A blockbuster Queensland derby headlines the NRL Round 16 action, while Manly and Sydney Roosters are striving to keep their Top 8 quest on the rails against top-two opposition.
But all eyes will be on a bottom-four showdown in Auckland as the Warriors make an emotional return to Mt Smart Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
See where the value lies in this weekend’s eight pivotal encounters.
Manly Sea Eagles
Thursday June 30, 7:50pm, 4Pines Park
Manly had an extra week to mull over one of the most extraordinary late collapses in recent memory.
The better side for 70 minutes against high-flying North Queensland courtesy of an aggressive defensive display, the Sea Eagles conceded three tries in five minutes to crash to a 28-26 loss.
The heartbreaker left Manly in 10th place with a 7-8 record.
The 11-3 Melbourne Storm saw off the post-Origin challenge of Sydney Roosters (26-18) and overcame undermanned Brisbane (32-20) in their last two outings to consolidate second place.
The Sea Eagles found Cameron Munster impossible to handle in a 28-8 loss at AAMI Park in Round 12 – their sixth consecutive loss to the Storm by 10-plus margins.
But the talismanic five-eighth is in serious doubt with a shoulder injury and fellow Maroon Felise Kaufusi is out for family reasons.
Chris Lewis comes into the second-rower for Melbourne and Jayden Nikorima is on the bench.
The Storm’s six-strong Pacific Test contingent have all been named, with Jahrome Hughes (NZ) and Justin Olam (PNG) absolutely outstanding on the weekend.
Sean Keppie replaces a concussed Josh Aloiai in Manly’s starting pack this weekend with Taniela Paseka returning on the bench.
The Storm are undefeated at Manly since 2015 and the Sea Eagles’ record in recent seasons against top-class opposition is dismal.
But if they can harness the positive aspects of their performance from the agonising loss for the Cowboys they could go close here against a Storm side missing a couple of key pieces.
Tip: Back the Sea Eagles to Cover the Line (-7.5 Points) @ $2.00
SGM: STORM BY 1-12 / JUSTIM OLAM ANYTIME TRY SCORER / CHRISTIAN TUIPOLOTU ANYTIME TRY SCORER @ $14.96
Gold Coast Titans
Friday July 1, 6:00pm, McDonald Jones Stadium
Don’t expect to be treated to a top-quality rugby league showdown as ailing 2021 finalists Newcastle and Gold Coast square off at McDonald Jones Stadium on Friday night.
The 4-10 Knights produced one of their more spirited performances of the season in Canberra in Round 15, fighting back from an early 14-point deficit but sinking to a devastating 20-18 loss after conceding a try with 90 seconds remaining.
The 3-12 Titans are last on the NRL ladder with only a golden point win over the Dragons in Magic Round to show for their last 11 outings.
They held the Sharks to 18-10 in a scrappy Round 15 affair in Coffs Harbour.
The Knights have been hit with the loss of Queensland fullback Kalyn Ponga to concussion, with Tex Hoy named in the No.1. Bradman Best and Daniel Saifiti are in the reserves as they eye a return from injury.
David Fifita returns from a month on the sidelines with Sam Lisone out in the Titans’ only change.
Newcastle has won its last three against Gold Coast at home, scoring 30-plus points in each.
Honours were shared last season with Patrick Herbert and Corey Thompson bagging doubles in a 42-16 Titans victory at Robina in Round 5, while Mitchell Pearce’s last-minute field goal secured a 15-14 Knights win in Round 24 on the Sunshine Coast.
Both teams are desperate and have shown some heart lately – but that won’t necessarily translate into competent performance.
Ponga’s absence is a real blow for the Knights, rendering this one a flip of the coin proposition.
Tip: Back Either Team to Win by Less than 6.5 Points @ $2.55
SGM: UNDER 39.5 POINTS / AJ BRIMSON ANYTIME TRY SCORER / ENARI TUALA ANYTIME TRY SCORER @ $25.79
Friday July 1, 7:55pm, Panthers Stadium
Sydney Roosters went into the representative rest outside the Top 8 after losing their last three games to the Raiders, Storm and Eels.
None of the trio of defeats were overly concerning, but sitting in ninth with a 7-8 record is an uncomfortable crossroads for the star-studded Tricolours with 10 rounds remaining.
It doesn’t get any easier this week, heading out west to face the 14-1 Penrith Panthers for the second time in six rounds.
The Panthers’ comprehensive 32-12 victory at the SCG in Round 11 stretched their winning streak over the Roosters to five matches.
Penrith disposed of battling Newcastle (42-6) and New Zealand (40-6) in their last two matches, extending their cover record in 2022 to 11-4.
All of their seven-strong NSW contingent has all been named to play five days after the Origin win in Perth, plus another five Pacific Test reps.
Victor Radley returns at lock in a timely boost for the Roosters, whose Origin players came through game two unscathed – but Luke Keary remains sidelined due to concussion.
The Panthers have won 23 of their last 24 games at Penrith Stadium and are giving away a massive 15.5-point start here.
The Roosters’ pack is one of the few in the NRL capable of matching strides with the premiers but they appear little chance of crafting a valuable upset if the Panthers field anything near a full-strength team.
Tip: Back Panthers to Win and Over 41.5 Points @ $2.20
SGM: PANTHERS BY 11-20 / IZACK TAGO ANYTIME TRY SCORER / BILLY SMITH ANYTIME TRY SCORER @ $34.91
Saturday July 2, 3:00pm, CommBank Stadium
Canterbury went into the representative break on a remarkable upswing, smashing Parramatta (34-4) and Wests Tigers (36-12) back-to-back after winning on two of its first 13 games.
Caretaker coach Mick Potter has unlocked the Bulldogs’ scoring potential – they have averaged 27 points per game since Trent Barrett’s exit.
Jake Averillo is making a fine fist of fullback, while Jacob Kiraz and Aaron Schoupp are developing into one of the most exciting centre duos in the NRL, plus Josh Addo-Carr has scored 11 tries in his last nine games, but suddenly the Bulldogs have other weapons.
Cronulla is handily-placed in fourth with a 9-5 record. But the Sharks have been struggling to find their beset form over the past couple of months, picking off the low-hanging fruit (such as the Warriors and Titans in the last two rounds) but losing to Top 8 and mid-table opposition convincingly.
The Bulldogs’ 17 is unchanged, with on-fire Matt Burton expected to back up from a stellar Origin debut. The Sharks are also unchanged – Siosifa Talakai didn’t have much to do on NSW debut off the bench, while Ronaldo Mulitalo scored a great try opposite teammate Sione Katoa in his first outing for the Kiwis.
The clubs’ last four encounters were split two apiece. Last season the Bulldogs won 18-12 in Round 7 at Jubilee Oval, while Sione Katoa picked up two tries as the Sharks powered to a 44-24 win in Round 19 on the Gold Coast.
The Bulldogs’ pack has growled in recent rounds but faces a big task against the rugged Sharks engine-room. The duel between Burton and Nicho Hynes shapes as a classic.
Favouring form over reputation, the Bulldogs look a decent shout to cover here.
Tip: Back the Bulldogs to Cover the Line (-8 Points) @ $1.90
SGM: EITHER TEAM BY LESS THAN 12.5 POINTS / OVER 40.5 POINTS / JOSH ADDO-CARR ANYTIME TRY SCORER @ $6.80
North Queensland Cowboys
Saturday July 2, 5:30pm, Queensland Country Bank Stadium
A strong favourite for match of the round honours with archrivals North Queensland and Brisbane sailing towards a finals return.
Both clubs have made immense progress since the Cowboys’ emphatic 38-12 derby win at Suncorp Stadium in Round 3.
The 11-4 Cowboys produced one of the great escapes in Round 15, recovering from the pre-kick-off withdrawal of Origin star Reuben Cotter and a 14-point deficit with less than 10 minutes to go against Manly.
With Valentine Holmes exploding, the Cowboys scored three tries in five minutes to pull off a 28-26 miracle.
It was another step in the evolution of Todd Payten’s side, whose surge to third on the ladder had been built on establishing big early leads.
