2021 NRL Round 18 Preview

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Round 18 of the NRL season promises to be an eventful weekend with 12 clubs settling into hub life in South East Queensland.

The Covid outbreak in Sydney has forced three quarters of the NRL to play out of Brisbane plus the Gold and Sunshine Coasts for at least the next month and likely longer.

On the park there are plenty of big storylines set to play out with the State of Origin period over for another season and every player now focused on their final eight games.

Things kick off with a Friday double header and we are previewing all 18 games below so read on to see who we are backing.

Gold Coast Titans Vs Parramatta Eels

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

The Eels stumbled in their last game before the bye, going down to the Cleary-less Panthers 13-12 but you have to like their chances in this one.

A few of their players will be backing up from Origin but they should have the talent to see off a Gold Coast side that has really struggled to keep teams at bay defensively.

The Titans have conceded at least 30 points in six of their last ten games and the Eels have the firepower to put up a big score if they feel like it.

History favours a huge Eels win with the last four meetings between these sides ending in a resounding Parramatta victory.

SGM: Eels to Win and Over 49.5 Points @ $2.86

Manly Sea Eagles Vs St George Illawarra Dragons

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

Manly is the definition of a one-man team and that one man is going to be back this Friday night.

At the time of writing, Tom Trbojevic has been named in the Manly side for Friday night, backing up from State of Origin 48 hours before this game.

While some may consider it a risk, it is a necessary one to take as the Sea Eagles chase down a top four spot.

Having only failed to score in one of his nine appearances this season, it seems like a fait accompli that Tommy Turbo will score at least one try in this game.

With the line hovering around that dangerous 20 point margin, I’m happy to give that a wide berth and instead go for a try scoring play.

It’s a nice insurance policy against Trbojevic being a late out considering that could swing the game as well.

Back Tom Trbojevic to Score 2+ Tries @ $3.20

North Queensland Cowboys Vs Sydney Roosters

Saturday July 17, 3:00pm, Queensland Country Bank Stadium

Whatever momentum the Cowboys were building heading into June well and truly ran out once the calendar ticked over with four defeats, three of which were by at least 28 points.

As for the Roosters, the Origin period has been rough as expected however they should start to get things back on track this weekend.

Considering the hectic schedule of the past week, I’m not quite sure the Roosters have a blowout win up their sleeves, especially in Townsville but I’ll back them to get the job done as they prepare for the run home.

Back the Roosters to Win By 1-12 @ $3.00

Canberra Raiders Vs Cronulla Sharks

Saturday July 17, 5:30pm, Cbus Super Stadium

The Sharks are finding form at the right time and have taken five of their last six to get themselves back into the top eight.

Last week’s surprise win over the undermanned Sea Eagles notwithstanding, the Raiders have been largely awful in recent weeks with just three wins from their last 12 games.

Not to mention that when the Raiders lose, they tend to lose by a lot in recent weeks, three of their last four defeats have been by at least 24 points.

For that reason, the 2.5 point line seems far too small and I’ll happily jump on that value for this game.

Back Cronulla to Cover -2.5 @ $1.90

Melbourne Storm Vs Newcastle Knights

Saturday July 17, 7:30pm, CBus Super Stadium

The line for this game is currently at -19.5 in favour of the Storm, for most teams that would be a cause for concern, but not with the way Melbourne is playing at the moment.

They just keep scoring in spite of injuries and absences and look like they will be a hard team to beat come finals time (again).

Whatever confidence Newcastle took from their resounding 38-0 win over the Cowboys a fortnight ago will likely be evaporated on the Gold Coast.

Even with this game being moved to CBus, the Storm should still come away with a massive win.

Back Melbourne to Cover -19.5 & Over 49.5 Points @ $2.60

New Zealand Warriors Vs Penrith Panthers

Sunday July 18, 2:00pm, Suncorp Stadium

Part one of a Suncorp double header kicks off with the Warriors hosting the Panthers.

A rough two years for the Warriors just got even tougher with the club not only losing out on its homecoming and now being forced to relocate to Queensland for the foreseeable future.

It kind of puts the Panthers relative woes into perspective with Nathan Cleary and Jarome Luai both missing this game.

They found a way to grind out a 13-12 win over the Eels last week and will rely on a stout defence to get them over the line.

It might not be pretty but the Panthers will get the job done and keep their minor premiership hopes alive.

Back Penrith to Win & Under 48.5 Points @ $2.80

Brisbane Broncos Vs Wests Tigers

Sunday July 18, 4:00pm, Suncorp Stadium

Brisbane has been presented with an excellent opportunity to win consecutive games for the first time since Rounds 1 & 2 of the 2020 season.

While its fair to say 2021 has not gone to plan, there is still plenty to play for at Red Hill over the next eight weeks and the Tigers are a side that Brisbane should fancy its chances against.

Defensively Wests have been nothing short of horrendous over the last few weeks and Brisbane does have the team to score if given the opportunity.

I’ll back the Broncos to get the job done here and get their fifth win of the season to move level on points with the Tigers.

Back Brisbane to Win by 1-12 @ $3.10

South Sydney Rabbitohs Vs Canterbury Bulldogs

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

The Bulldogs gave the Roosters all they could handle last week, can they back it up against the red hot Rabbitohs?

Not in my mind, this is in all likelihood going to end up with a scoreline closer to Souths 38-0 win back in April, than the 22-16 one from Round 17.

