If Billy Slater is suspended, perhaps he can still have a farewell in a championship decider – but back in front of his adoring home fans.
Eight games across the course of three days is enough to get any footy fan excited, and after Origin 3, that’s exactly what Round 18 provides us. The Roar‘s NRL expert tipping panel will tell you who is going to win and lose this weekend.
A quick check back to last week though and I’m not going to lie, I had to look over things three or four times. If I hadn’t been so crazy as to tip the Dragons to beat the Storm in Melbourne, I would have had a perfect round.
Everyone else, including The Crowd had two out of four.
Unfortunately, it does little to help me on the overall front. Tim and AJ are continuing to run a dead heat at the front on 77, with The Crowd two behind. I’m 68, and after last week, two tips clear of Tom.
Looking ahead though and with the competition moving on from the Origin period, it’s time to properly begin the run to the finals.
This weekend begins at the foot of the mountains where the Panthers (thank you, by the way, for beating the Warriors. It helped me greatly) will take on the Sharks.
The free-to-air game is one of the most
exciting dull fixtures of the year though, with the Knights minus Kalyn Ponga set to take on the Eels.
We will head to the sleeping giant that is Homebush to start Saturday when the Bulldogs play the Rabbitohs, before Brookvale lights up to host the rivalry between Manly and Melbourne. Saturday wraps up with a huge game for the Raiders as they battle to keep their season alive against the struggling Cowboys.
Because of Origin and the lack of a Thursday night fixture, we also get three games on Sunday.
In a rareity, Suncorp Stadium won’t need to use the lights as the Broncos host the Warriors in the 2pm game, before the Dragons host the Tigers and the Titans play the Roosters in the twilight Sunday game.
Don’t forget to submit your tips on the form below by 5pm (AEST) to be part of The Crowd as you take on the experts.
I wouldn’t normally do this, but to hell with tradition. I won last week, I’m going first. So, there is my death knell. I fully expect to get zero.
Tips: Panthers, Knights, Rabbitohs, Storm, Raiders, Broncos, Dragons, Roosters
Plenty of tough games to tip this weekend. Really promises to be a cracking three days of footy.
I’ll start with the Panthers. They are tough to beat at home and have been in good form. While they are probably going to rest their Origin players again, it’s not possible to say they are going to be ordinary without them after last week’s stirring 32-point win over the Warriors.
I wouldn’t write the Sharks off either, but I can’t see them winning.
Let’s just say the Knights in the other Friday game and move on. Probably can do similar with the Rabbitohs to beat the Bulldogs in the first Saturday game, although, the Bulldogs were much improved despite losing to the Raiders last week at Belmore.
Maybe the game carrying more intrigue than any other this weekn is at Brookvale. The Sea Eagles are generally pretty tough to beat at home and Daly Cherry-Evans will be full of confidence after a great performance in Origin 2.
The question stands though – is that enough to beat the Storm? I’m going to say probably not.
The Green Machine should beat a struggling Cowboys outfit in the final game on Saturday, but given the way Canberra finish games and the uncertainty around their halves situation, it’s a ‘who knows’ situation.
Brisbane might be playing one of their rare day games, but you still have to tip them against the Warriors whose confidence will be fried after a big loss to the Panthers last week despite being heavy favourites on paper.
Footy isn’t played on paper though and nowhere will that be more evident than when the Titans take it to the Roosters. I expect the tri-colours to win, but given the form of the Gold Coast (if you ignore last week of course where… let’s be honest, they were deadset awful) and the point Ashley Taylor is still trying to make, it won’t be simple.
The other Sunday game should go to the Dragons. The wheels are falling off the Tigers bus and I fully expect the Red V to bounce back from last week in strong fashion.
Tips: Sharks, Knights, Rabbitohs, Storm, Raiders, Broncos, Dragons, Roosters
It’s time for the Panthers to lose. I don’t know why – more of a gut feeling. Moylan to go off at his old home ground? Fresher troops? Dunno. But Sharks.
Mitchell Pearce is back and he’s what the knights have sorely missed. The Eels will give them a run for their money though.
I just can’t see the Bulldogs beating the Rabbitohs. They’ll give it all they’ve got but the Bunnies are genuine contenders. They’ll prevail.
Jesse Bromwich is back for the Storm and the Purple machine will be so much better for it. Cam Smith will give young Fainu a lesson in hooking too. The Sea Eagles don’t have the depth to resist.
