2018 NRL Round 20 Preview

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We have reached a truly intriguing stage of the 2017 NRL season and the fight for positions in the top four is on in earnest.

There are only six points between the Melbourne Storm in first and the Parramatta Eels in seventh on the NRL Ladder, while the Manly Sea Eagles, Brisbane Broncos, Cronulla Sharks and North Queensland Cowboys are all equal on 26 competitions points.

There is finals relevance in every single game this weekend and our complete 2017 NRL Round 20 tips can be found below.

Brisbane Broncos Vs Canterbury Bulldogs

Thursday 20 July, 7:50pm, Suncorp Stadium

Brisbane Broncos 42 - Canterbury Bulldogs 12

The Canterbury Bulldogs beat the Brisbane Broncos earlier this season, but it is the Broncos that will start this clash as clear favourites.

It wasn’t their best performance, but the Broncos were still able to take the two points from their clash with the Newcastle Knights and their record at Suncorp Stadium this season has been strong.

Brisbane have won ten of their past 12 games as home favourites for a clear profit and they are 6-6 against the line in this scenario.

Canterbury went into their bye on the back of a come-from-behind win over the Knights, but they have won only two of their past eight games.

The Bulldogs have lost their past eight games as away underdogs and they are a poor 3-5 against the line in this scenario.

This is a game that the market looks to have got just about right and I am happy to stay out from a betting perspective.

No Bet

Sydney Roosters Vs Newcastle Knights

Friday 21 July, 6:00pm, Allianz Stadium

Sydney Roosters 28 - Newcastle Knights 4

The Sydney Roosters are the shortest-priced favourites of the weekend in the NRL and they really should be too strong for the Newcastle Knights.

Sydney went into the bye with a gutsy win over the South Sydney Rabbitohs and they have been easy to trust in these sorts of games this season.

The Roosters have won six of their past eight games as home favourites for a clear profit, but they are only 2-6 against the line in this scenario.

Newcastle produced a solid performance against the Brisbane Broncos last weekend, but it still wasn’t enough and it is tough to see them winning another game this season.

The Knights simply can’t win a game away from home and they are 6-6 against the line as away underdogs.

This is a game that the Roosters should win comfortably, but the line of 15.5 points does seem a touch excessive and this is another game that I am keen to stay out of.

No Bet

Cronulla Sharks Vs South Sydney Rabbitohs

Friday 21 July, 7:50pm, Southern Cross Group Stadium

Cronulla Sharks 26 - South Sydney Rabbitohs 12

The Cronulla Sharks suffered a surprise defeat at the hands of the Gold Coast Titans last weekend, but they will still start this clash as clear favourites.

Cronulla have struggled for consistency in recent weeks and their record as home favourites leaves plenty to be desired.

The Sharks have won only six of their past 11 games as home favourites for a clear loss and they are a very poor 2-9 against the line in this scenario.

A lack of ball-security cost the South Sydney Rabbitohs badly against the North Queensland Cowboys and they are now surely out of finals contention.

However, it has been in situations when they have been underestimated by punters that the Rabbitohs have thrived this season.

They have won four of their past seven games as away underdogs and they are a most impressive 6-1 against the line in this scenario.

It is tough to trust South Sydney in their current form, but with a start of 6.5 points they are a great bet to cover the line.

Back South Sydney To Beat The Line (+6.5 Points)

Penrith Panthers Vs Gold Coast Titans

Saturday 22 July, 3:00pm, Pepper Stadium

Penrith Panthers 24 - Gold Coast Titans 16

This is a crucial game for these two sides that currently sit outside the top eight.

It is the Penrith Panthers that will start this clash as favourites after an outstanding individual performance from Nathan Cleary led them to victory against the New Zealand Warriors.

Penrith have now won eight of their past ten games as home favourites for a clear profit and they have an identical record against the line in this scenario.

The Gold Coast Titans made it three wins on the trot with an excellent performance over the Cronulla Sharks in the wet and they will go into this clash with plenty of confidence.

The Titans have won two of their past eight games as away underdogs and they are 4-4 against the line in this scenario.

Penrith do seem to produce their best football at Pepper Stadium and they can keep their finals chances alive with a healthy win over the Titans.

