Round 18 provides fans with some highly entertaining encounters in which teams have so much to play for as we edge even closer to finals.
It’s crunch time for a few teams, especially in the match featuring the Sharks and the Warriors. Fans would also be looking forward to the battle of the west, Penrith vs Parramatta.
There are my own tips and predictions for NRL Round 18, including tipping a margin, either 12 or less, or 13 or more. Good luck to everyone with your tipping!
Wests Tigers vs South Sydney Rabbitohs
Rabbitohs by 12 or less
The Tigers somehow mounted an incredible comeback against a desperate Manly side last week, while the Rabbitohs seemed to be on top for most of the match against Melbourne but fell six points short in the end. As the Tigers will be itching to get back to back wins and try to close a gap between them and Cronulla, the Bunnies will just have too much strike in attack and overall classiness in this one to further solidify themselves in the top eight.
Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs vs Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles
Sea Eagles by 12 or less
The Bulldogs could’ve won last week against Gold Coast but just can’t seem to seal a game and win. Likewise, I’m sure most viewers would’ve expected Manly to get the job done with a 32-18 lead with ten to go. There are some mass changes to the Bulldogs backline, with Kieran Foran out for the season. These changes will be enough for me to back Manly here but still with no confidence whatsoever.
Penrith Panthers vs Parramatta Eels
Panthers by 13 or more
This match, the ‘battle of the west’, has Parramatta coming off a much-needed win against an in-form Warriors team, while Penrith did enough to come away with yet another win last week. The Panthers get Isaah Yeo back, which obviously improves their side even more. This would be a massive test for the Eels to see how they go against a top team like Penrith, but the Eels could struggle against the Panthers.
St George Illawarra Dragons vs Canberra Raiders
Raiders by 12 or less
The Red V went down in a golden-point thriller against the Cowboys last week, while Canberra couldn’t execute well enough to defeat the reigning premiers in consecutive fashion. As the Dragons could potentially play towards their best with the recent announcement of Anthony Griffin as coach from 2021 onwards, the Raiders would find it ideal to bounce back and have a chance of pushing themselves into the top four.
Gold Coast Titans vs Brisbane Broncos
Broncos by 12 or less
The Titans enjoyed back-to-back wins for the first time in a while, and while the Broncos were better against the competition leaders last week, they couldn’t find enough to make it a closer contest. Gold Coast will be without Brian Kelly, which is a big out for them because of the amount of strike he’s provided in recent times. However, I’ll tip an upset here and back the Bronx. They will finally get Alex Glenn back, who’ll provide some experience and leadership, and they would want to also get some revenge against their local rivals in this derby game.
Sydney Roosters vs Newcastle Knights
Roosters by 13 or more
The Chooks got some revenge against their most recent grand final partners, the Raiders, while the Knights unfortunately absolutely handed it to my Sharkies last week. Newcastle will be resting young superstar Kalyn Ponga for this match to ensure he will be in his best possible form come finals. As the reigning premiers get some troops back for this one, I can’t see the Knights winning.
Melbourne Storm vs North Queensland Cowboys
Storm by 13 or more
Melbourne came away with a narrow win against the Rabbitohs last week, while the Cowboys got the job done in an absolute thriller against the Dragons. The Storm loses Ryan Papanehuyzen but still be way too good for the Cowboys in this one.
Cronulla Sharks vs New Zealand Warriors
Sharks by 12 or less
Cronulla were absolutely embarrassed by the Knights, and the Warriors failed to get a much-needed win against the Eels last week. The Sharks will lose both Wade Graham and Chad Townsend for this important clash but will get Shaun Johnson as well as Sione Katoa back, and the Warriors will be allowed to play their Parramatta loan players this week. The Warriors will try their absolute hardest to get a result here but the Sharks would like to ensure that they play finals footy this year, so I have very little confidence in this tip and wouldn’t be surprised to see this go the other way.