NRL Round 24 predictions: Knights to push Storm all the way

Nicholas Nakos Roar Pro

By Nicholas Nakos, Nicholas Nakos is a Roar Pro

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    With only three rounds remaining, the race for the top four, top eight and wooden spoon are well and truly alive. Round 24 promises to be season defining for the Dragons, Raiders, Panthers and Eels.

    Parramatta Eels versus Gold Coast Titans
    Thursday, 17 August
    Kick-off: 7:50pm at ANZ Stadium

    Parramatta will be absolutely kicking themselves after turning in a very disappointing performance against Newcastle last Friday night. With a top-four spot up for grabs, the Eels froze. They were slow out of the blocks, spotting Newcastle a 12-0 start, and they never recovered. Credit to Newcastle for being the more disciplined side over the 80 minutes and being able to record their most dominant victory of the season.

    The 2017 season is going from bad to worse for the Gold Coast Titans. The Jarryd Hayne-Neil Henry saga drags on for yet another week, with the million-dollar fullback out of this clash with an ankle injury. Tyrone Roberts is expected to shift to fullback with Kane Elgey coming into the halves off the bench.

    The Titans have conceded a whopping 96 points in the past two games. That won’t cut it at any level of rugby league. The bright lights of prime time Thursday night football should be able to inspire the Titans somewhat.

    Bevan French returns for the Eels at fullback in their only change for this fixture. This is a must-win game for Parramatta if they have aspirations of a top-four finish. Last week’s loss was inexcusable, but Newcastle had won two matches in a row and look a much tougher proposition compared to the Titans.

    Gold Coast has rolled over far too easily in the last fortnight. Parramatta will atone for their slip-up last week and record a big victory.

    Prediction: Parramatta by 20.

    (Image: AAP Image/Craig Golding)

    South Sydney Rabbitohs versus New Zealand Warriors
    Friday, 18 August
    Kick-off: 6:00pm at ANZ Stadium

    The New Zealand Warriors have been the most underwhelming team in 2017 by a country mile. The loss of Shaun Johnson to injury seriously derailed the Warriors’ finals hopes, although they weren’t looking too flash before he was injured either. The Warriors have no defensive structures and have developed a habit of digging themselves multiple try deficits to come back from, which they have failed to do.

    South Sydney finished the end of last season well and appear to be repeating that trend in 2017. Wins over the Dragons and Bulldogs have merely band-aided what has been another disappointing campaign for the boys from Redfern. A win against the Warriors on Friday night would be the first time this season they have won three consecutive matches.

    The Warriors welcome back five-eighth Kieran Foran, who will partner the impressive Ata Hingano in the halves. After starting one game on the bench Angus Crichton has returned to the starting line up.

    The Warriors have given no indication that they are ready to turn a corner and put in a wholehearted 80-minute performance for some time now. South Sydney have points in them and will be too strong for a Warriors side looking towards the end of the season.

    Prediction: South Sydney by 16.

    (Image: AAP Image/Darren Pateman)

    Brisbane Broncos versus St George Illawarra Dragons
    Friday, 18 August
    Kick-off: 7:50pm at Suncorp Stadium

    The Broncos stamped their premiership credentials last Friday night with a dominant win over reigning champions Cronulla Sharks. The loss of Andrew McCullough has done little to curtail the Broncos in the past fortnight, as they have dispatched their opponents with consummate ease.

    A win on Friday night would be an absolute steal for the Dragons, but they have the players in their side and the motivation to do so. Kurt Mann playing in the number seven jersey makes St George much more threatening across the park, with Mann’s agility and ball playing superior to that of former halfback Josh McCrone.

    The Dragons attack has been much improved this season, but this is a match in which they will be hoping for an improved defensive performance if they are to stand a chance of winning.

    The Dragons will keep this match close thanks in part to their exceptional forward pack. I would expect the game to turn when the St George interchange players replace the likes of Tyson Frizell and Paul Vaughan. The Dragons depth is inferior to that of the Broncos and this is where this match will be won and lost. This game will be closer than most are predicting.

    Prediction: Brisbane by six.

    (Image: Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

    Newcastle Knights versus Melbourne Storm
    Saturday, 19 August
    Kick-off: 3:00pm at McDonald Jones Stadium

    The Melbourne Storm will seek to avoid bottom-placed Newcastle winning four games in a row when the two sides clash on Saturday afternoon. Unlike most top-versus-bottom team match-ups, both sides are in exceptional form and the Knights are currently belying their ladder position at present.

    Knights coach Nathan Brown has the luxury of naming an unchanged side for Saturday’s match. The Storm loses Tim Glasby to injury but regains the services of five-eighth Cameron Munster. Jahrome Hughes moves back to the bench.