A slow day at the office for Souths would be scoring in the mid-20’s but given the Bulldogs general struggles keeping good teams under 30 points, this one could be over and done with early.

Backing any team at this big of a line always comes with a sense of risk but we are seeing more and more blowouts this season and I would not be surprised if Souths put up 50.

Back Souths to Cover -25.5 @ $1.90


2020

It was another profitable weekend for favourites bettors last week and there are a number of opportunities to come out on top yet again with Round 18 on the horizon.

We should receive further clarity on the top eight picture with the Tigers and Rabbitohs squaring off on Thursday night, while the top four is also set for a shake-up when the Panthers and Eels get together on Friday.

With a few loose ends to tie up, we’ve previewed all eight games in our 2020 NRL Round 18 Preview below.

Wests Tigers Vs South Sydney Rabbitohs

Thursday September 10, 7:50pm, Bankwest Stadium

A hard-fought win over Manly was a nice result for Michael Maguire’s Tigers last week, but that still hasn’t helped them close the four-point gap standing between themselves and a spot in the eight.

With only three game left to play, time is quickly running out for Wests to sneak a spot in the finals.

The Tigers won’t hold particularly fond memories of the Rabbitohs either after losing 18-10 to Souths back in Round 9.

To make matters worse, Wayne Bennett’s Bunnies are hoping to bounce-back after folding in the late stages against the Storm last week.

There was plenty of merit in the Rabbitohs’ first half performance, but they too find themselves with work to do after sliding back down to seventh on the ladder.

Dane Gagai is expected to return this week for South Sydney, while the Tigers remain relatively unchanged.

Typically speaking, the Bunnies have been a great bet on the back of a loss going 5-3 over the last calendar year and they do look the likely winner here with three wins in their last five games against the Tigers.

Wests currently own only one win over a current top eight side, so this sets up as a perfect rebound for the Rabbitohs.

Tip: Back the Rabbitohs to Cover the Line (-8 Points) @ $2.00

Canterbury Bulldogs Vs Manly Sea Eagles

Friday September 11, 6:00pm, ANZ Stadium

The Sea Eagles will be hoping for a repeat performance of their 32-6 win over the Bulldogs back in Round 3 when they face off against Canterbury for a second time on Friday night.

Manly hasn’t tasted a win since July, but that hasn’t stopped the bookies from installing them as the odds-on favourites.

Speaking of favourites, the Dogs are now into a very short price to take out this year’s wooden spoon.

Canterbury came up four points short to the Titans last week and this appears to be their last shot at a victory with the Rabbitohs and Panthers ahead on the schedule.

This might also be Manly’s last chance to end the season on a high note with the frisky Titans and Warriors up next, although they will have to go without winger Jorge Taufua, who tore his calf in last Saturday’s loss to the Tigers.

The Dogs are battered and bruised themselves after Dylan Napa suffered a ligament tear last week.

Kieran Foran is also in some doubt with a pec injury.

With all this in mind, a low-scoring game appears to be the safest bet.

The Total has gone Under in each of the Dogs’ last four home games against Manly, so we’re tipping points to come at a premium.

Tip: Under the Points Total

Penrith Panthers Vs Parramatta Eels

Friday September 11, 7:55pm, Panthers Stadium

A six-point loss to the Eels back in Round 5 helped kick-start Penrith’s current 12-game winning streak and they appear a great bet to extend that record even further on Friday night against an underperforming Eels side.

Parramatta walked away with the chocolates on Sunday against the Warriors, but their defence through the middle left a lot to be desired.

Life is about to get even tougher for coach Brad Arthur with Dylan Brown likely out for the remainder of the season.

The Panthers, meanwhile, should receive an added boost in the form of electrifying winger Charlie Staines, while Isaah Yeo remains a good chance to play after suffering a head knock.

Parramatta has really struggled to play a full 80-minutes over the last six weeks, which doesn’t bode particularly well against a Panthers side that ranks second in the league in points and tries.

The Eels have scored over 20 points only once in their last six games and they won’t find this any easier in front of a hostile Panthers crowd.

Penrith has covered in four of its last six games as the line favourite at home, so back the Panthers to cover.

Tip: Back the Panthers to Cover the Line (-6.5 Points) @ $2.00

St George Illawarra Dragons Vs Canberra Raiders

Saturday September 12, 3:00pm, WIN Stadium

The Dragons and the Raiders are both hoping to make up for lost time after suffering respective losses last week.

St George lost a thriller to the Cowboys in extra time last Sunday, while the Raiders failed to fire in their Grand Final rematch against the Roosters.

The situation is much more dire for the Saints as they now find themselves sitting six points off the eight-placed Sharks.

Canberra, meanwhile, has done enough to play finals, but there is still time to sneak back into the top four if results go the Raiders’ way.

The Green Machine took care of the Dragons with a 22-16 victory at home back in July and the trends suggest they should repeat that performance on Saturday.

The Raiders have been an outstanding bet on the back of a previous loss covering in five of their last six games and they should enjoy plenty of opportunities to score after the Dragons gave up three tries in the second half last week.

Tip: Back the Raiders to Cover the Line (-6.5 Points) @ $2.00

Gold Coast Titans Vs Brisbane Broncos

Saturday September 12, 5:30pm, CBUS Super Stadium

The second Queensland Derby of the year kicks off on Saturday afternoon with plenty at stake for the Broncos.

