NRL Round 20 Previews and Betting Tips

The following are previews with betting tips for Round 20 of the 2021 NRL season.

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Roosters v Eels

Thursday, July 29, 7:50pm AEST
BB Print Stadium, Mackay


Thursday night will bring a blockbuster clash between the Eels and Roosters in a match which will be crucial in deciding the make-up of the top-four. Parramatta are under pressure to keep their place on the competition ladder and with the Roosters sitting only one win behind them in 5th place, expect both teams to be highly motivated for this clash.

The Roosters’ horror injury toll has continued with outside backs Billy Smith and Matt Ikuvalu suffering season-ending injuries. Josh Morris will return at centre as Joey Manu shifts to the wing, allowing Adam Keighran to come into the centres as cover. Siosiua Taukeiaho will return for the Roosters on the bench in a timely boost to an otherwise unchanged squad. For the Eels, Tom Opacic will return at centre with Bryce Cartwright also returning on the bench.
The tri-colours will undoubtedly be determined to win this game and put themselves in the running for a top-four spot, but with a mounting injury toll, Trent Robinson’s troops have their work cut out for them. The Eels’ attack looked very clunky against the Raiders last week in the absence of Mitchell Moses, and while their performance last week was disappointing, Brad Arthur will be focussed on keeping his team in-form in the lead up to the finals series. This match could go either way but expect a big response from Eels as the Parramatta club consolidates its finals position with a win.

Betting Tip: Roosters +4.5 @ $1.90 (Sportsbet)



Tigers v Warriors

Friday, July 30, 6:00pm AEST
Suncorp Stadium

As the Tigers desperately seek to break into finals contention a poor performance last week – albeit against a Manly outfit with their Origin stars on the field – has fans lamenting their club’s lack of consistency. They will face an understrength Warriors outfit who were dealt a huge blow with the early departure of captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck from the club due to complications with the New Zealand travel bubble. The New Zealand club conceded 60-points against a red-hot Rabbitohs outfit with the finals now looking out of reach for the Kiwi club.
Alex Twal and Shawn Blore have been named to return on the bench and second-row respectively in an otherwise unchanged Wests’ outfit. For the Warriors, Peta Hiku will return from injury at five-eighth with Taniela Otukolo named at hooker and Jazz Tevanga and Kodi Nikorima returning to the interchange. Jamayne Taunoa-Brown and Ben Murdoch-Masila will form a new front-row combination in the absence of Matt Lodge and Addin Fonua-Blake, as Sean O’Sullivan comes into the halves and Kane Evans joins the bench.
Despite their woes, Wests will be favourites heading into this match. Their first-half performance against Manly was sound but a second-half collapse saw the game get away from the joint-venture club. Expect a big response from Michael Maguire’s troops against a weakened Warriors forward-rotation. Tigers to get the win.

Betting Tip: Tigers -6.5 @ $1.91 (Bet365)



Broncos v Cowboys

Friday, July 30, 7:55pm AEST
Suncorp Stadium

Friday night will bring round two of the 2021 Queensland derby after impressive performances from both the Broncos and Cowboys last week, despite failing to secure a win. North Queensland displayed some impressive defensive resilience against the competition leading Storm in a narrow four-point loss. Brisbane coach Kevin Walters would have been equally happy with the defensive application of his squad after a six-point loss to Penrith.
The only change to the Cowboys 17 comes with utility Ben Hampton’s inclusion on the bench, while Brisbane have named Jake Turpin to play despite the hooker reportedly breaking his thumb last week. Danny Levi will come onto the bench for injured hooker Cory Paix. TC Robati will also return from injury on the interchange with rookie Xavier Willison also a possible late inclusion to make his NRL debut.
Brisbane will enter this contest as narrow favourites but will need to be strong through the middle with a depleted forward rotation now missing Patrick Carrigan, Tom Flegler, Tevita Pangai and Matt Lodge. Both teams have struggled for continuity and consistency in their spine and back-line positions, so while this game will likely be a brutal contest through the middle, expect the result to be decided by each team’s respective ability to execute their plays. Could go either way but expect the North Queenslanders to get the win.

Betting Tip: Cowboys +1.5 @ $1.95 (Bluebet)



Dragons v Rabbitohs

Saturday, July 31, 3:00pm AEST
Browne Park, Rockhampton

St George produced a woeful performance against the Titans last week with the off-field controversy surrounding the club sure to be impacting their on-field form. They face a massive test against a Rabbitohs outfit who put 60-points on a struggling Warriors outfit as the Redfern club looks set for a strong run into the finals series.
St George will be missing Jack de Belin, Blake Lawrie, Josh McGuire and Jack Bird to covid-suspensions in a massive blow to their chances of victory. Corey Norman and Talatau Amone will form a new centre pairing with Tyrell Sloan coming in at fullback, Billy Burns and Poasa Faamausili in the second-row and at prop respectively as Jackson Ford and Jaiyden Hunt join the interchange. Meanwhile, Souths will welcome back captain Adam Reynolds in a welcome boost with Campbell Graham and Liam Knight also set to join the team at centre and off the bench respectively in useful cover for the suspended Cameron Murray.
Souths will enter this contest as firm favourites but it will be the Dragons under pressure to perform given their finals berth is sitting on a knife-edge. With a number of clubs making a late charge into the top-eight, St George cannot afford a form slump if they wish to make the finals. Expect them to struggle against this red-hot South Sydney outfit with so many players missing. Rabbitohs to get the win.

