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 Vs Parramatta Eels
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 Vs Cronulla Sharks
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
Sydney Roosters Vs Melbourne Storm
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
Penrith Panthers Vs 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
Newcastle Knights Vs Canterbury Bulldogs
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.
Brisbane Broncos Vs Canberra Raiders
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
Wests Tigers Vs 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 Vs 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 Vs Canterbury Bulldogs
Friday 23 June, 6:00pm, Mt Smart Stadium
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
Wests Tigers Vs Gold Coast Titans
Friday 23 June, 7:50pm, Campbelltown Stadium
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 Vs Penrith Panthers
Saturday 24 June, 3:00pm, 1300Smiles Stadium
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)
Canberra Raiders Vs Brisbane Broncos
Saturday 24 June, 5:30pm, GIO Stadium
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)
Sydney Roosters Vs Melbourne Storm
Saturday 24 June, 7:30pm, Adelaide Oval
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 Vs Newcastle Knights
Sunday 25 June, 2.00pm, Jubilee Oval
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.
Cronulla Sharks Vs Manly Sea Eagles
Sunday 25 June, 4:00pm, Southern Cross Group Stadium
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.
Penrith Panthers Vs South Sydney Rabbitohs
Friday 24 June, 7:50pm, Pepper Stadium
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)
Newcastle Knights Vs St George Dragons
Saturday 25 June, 3:00pm, Hunter Stadium
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
Cronulla Sharks Vs New Zealand Warriors
Saturday 25 June, 5:30pm, Shark Park
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)
Canterbury Bulldogs Vs Brisbane Broncos
Saturday 25 June, 7:30pm, ANZ Stadium
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 Vs Canberra Raiders
Sunday 26 June, 2:00pm, Cbus Super Stadium
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
Melbourne Storm Vs Wests Tigers
Sunday 26 June, 4:00pm, AAMI Park
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 Vs Manly Sea Eagles
Monday 27 June, 7:00pm, 1300 Smiles Stadium
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