Brisbane still find themselves only two points above the bottom dwelling Bulldogs on the ladder, but they should fancy their chances this week following a very brave effort against the Panthers last Thursday night.

The Titans will no doubt relish the chance to get one over their rivals though, much like they did back in June with a 30-12 victory at Suncorp.

It is fair to say the Titans have enjoyed the better part of this matchup in recent years with two wins from their last three games against the Broncos, but there is something to be said for Brisbane’s record when playing on the Gold Coast.

The Broncos have won their last five games at CBUS dating back to 2015, so with almost equal value on offer at the line as there is head-to-head, it’s probably worth taking Brisbane with a little insurance.

Tip: Back the Broncos to Cover the Line (+3.5 Points) @ $2.00

Sydney Roosters Vs Newcastle Knights

Saturday September 12, 7:35pm, SCG

The Roosters and the Knights headline Super Saturday, but like the odds suggest, this one could be a little one sided.

Kalyn Ponga is set to be rested with a broken nose, which has left the Roosters as the heavy favourites in the market shooting for four wins in a row.

The Roosters were enormous last week in their Grand Final rematch win over the Raiders, a performance the defending champs are likely to repeat if captain Jake Friend returns to the side this week.

Sydney has the wood over the Knights winning seven of their last eight meetings and they are almost impossible to tip against with the SCG advantage.

James Tedesco has looked unstoppable in the last two weeks, and with the Knights missing several of their top stars, this one really isn’t worth overthinking.

Tip: Back the Roosters to Cover the Line (-17.5 Points) @ $2.00

Melbourne Storm Vs North Queensland Cowboys

Sunday September 12,4:05pm, Sunshine Coast Stadium

The Storm have successfully put their Round 15 loss behind them with back-to-back wins over the Sea Eagles and Rabbitohs.

A trip back to the Sunshine Coast awaits this week for Craig Bellamy’s side and they should have no trouble disposing of a Cowboys outfit that required extra time to put away the Dragons last week.

Normally by this point in the season Bellamy is considering resting his players, but the Storm still find themselves three points off the ladder leading Panthers.

Coen Hess is set to return from suspension this week for the Cowboys, while Jason Taumalolo and Michael Morgan remain a chance to play in the final game of the season.

The Storm should also be boosted by Nelson Asofa-Solomona’s potential return.

Inclusions aside, Melbourne has won 10 straight over the Cowboys dating back to 2016 and are also a perfect 4-0 on the Sunshine Coast.

Josh Addo-Carr and company seem to play some of their best footy in the Sunshine State, so everything points to a Storm blowout.

Tip: Back the Storm to Cover the Line (-18.5 Points) @ $2.00

Cronulla Sharks Vs New Zealand Warriors

Sunday September 12, 6:30pm, Nestrata Jubilee Stadium

The NRL has saved the best for last this week in a game that could really help decide the top eight once and for all.

Cronulla simply needs to win to hold on to their spot in the finals, while the 10th placed Warriors can close the gap sitting just four points behind.

New Zealand proved to everyone that they are a worthy contender in their 24-17 loss last week against the Eels, a performance they are sure to build on with their season on the line.

The Warriors pulled off two of the most memorable tries in the history of the game on the stroke of half time, and they might just go one better on Sunday against a Sharks team that gave up 38 points to the Knights.

Shaun Johnson is a chance at returning this week for the Sharks, but that still mightn’t be enough to stop the Kiwis through the middle.

The Sharks did get the better of the Warriors back in July with a punishing 46-10 victory, but that was before the Kiwis discovered their new spark.

New Zealand has covered in each of its last seven games and they appear great value to extend that record against a questionable Sharks side.

Tip: Back the Warriors to Cover the Line (+5.5 Points) @ $2.00


2019

State Of Origin is now in the books for another season and now all focus returns to the NRL and the race for the top eight.

The Melbourne Storm have kicked well clear at the top of the ladder and look all but certain to claim the minor premiership, but there are only seven points seperating the South Sydney Rabbitohs in second and the Brisbane Broncos in 13th.

Every game this weekend is set to have some bearing on the final make-up of the top eight and our complete 2019 NRL Round 18 tips can be found below.

Brisbane Broncos Vs Canterbury Bulldogs

Thursday July 18, 7:55pm, Suncorp Stadium

The Canterbury Bulldogs go into this clash on the back of two wins, but they will still start this clash with the Brisbane Broncos as clear underdogs.

They showed plenty of resilience in their victory over the Newcastle Knights and they have now won four of their past 11 games as away underdogs for a small profit.

In saying that, their recent record in Brisbane is poor and the home side has won the past six matches played between these two sides.

The Broncos came from behind to take their clash with the New Zealand Warriors to Golden Point and missed a number of opportunities to steal the two points.

Brisbane have won only five of their past ten matches as home favourites for a loss and they are 4-6 against the line in this scenario.

Back Broncos To Win By 1-12 @ $2.90

NRL Same Game Multi

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New Zealand Warriors Vs Cronulla Sharks

Friday July 19, 6:00pm, Westpac Stadium

The Cronulla Sharks are in the middle of a truly horror injury crisis and they go into this clash with the New Zealand Warriors on the back of a four game losing streak.

They will still start this clash as favourites and they have proven to be a trustworthy betting proposition in this position.

Cronulla have won three of their past four games as away favourites and they have covered the line in both of these victories.

New Zealand failed to take their chances against the Brisbane Broncos last weekend and their recent record against the Sharks does not inspire confidence.