Adam Reynolds has transformed the 9-5 Broncos, but their ability to win without the veteran halfback recruit was a key feature of the seven-match winning streak that ended with a spirited 32-20 loss in Melbourne in Round 15.
Reynolds returns this week to partner rookie sensation Ezra Mam in the halves again, while Payne Haas, Kurt Capewell and Patrick Carrigan have been named after putting in a big Origin shift – as has Tonga’s Kotoni
Staggs, Maroons trio Holmes, Murray Taulagi and Jeremiah Nanai are in and Tom Gilbert returns but Cotter remains sidelined.
The Cowboys have won three of the last four derbies overall and nine of the last 14 in Townsville. They boast the second-beset defence in the NRL and have scored 28-plus points in eight of their last nine games.
But the Broncos’ attack has been among the competition’s most potent over the past couple of months.
Strap in for another all-Queensland epic, with the Cowboys set to narrowly get up at home.
Tip: Back the Cowboys to win by 1-12 @ $2.75
SGM: OVER 40.5 POINTS / TOM DEARDEN ANYTIME TRY SCORER / COREY OATES ANYTIME TRY SCORER @ $10.94
South Sydney Rabbitohs
Saturday July 2, 7:35pm, Accor Stadium
A crunch Top 8 showdown for both teams to close out Super Saturday.
All seven of South Sydney’s wins in 2022 came against teams currently sitting eighth or lower on the ladder.
The Rabbitohs were humiliated 32-12 by the Dragons in Round 15, trailing 32-0 in a diabolical first half that saw rookie coach Jason Demitriou inexplicably hook rookie halfback Lachlan Ilias.
But Souths have been boosted by fullback Latrell Mitchell’s return for his first game since Round 5. Kodi Nikorima drops to the bench and Blake Taafe is bumped to the reserves.
Parramatta continues to confound, recovering from a horrific 34-4 loss to Canterbury with a blistering first-half performance to subdue Sydney Roosters 26-16 five days later.
Dylan Brown and Mitchell Moses were at their sparkling best, Clint Gutherson enjoyed one of his best games of 2022 and Maika Sivo added a new, familiar dimension on the flank.
The Eels’ 17 – which includes four Test reps and Origin prop Junior Paulo – is unchanged from Round 15.
Souths have won six of their last seven against Parramatta – including a pair of big wins in 2021.
Alex Johnston snared a hat-trick in a 38-20 result in Round 12, while Josh Mansour and Jaxson Paulo bagged doubles in a 40-12 drubbing in Round 21.
The Eels are unsurprisingly favourites against a Rabbitohs team that has overwhelmingly struggled against anything resembling quality opposition.
But it’s difficult to predict which iteration of the blue-and-golds will run out on Saturday night, or whether they can produce anywhere near an 80-minute performance.
Both teams can score and leak plenty of points – and Souths’ last nine games have gone over.
Tip: Back Over 42.5 Total Points @ $1.90
SGM: EELS WIN / EELS OVER 22.5 POINTS / MAIKA SIVO ANYTIME TRY SCORER / JAXSON PAUL ANYTIME TRY SCORER @ $8.60
New Zealand Warriors
Sunday July 3, 2:00pm, Mt Smart Stadium
Sentimental and head-to-head favouritism lies with the Warriors as they return to their Mt Smart Stadium home for the first time since Round 24, 2019.
The nomadic Warriors have skidded to second-last courtesy of a seven-match losing streak, with Nathan Brown’s exit sparking only minor improvement in big losses to Cronulla (38-16) and Penrith (40-6) under Stacey Jones.
But Ronaldo Mulitalo made a strong NRL debut against the Panthers, while Jones has pulled the right rein by naming Euan Atiken in the centres for the first time in almost a year at Adam Pompey’s expense this week.
The 14th-placed Wests Tigers are in a similar hole, losing six of their last seven and crashing heavily to Manly (30-4) and Canterbury (36-12) since Brett Kimmorley took the reins from Michael Maguire in the same week as the Warriors’ coaching change.
Rumours swept the game during the rep bye that Luke Brooks had been axed, but he was named on Tuesday.
James Roberts and Stefano Utoikamanu return from injury, but Alex Twal (concussion) is out, while Adam Doueihi again comes off the bench while Fa’amanu Brown is set to start at hooker.
David Nofoaluma scored four tries for Samoa last weekend and will be eager to add to the eight tries he has bagged in 11 career games against the Warriors.
The Warriors have won their last four against the Tigers, with each decided by six points or less and the battling outfits played out an extraordinarily ugly contest at Campbelltown in Round 3, the Warriors bumbling their way to a 16-12 win after a try-less second half.
Harnessing the emotion of the occasion and the sell-out crowd shapes as a tricky balancing act for a Warriors side down on confidence and playing terrible footy.
But it should ultimately be a net positive – particularly for the likes of down-on-form linchpin Shaun Johnson – and the Tigers may struggle to deal with the electric atmosphere.
Tip: Back the Warriors to Cover the Line (-4.5 Points) @ $1.90
SGM: WARRIORS WIN / UNDER 41.5 POINTS / EUAN AITKEN ANYTIME TRY SCORER @ $9.34
St George-Illawarra Dragons
Sunday July 3, 4:05pm, WIN Stadium
St George Illawarra jagged a surprise Top 8 spot for the first time since Round 2 with a 32-12 defeat of Souths in Round 15, with Zac Lomax the star of a six-tries-to-none first-half blitz.
It was the unfancied Dragons’ third win in four games and an impressive bounce-back from a 31-12 loss to an Origin-depleted Cowboys side.
Canberra is in 11th spot but just two points adrift of the Saints after an invaluable escape against Newcastle before the rep break.
The Raiders blew a 14-point lead and looked headed for a disastrous home defeat before dynamic back-rower Hudson Young’s 79th-minute kick-and-chase try snatched a 20-18 result.
Jack Wighton returns after missing that game and the second Origin with COVID, while Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad is back from injury on the bench.
Josh Papalii was used sparingly by the Maroons and should be fired up for a big performance up front – as will Kiwi reps Joe Tapine, arguably the NRL’s form forward, and Jordan Rapana.
Ben Hunt picked up a leg injury in Origin but has been named in an unchanged St George Illawarra 17.
The Raiders have won four of their last five against the Dragons, but the Saints grabbed a 22-20 victory in Wollongong in Round 15 last year, before the Raiders hit back with a 20-12 success at home six rounds later.
A fascinating and pivotal encounter between two teams at a similar level in a similar position.
The Dragons are 5-2 in Wollongong since the start of 2021 and have to be considered good underdog value at WIN Stadium against a Raiders side that has won just three of its last 12 away from Canberra.
Tip: Back the Dragons to Cover the Line (+2 Points) @ $1.90
SGM: EITHER TEAM BY LESS THAN 10.5 POINTS / OVER 39.5 POINTS / MATTHEW TIMOKO ANYTIME TRY SCORER / CODY RAMSEY ANYTIME TRY SCORER @ $23.19
The NRL returns with a bang this week as we set our sights on two quality top-eight blockbusters to begin the round.
With each side well-rested following last week’s bye, the Roosters and the Storm kick us off nice and early on Thursday in a key battle between first and fifth from Newcastle.
As if that wasn’t enough, the Panthers host the Eels on Friday night in Penrith in what could be a potential finals preview between second and third.
It could be game over for the Raiders or the Titans following Saturday’s battle in Canberra, while the Knights clash with the Cowboys in Newcastle also holds plenty of weight as far as the top eight is concerned.
Our thoughts and best bets for a massive weekend of footy can be found in our 2021 NRL Round 16 Preview below!
Thursday July 1, 7:50pm, McDonald Jones Stadium
Newcastle will play host to a Thursday night blockbuster between the Roosters and Storm due to Sydney’s ongoing COVID crisis.
The Round 6 rematch was originally set to be played at the SCG, but the neutral turf really hasn’t impacted the market with the Storm still installed as heavy -10 favourites.
Melbourne extended its winning streak to 12 with a 66-16 mauling over the Tigers a fortnight ago, and after recording a comfortable 16-point win over the Roosters earlier in April, it’s safe to say the Storm won’t be short on confidence.
