NRL Round 18 Previews and Betting Tips

The following are previews with betting tips for Round 18 of the 2021 NRL season.

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Titans v Eels

Friday, July 16, 6:00pm AEST
Cbus Super Stadium


The Titans snapped a four-game losing streak in style in their last match against a struggling Raiders outfit. Sitting one win outside the top-eight, the Titans will be desperate to break into finals contention but face a stern test against an Eels squad who will be burning from a narrow field-goal loss to Penrith in their last game.

Both teams will be coming off a bye, with the Titans naming their full Origin contingent of David Fifita, Tino Fa’asuamaleaui, Moeaki Fotuaika and AJ Brimson to back up from Origin III. Meanwhile, Parramatta also expect Mitch Moses and Junior Paulo to return from the Origin arena, while Reed Mahoney will also make a return from a shoulder injury in a massive boost for Brad Arthur’s troops.
With just a two-day turnaround after Origin III, do not be surprised if any of the representative players are rested heading into this match. While the Titans were impressive against a struggling Canberra outfit, expect the Eels defence to present a far bigger challenge for the Titans’ attack. The Gold Coast certainly have the cattle to cause an upset but with the return of Mahoney, expect the Eels to be primed for a big performance as they look to tie-up a top-four spot heading into the finals. Parramatta to get the points.

Betting Tip: Eels -5.5 @ $1.95 (Bluebet)


Sea Eagles

Sea Eagles v Dragons

Friday, July 16, 7:55pm AEST
Cbus Super Stadium


St George have suffered an enormous disruption to their season after a covid-protocol breach saw star prop Paul Vaughan sacked and 12 players sanctioned by the NRL. Sitting 7th on the competition ladder, the Dragons’ form over the remainder of the season will be crucial to clinch a finals berth, but they will face an enormous test against a Manly outfit burning from a sub-par performance against the struggling Raiders last week.

Manly have named Origin stars Tom Trbojevic and Daly-Cherry Evans to back up after Origin III, but both players could withdraw late. Josh Schuster will make a timely return from injury in the second-row, pushing Karl Lawton to the bench in an otherwise unchanged squad. For the Dragons, Matt Dufty, Tyrell Fuimaono and Kaide Ellis will serve their one-game suspensions for breaching covid protocols with Tyrell Sloan set to line-up at fullback with Poasa Faamausili and mid-season recruit Jamayne Taunoa-Brown named on the bench. Origin representatives Ben Hunt and Tariq Sims have been named but could be late withdrawals.
While Manly are firming to contend this year’s finals series, they now sit three wins outside the top-four and will be rueing a poor performance against Canberra as a missed opportunity to secure vital premiership points. Expect the Dragons form to be disrupted by the player suspensions and off-field drama. Manly to get the win.

Betting Tip: Sea Eagles -13.5 @ $1.91 (Bet365)



Raiders v Sharks

Saturday, July 17, 3:00pm AEST
Cbus Super Stadium

The Raiders produced a stunning upset-victory over a red-hot Manly outfit in their last match in a hugely improved performance that could prove the catalyst to revive their season. Sitting only one win behind the 8th placed Sharks, this contest could prove crucial in determining the makeup of the finals series with Cronulla showing plenty of grit to overcome a strong Warriors outfit in their last game.
The Raiders will expect Jack Wighton and Josh Papalii to return from Origin III in an otherwise unchanged line-up. Meanwhile, Cronulla will name an unchanged line-up after an improved performance against the Warriors last week.
Canberra’s form revival has come largely off the back of more consistent performances from their best players. Coach Ricky Stuart will be pushing his troops for more consistency with his squad under-performing for much of this season. This game could go either way but if the Raiders’ Origin stars in Jack Wighton and Josh Papalii return, Canberra should get the win.

Betting Tip: Raiders +1.5 @ $1.89 (Winnersbet)



Cowboys v Roosters

Saturday, July 17, 5:30pm AEST
QCB Stadium

After an impressive form revival earlier in the year, the 12th-placed Cowboys will now be looking to avoid their fifth consecutive loss in a disastrous month of football that could see them lose touch with the top-eight with their most recent 46-18 loss to the Rabbitohs spelling trouble for their finals chances. They will face a massive test against a Roosters outfit who narrowly overcame a brave Bulldogs squad as the Tri-colours desperately look to break into the top-four, sitting two wins behind the 4th-placed Eels.
North Queensland have named Francis Molo, Valentine Holmes and Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow to return from Origin III, although Holmes looks set for a period on the sidelines after suffering a shoulder injury. His replacement is yet to be named. Peta Hola will also replace the suspended Heilum Luki in an otherwise unchanged squad. Meanwhile, the Roosters will similarly expect Origin representatives James Tedesco and Angus Crichton to return with Fletcher Baker also joining the bench.
The Cowboys may struggle in the absence of Valentine Holmes, who has improved enormously over the course of this season at fullback. Expect the Roosters to produce a big-game after a sub-par showing against Canterbury last week. North Queensland will need a massive turnaround to win this game. Expect the Roosters to get the points.