They have lost their past four games against their rivals and haven’t beaten them at home since 2014.

This is the Sharks chance to return to winning form and they can cover the line in the process.

Back The Sharks To Cover The Line (-2.5 Points) @ $1.95

NRL Same Game Multi

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Penrith Panthers Vs St George Illawarra Dragons

Friday July 19, 7:55pm, Panthers Stadium

The Penrith Panthers go into this clash with the St George Illawarra Dragons as clear favourites after recording their sixth win on the trot last weekend.

The Panthers were able to dismantle a very flat Gold Coast Titans outfit and they will be even better when Nathan Cleary returns to the side.

That was the first game in their winning streak that they have won by 13+ and backing them to win by 1-12 has been a profitable betting play this season.

The Dragons produced an awful effort against the Canberra Raiders last weekend and they are a side that has lost their way during the State Of Origin period.

They have won four of their past ten games as away underdogs for a profit, but they are 5-5 against the line in this scenario and it is impossible to trust them on their recent form.

Penrith should be able to extend their winning streak in what I expect to be a low-scoring game.

Back The Panthers To Win By 1-12 @ $3.10

NRL Same Game Multi

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Sydney Roosters Vs Newcastle Knights

Saturday July 20, 3:00pm, SCG

The Sydney Roosters clearly missed James Tedesco last weekend and they suffered a shock loss at the hands of the North Queensland Cowboys.

They have now won only two of their past seven matches, but they will still start this clash with the Newcastle Knights as clear favourites.

The Roosters have won nine of their past 12 games as home favourites and they are 7-5 against the line in this scenario, while they have won six of their past seven games against the Knights.

Newcastle produced a poor effort go down to the Canterbury Bulldogs last Friday night, but they are set to be buoyed by the return of Kalyn Ponga.

The Knights have won four of their past nine games as away underdogs this season for a profit and they are 5-4 against the line in this scenario.

Back The Roosters To Win 13+ @ $2.30

NRL Same Game Multi

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Canberra Raiders Vs Wests Tigers

Saturday July 20, 5:30pm, GIO Stadium

The Canberra Raiders returned to winning form with a dominant win over the St George Illawarra Dragons and they are clear favourites to claim back-to-back wins.

GIO Stadium has been something of a fortress for Canberra this season and they have won five of their seven games as home favourites, while they are a profitable betting play against the line in this scenario.

The Wests Tigers were no match for the Parramatta Eels last weekend and they were beaten 28-0 when these two teams met earlier this season.

Wests have won only three of their past eight games as away underdogs, but they are 5-3 against the line in this scenario.

In saying that, their recent record against the Raiders has been poor and they have won only one of the past six games played between the two sides.

Canberra have too much attacking quality for the Tigers and should be able to record a comfortable win.

Back The Raiders To Cover The Line (-5.5 Points) @ $1.90

NRL Same Game Multi

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North Queensland Cowboys Vs South Sydney Rabbitohs

Saturday July 20, 7:35pm, 1300Smiles Stadium

The North Queensland Cowboys got themselves back into top eight contention with a win over the Sydney Roosters last weekend, but they face another tough challenge against the South Sydney Rabbitohs.

North Queensland have won only one of their past six games as away underdogs and their record against the line isn’t much better, while they were comfortably beaten by the Rabbitohs when they met earlier this season.

South Sydney got out of jail against the Manly Sea Eagles last weekend to end their losing streak and they will start this clash as narrow favourites.

They have won only four of their past nine games as away favourites and they are a terrible 2-1-6 against the line in this scenario.

No Bet

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Gold Coast Titans Vs Melbourne Storm

Sunday July 21, 2:00pm, CBus Super Stadium

It has been the season from hell for the Gold Coast Titans and they sacked coach Gareth Brennan following their heavy loss to the Penrith Panthers last weekend.

The new coach bounce can offer be a positive, look at Carlton in the AFL, but it really is extremely difficult to see the Titans beating the Melbourne Storm.

The Titans have won only three of their past 12 games in front of their home fans, but they are 5-2 against the line as home underdogs.

Melbourne made it eight wins on the trot with a dominant win over the Cronulla Shark’s in Cameron Smith’s 400th game and it would now take a late season meltdown for them now to claim another minor premiership.

The Storm have won nine of their past 12 games as away favourites, but they are only a flat 6-6 against the line in this scenario.

This is a game that Melbourne should win, but it would not surprise to see the Titans produce an improved effort and they can cover the line of 10.5 points.

Back The Titans To Cover The Line (+10.5 Points)

NRL Same Game Multi

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Manly Sea Eagles Vs Paramatta Eels

Sunday July 21, 4:05pm, Brookvale Oval

This is a huge game for both sides as they look to secure a position in the top eight.

The Manly Sea Eagles were unlucky not to get the two points against the South Sydney Rabbitohs last weekend and they will go into this clash as favourites.

Manly have won three of their past five games as home favourites and they have covered the line in each of these wins.

The Parramatta made it three wins on the trot with an impressive effort against the Eels and they have now pulled themselves inside the top eight.

Winning away from home does continue to be an issue for the side and they have won only one of their past eight games as away underdogs, while they are a poor 2-6 against the line in this scenario.

Manly are a side that I consider to be genuine premiership dark horses and, if that is going to be the case, they should be able to win this clash.