The Roosters come into this one looking to forget all about their ugly defeat against the Panthers in Penrith, and although they’ve been a strong bounce-back bet over the last few years, it’s hard to get on board with any kind of upset.
There is some good news for Trent Robinson with Ryan Papenhuyzen not expected back for a few more weeks, but Sydney’s ongoing injury crisis still makes this one a tough ask.
Like always, the Storm have had no trouble scoring points this year, but the fact both teams rank bottom five in tries conceded this year suggests this could be a low-scoring game.
It just so happens that the previous two meetings between the Storm and Roosters have both gone Under the Total, so the double looks a profitable option.
Tip: Back the Storm to Win & Under 48.5 Total Points @ $2.40
New Zealand Warriors
St George-Illawarra Dragons
Friday July 2, 6:00pm, Central Coast Stadium
A win for either of these two sides is vitally important with the finals quickly approaching.
The Warriors have lost three straight coming in, but such is the nature of the 2021 season that they still find themselves only two points adrift from a spot back inside the eight.
The Dragons, meanwhile, have been clinging to the eighth spot on the ladder for quite some time, but they did move a step closer to playing finals with a gutsy two-point win over the Raiders a fortnight ago.
These two sides have been largely inconsistent throughout the course of the year, so this is definitely a tough game to feel good about.
On one hand, the Warriors tend to play their best footy on the Central Coast, but the week off between games makes this a fairly even matchup.
That said, the Warriors have the wood over the Dragons with five straight wins dating back to 2018, including a 20-14 win when they met back in Round 6.
Origin hopeful Reece Walsh looks unlikely to play after picking up a hamstring injury at Maroons training, but with Bayley Sironen and Dallin Watene-Zelezniak a chance at playing, the Warriors look to have a slight edge in betting.
Tip: Back the Warriors 1-12 @ $3.00
Friday July 2, 7:55pm, Panthers Stadium
There is no shortage of excitement heading towards Friday’s blockbuster between second and third.
After suffering a pair of losses to the Tigers and Sharks with a handful of their stars missing, the Panthers rebounded nicely before the bye with a full-strength win over the Roosters that has left them tied on points with the top of the table Storm.
Winners of three straight, the Eels have been on a tear of late with three blowout victories over the Knights, Tigers and Bulldogs, but obviously, this is a step up in class against the premiership favourites and one Brad Arthur will be hungry to win.
The Panthers got the better of the Eels when they met last year with a comfortable 20-2 win that saw Nathan Cleary and Dylan Edwards dominate from start to finish.
Penrith has played to a perfect 8-0 mark at home on the year, but there is something to be said for Parramatta’s 6-1 record on the road.
The Panthers will likely win this game on defence as they continue to lead the league in fewest points conceded.
Parramatta’s usual explosive attack struggled out wide when these two sides last met, which contributed to the Total going Under for a 10th consecutive time.
If that trend holds up, the double looks like another worthwhile betting play for some added value.
Tip: Back the Panthers to Win & Under 48.5 Total Points @ $2.40
Manly Sea Eagles
Saturday July 3, 3:00pm, Bankwest Stadium
The Sea Eagles continue their march towards the top four this week with a very favourable game against the struggling Bulldogs on Saturday.
Currently sitting sixth, Manly has an enormous opportunity to bridge the gap between themselves and the Roosters, while this also shapes as an important game for the Bulldogs as far as the wooden spoon is concerned.
Manly has won four straight over Canterbury dating back to 2018, but it’s also worth noting the Dogs haven’t won at Bankwest since Round 2 last year.
To make matters worse, the Bulldogs are set to be without Adam Elliott for an extended amount of time after the second-rower fractured his cheekbone in the loss to the Eels.
Elliott joins a long list of injured Bulldogs on the sideline, which doesn’t bode particularly well against a Manly outfit that is starting to return to full strength.
Heavy favourites at the line have proven very profitable so far this year and it would be very surprising if Manly didn’t win this game comfortably.
The Sea Eagles have gone 4-1 in their last five games as the away favourite at the line, so everything points to a blowout.
Tip: Back Manly to Cover the Line (-20.5 Points) @ $1.90
Gold Coast Titans
Saturday July 3, 5:30pm, GIO Stadium
The Raiders and the Titans have fallen well short of expectations this season as they prepare for a crucial battle in Canberra on Saturday night.
Ricky Stuart isn’t panicking just yet with his side sitting 10th on the ladder, but another loss like the one suffered against the Dragons a fortnight ago will make life very difficult with just over two months left to play.
Likewise, the Titans should sense the importance of a victory with only one win from their last five games.
Justin Holbrook’s side was unlucky to lose against the Storm and the Roosters earlier in the month, but the way they were torn apart by Manly before the bye was indicative of the struggles the Titans have had all season on defence.
As far as betting goes, it’s very hard to feel overly confident in either team, but the Titans do look good value at the line despite recent results.
The Raiders have been awful at home all year winning just two of their seven games, while the Titans have quietly played to a 4-2 record at the line as the away underdog over the last 12 months.
This really is a tough one to pick, but with a couple of gutsy recent efforts against two premiership contenders like the Storm and the Roosters, the Titans look a worthwhile bet to at least keep the scoreline respectable.
Tip: Back the Titans to Cover the Line (+8 Points) @ $1.90
North Queensland Cowboys
Saturday July 3, 7:35pm, McDonald Jones Stadium
The Knights will take to the field with only one thing in mind on Saturday night: revenge.
Newcastle lost 36-20 to the Cowboys when they met in Townsville earlier in May, a game Adam O’Brien’s men will be hungry to atone for with the finals still very much up for grabs.
As for North Queensland, they’ll head to Newcastle knowing a second straight win over the Knights could be enough to vault them back inside the eight.
The bye couldn’t have come at a better time last week for the Cowboys after losing back-to-back games to Manly and Cronulla, and while their 1-5 record on the road leaves a lot to be desired, there is a bit to like about Todd Payten’s crew as the underdog.
Home field advantage in Newcastle counts for a lot, but there are still a handful of key players missing in the Knights’ lineup.
Kalyn Ponga, Tyson Frizell, Bradman Best, and Edrick Lee are still weeks away from returning, not to mention Kurt Mann, who joined the injury list in Round 15 following an ankle injury against the Warriors.
The Cowboys, on the other hand, are suddenly one of the healthiest teams in the competition, which should go a long way towards helping their finals bid down the stretch.
You never know what you are going to get with these two teams, but after winning comfortably when they last met, the Cowboys look a nice bet.
Tip: Back the Cowboys to Cover the Line (+3.5 Points) @ $1.90
Sunday July 4, 2:00pm, Suncorp Stadium
The Sharks have a prime opportunity to extend their winning streak to five against the hapless Broncos on Sunday.
Wins over the Dragons, Titans, Panthers, and Cowboys were enough to push Cronulla back inside the eight before the bye, and with Brisbane coming off another forgettable 46-0 drubbing at the hands of South Sydney a fortnight ago, this looks to be the Sharks for the taking.
These two sides haven’t met this year, but Josh Hannay’s men should hold fond memories of Suncorp after downing the Broncos by 10 points when they met in Brisbane last season.
Just when the Broncos thought things couldn’t get any worse, they were also dealt a serious injury blow against the Rabbitohs with Jesse Arthars and John Asiata both suffering head knocks.
As for the Sharks, Cronulla could potentially welcome Royce Hunt back from a knee injury – a huge addition to a side that is now one of the healthiest in the competition.
From a betting standpoint, Brisbane has lost each of its last four games by 13+ points, which ties in nicely with Cronulla’s perfect 3-0 record as the away favourite at the line.
It wouldn’t be surprising if the Broncos keep this tight in the first half, but you’d expect Cronulla to get the job done with a chance to really cement their spot in the eight.
Tip: Back the Sharks to Cover the Line (-8 Points) @ $1.90
South Sydney Rabbitohs
Sunday July 4, 4:05pm, Leichardt Oval
The Rabbitohs are one of the most in-form sides in the competition right now and it is no surprise to find them as heavy -20 favourites on Sunday against the Tigers at Leichardt.