    The Storm escaped with a narrow 16-13 victory against the Roosters last Saturday night. Their never-say-die attitude makes them the most formidable team in the NRL.

    For the Knights, a high completion rate and finishing sets with an efficient option are what coach Brown will be preaching this weekend. The Storm is clinical in punishing seven tackle sets or opposition errors.

    When these two sides met last season in Newcastle, Melbourne escaped with a narrow 20-16 win. The Knights are playing with fire and passion late in the season and will be hoping to turn in a big performance for their loyal home support. With one eye on the finals, Melbourne would be forgiven for approaching this game in a relaxed manner. With that in mind, I think the Storm will win, but it will be a close contest right up until full time.

    Prediction: Melbourne by six.

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    The Crowd Says (13)

    • August 17th 2017 @ 7:56am
      Oingo Boingo said | August 17th 2017 @ 7:56am | ! Report

      Eels by 24 plus
      Rabbits by 12 plus
      St George to be the Broncos biatches.
      Knights to pull off the win of the season .

      • August 17th 2017 @ 9:58am
        Addington said | August 17th 2017 @ 9:58am | ! Report

        Only way the Knights could beat the Storm is to start today hahaha!
        Otherwise they are in for a jolt back to planet earth.
        Dragons don’t possess the fire power to beat the Bronco’s who could play in this years final they way they are trekking.
        The other two games you nailed.

        • August 18th 2017 @ 6:30am
          Oingo Boingo said | August 18th 2017 @ 6:30am | ! Report

          Eels by 24 plus …. in the bag
          I think youve misunderstood my Broncos prediction , I’m suggesting they will have StGeorge kitted out in a giimp suit and will treat them accordingly.

    • Roar Guru

      August 17th 2017 @ 9:36am
      BigJ said | August 17th 2017 @ 9:36am | ! Report

      I would have to agree that the Knights will give it all against the Storm and with the minor premiership in the bag i dont think they try to hard, but we will see. The bunnies v the Warriors will be a snooze fest.

      • Roar Guru

        August 17th 2017 @ 12:07pm
        Nat said | August 17th 2017 @ 12:07pm | ! Report

        Bellamy was talking about resting players leading into the finals. Even Lockyer said the Storm need to lose one just to re-align themselves again. Logic would say the Storm win in any case but but what a coup for the Knights if they got one on the minor premiers.

        • Roar Rookie

          August 17th 2017 @ 1:29pm
          Joe said | August 17th 2017 @ 1:29pm | ! Report

          If the Storm were to have a loss I really would prefer it be to the Knights…would be just great for them and their fans and just rewards for their efforts this year. They will definitely have to earn it though cause the Storm give nothing away.

        • Roar Rookie

          August 18th 2017 @ 8:46pm
          Joe said | August 18th 2017 @ 8:46pm | ! Report

          Looks like they’re resting players for this game with Cronk and Glasby out. The way the Knights, Rabbits and Raiders are playing I don’t think the Minor Premiership is a given…espcially the way the Broncos are playing. I would really have thought they’d go all in with a full team against the Knights to try and wrap up the Minor Premiership and then rest players in the last two games if they wanted to. I really don’t think resting players against the Knights is a good idea the way they’ve been playing.

          • August 19th 2017 @ 9:58pm
            Garry The Gaz man Garrison said | August 19th 2017 @ 9:58pm | ! Report

            Joe…..
            What was that about it being a bad idea to rest players??

    • Roar Guru

      August 17th 2017 @ 10:09am
      Emcie said | August 17th 2017 @ 10:09am | ! Report

      I’m wondering how long the broncos can persist with their current no. 9 stategy until a team works out how to nulify it

    • Roar Rookie

      August 17th 2017 @ 10:59am
      Joe said | August 17th 2017 @ 10:59am | ! Report

      Agree that big wins are likely for Eels and Rabbits.
      Big game for the Dragons and I really would like to tip them for the upset as they have everything to play for. That said the way the Broncos have played in the last two weeks its just hard to see them getting beaten. I agree its going to be close and likely go Broncos way.
      Knights are on a roll and playing at home on a three game winning streak are going to want to make a big statement. I agree its going to be close. Both games last year were very close and went to the wire so I’m expecting much of the same this week. Munster and possibly Harris inclusion is a big plus for the Storm though so they have no excuses in this game as they will have pretty much close to their best team on the park if this two play.

    • August 17th 2017 @ 3:33pm
      johnnyball said | August 17th 2017 @ 3:33pm | ! Report

      Storm will do what they have to, to win. End of story

    • August 17th 2017 @ 5:46pm
      zim said | August 17th 2017 @ 5:46pm | ! Report

      Dragons have lost 4 players for the Broncos game. Might want to revise your prediction to a land slide.

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