Back The Sea Eagles To Cover The Line (-5.5 Points)

NRL Same Game Multi

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2018

Our eyes might be on Origin Game 3, but it’s tough to ignore what Round 18 holds in store for footy fans this week.

With just two months left until finals, we focus our attention on a huge eight game slate featuring plenty of ladder implications and upset potential across the board.

Top 4? Top 8? What changes will we see following another action-packed weekend in footy?

Find out below as we preview NRL Round 18 and offer all of our top tips!

Penrith Panthers Vs Cronulla Sharks

Friday 13 July, 6:00pm, Panthers Stadium

https://vimeo.com/279375522

Home field advantage can make a world of difference, as we saw last week during the Panthers’ 36-4 win over the Warriors.

It looked as though Penrith’s spot in the Top 4 was fading, but Anthony Griffin’s side rose to the occasion, piling on six unanswered tries during Friday nights drubbing.

That win sees the Panthers riding into this week’s game beaming confidence, but a well-rested Sharks team is no easy-beat.

Cronulla, two weeks removed from their own triumph over New Zealand, have had two weeks to prepare for this one, and as their 5-3 away record suggests, they are every chance to pinch the points.

As it turns out, history is on the Sharks’ side too – Cronulla have won four of their last five against the Panthers, while also holding an impressive 5-2 record as the away underdogs against Penrith.

Perhaps the most impressive part of this Sharks outfit is their overall resiliency. That last-minute win over the Warriors two weeks ago said something: this team just won’t quit.

The first half was miserable for Cronulla, playing defence for most of the opening 40-minutes. Then the Sharks’ leadership took over, eventually resulting in Edrick Lee’s game-winning try.

That kind of determination was also on display for the Panthers last week. Penrith dominated in just about every statistical category, but most importantly, their defence around the line looked back to its old, strong self.

These two played out a close 26-22 affair back in Round 7, a game the Sharks won. The Panthers will want revenge on Cronulla this week, but since it’s a matter of “which Panthers side will show up?”, they are a tough team to trust.

The Sharks, now one of the top attacking sides in the competition, should take another close one.

Back Cronulla Sharks to Win 1-12 @ $2.90

[matchmodule matchid=" 58185325" no="1"]

Newcastle Knights Vs Parramatta Eels

Friday 13 July, 8:00pm, McDonald Jones Stadium

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It’s hardly the game of the round, but a week off for both the Eels and the Knights could turn this bottom dweller affair into quite the slobber-knocker.

The Eels most recent outing came against the Dragons back in Round 16, a game they should have taken a lot away from. Parramatta led for most of the game before surrendering a late try to Matt Dufty, handing St. George a close 20-18 victory.

Things didn’t turn out quite so well for the Knights however, falling to 6-10 on the season behind a 20-point loss to the Bulldogs at home.

We’re now set up for what could be quite the entertaining affair, even if Round 13’s meeting says otherwise.

These two met only a month ago, a game that saw the Knights win comfortably in the end. Parra’s defence was horrible that day, missing 28 tackles whilst failing to contain Newcastle’s attacking runs.

Having won three of the last five meetings, it’s almost surprising to see the Knights start out as underdogs here. Their 2-8 record as the underdog should have punters wary, but it’s not like the Eels have been any more convicning than Newcastle this season.

It’s worth noting that last time these two met, five different  Knights played scored tries. Their ball possession was amazing all game, and there’s a reason Newcastle rank first in the league in set completion.

With fresh legs and clear minds, the Knights should be able to distance themselves from the bottom four and treat the home crowd to just their third win at McDonald’s Jones Stadium this week.

Back Newcastle Knights to Win @ $2.00

[matchmodule matchid=" 58186417" no="2"]

Canterbury Bulldogs Vs South Sydney Rabbitohs

Saturday 14 July, 3:00pm, ANZ Stadium

https://vimeo.com/279375464

Picture this: the Rabbitohs are going to win nine-straight games.

A week off, and what looks to be an easy game in hand – what could possibly go wrong?

The Bulldogs too have tasted the winners circle recently, having beaten Newcastle back in Round 16. The hosts were particularly impressive in that game with the chips down, relishing their underdog role following a fortnight of free agency and front office criticism. The same can’t be said for last week’s heartachce against the Raiders, though.

It’s safe to say this game looks a little beyond Canterbury, and as their 6-2 record on the road shows, the Rabbitohs are capable of piling on points away from home.

Souths have won three of their last five meetings against the Dogs, and also own a 5-0 record as the away favourites over the last 12 months.

Even in close games, the Rabbitohs have held their nerve, evident in their one-point victory over the Cowboys a fortnight ago. Late challenges in the final ten minutes would crumble most teams, but the Bunnies have been able to pull out the stops, a characteristic of a team capable of winning the grand final.

This is the kind of game Souths will look to not only make a statement in, but also pull clear of second on the ladder.

Back South Sydney to Win By 13+ @ $2.00

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Manly Sea Eagles Vs Melbourne Storm

Saturday 14 July, 5:30pm, Brookvale Oval

https://vimeo.com/279375507

The Storm pulled off something quite remarkable last week.

In what looked to be a close game all the way to the finish, Melbourne put up four unanswered tries against the Dragons in the span of nine-minutes. Eventually winning 52-30, the Storm’s resounding win put the whole league on notice: this team is coming for another trophy.

Since it’s Origin week, some might give Manly a slither of hope in this fixture, and since they are playing at home, there’s certainly a case to be made.