Wayne Bennett’s men rattled off three impressive victories over the Eels, Knights and Broncos before the bye, although it’s fair to say they’ll be eager to prove a point against the Tigers after prevailing in overtime when the two sides met back in Round 6.
Wests come into this game on the back of two straight losses, and while they have proven to be a frisky opponent at times, it’s hard to ignore the Tigers’ embarrassing defensive effort two weeks ago in their 66-16 loss to the Storm.
Michael Maguire has no doubt spent the extra week searching for answers, but this is another defensive nightmare for the coach with the likes of Latrell Mitchell and Alex Johnston lining up opposite.
With an interesting game ahead next week against the Cowboys, look for the Bunnies to make a statement.
Tip: Back the Rabbitohs to Cover the Line (-20 Points) @ $1.90
Round 16 of the NRL gets off to a fast start on Thursday night with a top eight battle between the Eels and the Rabbitohs from Bankwest.
The Roosters are looking to bulldoze the Broncos for the second time when they meet on Friday night, followed by an intriguing Western Sydney derby between the Panthers and Tigers on Saturday.
The Storm round things out on Sunday as they look to get back to winning ways against Manly, while the Raiders are hoping to make it three in a row when they take on the Dogs in the matinee game.
Favourites have proved a valuable commodity over the last six weeks, and we’ve loaded up on a few in our 2020 NRL Round 16 Preview below.
South Sydney Rabbitohs
Thursday August 27, 7:50pm, Bankwest Stadium
The Eels and Rabbitohs meet in a top eight clash that could go a long way to determining the makeup of the finals.
Souths dismantled Manly last week to win their fourth game in a row, while the Eels are hot on the heels of the second-place Storm following a win over the former Premiership favourites last Thursday night.
A win is a win, but Eels head coach Brad Arthur will be calling for a more thorough performance this week against the Bunnies after his side managed only 14 points against a half-strength Melbourne outfit.
Wayne Bennett, meanwhile, faces another minor injury crisis right when his side was really starting to click into gear.
Dane Gagai was a late out last week with a hamstring injury, while Alex Johnston picked up a nasty head knock in the first half against the Sea Eagles. Both are in doubt to play this week.
The Eels have no real injury troubles, so it’s no surprise to find them at such short odds – especially at Bankwest.
Parramatta has lost only one game at their new home fortress this season to go along with a 6-1-3 record as the line favourite at home.
The Eels really need to lift if they wish to keep in touch with the top of the ladder, and although they’ve been relatively flat over the last five weeks, this looks a prime opportunity for them to get back to dominance.
Tip: Back the Eels to Cover the Line (-6 Points) @ $2.00
St George Illawarra Dragons
Gold Coast Titans
Friday August 28, 6:00pm, Nestrata Jubilee Stadium
The Dragons’ quest to return to the top eight runs through the Titans this week in their return to Jubilee.
St George cut it very close last week against the Broncos in their four-point victory, a performance Paul McGregor will be hoping his side can put behind them ahead of another very winnable game.
The Titans had their moments early on against the Raiders last week, but they were ultimately overcome by Canberra’s star power as Nick Cotric and Jack Wight both scored a double.
Despite the loss, Gold Coast still find themselves four points clear of the Bulldogs, but a win this week doesn’t appear very likely with several big names still missing from the side.
Kevin Proctor will serve the second of his five-game suspension, while Jai Arrow is out until at least Round 19.
On the flip side, the Dragons are also missing some familiar faces.
Korbin Sims injured his calf last week against Brisbane, while Paul Vaughan is headed for a two week stint on the sidelines due to suspension.
The Saints have won their last five games against the Titans though, which includes a 20-8 victory at Suncorp back in Round 6.
Zac Lomax and Mikaele Ravalawa dominated that game and they’ve just about been unstoppable ever since.
That said, the Titans have shown plenty of belief this year under Justin Holbrook and it wouldn’t be surprising to watch them keep this close.
With that in mind, the Dragons 1-12 appears a good value bet.
Tip: Back the Dragons 1-12 @ $2.85
Friday August 28, 7:55pm, SCG
The Roosters returned to their brilliant best last week with a huge win over the Tigers and they’ll be afforded every opportunity to further cement themselves in the top four against the struggling Broncos on Friday night.
Sydney are obviously a much better side with the Morris twins on the field and it is scary to think the Chooks may receive an added boost over the coming weeks with Daniel Tupou and Boyd Cordner set to return.
The Broncos, on the other hand, have bigger issues than just ins and outs on their mind.
Anthony Seibold’s $1 million offer to quit as head coach is yet another off-field distraction the club simply doesn’t need, especially with Anthony Milford pulling up with a hamstring injury following last week’s loss to the Dragons.
It’s safe to say this would be one of the upsets of the season if the Broncos were to win, but it’s nearly impossible to see that happening.
Brisbane was infamously pummelled 59-0 when they met the Roosters back in Round 4, and with everything going on away from the field, it’s hard to see this one going any other way.
Tip: Back the Roosters to Cover the Line (-25.5 Points) @ $2.00
New Zealand Warriors
Saturday August 29, 3pm, Scully Park
The Knights will venture outside of Newcastle for the first time this month as they travel to Tamworth to take on the Warriors.
After a rocky month of July, the Knights have turned their season around with three wins on the trot, but there are some concerns about the legitimacy of Newcastle’s credentials.
After hanging on for dear life against Manly a week earlier, the Knights managed to score only 12 points in another less than convincing performance against the Cowboys last week.
To be fair, Newcastle are still on the mend with Bradman Best, Erdrick Lee and Andrew McCullough all on the sidelines, but they’ll need to dig deep again this week with a spirited Warriors side up next.
New Zealand have won three of their last four games after defeating the Bulldogs 20-14 last week.
The Kiwis also hung tight with the top of the table Panthers a week earlier, a form line that reads well heading into Saturday’s contest.
The Warriors were shutout 20-0 against the Knights back in Round 1, but they’ve been a very steady betting play as the line underdog ever since.
New Zealand are 9-7 in this scenario over the last 12 months, so there’s a lot to like about them laying +6.5 on a neutral ground.
Tip: Back the Warriors to Cover the Line (+6.5 Points) @ $2.00
North Queensland Cowboys
Saturday August 29, 5:30pm, Nestrata Jubilee Stadium
The Sharks are in control of their own fate from here on out with a four-point buffer between themselves and the ninth-placed Tigers.
Cronulla were manhandled by the Panthers for the second time in a row last week in Penrith, but they have a great opportunity to bounce-back on Saturday afternoon against a Cowboys side that hasn’t tasted a win since Round 7.
North Queensland also has plenty to play for sitting just two points clear of the bottom dweller Bulldogs on the ladder.
Unfortunately, the Cowboys have been hit hard by injuries once again, this time in the form of a Jason Taumalolo calf injury that looks likely to cost him the next four weeks.
Valentine Holmes could potentially return this week from an ankle injury, but it’s difficult to have any faith in the Cowboys here, especially at Juibilee.
North Queensland is 1-6 away from home this year, while they’ve also lost their last four games to the Sharks.
Tip: Back the Sharks 1-12 @ $2.90
Saturday August 29, 7:35pm, Panthers Stadium
The Panthers are favoured heavily to extend their club record winning streak to 11 on Saturday when they take on a Tigers team growing more and more desperate as the weeks go by.
Wests currently sit ninth on the ladder and four points adrift of the eighth-placed Sharks.
The Tigers do have time on their side, but the positives have been far and few in recent weeks with only one win from their last five games.
Aside from their streak, Penrith’s biggest win this season has been their luck with injury.
Hooker Api Koroisau picked up a calf injury last week in the win over the Sharks and now joins a very short list of players on the sidelines.
The Tigers are also close to full-strength for Saturday’s clash, but it’s difficult to back Wests with any confidence based on last week’s first half no-show against the Roosters.
Michael Maguire’s side put up a brave fight against the Panthers back in Round 8 losing 19-12, but this time its an entirely different test down in Penrith.
The Panthers are undefeated at Panthers Stadium and have won three of their four games by double digits.
This is a lengthy line, but we’re confident Penrith can cover it.
