggling Manly last week as signs for the 2021 season are looking very bright for the Gold Coast club.
Bradman Best and Edrick Lee will return at centre and wing respectively for Newcastle in a massive boost for their back-line. Kurt Mann will also return at hooker with Brodie Jones recalled on the interchange. For the Titans, Brian Kelly will return in the centres in an otherwise unchanged squad.
Another loss would be catastrophic for Newcastle on the eve of the finals series and with question marks still hovering over the Knights’ ability to match the competition’s best, a good performance against the Gold Coast will be crucial for their confidence. While the Titans can certainly push their opposition to the limit, expect the class of the returning Kurt Mann and Bradman Best to get Newcastle over the line.
Betting Tip: Knights -3.5 @ $1.91 (Bet365)
Rabbitohs v Roosters
Friday, Sep 25, 7:55 PM AEST
Souths conceded a disappointing loss to the 15th placed Bulldogs last week in a terrible first-half performance and concerning signs for the club. They face a difficult task to restore their confidence, facing a red-hot Roosters outfit who are looking for their sixth consecutive win after a solid victory over Cronulla, despite resting a number of their star players.
Dane Gagai will return at centre for the Rabbitohs with Pat Mago also set to join the bench with Jed Cartwright shifting to the second-row to cover the suspended Jaydn Su’A. For the Roosters, James Tedesco, Jake Friend, Boyd Cordner and Siosiua Taukeiaho all return to the starting side in a massive boost. Joey Manu, Isaac Liu and Lindsay Collins will all be rested with Lachlan Lam also included on the bench at the expense of Drew Hutchison.
Trent Robinson’s football department is a well-oiled machine and the super-coach will have his players primed for a massive finals series in their quest for an unprecedented three consecutive titles. Souths have shown plenty of quality this season but will need to find another gear to match the competition’s best. Roosters to get the win.
Betting Tip: Roosters -10.5 @ $2.00 (Pointsbet)
Bulldogs v Panthers
Saturday, Sep 26, 3:00 PM AEST
The Bulldogs produced a stunning upset over Souths last week and they will be looking to emulate that result against the 2020 minor-premiers as signs for the Canterbury club look bright heading into 2021. Penrith were dominant in a 20-point victory over the Cowboys in their last game despite missing a number of key players with Ivan Cleary again electing to rest some key troops.
A suspension to Tim Lafai will see the retiring Kerrod Holland potentially get a final game before his departure from the Bulldogs. Lachlan Lewis could also be a late withdrawal after suffering a head-knock last week. For the Panthers, Dylan Edwards, Viliame Kikau and Stephen Crichton have been rested. Daine Laurie will line-up at fullback alongside the returning James Tamou, Api Koroisau at prop and hooker respectively. Matt Burton and Zane Tetevano were also included on the bench in an otherwise unchanged squad.
Penrith have shown freakish consistency to win so many consecutive games and have taken full advantage of their ladder position to keep their squad fresh heading into the finals series. Canterbury showcased plenty of courage in victory against Souths last week but do not expect that result to be repeated. Panthers to get the points.
Betting Tip: Panthers -14.0 @ $1.95 (PlayUp)
Sharks v Raiders
Saturday, Sep 26, 5:30 PM AEST
Cronulla were unable to overcome the Roosters last week, despite the reigning premiers resting a number of their key players. With the Shire club still yet to win against a top-eight team, their upcoming game against the Raiders could prove a huge confidence boost leading into the finals series if they can come away with a win. The Raiders were impressive in their last-start victory over the Warriors, a result that was marred by officiating controversy.
Shaun Johnson will be absent with injury in a huge blow to Cronulla. Wade Graham will shift to five-eighth as Nene Macdonald and Mawene Hiroti join the back-line on the wing and at centre respectively, with Teig Wilton also joining the bench. The Raiders have instituted mass changes with Jack Wighton, George Williams, Josh Papalii, Joe Tapine set to be rested. Adam Cook will line up at fullback with Harley Smith-Shields and Matt Timoko named in the centres. Matt Frawley and Sam Williams will also form a new halves pairing as Sia Soliola makes his injury return at prop. Kai O’Donnell has been named on the bench alongside debutants Darby Medlyn and Jarret Subloo.