Betting Tip: Rabbitohs -23.5 @ $1.83 (Winnersbet)



Knights v Raiders

Saturday, July 31, 5:30pm AEST
Suncorp Stadium

The Knights failed to score a point after the 30th minute in a disappointing performance against the Roosters last week as the Newcastle club looks to capitalise on a relatively easy run of games for the rest of the season to secure a finals berth. They will face a Raiders outfit in similar circumstances with a late-season resurgence seeing them win their last three games to sit equal 7th on the competition ladder after a stunning upset victory over the Eels last week.
Newcastle will welcome back some much-needed reinforcements with veteran forward David Klemmer and Bradman Best set to return off the bench and at centre respectively. Mitchell Pearce could also be a late inclusion after he was named in the reserves in what would be a massive boost for the Knights. Meanwhile, the Raiders will similarly welcome back an important contingent of players with Jack Wighton and Elliot Whitehead returning at five-eighth and second-row, while Bailey Simonsson and Dunamis Lui could also make their return from injury after they were included in Canberra’s reserves.
Given their purple-patch of form, the Raiders will enter this match as favourites but should be highly cautious of a Knights outfit humbled by a poor performance last week, particularly if Mitchell Pearce makes his return. This match could go either way and with both teams fielding inconsistent spine and backline combinations, expect this contest to be decided in a brutally desperate contest through the middle. Raiders to get the win.

Betting Tip: Raiders -2.5 @ $1.90 (Playup)



Storm v Panthers

Saturday, July 31, 7:35pm AEST
Suncorp Stadium

Saturday night will bring a massive game between the Storm and Panthers in a highly anticipated grand-final rematch that could be a sneak-preview of the 2021 grand final. Both teams notched narrow victories over the Cowboys and Broncos respectively last week and both sitting on 34 premiership-points – the result of this game could determine this year’s minor premiership.
Penrith have been forced to name a number of changes in the absence of stars Brian To’o, Isaah Yeo, James Fisher-Harris and Tyrone May. Robert Jennings and Matthew Eisenhuth will join the starting side at wing and lock respectively to cover for To’o and Yeo, with Izack Tago and J’maine Hopgood set to join the bench. Meanwhile, the Storm will welcome back a number as Cameron Munster, Felise Kaufusi and Dale Finucane return to the starting side at five-eighth, second-row and lock respectively. Harry Grant could also be a late inclusion as the dynamic rake makes his way back from persistent hamstring injuries.
While the disruption to Penrith’s squad over recent weeks will no doubt worry coach Ivan Cleary, the veteran mentor will be hoping he can yet field his strongest 17 before the finals series. This will be a tough match but missing the likes of James Fisher-Harris, Nathan Cleary, Isaah Yeo and Brian To’o, expect the Panthers to struggle to match Melbourne’s brutal ruck play. Storm to get the points.

Betting Tip: Storm -19.5 @ $1.97 (Unibet)



Bulldogs v Titans

Sunday, August 1, 2:00pm AEST
Cbus Super Stadium

The Bulldogs’ struggles this season have continued after a disappointing 44-24 loss to the Sharks put the club one step closer to winning the wooden spoon. They will face a Titans outfit who surged back into form with a dominant victory over the struggling Dragons last week as the Gold Coast club looks to make a late run into finals contention.
Canterbury will welcome Adam Elliot back from a long injury layoff in a welcome boost, while rookie halfback Kyle Flanagan has also earned a recall in the starting side. Luke Thompson was also named before being handed a 3-game suspension, with Joe Stimson or Chris Patolo shaping as his likely replacements. For the Titans, Esan Marsters will come into the centres for the suspended Patrick Herbert, while Jamal Fogarty could make his return from injury after he was included in the reserves.
Much of the Titans’ uptick in recent form has come off the back of dominant performances from key members of their forward rotation. Expect the Titans’ class across the field to prove the difference as the Gold Coast club get the win.

Betting Tip: Titans -12.5 @ $1.90 (Sportsbet)



Sharks v Sea Eagles

Sunday, August 1, 4:05pm AEST
Moreton Daily Stadium, Redcliffe

Sea Eagles
Manly produced a dominant win over the Tigers, scoring multiple tries in quick succession at different stages of the game to trump their opposition. The Sea Eagles’ chances of breaking into the top-four are slim given they sit two wins behind the 4th-placed Eels with only six games to go, but they will need to be cautious of a highly motivated Sharks squad who will be desperate to consolidate their own finals berth with a number of clubs threatening their place in the top-eight.
Curtis Sironen and Karl Lawton will return from injury on the Sea Eagles’ bench in a welcome boost to an otherwise unchanged squad. Meanwhile, the Sharks will welcome Aidan Tolman’s return from suspension with Will Chambers also coming into the centres in Cronulla’s only changes.
Despite facing a relatively easy run into the finals, Cronulla will be eager to continue to build their game and prove they can compete with the competition’s elite clubs. Manly’s presence in the finals series is all but certain given they sit three wins clear of the 7th placed Sharks, but Des Hasler will undoubtedly be pushing his troops to snag a top-four berth. Manly to get the win.

Betting Tip: Sea Eagles -17.5 @ $1.90 (Sportsbet)


Best Bet

Cowboys +1.5 @ $1.95 (Bluebet)


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