Tip: Back the Panthers to Cover the Line (-15.5 Points) @ $2.00
Manly Sea Eagles
Sunday August 30, 4:05pm, Sunshine Coast Stadium
The Storm have a real chance to right their wrongs this week when they take on a struggling Manly side that is limping to the finish line.
With a host of players missing last week it was no real surprise to watch Melbourne come up short to the Eels, but with Cameron Smith set to return from a shoulder injury, the Storm should have problem running over the top of a depleted Sea Eagles outfit.
Manly found themselves on the back foot early last week against the Rabbitohs and never recovered.
The Sea Eagles failed to find the line during the first half while the Bunnies scored six unanswered down the other end.
A similar start will no doubt cost Manly dearly on Sunday, although the Sea Eagles can rest a little easier knowing Cameron Munster is likely to remain on the sidelines alongside Brandon Smith, who broke his jaw last week.
Still, the Storm have consistently been a solid bounce-back bet for years now and it’s difficult to see this one turning out any other way.
Melbourne are 4-0 head-to-head and at the line following a previous loss over the last 12 months, so this one really isn’t worth overcomplicating.
Tip: Back the Storm to Cover the Line (-10.5 Points) @ $2.00
Sunday August 30, 6:30pm, GIO Stadium
The Raiders could potentially leapfrog the Roosters into the top four this week if things somehow go their way.
Canberra faces Sydney next week in a blockbuster at GIO Stadium, which makes this week’s game against the Dogs all the more important if the Raiders wish to maintain touch with the top of the ladder.
The Green Machine is currently firing on all cylinders after putting up 36 points in each of their last two games against the Broncos and Titans.
Obviously, the Bulldogs are of similar calibre to the two struggling Queensland clubs, and it would be no surprise to watch the Raiders pile on 30 points again on Sunday.
Canberra has no injury news to report, while the Dogs will play their last game this week without the suspended Dylan Napa.
The Raiders have won three straight over the Bulldogs dating back to 2018 and have also been the fifth-best side at the line this year going 8-6-1.
Canterbury hasn’t won in Canberra since 2015, but it is worth noting the Dogs have lost three of their last four games by no more than a try.
After keeping it very tight with the Tigers and Warriors over the last fortnight, the +17.5 line looks a little too generous here.
Tip: Back the Bulldogs to Cover the Line (+17.5 Points) @ $2.00
The final bye round of the season rolls around ahead of next week’s Origin decider, leaving four important games on offer with plenty of ladder implications involved.
Canberra, Canterbury, Gold Coast, Manly, North Queensland, Parramatta, Penrith and Souths all take a seat this week, throwing the ladder into brief chaos as the Tigers and Dragons both look to move one step closer to a spot inside the eight.
It’s short and sweet, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a winning weekend. Be sure to read our complete 2019 NRL Round 16 Preview below to find out who we’re backing.
St George-Illawarra Dragons
Thursday July 4, 7:50pm, WIN Stadium
A 22-14 win over the Cowboys last week has the Dragons on the rise as they eye off a spot back inside the eight.
After trailing at half time, the Dragons bounced-back in the second half to pile on three tries in only their third home win of the season.
Things weren’t quite as exciting in Adelaide, but the Storm got a slice of revenge for last year’s Grand Final loss as they downed the Roosters 14-12.
Cameron Smith’s golden boot proved the difference on the scoreboard as he nailed a penalty goal inside the final 20-minutes, leaving the Storm six points clear atop the table as they look well on their way to another Grand Final berth.
These two sides split their two-game series one win apiece last year, although the Storm got the last laugh as they piled on 52-points against the Dragons in Round 17.
This week’s game mightn’t be quite as high scoring, but you can still back plenty of points knowing both games went Over the Total last year.
If you’re looking for some value, history suggests the Dragons could be in with an upset chance having won four of their last six home games against the Storm.
Three of those games have been decided by 1-12 points, so if you’re game, it might be worth taking the Dragons to put an end to the Storm’s six-game winning streak.
Tip: Back the Dragons 1-12 and Over 38.5 Total Match Points @ $6.66
Friday July 5, 7:55pm, Bankwest Stadium
Michael Chee-Kam single-handedly won the game for the Tigers last week after what can only be described as a lacklustre first half effort.
Wests now find themselves one win away from a spot back inside the eight, but they’ll need to sharpen up this week against the reigning premiers.
The Roosters slipped up against the Storm in Adelaide last week losing 14-12. The game was there to be won in the second half, but a complete lack of possession left the Roosters on the back foot as they failed to put any points on the board.
Sydney are 1-2 on the back of a loss this season, but they’ll feel pretty confident heading into Friday night’s game knowing they pummeled the Tigers by 30-points back in Round 8.
The Roosters have won four of their last five games against Wests, but with short odds on offer head-to-head, the line is where you’ll want to place your money.
Trent Robinson’s side is 4-1 as the line favourite away from home against the Tigers. Wests have won back-to-back games twice this year, but their average losing margin is 19.4 points.
Tip: Back the Roosters to Cover the Line (-5.5 Points) @ $1.90
New Zealand Warriors
Saturday July 6, 7:35pm,McDonald Jones Stadium
Just like everyone expected, the Knights are now one win away from a top-four spot on the ladder following last week’s thrilling 26-12 win over the Broncos.
Newcastle bounced back strongly from their loss to the Storm a fortnight ago to pile on three unanswered tries in the first half, complimented by Mason Lino’s perfect execution in front of the sticks.
The Knights enjoy the added luxury of a second straight home game this week, and if New Zealand’s 2-4 road record is anything to go by, Newcastle should have no trouble polishing off the Kiwis.
Stephen Kearney’s side probably deserved a win at home last week, but they somehow managed to turn a 14-6 lead into a 19-18 loss to the Panthers.
A last-minute try saw Penrith snatch the win, leaving the Warriors scrambling for answers as they look to make up for their 36-18 loss to the Knights back in Round 8.
Rebounding from a loss hasn’t been New Zealand’s strong point this season. New Zealand is 3-4 on the heels of defeat while they are also 2-3 as the away underdog against Newcastle.
The Knights can win this game if they can continue to score points in bunches. Newcastle are 2-0 as the line favourite against New Zealand, while the Warriors rank dead last in possession percentage this year.
Tip: Back the Knights to Cover the Line (+1.5 Points) @ $1.90
Sunday July 7, 4:05pm, Shark Park
Brisbane’s season looks just about over after slumping to their third straight loss last week to the Knights.
It’s been a recurring theme all year, but the Broncos once again failed to show up in the first half as they allowed three unanswered tries to Newcastle in their 26-12 loss.
Things weren’t any better for Cronulla losing a two-point thriller to the Bulldogs on Sunday.
The Sharks still find themselves in the top eight, but shortcomings against underperforming sides can mean the difference between home ground advantage or a tough road trip come finals time.
With the wheels well and truly off in Brisbane, Anthony Seibold’s side finds themselves as serious outsiders heading to Shark Park.
The Broncos own the wood over Cronulla having won their last five games. Considering the Sharks have lost back-to-back matches only twice all year though, it’s difficult to see Brisbane causing a boilover.
Shark Park has been a fortress this year for Cronulla having won four of their six games in front of the home crowd. Brisbane has won three straight on the road against the Sharks, but with everything to play for this week, take Cronulla to snap their three-year hoodoo against the Broncos.
Tip: Back the Sharks 1-12 @ $3.00
With a little over two months to go, the finals picture is really starting to shape up.
Last Sunday’s Origin means we should see some fresh and well rested bodies ahead of this weekend, and with the ladder looking tight from top to bottom, there’s plenty of ladder implications to go around.
We’re really starting to get into the thick of things now, and as always, we’ve broken down all eight games ahead of a huge weekend of footy.
Check out our entire 2018 NRL Round 16 Preview below!
St. George Dragons
Thursday 28 June, 7:50pm, WIN Stadium
The Dragons have enjoyed a cozy couple of weeks atop the ladder, and with a favourable Thursday night match up in hand against Parramatta, St. George may further cement themselves as the outright favourites.
To say Paul McGregor’s side were dominant last time out would be an understatement. The Dragons piled on five unanswered tries against Manly in Round 15, coasting towards a handy 32-8 victory.