Unfortunately for those optimistic punters, Manly’s form this season isn’t the only thing going against them this week – the Sea Eagles have won just two of their last five against the Storm.

But what about Round 11?

Indeed, the Sea Eagles manhandled the Storm, winning convincingly 24-4. That was a different Melbourne side, though, and if you’ve been paying attention over these last few weeks, the Storm’s defence has gone up a notch.

As the underdog, Manly are an ordinary 2-3 against the Storm, while Melbourne own an impressive 5-3 record away from home.

More importantly, though, it’s Melbourne’s depth that can really sting a team. Missing some of their usual faces due to Origin, names like Jahrome Hughes and Ryley Jacks turned up to play against the Dragons, both nabbing a try each.

The Sea Eagles have a right to hold their head high following Round 16’s success over Penrith, but it’s just so hard to find faith in this team. One week they look fierce, the next they look flat. Don’t back against the Storm.

Back Melbourne Storm 1-12 @ $2.80

[matchmodule matchid=" 58187451" no="4"]

Canberra Raiders Vs North Queensland Cowboys

Saturday 14 July, 7:35pm, GIO Stadium

https://vimeo.com/279375479

It took everything they had, but the important thing is the Raiders got the job done against the Bulldogs.

Perhaps the slim chance of playing finals willed the Canberra over the line, or maybe it was just the Dogs shocking defence in the final 20-minutes, whatever it was, two tries in the 77th and 78th minute sees the Raiders cling to the ninth spot on the ladder.

Meanwhile, back in Cowboys camp, North Queensland enjoyed a week off, plenty of time to mull over Round 16’s heartbreaking disappointment against the Rabbitohs.

Having now lost three straight, the Cowboys will fancy themselves a chance on the road here, but it’s safe to say punters will be a little wary of that 2-6 away record.

Head-to-head, North Queensland hold an ugly 5-6 record as the away underdogs, but Canberra’s 5-4 record as the favourite in home games isn’t all that convincing either.

So who gets the chocolates?

When these two clashed back in Round 8, it was the Raiders who walked away with an 18-8 victory. In classic 2018 Cowboys fashion, North Queensland dominated possession during that game, and even finished with a higher completion rate, but still failed to score a try past the 20-minute mark.

Believe it or not, the Raiders on the other hand have been one of the top scoring sides in the competition. Lady luck certainly hasn’t been on the Canberra’s side, but this is a must-win occasion for the green machine if they wish to play finals. With that in mind, the Raiders should win this in convincing fashion at home.

Back Canberra Raiders to Win By 13+ @ $3.20

[matchmodule matchid=" 58188189" no="5"]

Brisbane Broncos Vs New Zealand Warriors

Sunday 15 July, 2:00pm, Suncorp Stadium

https://vimeo.com/279375450

A week ago the Broncos looked in doubt to play finals, now… not so much.

Piling on 34-points against the Titans away from home has Brisbane fans up and about, and with a home game against the Warriors up next, confidence is certainly riding high.

The Warriors have had a horrid patch of form recently, losing two straight games, with the last being an embarrassing display against the Panthers last week.

It goes without saying, New Zealand are pretty great on the road, though. Despite last week’s frustrations, the Warriors still hold a 6-2 record away from home, and they’ve certainly found some wins at Suncorp Stadium over the years.

It almost feels like these two teams have swapped roles recently. The Warriors were rolling earlier in the year, scoring points for fun, while the Broncos were the inconsistent team with plenty of question marks.

Whether or not these two sides return to their old ways remains to be seen, but this is a big test for both. A Warriors win would see them leapfrog Brisbane for seventh on the ladder, but if New Zealand were to lose, Brisbane could move as high as fifth.

The great thing about Brisbane’s last week, was their ability to finally play as a team. They forced Gold Coast into a handful of errors, and the younger names more than stepped up. A big effort from the likes of Joe Ofahengaue went a long way, and if Brisbane get the same kind of production from Anthony Milford again, they should reap the rewards here at home.

Back Brisbane to Beat The Line (-2.5 Points) @ $1.91

[matchmodule matchid=" 58188344" no="6"]

St. George Dragons Vs Wests Tigers

Sunday 15 July, 4:10pm, Jubilee Oval

https://vimeo.com/279375485

Just when we thought we had the Dragons figured out, they fall miserably to the Storm by 22-points.

St. George had every chance last Thursday night against Melbourne, but failed to find the winning formula, or more importantly, the defensive formula.

Allowing four unanswered tries in a 10-minute span is inexcusable, but this isn’t the first time we’ve seen the Dragons unable to play a full 80-minutes of consistent football.

The Tigers themselves have hit a severe road block, and it appears all the talent in the world couldn’t help Wests end this sour month and a half of four straight losses.

Still, this Tigers lineup packs plenty of sting, and if the Dragons aren’t careful, they could fall even further down the ladder.

Head-to-head St. George hold an impressive 6-1 record as the home favourites, while the Tigers are 6-10 as the underdog in all games over the last 12 months.

Since this is the first meeting between the two this year, it’s tough to get a read on how the two match up, but one thing is for sure, the Dragons need to turn all of their possession into points this week if they are to hang towards the top of the table.

Back St. George Dragons to Win 1-12 @ $2.80

[matchmodule matchid=" 58188407" no="7"]

Gold Coast Titans Vs Sydney Roosters

Sunday 15 July, 6:35pm, Cbus Super Stadium

https://vimeo.com/279375527

The Titans had a Top 8 position in their fingertips, but let it all slip away last week in a less than impressive performance at home against the Broncos.