Back Penrith Panthers To Beat The Line (-5.5 Points)

Canberra Raiders Vs Melbourne Storm

Saturday 22 July, 5:30pm, GIO Stadium

Canberra Raiders 14 - Melbourne Storm 20

The Canberra Raiders have the home-ground advantage, but it is the Melbourne Storm that will start this clash as clear favourites.

Melbourne failed to fire without their State Of Origin stats against the Parramatta Eels a fortnight ago, but they are now close to full-strength and ready to start their charge towards the NRL Finals.

The Storm have won nine of their past ten games as away favourites for a clear profit and they are an excellent 7-3 against the line in this scenario.

Canberra returned to winning form with a golden point win over the St George Illawarra Dragons and that last-grasp win kept their slim finals hopes alive.

The Raiders have been a very tough side to trust from a betting perspective this season and they have won only nine of their past 14 games at GIO Stadium, while they are 5-9 against the line in front of their home fans.

Melbourne will prove to be far too polished for the Raiders and they are one of the safest bets of the weekend to cover the line.

Back Melbourne Storm To Beat The Line (-5.5 Points)

North Queensland Cowboys Vs New Zealand Warriors

Saturday 22 July, 7:30pm, 1300Smiles Stadium

North Queensland Cowboys 24 - New Zealand Warriors 12

The North Queensland Cowboys are 3-0 since Johnathan Thurston was ruled out for the rest of the season and they are big favourites to account for the New Zealand Warriors.

The Cowboys produced another complete performance against the South Sydney Rabbitohs last Sunday and the fact that they are playing so well without Thurston and Matt Scott is a tribute to their depth.

North Queensland have won seven of their past ten games as home favourites and they are 5-1-4 against the line in this scenario.

Shaun Johnson looks set to miss the rest of the season and that means big trouble for the New Zealand Warriors.

The Warriors aren’t a great side with Johnson in it, but they are particularly bad when he doesn’t play and they completely capitulated without him in the side at the end of last season.

New Zealand have won only two of their past ten games as away underdogs and things could really get ugly for the rest of the season without Johnson in the side.

North Queensland can make it four wins on the trot with another comfortable victory.

Back North Queensland Cowboys To Beat The Line (-8.5 Points)

St George Dragons Vs Manly Sea Eagles

Sunday 23 July, 2:00pm, WIN Stadium

St George Illawarra Dragons 52 - Manly Sea Eagles 22

This is a massive game for both sides and the St George Illawarra Dragons could potentially find themselves outside the top eight if they fail to get the job done.

The Manly Sea Eagles were slow out of the gates against the Wests Tigers, but they proved too strong for their rivals in the second half and they will go into this clash as clear favourites.

Manly have been particularly strong away from home this season and they have won seven of their past 11 games on the road, while they are 8-3 against the line when playing away from home.

The Dragons lost a golden point thriller against the Canberra Raiders last Friday night and they have now won only one of their past five games.

St George have won only two of their past seven games as home underdogs, but they are 4-3 against the line in this scenario.

Manly are a side that simply has more upside than St George Illawarra and the Sea Eagles can cover the line of 4.5 points.

Back Manly Sea Eagles To Beat The Line (-4.5 Points)

Wests Tigers Vs Parramatta Eels

Sunday 23 July, 4:00pm, ANZ Stadium

Wests Tigers 16 - Parramatta Eels 17

The Parramatta Eels have won three games on the trot and they are clear favourites to account for the Wests Tigers this weekend.

Parramatta went into the bye on the back of a nice win over an undermanned Melbourne Storm and there has been a lot to like about the way that they played in recent weeks.

The Eels have won three of their past four games as away favourites for a clear profit and they are 3-1 against the line in this scenario.

Wests blew a big lead to go down to the Manly Sea Eagles last weekend and they have won only one of their past eight games.

It really is tough to have any faith in the Tigers whatsoever and they have covered the line in only nine of their past 21 games as underdogs for a big loss.

The Tigers really look like they have given up on this season and the Eels are good enough to post a big win.

Back Parramatta Eels To Beat The Line (-8.5 Points)

 


2016

Round 20 of the 2016 NRL season starts with a Thursday night blockbuster between the North Queensland Cowboys and Canterbury Bulldogs before the Brisbane Broncos host the Penrith Panthers on Friday night.