The Eels weren’t quite as lucky ahead of the Origin break, falling by 18-points against Souths at home. Compared to the start of the season, there have been encouraging signs of life present in this Eels outfit, but the blue and yellow still look like they’ll finish lucky last.
Despite how the ladder reads, though, history says we could be in for a shocker on Thursday night. The Eels have won six straight over the Dragons dating back to 2013, with only two of those games being somewhat close.
On the other hand, the Eels’ record as the away underdogs this year should be enough to persuade you back to the favourite.
As head-to-head underdogs, Parramatta are 1-6 away from home, while the Dragons hold an impressive 10-2 record as the home favourites.
The Dragons defence was relentless against the Sea Eagles two weeks ago, but as so often has been the case, their attack was next level. St. George forced 63 missed tackles against Manly, and on the back of a rather disappointing Origin performance, Ben Hunt will be out to redeem himself.
There’s every chance the Eels will make this a tight contest in the first half, what with a well rested side on the back of a week off. This is one of the top scoring sides vs. one of the top tackling sides in the competition, but the Dragons should continue on with their home unbeaten streak.
Back St. George 1-12 @ $2.80
New Zealand Warriors
Friday 29 June, 6:00pm, Mt Smart Stadium
No one has more on the line this week than the Sharks.
A loss to Brisbane two weeks ago sees Cronulla in a vulnerable position ranked seventh on the ladder, and a trip to New Zealand to face the Warriors couldn’t have come at a worse time.
The Sharks looked like they had all the momentum against Brisbane back in Round 15, but they completely ran out of gas in the final 20-minutes. Corey Oates nailed the eventual game-winner in the 69th minute, while Cronulla struggled to show any signs of recovery.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, here come the Warriors (again). A successful trip to North Queensland will have had this team buzzing for the last two weeks, and on the back of a well-earned rest, New Zealand should be up and about in front of a big crowd.
Form wise, Cronulla have won three of their last five encounters against the Warriors, and their 3-0 record as the away underdog should have some punters feeling confident.
At the same time, New Zealand have failed to make good of their home field advantage, holding a so-so 4-3 record on home soil.
The real question now becomes, which Warriors side shows up?
A lot of New Zealand’s attack relies heavily on David Fusitu’a, but as we’ve seen on a handful of occasions this season, the Warriors can struggle to score points at home.
For the Sharks to win, they’ll need Jesse Ramien to have plenty of the ball. Cronulla’s centre has scored in five straight games now, and if he can find space, he’ll keep the Sharks in this one until the very end.
Back Cronulla Sharks To Beat The Line
Friday 29 June, 7:55pm, Adelaide Oval
It’s Cooper Cronk vs. his old firm at Adelaide Oval.
What more could you ask for?
It’s also a big game as far as the ladder is concerned, because on the back of a commanding 32-6 win over the Panthers two weeks ago, suddenly the Roosters look like a legitimate premiership threat.
Just quietly, the Storm have also been creeping their way back towards the Top 4. A win on Friday could see them potentially leapfrog the Warriors, but a loss would send them back down below the Roosters for sixth.
Since this is technically a Roosters home game, Storm punters will find comfort in knowing Melbourne hold an 8-2 record as the away favourites. The Roosters look a bit over the odds early, but they too are a convincing 2-0 as the home underdogs during the last 12 months.
There’s hardly been anything in the last two encounters between these two, which makes it easy to back the Roosters on neutral ground. The Storm walked away with a 16-13 victory last August, but when these two met this time last year, we needed overtime to see the Roosters home with a 25-24 win.
Both sides will be bolstered back to full strength following Origin, and Latrell Mitchell sure was fun to watch during the Blues’ victory.
Intense tackles and precise decision making should go a long way to limiting Melbourne’s athleticism, and since Sydney held Penrith to just one try two weeks ago, there’s no reason they can’t back it up again.
Back Sydney Roosters To Win @ $2.10
Manly Sea Eagles
Saturday 30 June, 3:00pm, Panthers Stadium
Two weeks off and a trip back to Panthers Stadium, surely the Panthers can’t screw this up, right?
Having won four of their last five against Manly, a game against the 4-11 Sea Eagles couldn’t have come at a better time for a side trying to get things back on track.
Manly sunk to new lows two weeks ago against the Dragons, allowing five unanswered tries from the first half onward. Penrith weren’t much better themselves, allowing four unanswered tries themselves against the Roosters on the prime time stage of Friday night.
As you’d expect, the Sea Eagles come in as long shots ahead of Saturday’s affair. Manly have won just one game on the road, and are 1-6 as the away underdogs over the last calendar year.
The only good news for Manly ahead of this one is Reagan Campbell-Gillard’s broken jaw has ruled him out for this fixture, but the Panthers 6-1 record at home only dampens their hopes.
Penrith have had a fortnight to get their heads right and recoup following the loss to the Roosters, so we should see the spark reignite in this one.
With a few chips down, it may not be complete scoreboard domination, but there’s a reason the Panthers haven’t lost back-to-back games so far, and we should see them control this game for a full 80-minutes.
Back Penrith Panthers 1-12 @ $2.90
Saturday 30 June, 5:30pm, McDonald Jones Stadium
It’s been a long time in between drinks for the Bulldogs, with their last win dating all the way back to Round 10 against the Eels.
The Knights have also won just one game in that span, although their draw has been extremely cruel in recent weeks with games against Sydney and Melbourne back-to-back.
Newcastle will still fancy themselves a chance at finals, even though their form and lengthy injury list probably indicates otherwise. Kalyn Ponga was a shining light on what was otherwise a disappointing performance for the Maroons during Origin Game 2, but as we’ve seen all season, he can single handedly turn a game on its head.
Th Bulldogs hold a five game win streak over the Knights, but that doesn’t mean much when you can’t score points. Canterbury have managed just 36-points across their last three games, while their 3-10 record as the away underdogs doesn’t sound much better.
Speaking of underdogs, the Bulldogs find themselves in unfamiliar territory this week. The Dogs have never come in as underdogs against the Knights, speaking volumes of just how far this team has sunk recently.
Newcastle’s 2-5 record at home is hardly convincing, though, and it’s hard to get a read on where the points will come from for both teams here. This could turn out to be game of the round, but it figures to be pretty scrappy and low-scoring. Best to stay away.
Saturday 30 June, 7:35pm, Suncorp Stadium
The Broncos never-say-die attitude has got them this far, and a game in hand against the Raiders is the perfect opportunity to further ensure a finals berth.
Canberra pulled off an impressive win over the Tigers last time out, handing the Wests Tigers a 48-12 defeat. This is a game Canberra will feel they can win away from home, but the Broncos’ 4-2 record at Suncorp makes it a tough ask.
At times this year Brisbane have been accused of playing “soft”, but that was hardly the case during their win over the Sharks in Sydney a fortnight ago. The Broncos looked up for the occasion from the get-go, and with finals on the line, it was impressive to watch Brisbane cling to a four-point lead for the final 10-minutes.
Brisbane have won five straight against Canberra, with the Raiders last win at Suncorp dating all the way back to 2010. Brisbane need this win to potentially leapfrog the Sharks on the ladder, and they’ll feel good behind a 6-2 record as the head-to-head home favourite.
The Raiders too have plenty to play for though, and although a win won’t send them into the eight, the ninth placed Canberra side can continue to gain momentum heading towards the pointy part of the season.
The key for the Broncos will be another fast start. They’ve looked almost unbeatable when they open the scoring first, something Tevita Pangai Junior accomplished in the opening minute against the Sharks.
This game will certainly boil down to the possession battle, an area the Raiders won comfortably over the Tigers, dominating 58% of the ball. The Raiders are one of the top-scoring sides in the competition and one of the best at breaking tackles, so this one might have upset written all over it.
Back Canberra Raiders To Win @ $2.50
Gold Coast Titans
Sunday 1 July, 2:00pm, Leichhardt Oval
The Tigers have steered well off course now, losing three straight and slipping all the way down to 10th on the ladder.
Gold Coast recorded a pretty convincing win in Round 14 over the Bulldogs, their fifth of the year. This game could certainly swing in the balance late, and it’s definitely the match up that could make or break your multi.