Sydney, meanwhile, come into Sunday’s closing game with fresh legs following a week off, but the Roosters will be keen to put Round 16’s disappointment against the Storm behind them.

The Roosters have been kind to punters for most of the season, but their 4-3 record on the road might keep a few at bay this week. Gold Coast on the other hand, also own an ordinary 2-5 record as the home underdog this year.

A lot has happened since these two met back in Round 12, but the Roosters still look primed to put up another 20-point belting. Since then Sydney have limited all four of their opponents to under 20-points, and with the Titans struggling to hit the scoreboard at home, they’re in for a tough Sunday afternoon.

Back Sydney Roosters to Win 1-12 @ $3.00

[matchmodule matchid=" 58188479" no="8"]

2018

This is the final round of the 2017 NRL season in which State Of Origin players are not available and there are only four games set to take place this weekend.

The rivalry between the Sydney Roosters and the South Sydney Rabbitohs is one of the fiercest in the NRL and they will renew acquaintances on Friday night.

The Penrith Panthers are now four points outside the top eight and must beat the Manly Sea Eagles to stay in touch, while the Parramatta Eels can solidify their place in the top eight with a win over an undermanned Melbourne Storm.

We have closely analysed every game this weekend and our complete 2017 NRL round 18 tips can be found below.

Sydney Roosters Vs South Sydney Rabbitohs

Friday 7 July, 7:50pm, Allianz Stadium

Sydney Roosters 14 - South Sydney Rabbitohs 12

The Sydney Roosters are missing a host of players due to State Of Origin commitments and because of that it is the South Sydney Rabbitohs that will start this clash as clear favourites.

South Sydney made it two wins on the trot with an excellent victory over the Penrith Panthers and they are finally starting to play the type of football that they are capable of.

The Rabbitohs have won four of their past seven games as favourites for a loss, but they are 4-3 against the line in this scenario for a profit.

The Roosters were awful against the Cronulla Sharks last weekend and they go into this clash without Boyd Cordner, Mitchell Pearce, Blake Ferguson and Dylan Napa.

Winning as underdogs has been an issue for the Roosters and they have won only two of their past nine games as underdogs, while they are 4-5 against the line in this scenario.

A full-strength South Sydney side really should be too strong for the undermanned Roosters and they can cover the line in the process.

Back South Sydney Rabbitohs To Beat The Line (-4 Points)

[matchmodule matchid=" 282521118 " no="1"]

Penrith Panthers Vs Manly Sea Eagles

Saturday 8 July, 5:30pm, Pepper Stadium

Penrith Panthers 16 - Manly Sea Eagles 8

The market expects this game to be the tightest of the weekend and there is no separating these two sides in betting.

Manly received a big boost when Daly Cherry-Evans was overlooked for State Of Origin selection and he could really prove to be the difference in this clash.

The Sea-Eagles came from behind to beat the New Zealand Warriors last weekend and they have won six of their past nine games away from home.

Penrith produced one of their worst performances of the season to go down to South Sydney last weekend and they really do look like a club in crisis.

The Panthers have won 12 of their past 19 games at home for a loss and they have been a tough side to trust in recent weeks.

Backing Manly has been a profitable betting play all season long and there is no reason to jump-off this weekend.

Back Manly Sea Eagles To Win @ $1.90

[matchmodule matchid=" 28252113 " no="2"]

Melbourne Storm Vs Parramatta Eels

Saturday 8 July, 7:30pm, AAMI Park

Melbourne Storm 6 - Parramatta Eels 22

The Melbourne Storm are another side that are badly affected by State Of Origin commitments and the Parramatta Eels will start this clash as favourites.

They required golden-point to do it, but the Eels recorded their fourth win from their past five games with their victory over the Canterbury Bulldogs and they are now entrenched in the top eight.

Parramatta have won two of their past three games as away favourites and they have the same record against the line in this scenario.

The Melbourne Storm are missing six players due to State Of Origin commitments and this will be a real test of the depth of the Storm side.

Melbourne have got the job done without their State Of Origin stars so far this season, but the fact that Cameron Munster has been called up to the Queensland side is a big loss.

The unavailability of the majority of the Storm’s stars makes this a tricky game to analyse from a betting standpoint and this is a clash that I am keen to stay out of.

No Bet

[matchmodule matchid=" 28252115 " no="3"]

Canterbury Bulldogs Vs Newcastle Knights

Sunday 9 July, 4:00pm, Belmore Sports Ground

Canterbury Bulldogs 20 - Newcastle Knights 18

The pressure is well and truly on at both Canterbury and Newcastle.

Canterbury have lost six of their past seven games, but they have won their past four against the Newcastle Knights and they will start this clash as clear favourites.

The Bulldogs have won only two of their past four games as home favourites and they are an extremely poor 0-4 against the line in this scenario.

Newcastle’s chances of avoiding the wooden spoon took a huge blow when they went down to the Wests Tigers last weekend and they have still only won two games so far this season.

It has been almost two years since the Knights last won a game at home and they are 5-6 against the line in this scenario.

Neither of these teams has shown anything in attack in recent weeks and this is a game where the value really does look to lie with the Under in the Total Points betting market.

The Under has saluted in nine of the past 13 games played by the Bulldogs at home and has been a profitable betting play in Knights games so far this season.