Saturdays games are highlighted by the finals rematch between the Melbourne Storm and Sydney Roosters, while there will be plenty to play for when the South Sydney Rabbitohs take on the Manly Sea Eagles on Monday night.

North Queensland Cowboys Vs Canterbury Bulldogs

Thursday 21 July, 7:50pm, 1300 Smiles Stadium

North Queensland Cowboys 36 - Canterbury Bulldogs 0

The North Queensland Cowboys have won three of their past four games played against the Canterbury Bulldogs and they will go into this clash with their full-strength team for the first time in over a month.

The Cowboys generally struggle during the State Of Origin period and they did drop three games again in 2016, but apart from the suspension of Kyle Feldt they have come through unscathed and are ready for the charge to the finals.

North Queensland will go into this clash as clear favourites and their record in front of their home fans at 1300 Smiles Stadium is nothing short of outstanding – they are 12-1 as home favourites in the past 12 months and are 8-5 against the line in this scenario.

The Bulldogs have flown under the radar in recent weeks, but they have won four games on the trot and are one of the teams that is pushing for a top four finish.

Canterbury have an excellent record on the road and they have actually won four of their past seven games as away underdogs, with an identical record against the line.

The Bulldogs have actually won three of their past four games at 1300 Smiles Stadium and there is definite value at their current price of $2.95 – even if the Cowboys will be tough to beat in front of their home fans.

Recommended Bet: Back The Canterbury Bulldogs To Win @ $2.95

Brisbane Broncos Vs Penrith Panthers

Friday 22 July, 7:50pm, Suncorp Stadium

Brisbane Broncos 12 - Penrith Panthers 31

The Penrith Panthers scored an upset victory over the Brisbane Broncos earlier this season, but it is the Broncos that will go into this clash as very short-priced favourites.

Brisbane ended their losing streak with a professional performance against the South Sydney Rabbitohs and a repeat of that performance would be enough to get the job done against the Panthers this weekend.

The Broncos have not been a winning betting play as home favourites in the past 12 months and their record against the line is this scenario is now a very average 7-7.

Penrith scored a comeback victory over the Parramatta Eels last weekend to stay in touch with the top eight, but you never know what you are going to get from this inconsistent outfit.

The Panthers have struggled away from home in the past 12 months and they have won  just one of their past seven games as away underdogs, but they are 4-3 against the line in this scenario.

The line of 11.5 points does seem a touch on the excessive side – four of the past five games between the two sides have been decided by less than that margin – and I am keen to back the Panthers with the start.

Recommended Bet: Back The Panthers To Beat The Line (+11.5 Points)

Canberra Raiders Vs New Zealand Warriors

Saturday 23 July, 3:00pm, GIO Stadium

Canberra Raiders 26 - New Zealand Warriors 22

This is a crucial game for both sides as the Raiders are pushing for a place in the top four, while the New Zealand Warriors can consolidate their place in the top eight.

Canberra went into their bye on the back of three straight victories and they are set to start this clash as clear favourites.

The Raiders have improved their record as home favourites considerably in recent weeks and they have now won eight of their past 10 games as home favourites, while they are 6-4 against the line in this scenario.

The Warriors missed out on a golden opportunity to claim two points when they went down to the Manly Sea Eagles last weekend and they continue to be a team that is tough to trust from a betting perspective.

They have lost their past seven games as away underdogs and their record against the line in this scenario is a very poor 2-5.

The data suggests that the Canberra Raiders should record a comfortable victory and they can cover the line of 6.5 points.

Recommended Bet: Back The Canberra Raiders To Beat The Line (-6.5 Points)

Gold Coast Titans Vs Parramatta Eels

Saturday 23 July, 5:30pm, Cbus Super Stadium

Gold Coast Titans 34 - Parramatta Eels 14

The Gold Coast Titans  have won five of their past six games against the Parramatta Eels and will go into this clash on Saturday as clear favourites.

The Titans returned to winning form with a comfortable victory over the St George Illawarra Dragons last Friday night and another victory this weekend would solidify their place in the top eight.

Gold Coast have an excellent record at Cbus Super Stadium and they have proven to be a safe betting play as home favourites, with a 3-1 record in both head to head and line betting markets.

