The 2019 NRL season has just a fortnight to go, and still there are five teams fighting for the final spots in the eight, with plenty of big games coming our way over the coming weekend.
With a coach moved on during Tuesday and a number of blowouts last week suggesting at least more than one other should be looking over their shoulder, it was an intriguing round of footy which continued to throw up more questions than answers about the top eight.
As it stands, Cronulla and Brisbane are clinging onto the final two spots in the eight behind the top six, who have already booked their place in the finals, but the Tigers, Panthers, Knights and Bulldogs (no matter how mathematical) are still in the running for a gig playing top eight footy in 2019.
With the season coming down to the wire, upsets and split tips were the order of the day for our panel last week, with scores varying across the board.
AJ and Stuart topped the weekend, taking big risks on the Cowboys and Tigers respectively. Stuart has gone to the top of the expert panel with his five out of eight, sitting on 104 for the season, while AJ is a bit like the Bulldogs – mathematically kind of alive if everyone else falls off a cliff and fails to submit their tips.
The Barry had four tips last weekend, meaning he is now one behind Stuart, while I had an ordinary week, my three tips leaving me on 102. The Crowd continue to lead the overall picture though with 113 for the season, just two weeks and finals from the end.
Round 24 gets underway in Townsville, with those mathematical Bulldogs needing to thump the Cowboys, before Friday takes us to Auckland where the Rabbitohs need to get their form line right against the Warriors, coming off a losing-streak snapping loss last week.
We then roll to Brisbane, where the Broncos are virtually in a must-win position against the Eels.
The Knights and Titans kick-off Saturday in a match which could go any which way after the sacking of Nathan Brown before Manly play the Storm at Brookvale in what shapes as game of the round.
The Panthers will be all but out of finals contention if they can’t pull off a huge upset against the Roosters in the final game of Saturday night, before Sunday brings us the Sharks and Raiders in the Shire, and the Tigers and Dragons at the SCG, with three of those four teams still having plenty to play for.
Don’t forget to join in with your tips at the bottom of the article to try and beat the experts in 2019 as The Crowd and try your luck in our Roar NRL tipping comp. Crowd tips will close at approximately 6pm (AEST) on Thursday evening.
Tips: Cowboys, Rabbitohs, Brisbane, Knights, Storm, Roosters, Raiders, Tigers
Two weeks to go in my reign as The Roar’s resident expert tipping champ and I intend to go down swinging. This week’s winners are:
The Cowboys, who will pop the Bulldog fairytale. I do like Canterbury though.
The Bunnies should be tuning up for finals and they’ll deal with the Warriors over in NZ. It’ll be close though.
Parramatta have been pretty sketchy of late. They’ve banked some wins but it hasn’t been a showcase. I think they’ll go down to Brisbane, who will be 99 per cent banked for finals with the win.
Newcastle will beat the Gold Coast but if the Knights are planning on turning in another half-arsed effort, I kinda hope they lose.
The Storm will rout Manly because they’re annoyed at losing to them not long ago, and the Storm tend to get very routy when they’re annoyed.
The Roosters will get one back on Penrith and all but finish Ivan’s first highly paid year of disappointment.
My beautiful Raiders will put 48 on a Cronulla side wearing possibly the worst jersey in rugby league history. It’s Paul Gallen’s last home game and they couldn’t have picked a more insulting tribute to the man.
To round off the round, The Tigers will get the Dragons and move into eighth place.
Tips: Bulldogs, Rabbitohs, Broncos, Knights, Sea Eagles, Roosters, Raiders, Tigers
With six teams already set for the finals and seven teams a chance on paper of taking the final two spots, it’s an NRL CEO’s dream over the last two rounds.
My chances of taking out the tipping comp are less likely than the Warriors are of making the eight.
Manly versus Melbourne is the headline game this weekend in the battle of the momentum disruptors. It’s a chance for the Sea Eagles to show they are the real deal against the most consistent team. I’m giving Des and the boys from the Northern Beaches a show at Brookvale and tipping Manly.
The Bulldogs have been quietly conquering the odds and I’m backing them in Townsville.
Souths have some quality back in the side and are starting to flex their muscles. The Warriors will be desperate but their form hasn’t been good in the back end of the season. Rabbitohs.
Broncos and Parramatta is a toss of the coin. Brisbane will be desperate to finish in the eight and I will take them at home on that basis.
The Knights have been shamed and are now Brownless this week. Pearce, Ponga and Klemmer will stand up this week against the Titans boys who are planning the Bali trip.
The Panthers and Cleary will surely be the subject of an end of season review. It won’t get any better this week against an on-song Roosters team.
The Raiders always get a tough game against the Sharks and Cronulla are still fighting for a finals spot. The Green Machine have bounced back well from losses this year and I am taking them to win in a close encounter.