Betting Tip: Roosters -10.5 @ $1.90 (Unibet)



Storm v Knights

Saturday, July 17, 7:35pm AEST

Newcastle produced an impressive 38-0 victory over the Cowboys in their last game, and coming off a bye, should be relishing the chance to test their newfound form against the Storm. Melbourne will be looking for their 14th consecutive victory against the Knights after a massive 46-0 win over the Roosters and a bye last week.
Newcastle will welcome back some key players in Tyson Frizell and Daniel Saifiti in a huge boost to an otherwise unchanged squad. Kalyn Ponga has been named to back up from Origin III. Similarly, Melbourne have named an unchanged squad and will expect their Origin contingent of Josh Addo-Carr, Cameron Munster, Christian Welch, Felise Kaufusi and Dale Finucane to return, but any could be late withdrawals.
Newcastle have surged back into form off the back of the return of Kayln Ponga and the return of Frizell and Saifiti will give Adam O’Brien’s troops every chance of playing their best football as a team. It remains to be seen if Melbourne’s massive Origin contingent will back-up, but the huge depth of the Victorian club should see them well-placed to win the game. Storm to get the points.

Betting Tip: Knights +18.5 @ $1.85 (Unibet)



Warriors v Panthers

Sunday, July 18, 2:00pm AEST
Suncorp Stadium

The Warriors produced a disappointing performance against the Sharks last week, slipping to 13th on the competition ladder and now sitting two wins outside the top-eight. They will face an enormous test in the Panthers, who enjoyed a bye last week and clinched an impressive field-goal victory against the Parramatta in round 16.
The Warriors have named an unchanged starting squad, with Josh Curran and Kane Evans set to join the interchange in place of Ben Murdoch-Masila and Jack Murchie. For the Panthers, Dylan Edwards will make a timely return from a foot injury, while an injury to Jarome Luai will see Matt Burton shift to the halves. Penrith’s Origin players in Brian To’o, Kurt Capewell and Liam Martin have all been named to back-up.
Penrith will enter this contest as firm favourites. The Warriors have had an enormous amount of disruption to their squad this year with mid-season signings Reece Walsh, Matt Lodge, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak and Chad Townsend and are yet to produce their best football. Panthers to get the win.

Betting Tip: Panthers -7.5 @ $1.90 (Sportsbet)



Broncos v Tigers

Sunday, July 18, 4:05pm AEST
Suncorp Stadium

Brisbane produced an impressive upset victory over the Sharks last week in an important morale-boosting victory as the club looks to recover from its horrific start to the year. They will face a struggling Tigers outfit who were dominated by Souths in their last game as Michael Maguire continues to struggle to get the best out of his players.
The Broncos’ Origin trio of Payne Haas, Xavier Coates and Tom Flegler have been named to back-up. Rookie Kobe Hetherington will retain the lock jersey after an impressive starting debut against Cronulla as Cory Paix and Tom Flegler join the interchange. For the Tigers, Michael Maguire has made some bold selection calls as Moses Mbye shifts to the bench and Adam Doueihi to five-eighth. Junior Pauga and Tukimihia Simpkins will make their NRL debuts at centre and off the bench respectively in an otherwise unchanged squad.
Kotoni Staggs made an enormous difference in his return for Brisbane, giving them potent strike on the edges and an unpredictability to their attack. The Tigers have been struggling in recent times with reports of player unrest under Michael Maguire persisting. This match could go either way but expect the Broncos’ to continue their winning momentum after Cronulla as they look to finish their season positively.

Betting Tip: Broncos -2.5 @ $2.00 (Bluebet, Bet365)



Rabbitohs v Bulldogs

Sunday, July 18, 6:15pm AEST
Cbus Super Stadium

Souths will be looking for their 6th consecutive win against the Bulldogs this week with the Redfern club flexing their considerable premiership muscle in a dominant 46-18 win over the Cowboys last week. They will face a struggling Bulldogs outfit who were courageous in a narrow defeat to the Roosters last week with Trent Barrett extracting impressive form out of his playing group.
Canterbury will welcome Ava Seumanufagai’s return on the bench in place of Ofahiki Ogden. Josh Jackson and Renouf Atoni will also swap between lock and second-row in an otherwise unchanged squad. Meanwhile, Souths have named Origin stars Latrell Mitchell, Damien Cook, Dane Gagai, Cameron Murray to back up, a likely outcome given the long turnaround after Wednesday’s Origin match. There are no other changes to the Rabbitohs’ 17.
Souths will enter this contest as clear favourites, but coach Wayne Bennett will be looking for a consistent 80-minute performance from his squad, who have been guilty of lapses of concentration and inconsistency – despite their wonderful form. The Bulldogs showed plenty of effort and courage against the Roosters last week but the Canterbury club will struggle to match Souths’ class and attacking potency. Rabbitohs to get the points.

Betting Tip: Bulldogs +26.5 @ $1.91 (Unibet)


Best Bet

Raiders +1.5 @ $1.89 (Winnersbet)


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