Corey Norman will be missing for the Parramatta Eels once again, but they were almost able to get the job done without him against the Penrith Panthers last weekend.

The Eels have won two of their past eight games as away underdogs for a narrow profit, but they are only 4-4 against the line in this scenario and their off-field controversies are sure to catch up with them at some point.

The Titans can get the job done again this weekend and I am happy to back them giving away a start of 6.5 points.

Recommended Bet: Back The Gold Coast Titans To Beat The Line (-6.5 Points)

Melbourne Storm Vs Sydney Roosters

Saturday 23 July, 7:30pm, AAMI Park

Melbourne Storm 26 - Sydney Roosters 10

The Melbourne Storm only narrowly got the job done against the Newcastle Knights last weekend, but they are still clear favourites to get the job done against the Sydney Roosters this weekend.

Outside of the Cronulla Sharks, the Storm have been the dominant side in the NRL in the past three months and their only recent loss came without Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk in the side.

They have won nine of their past 11 games as home favourites and their record against the line in this scenario is a profitable 6-5.

The Sydney Roosters were far from disgraced against the Cronulla Sharks last weekend, but they were still unable to get the job done and they have won just one of their past eight games.

The Roosters have won two of their past six games as away underdogs for a loss, but their record against the line is 4-2 and they have lost only one of their past four games by more than a converted try.

Melbourne deserve to be clear favourites to win this clash, but their is no value at their current quote and the line of 11.5 points seems just about right.

Recommended Bet: No Bet

Cronulla Sharks Vs Newcastle Knights

Sunday 24 July, 2:00pm, Shark Park

Cronulla Sharks 36 - Newcastle Knights 4

This is expected to be one of the biggest mismatches in history of the NRL as the Cronulla Sharks are $1.04 favourites to make it 15 wins on the trot when they face the Newcastle Knights this weekend.

The Sharks were not at their brilliant best against the Sydney Roosters last weekend, but they were still able to get the job done and it is very tough to see them getting beaten by the Knights.

Cronulla have now won nine out of their past 11 games as home favourites, but they are 5-6 against the line in this scenario and they will be giving away a very large start of 24.5 points.

Newcastle have still only won the one game this season, but they have shown some signs of improvement in recent weeks and they were only just beaten by the Melbourne Storm.

In saying that, the Knights remain a very tough team to trust from a betting perspective and they have won just two of their past 12 games as away underdogs, while they are 4-8 against the line in this scenario.

There is no doubt that the Sharks are the team to beat in this clash, but there is no value at their current price and this is another game that I am happy to stay out from a betting perspective.

Recommended Bet: No Bet

St George Dragons Vs Wests Tigers

Sunday 24 July, 4:00pm, ANZ Stadium

St George Illawarra Dragons 12 - Wests Tigers 25

This is a crucial game for both sides as they need to win to stay in touch with the top eight.

The Wests Tigers went into the bye on the back of a loss to the Canterbury Bulldogs, but they will still start this clash as clear favourites.

This is not a position that the Tigers have become accustomed to in recent years and they have won just two of their past four games as home favourites with an identical record against the line.

St George Illawarra struggled without Josh Dugan against the Gold Coast Titans last weekend and they will go into this clash without their key player once again.

The fact that this game is being played at ANZ Stadium takes away the home ground advantage of the Dragons and they have won just five of their past 11 games as underdogs, while their record against the line when being given a start is 6-10.

These are two teams that are very tough to trust from a betting perspective and I am not keen on getting involved in this clash.

Recommended Bet: No Bet

South Sydney Rabbitohs Vs Manly Sea Eagles

Monday 4 July, 7:00pm, Allianz Stadium

The Manly Sea Eagles have found a semblance of their best form in the fortnight and they scored a very tough golden point against the New Zealand Warriors in Perth last weekend.

Manly will go into this position as home favourites and they have a surprisingly strong record in this position in the past 12 months – they have won three of their four games in this scenario, but they are 1-3 against the line.

South Sydney have been nothing short of putrid in the past 12 months and they have now lost six games on the trot.

They are 0-5 as home underdogs in the past 12 months and their record against the line is identical.

Manly look like one of the safest bets of the weekend and there is definite value at their current price of $1.78.

Recommended Bet: Back The Manly Sea Eagles To Win @ $1.78