Madge might have found the secret with Benji in at dummy half early before Reynolds adds further spark. The Dragons will want to forget 2019. If the Tigers can reproduce the form from last week they will win easily.
Tips: Bulldogs, Rabbitohs, Eels, Titans, Storm, Roosters, Sharks, Dragons
“So you’re telling me there’s a chance!”
Lloyd Christmas after being told the chances of him hooking up with Mary Swanson were more like one in a million.
Ok, so you know when you’re drawing inspiration from Dumb and Dumber, your season’s hanging by the barest of threads. That’s how the Bulldogs have been rolling for a couple of weeks now. I’m sure fans from other clubs are looking at the Bulldogs growing excitement with bemusement, but I can tell you after the bleakest of seasons, the most slender ray of hope feels like sunshine on our shoulders.
The Bulldogs visit Townsville in the first must-win game of the weekend. This is definitely winnable for the Bulldogs despite the Cowboys being posted as favourites. My main concern isn’t so much the Cowboys but that a tired performance for this young side may be around the corner after being up for so long. Bulldogs.
In a massive turn up for the books, Dogs fans will be cheering hard for the Eels on Friday night. The Eels will be stinging after a tough loss last week and this is an absolute must-win game to have any hope of nabbing a top-four spot. The Broncos still look terribly disjointed and are still missing TPJ and Turpin. Eels.
Saturday sees the Dogs needing the Titans to win against the suddenly beleaguered Knights. In Newcastle. On Old Boys Day. There couldn’t be a tougher fixture to hang your season on. Here’s hoping the rudderless Knights lurch to another disaster. I’m tipping the Titans, but all is not lost if the Knights do win.
(Scott’s note: The Barry becomes the first person to tip the Titans since AJ in Round 19 against the Broncos and before that, Round 15 when they let down the entire panel against the Warriors).
Apparently, the next game has some bearing on the top four or something. Whatever. Storm.
If the Knights win, one of the results the Dogs will need is the Roosters to absolutely spank the Panthers. We’re talking 40+ points here. Maybe 50. It’s possible, as longs as the Roosters don’t switch off at halftime like last week. Roosters.
Another boring top four-game. Sharks.
In the final meaningful game of the round the mighty Dragons (excuse me, I need to hit the Listerine after that) take on the Tigers. Not only will a Dragons victory help the Bulldogs but it will also take the Tigers one step closer to securing their favoured ninth position. Win-win. Dragons.
Who said tip with your head…?
Tips: Bulldogs, Rabbitohs, Eels, Knights, Storm, Roosters, Sharks, Dragons
There are some hugely important games this weekend. Almost knock out footy come early, and how good is it?
I tend to think the Bulldogs are going to beat the Cowboys to keep their mathematically slim hopes alive on Thursday.
You just keep waiting for the doors to be blown off for Dean Pay’s side as they run to the end of the season with some incredible defensive work. They haven’t yet though, and playing the offensively incompetent Cowboys, I’ll take Canterbury.
The Rabbitohs should be able to do a number on the Warriors. I’m not all that confident they will given the way they have been playing, but they should win it one way or another.
I don’t think the Broncos will win again this season. Parramatta haven’t been convincing away from home, but should have some level of bounce back factor after their loss to the Bulldogs. A tough finish to the season for Brisbane against the Bulldogs means they are missing the eight for mine.
Newcastle sacked their coach, effective immediately during the week. It’s been a wild turn of events given they had beaten the Cowboys, then were blown off the park by the Tigers. The Titans have checked out though, so Newcastle should win.
The Storm don’t lose to the same team twice in a season. They will beat the Sea Eagles in a game which may not be a classic, but will be close all the way in front of a big Brookvale crowd.
Penrith have lost the will to play good footy, so the Roosters should read them the riot act, and I can see the Tigers doing something similar against the directionless Dragons.
The big game on Sunday is in the Shire. Canberra travel to Cronulla looking to bounce back, but with the finals spot still not locked in for the Sharks, I can see them scratching and clawing their way to a hugely important victory.
Be sure to leave your tips on the form below by 6pm (AEST) on Thursday evening and we will publish results before the opening game of the round.
|Round 23||AJ||Stuart||The Barry||Scott||Crowd|
|COW v BUL||COW||BUL||BUL||BUL||COW|
|WAR v RAB||RAB||RAB||RAB||RAB||RAB|
|BRO v EEL||BRO||BRO||EEL||EEL||BRO|
|KNI v TIT||KNI||KNI||TIT||KNI||KNI|
|SEA v STO||STO||SEA||STO||STO||STO|
|ROO v PAN||ROO||ROO||ROO||ROO||ROO|
|SHA v RAI||RAI||RAI||SHA||SHA||RAI|
|DRA v TIG||TIG||TIG||DRA||TIG||TIG|
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