The Raiders struggle against the Cowboys but they’ve still got – vaguely – something to play for. The Cowboys don’t really. But it will be close. Aren’t all Raiders games?
Broncos at home. Warriors crisis of confidence. Broncos depth. But, the Warriors can always surprise. I just think they’ve fallen back into their same old funk.
Dragons now make their charge. Full strength and motivated. Wests Tigers won’t be able to match it.
Gee the Titans were crap last week. Just awful. They will improve this week. A lot. And I’m so tempted to tip them, but I just can’t bring myself to do it…
Tips: Sharks, Knights, Rabbitohs, Sea Eagles, Raiders, Broncos, Dragons, Roosters
It’s about this time every year that we emerge from the hypnotic haze of Origin and realise that there’s still a Telstra Premiership up for grabs! And Round 18 kicks off with a game featuring two teams, the Penrith Panthers and Cronulla Sharks, who remain very much in the hunt.
I can’t go past the Sharks in this one. Their forward pack is back to near full strength while the Panthers squad still resembles a MASH unit. And after the epic battle on Wednesday night, I’m not predicting much of an impact from the Penrith halves. Cronulla will control the ruck and grind the Panthers into a black nub.
Mitchell Pearce is a massive in for Newcastle. The Knights had won 4 out of 7 before he got busted, and his inclusion will give the entire squad a much needed lift. The polish Pearce will add to the Newcastle attack should be enough to account for a Parramatta side just going through the motions.
The Bunnies will prove far too strong the beleaguered Bulldogs, Canberra will welcome back Jordan Rapana by scoring a bag full of points against the Cowboys, and if the Broncos want to be taken seriously in September, they should take care of business against the fading Warriors.
With State of Origin now behind us, I fully expect the Dragons to return to early season form. They still boast the strongest pack in the competition and an international calibre halves pairing, which will be more than the Tigers can handle. Likewise, the Roosters will start their push towards the finals with a comprehensive win over the Gold Coast, who were abysmal in their last outing.
And in Tom’s “Rock Solid” tip of the week, I’m going for a bit of a roughie. On the back of his stellar return to the Origin arena, I’m backing a Daly Cherry-Evans inspired Sea Eagles side to quell the dissipating Storm. I haven’t been overly impressed with Melbourne over the last month, and I just have the feeling Manly could jag this one. Worth a pineapple.
Tips: Sharks, Eels, Rabbitohs, Storm, Raiders, Broncos, Dragons, Roosters
I am VERY late to return these tips to Scott because I’ve spent the day watching replays of Val Holmes’ intercept last night. What a play. What a night. What a series! But it’s gone, and we put Origin behind us and move back to clubland fo some key games.
My tipping has been in the toilet for the last month so I’m trying something new from here – less is more. Each game gets one sentence to explain what my tip is. Hopefully, this brings better fortune… Here it comes.
Penrith won’t have Maloney, Cleary & Peachey cos they’re still drinking and the Panthers have too many outs- Sharks win. Parramatta will account for the Eels because Mitch Pearce can’t do it all himself for Newcastle.
Souths will destroy the Bulldogs because Souths are very good and the Bulldogs are heartbroken. Manly will challenge Melbourne mightily but fall short because Cam Smith is on a mission. Canberra will squeak past the Cowboys because the Raiders aren’t a real team with real consistency yet.
The Broncos will assure finals with a solid dispatching of the Warriors, which they’ve done already this year when New Zealand were flying. If the Dragons should beat the Tigers and if they don’t, I’m writing them off for 2018. Roosters over Titans in a sneaky ripper to finish things off.
|Round 18||Tim||Tom||AJ||Scott||The Crowd|
|PAN v SHA||SHA||SHA||SHA||PAN||SHA|
|KNI v EEL||KNI||KNI||EEL||KNI||KNI|
|BUL v RAB||RAB||RAB||RAB||RAB||RAB|
|SEA v STO||STO||SEA||STO||STO||STO|
|RAI v COW||RAI||RAI||RAI||RAI||RAI|
|BRO v WAR||BRO||BRO||BRO||BRO||BRO|
|DRA v TIG||DRA||DRA||DRA||DRA||DRA|
|TIT v ROO||ROO||ROO||ROO||ROO||ROO|
Crowd tipping will close at 5pm (AEST) on Thursday evening. Be sure to submit your tips on the form below before then to make your opinion count as part of The Crowd.