You could say the Titans are a little under the odds this week at around the $2.40 mark. Gold Coast’s 2-6 record on the road certainly lends them to the underdog tag, but the Tigers have been less than convincing for the last four weeks.
Head-to-head, Wests are 2-2 as the home favourites vs. the Titans, while Gold Coast are a miserable 2-10 as the away underdogs over the last 12 months.
If you’re having thoughts of backing the Titans in an upset, just remember Robbie Farah makes his long awaited return this week for the Tigers. It’s the kind of occasion that will not only draw a crowd, but also get the Wests boys up and about.
Unfortunately for this young Gold Coast team, the news only gets worse. Recently signed halfback, Moses Mbye, will also make his debut for the Tigers this week, bolstering the void left by James Tedesco last season.
There’s simply too much for the Titans to account for this week, and although they’ve had a fortnight to prepare, we should see more the April/May version of the Tigers return this time out.
Back Wests Tigers 1-12 @ $2.88
South Sydney Rabbitohs
North Queensland Cowboys
Sunday 1 July, 4:10pm, Barlow Park
Don’t look now, but Souths are gunning for eight straight this week.
It’s been a tough draw for the Cowboys, who now travel to Barlow Park to face the second ranked team in the competition.
Winning just two of their seven games on the road, North Queensland have been dreadful away from home this season, and on the heels of a big loss against the Warriors a fortnight ago, no one expects them to pinch the points here.
The Bunnies have been relentless on attack, racking up 42-points against the Eels in Round 15, and now rank first in the league in total points scored (380).
History shows the Cowboys of old were once dominant in this fixture, winning four of the last five, but Souths 3-1 record as the home favourites against the Cowboys more than makes them the deserving favourites.
A winning streak like this is impressive, and with games against the Bulldogs, Tigers and Eels all coming up, there’s no stopping Souths from claiming top of the ladder sometime soon.
Back South Sydney 13+ @ $2.38
State Of Origin 2 is in the books and once again a number of the best players in the competition will be on the quick back-up this weekend.
There are crucial games spread right across the weekend, but there is no doubt that the highlight will be on Saturday when the Sydney Roosters and Melbourne Storm do battle in a top of the table clash at the Adelaide Oval.
We have analysed that game and every other fixture to come up with our complete 2017 NRL Round 16 tips.
New Zealand Warriors
Friday 23 June, 6:00pm, Mt Smart Stadium
New Zealand Warriors 21 - Canterbury Bulldogs 14
The New Zealand Warriors and Canterbury Bulldogs both head into this clash on the back of a win before heading into the bye.
It is the Warriors that will start this clash as favourites in NRL betting and this really is not a position in which they have thrived so far this season.
New Zealand have won just six of their past ten games as home favourites for a loss and they are an extremely poor 2-8 against the line in this scenario.
Canterbury showed some signs of life with their win over the St George Illawarra Dragons, but they continue to be a tough side to trust from a betting standpoint.
The Bulldogs have lost their past six games as away underdogs and they are 2-4 against the line in this scenario.
The betting play that does stand out in this clash in the Under in the Total Points betting market.
Under has saluted in eight of the past ten away games played by Canterbury and has been a profitable betting play in fixtures involving the Warriors this season.
Back Under 36.5 Points
Gold Coast Titans
Friday 23 June, 7:50pm, Campbelltown Stadium
Wests Tigers 14 - Gold Coast Titans 26
The Wests Tigers have lost six games on the trot and they will go into this clash with the Gold Coast Titans as clear underdogs.
Wests threw away their chance to beat an undermanned Cronulla Sharks outfit last Saturday night and they look like a team that has forgotten how to win football games.
The Tigers have won just three of their past 11 games as home underdogs and their record against the line in this scenario is no better.
The Gold Coast looked as though they had the two points wrapped up against the South Sydney Rabbitohs last Friday night, but a second half meltdown saw them lose their fourth game on the trot.
They have won three of their past four games as away favourites and they are 3-1 against the line in this scenario.
The Titans may never have a better chance to return to winning form and they should be able to cover the line of 3.5 points in the process.
Back Gold Coast To Beat The Line (-3.5 Points)
North Queensland Cowboys
Saturday 24 June, 3:00pm, 1300Smiles Stadium
North Queensland Cowboys 14 - Penrith Panthers 12
The North Queensland Cowboys will have a number of players backing-up from State Of Origin, but they will still go into this clash with the Penrith Panthers as clear favourites.
An undermanned North Queensland lost a thriller to the Melbourne Storm last weekend and before that were nothing short of outstanding against the Parramatta Eels.
The Cowboys have won nine of their past 12 games as home favourites and they are a profitable 6-1-5 against the line in this scenario.
Penrith have found a semblance of their best form in recent weeks and they went into the bye on the back of their fourth straight win.
The Panthers have won two of their past six games as away underdogs and they are only a middling 3-3 against the line in this scenario, while they have lost six of their past seven games against the Cowboys.
North Queensland do look to have the edge over their rivals in this clash and they can cover the line of 5.5 points.
Back North Queensland To Beat The Line (-5.5 Points)
Saturday 24 June, 5:30pm, GIO Stadium
Canberra Raiders 20 - Brisbane Broncos 30
The Canberra Raiders have lost their past two games, but they will still start this meeting with the Brisbane Broncos as favourites.
Canberra threw away the two points in their most recent clash with the Penrith Panthers and they really are at something of a crossroads this season.
The Raiders have won nine of their past 12 games as home favourites, but they are only 5-7 against the line in this scenario.
Brisbane went into the bye on the back of a fighting win over the South Sydney Rabbitohs and they will fancy their chances against a Canberra Raiders side that they beat earlier this season.
The Broncos have won only one of their past six games as away underdogs, but they are 3-1-2 against the line in this scenario.
There is not as much between these two teams as the current betting market suggests and the Broncos are a great bet to beat the line with a start of 3.5 points.
Back Brisbane To Beat The Line (+3.5 Points)
Saturday 24 June, 7:30pm, Adelaide Oval
Sydney Roosters 25 - North Queensland 30
This is easily the game of the weekend and could be a preview of a crucial game during the NRL Finals.
It is the Melbourne Storm that will start this game as favourites, but as the market suggests there is not a great deal between these two sides.
Melbourne have won their past three games against the Sydney Roosters and they have won 11 of their past 12 games away from home – their record on the road is actually better than their record at home.
The Roosters have won four of their past five games and this will be another test of just where they stand as we build towards the NRL Finals.
Sydney have won just two of their past ten games as underdogs and they are 4-6 against the line when being given a start.
Melbourne just find a way to win these sort of fixtures and they can secure another big scalp this weekend.
Back Melbourne To Win @ $1.80
St George Dragons
Sunday 25 June, 2.00pm, Jubilee Oval
St George Illawarra Dragons 32 - Newcastle Knights 28
The St George Illawarra Dragons continue to tumble down the NRL ladder, but they will still start this clash with the Newcastle Knights as clear favourites.
St George suffered their second straight loss when they went down to the Parramatta Eels on Sunday and their recent form has been very hit and miss.
The Dragons have still won their past four games as home favourites, but they are 1-3 against the line in this scenario.
Newcastle have still only won the two games this season, but they went into the bye on the back of an unlucky defeat at the hands of the Manly Sea Eagles.
Winning away from home continues to prove impossible for the Knights and they are 4-6 against the line as away underdogs.
This is a game that the market looks to have got just about right and I am happy to stay out of this clash from a betting standpoint.
Manly Sea Eagles
Sunday 25 June, 4:00pm, Southern Cross Group Stadium
Cronulla Sharks 18 - Manly Sea Eagles 35
The Cronulla Sharks beat the Manly Sea Eagles for the first time in several seasons last year and they will go into this clash as favourites.
Cronulla went into their clash with the Wests Tigers last weekend without a number of key players and were down by 12 points early in the second-half, but they finished with a very wet-sail to score a thrilling win.
While Cronulla have generally found a way to get the job done this season, they have not been a particularly reliable betting outfit – they have proven to be a losing betting proposition as home favourites and they are 3-8 against the line as home favourites.