Given the Raiders’ lack of experience this week, Cronulla will be desperate for a win and to avoid the embarrassment of losing to such an inexperienced team full of rookies. Expect the desperation of Cronulla to prove the difference. Sharks to get the win.
Betting Tip: Sharks -3.5 @ $1.90 (Sportsbet)
Tigers v Eels
Saturday, Sep 26, 7:35 PM AEST
Parramatta took an important step toward returning to form in a solid victory over Brisbane last week in which they showcased periods of very impressive football. They will be looking to further improve their confidence and execution against the Tigers, who were humbled by the Storm in a disappointing last-start loss.
The Eels have named an unchanged 17, while the Tigers will welcome the return of Luke Brooks at halfback alongside Tommy Talau and Alex Twal at centre and lock respectively. Elijah Taylor, Shawn Blore and Michael Chee Kam will all join the bench at the expense of Russel Packer, Jacob Liddle and Sam McIntyre.
The Eels will enter this match as firm favourites but Brad Arthur will be looking for some serious improvement from his squad. While they have showcased impressive defense, the Eels’ attack remains a shadow of their early-season form. Expect a huge performance from halfback Mitch Moses with the Eels to get the win.
Betting Tip: Eels -8.5 @ $1.95 (Bet365)
Warriors v Sea Eagles
Sunday, Sep 27, 2:00 PM AEST
Manly’s difficult season was typified in a woeful 18-point loss to the Titans in a disappointing result for the Northern Beaches club. They will face a Warriors outfit who pushed the Raiders to their limit last week, albeit in controversial circumstances, with the Kiwi contingent sure to be buoyed by the impending off-season break and a return to New Zealand.
Superstar Tom Trbojevic has succumbed to a shoulder injury in a devastating blow for Manly. Reuben Garrick and Abbas Miski will both return on the wings as Tevita Funa reverts to fullback. Haumole Olakau’atu has also been included on the bench in an otherwise unchanged squad. Meanwhile, the Warriors will be missing Roger Tuivasa-Sheck in a massive blow as Peta Hiku shifts to fullback with Patrick Herbert named to return on the wing. Eliesa Katoa and Jamayne Taunoa-Brown will also return in the second-row and on the bench respectively in an otherwise unchanged squad.
With both teams out of finals contention and missing a number of key players, the result will likely come down to effort and desire. Expect the Warriors – who have done a phenomenal job this year in extremely difficult circumstances – to end their season on a high-note with a win.
Betting Tip: Warriors +1.5 @ $1.90 (PlayUp)
Dragons v Storm
Sunday, Sep 27, 4:05 PM AEST
Incoming St George coach Anthony Griffin has his work cut out for him if his new club’s previous match is anything to go by after the Dragons produced a woeful performance against the Knights in their last outing. They will face the Melbourne Storm, who were dominant over the Tigers last week and will utilize their favourable ladder position to rest a number of players before the finals series.
Melbourne will rest 12 stars and field an entirely new back-line. Ryan Papenhuyzen will return at fullback as the only back-line member in the Storm’s preferred 17. Craig Bellamy will be eager to get as many minutes into his reserve players as possible with Brandon Smith shifting to hooker and Christian Welch and Tui Kamikamica forming a new front-row combination. For the Dragons, Jayden Sullivan has been named to make his NRL debut at five-eighth alongside Eddie Blacker on the bench. Max Feagai and Euan Aitken will join the back-line on the wing and at centre respectively with Jacob Host also returning in the second-row.
Despite their ladder position, the Dragons will enter this match as favourites given the quality missing for the Storm. St George may be insulted at the rested list for Melbourne, so expect an intense performance from the struggling Dragons outfit to overcome this inexperienced Melbourne 17.
Betting Tip: Dragons -1.5 @ $1.90 (Sportsbet)
Dragons -1.5 @ $1.90 (Sportsbet)