Back Under 42.5 Points

[matchmodule matchid=" 28252117 " no="4"]

2016

This is the last round of the NRL season that will not feature State Of Origin players as they will be in camp in the lead-up to the final game of the 2016 State Of Origin Series.

The Parramatta Eels will have the chance to record an upset win over the Sydney Roosters, who will be without their State Of Origin stars, while the North Queensland Cowboys always struggle without the likes of Johnathan Thurston and Matthew Scott in their side.

Parramatta Eels Vs Sydney Roosters

Friday 8 June, 7:50pm, Pirtek Stadium

Parramatta Eels 22 - Sydney Roosters 18

The Parramatta Eels missed out on a golden opportunity to record a fourth win on the trot when they threw away a lead against the Cronulla Sharks last weekend, but they will still start this clash as clear favourites.

The Eels have struggled to turn Pirtek Stadium into a fortress in the past 12 months and their record at the venue as favourites is a very poor 1-3 in both head to head and line betting markets.

Uncertainty continues to circle the club as there is plenty of speculation about when the NRL will make their final decision on how many points will actually be stripped from the Eels as well as the future of Kieran Foran.

The Roosters have played some decent rugby league in the past two weeks, but a lack of execution at key moments saw them suffer narrow defeats at the hands of the New Zealand Warriors and the Canterbury Bulldogs.

They have been a tough side to trust from a betting perspective, but they have actually won two of their past six games as away underdogs and they are 4-2 against the line in this metric.

The Roosters are building towards a victory and I am keen to back them with the added insurance of a 2.5 point start.

Recommended Bet: Back The Roosters To Beat The Line (+2.5 Points)

[matchmodule matchid="21473758" no="1"]

Canterbury Bulldogs Vs Wests Tigers

Saturday 9 July, 7:30pm, ANZ Stadium

Canterbury Bulldogs 32 - Wests Tigers 22

This is a very tough game to analyse as both teams will be missing key players due to State Of Origin commitments.

Canterbury have the advantage of still having the majority of their spine together and they go into this clash on the back of three straight wins over the St George Illawarra Dragons, Brisbane Broncos and Sydney Roosters.

While the Bulldogs are deserving favourites, they have been a far from reliable betting proposition in this situation and they are 6-4 in head to head betting and 3-7 against the line.

Wests returned to winning form with an upset win over the Penrith Panthers, but they will go into this clash without Aaron Woods, Robbie Farah and James Tedesco.

This will put a great deal of pressure on young halves Luke Brooks and Mitchell Moses and how they react could go a long way to deciding the outcome of this game.

The Tigers have won three of their ten games as away favourites in the past 12 months for healthy profit, but they are only 5-5 against the line in this situation.

There are too many unknowns heading into this clash – especially with Tedesco not in the Tigers side – and this is a game that I am happy to stay out of from a betting perspective.

Recommended Bet: No Bet

[matchmodule matchid="15678488" no="2"]

Penrith Panthers Vs Cronulla Sharks

Sunday 10 July, 4:00pm, Pepper Stadium

Penrith Panthers 10 - Cronulla Sharks 26

The Cronulla Sharks made it 12 wins on the trot with their come from behind win over the Parramatta Eels last weekend, but they will be without a host of regular starters due to State Of Origin commitments and they will start this game as clear underdogs.

There is no doubt that the Sharks have been the best betting team in the NRL for the past 12 months and they have been a profitable betting play in just about every metric.

They may be without their State Of Origin stars, but they have still won three of their past six games as away underdogs and they are 4-2 against the line in that scenario.

Penrith threw away a golden opportunity to record their third straight win when they lost to the the Wests Tigers last weekend and they continue to be a tough team to trust from a betting perspective.

The Panthers have won four of their past six games as home favourites for a very narrow profit, but they are 2-4 against the line in this scenario and it is always tough to work out what Panthers side will turn up week to week.

While the Sharks are well and truly under-strength, they are a team that has built up an excellent culture and it would not surprise if they went very close to continuing their incredible winning streak.

Recommended Bet: Back The Cronulla Sharks To Beat The Line (+7.5 Points)

[matchmodule matchid="15678497" no="3"]

Canberra Raiders Vs North Queensland Cowboys

Monday 11 July, 7:30pm, GIO Stadium

West Coast Eagles 130 - Essendon 52

The North Queensland Cowboys a narrow victory and they have an excellent record against the Raiders in recent years, but they will go into this clash without a host of their regular starters.

Coach Paul Green has been forced to name a host of young talent in his side to replace the likes of Johnathan Thurston, Gavin Cooper, James Tamou, Matt Scott and Justin O’Neill, while they are still without Michael Morgan due to injury.

The Cowboys have proven to be a losing betting team as away underdogs in the past 12 months and it is tough to see that changing without this string of stars in the side.

The Canberra Raiders managed to take the two points from their clash with the Newcastle Knights, but they did not make it look easy after giving up a 22 point start.

The slow start overshadowed the fact that the Raiders have now won five out of their past six games and only a late season fade will cost them a return to finals football.

They have now improved their record as home favourites to 7-3 for a narrow profit, but they are still only 5-5 against the line in this scenario and they are 6-8 when being given a start at the line.

Canberra really should win this game, but the market appears to have got this clash just about right and it is another game that I am happy to stay out of this weekend.

Recommended Bet: No Bet

[matchmodule matchid="15678503" no="4"]