Manly went into the bye on the back of three straight wins and they continue to be the biggest surprise packets of the season.
The Sea Eagles have won four of their past seven games as away underdogs for a big profit and they are 6-1 against the line in this scenario.
Manly are more than capable of recording an upset win and they are a great bet to cover the line with a start of 3.5 points.
Back Manly To Beat The Line (+3.5 Points)
It is another tough ask for State Of Origin players this weekend as the majority will back up in round 16 following a bruising State Of Origin encounter.
Saturday night is set to be a cracked this weekend as the Cronulla Sharks do battle with the New Zealand Warriors at Shark Park before the Canterbury Bulldogs host the Brisbane Broncos at ANZ Stadium.
The clash between the Melbourne Storm and Wests Tigers is the highlight of Sunday’s fixtures before the round concludes when the North Queensland Cowboys tackle the Manly Sea Eagles.
South Sydney Rabbitohs
Friday 24 June, 7:50pm, Pepper Stadium
Penrith Panthers 28 - South Sydney Rabbitohs 26
The Penrith Panthers went into their bye on the back of a stunning come from behind victory against Manly and they are clear favourites to make it two wins on the trot when they face South Sydney on Friday night.
Penrith have been frustratingly inconsistent this season and they have recorded back-to-back wins just twice in the past 12 months, while their record as home favourites is a far from convincing 3-2 in head to head betting and 2-3 against the line.
South Sydney suffered their third straight defeat when they lost to the Parramatta Eels last Friday night, but they will be buoyed by the return of halfback Adam Reynolds from State Of Origin duty.
The Rabbitohs have been a losing betting play across just about every metric in the past 12 months and they are 2-4 as away underdogs in both head to head and line betting markets.
It is tough to trust either of these teams from a betting perspective, but there is definitely value in the total points betting market.
The under has been a profitable betting play for Panthers fixtures in the past 12 months – with the under saluting in 14 of their past 24 games – while the under is 8-5 in South Sydney away games across the same time period.
Recommended Bet: Back The Under (38.5 Points)
St George Dragons
Saturday 25 June, 3:00pm, Hunter Stadium
Newcastle Knights 18 - St George Illawarra Dragons 30
The Newcastle Knights have won just one of their past seven games against the St George Illawarra Dragons and they face a tough assignment against their rivals this weekend.
Newcastle have won just the one game this season and they have been on the end of heavy defeats against both the New Zealand Warriors and North Queensland Cowboys.
The Knights will go into this game as heavy underdogs and they have won just one of their past eight games as home underdogs, while they are 4-4 against the line in this scenario.
St George Illawarra took advantage of a depleted Melbourne Storm outfit to return to winning form last weekend and they have an excellent opportunity to score rare back-to-back victories.
In saying that, the Dragons have been very poor away from home and they have won just one of their past four games as away favourites, with the same record against the line.
The Dragons really should win this game, but there is no value at their current price and I am happy to stay out of this fixture from a betting perspective.
Recommended Bet: No Bet
New Zealand Warriors
Saturday 25 June, 5:30pm, Shark Park
Cronulla Sharks 19 - New Zealand Warriors 18
The Cronulla Sharks are the form team in the NRL and they have the chance to record their 11th straight victory when they tackle the New Zealand Warriors at Shark Park on Saturday afternoon.
Cronulla have been in scintillating form in the past three months and there was plenty to like about the toughness that they showed against the North Queensland Cowboys in their final game before going on the bye.
The Sharks will go into this clash as clear favourites and they have won eight of their past ten clashes as home favourites, while they have beaten the line in 17 of their past 26 games.
New Zealand have found a semblance of form in the past month and they are now in the top eight after recording three straight victories over the Brisbane Broncos, Newcastle Knights and Sydney Roosters.
This is a tougher assignment, especially away from home, and they have not found a game as away underdogs in the past 12 months, while they are 1-6 against the line in this scenario.
The Cronulla Sharks will be far too disciplined for this New Zealand Warriors outfit and they should be able to record a comfortable victory.
Recommended Bet: Back Cronulla Sharks To Beat The Line (-9.5 Points)
Saturday 25 June, 7:30pm, ANZ Stadium
Canterbury Bulldogs 40 - Brisbane Broncos 14
This is one of the most interesting games as there is plenty of history between the Brisbane Broncos and the Canterbury Bulldogs.
The Broncos have won just one of their past four games and they don’t have a great record at ANZ Stadium, but they will still go into game as favourites.
Brisbane have won just four of their past eight games as away favourites for a loss and their record against the line is this scenario is a non-profitable 3-5.
Canterbury returned to winning form with a professional performance against St George Illawarra before they went on the bye and they will take confidence from the fact that they beat the Broncos in the second half of last year.
The Bulldogs have started just two games at home as underdogs in the past 12 months and they lost both, but they are 5-3 against the line when being given a start.
Brisbane were hopeless after the majority of their forward pack backed up from State Of Origin 1 against the New Zealand Warriors and I am keen to take them on in this fixture with that performance in mind.
Recommended Bet: Back Canterbury Bulldogs To Win @ $2.05
Gold Coast Titans
Sunday 26 June, 2:00pm, Cbus Super Stadium
Gold Coast Titans 22 - Canberra Raiders 30
This is another very interesting fixture and there is very little separating these two sides in early betting markets.
The Gold Coast Titans continued their stellar season with a very professional victory over Manly last weekend and they have now won four of their past five matches.
They look likely to go into this clash as narrow favourites and this has been a position in which they have thrived in the past 12 months – they are 3-1 as home favourites both in head to head betting markets and against the line.
Canberra went into the bye on the back of a loss to the Brisbane Broncos, but before that they have strung together three wins on the trot and found a level of consistency that they have been missing for several seasons.
The Raiders have won four of their past nine games as away underdogs for a tidy profit, while they are 7-2 against the line in this scenario.
This fixture is a bit of a coin flip, but the Raiders do have a more talented roster than their rivals and they represent a small amount of value at their current odds.
Recommended Bet: Back The Canberra Raiders To Win @ $1.95
Sunday 26 June, 4:00pm, AAMI Park
Melbourne Storm 29 - Wests Tigers 20
The Melbourne Storm had their winning run ended by St George Illawarra last weekend, but they will still start this clash with the Wests Tigers as clear favourites.
Melbourne struggled to create attacking opportunities without Cooper Cronk and Cameron Smith last weekend, but that pair are likely to back-up this weekend and they had previously led their side to seven straight victories.
The Storm are a very sage bet as favourites and they have won nine of their past 11 games as home favourites, while they are 7-4 against the line in this scenario.
Wests Tigers went into the bye on the back of an impressive victory against the South Sydney Rabbitohs, but recording back-to-back wins has proven an issue for the Tigers and they are just 3-5 on the back of a win.
The Tigers have won three of their past nine games as away underdogs for a profit, but their record against the line in this situation is 4-5 and the Storm are the type of side that they generally struggle with.
Melbourne should return to their best this weekend and it would not surprise to see them run up a fairly big score against the Tigers.
Recommended Bet: Back The Melbourne Storm To Beat The Line (+12.5 Points)
North Queensland Cowboys
Manly Sea Eagles
Monday 27 June, 7:00pm, 1300 Smiles Stadium
North Queensland Cowboys 30 - Manly Sea Eagles 26
The North Queensland Cowboys have won their past four games against Manly and they are very short-priced favourites to extend that winning streak on Monday night.
The Cowboys had five players involved in State Of Origin Game 2, but they have all been named to contest this fixture and with the big gap between games I expect them to back-up.
North Queensland went into the bye on the back of a narrow loss to the Sharks, but they have an excellent opportunity to return to winning form and they have lost just one of their past 12 games as home favourites, while they are 8-4 against the line in this scenario.
Manly’s season has gone from bad to worse in the past month and they were truly hopeless against the Gold Coast Titans last Monday night.
From a football standpoint it is tough to make a case for Manly, but they have won three of their past six games as away underdogs and are 4-2 against the line in this scenario.
The line of 16.5 points does seem slightly excessive and I wouldn’t be recommending a bet in this contest until we are sure that the Cowboys will have all of their State Of Origin stars in action.
Recommended Bet: No Bet