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The Roar’s NRL expert tips and predictions: Round 18

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15th July, 2021
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State of Origin is fading in the rear view mirror, and it’s time for the final third of the NRL season to get rolling. Here is The Roar’s NRL expert tips and predictions for Round 18.

As there will be no chance to do it, first, a quick look back to Origin. Every flunked on Game 3 thanks to Queensland winning, but David did manage to tip the first try-scorer in Latrell Mitchell.

It means he is the only one to get a point from the game and joins The Barry, tied on four points across the Origin series.

Now, back to Round 18. Post-Origin rounds are always chaotic and difficult to tip, given the impossibility of knowing who will back up.

Add the Queensland bubble to that, and it’s anyone’s guess.

It all kicks off with the Gold Coast hosting Parramatta, before the Sea Eagles play the Dragons on the same ground.

Saturday has changed order while this was being written, with the Cowboys now to host the Roosters in the early game, before the Gold Coast gets another doubleheader, the Raiders to play Cronulla and the Roosters to play the Knights.

Due to Origin, it’s three games on Sunday too, the first two in Brisbane as the Warriors battle the Panthers, before the Broncos play the Tigers. The Gold Coast gets its fifth game of the weekend to close things out as the Rabbitohs play the Bulldogs.

Round 17 tipping saw AJ clean sweep the ground, getting four from four. It moves him one closer to everyone else and two closer to David, who took the Warriors and the Sea Eagles.

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The Barry still leads The Crowd by a point, David now four behind The Crowd and Mary a further two off the pace. I’ve four behind Mary and AJ is sneaking closer as 12 behind me, but he’ll need a miracle to avoid the spoon.

Remember to get your tips into the form below by 6pm (AEST) this evening to join The Roar’s NRL tipping competition for 2021 and be featured as part of the Crowd’s tips for Round 15.

AJ’s up first this week.

AJ Mithen

Tips: Eels, Sea Eagles, Roosters, Raiders, Storm, Panthers, Broncos, Rabbitohs

Another perfect round for yours truly, just sending the reminder to you all that I continue to nip at the heels before I decide to make my charge to victory!

Who will adjust to hub life first? Will there be upsets away from the comforts of home? Here’s your winners for the round.

Parra will blast the Titans based on a far superior defence. The Eels right now can make a case for being the best of the rest behind Melbourne and the Panthers.

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Manly should do the job over the Dragons, who are still feeling the effects of Vauhgnie and the crew’s idiocy.

Jason Saab of the Sea Eagles runs the ball

(Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

The beautiful Canberra Raiders will take yet another step towards a 2005 Wests Tigers-style premiership by belting Cronulla, at a guess I’d say by at least 56.

Roosters over Cowboys, Sydney are dinged up and gettable, but North Queensland and in particular their Swiss cheese defence ain’t good enough to get them.

Storm in a run-of-the-mill belting of the Knights. Panthers will also beat New Zealand but it won’t be as straightforward.

Broncos will spark up and get one over Wests, and Souths will put 48 on the Bulldogs, who are starting to show the tiniest bit of grit as other teams start to relax or drop off.

The Barry

Tips: Titans, Sea Eagles, Roosters, Sharks, Storm, Panthers, Broncos, Rabbitohs

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What a day to be a Blues fan! Imagine that, a series whitewash with all three games played in Queensland! Ding dong Origin’s dead!

Whoops! That’s what happens when you start penning your tips too early in the week. Anyway, where were we?

Surely David Fifita will be breathing fire on Thursday night after missing Queensland’s Origin triumph. Titans have three players backing up, while good news for the Eels is Mitch Moses should be fresh. I’m going against my ‘top five’ rule and tipping a Titans upset.

I’m starting to suspect the NRL doesn’t really care about my SuperCoach team by continuing to give Turbo the short backup after Origin. Can’t see him backing up. Dragons start Round 1 of their hokey-pokey barbecue suspensions. You put four players in, you take four players out, you get hit with a feather duster and you get the soft route… Go Manly!

Leaning towards the Sharks in a close one, but more importantly, here’s hoping Braden Hamlin-Uele gets over the line again.

No confirmation at the time of writing if Valentine Holmes is out, but it didn’t look good for him on Wednesday night. Another SuperCoach headache. Cowboys not without a shot but I’m tipping the Roosters.

No offence to the resurgent Knights but at the moment it doesn’t really matter who the Storm are playing, you have to tip them.

Jahrome Hughes runs.

(Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

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On Wednesday we saw up close the effect of Nathan Cleary and Jarome Luai’s absence. But the Blues didn’t have Matt “Bulldog” Burton running the show. Then again they didn’t have Tyrone May either. Panthers. With my SuperCoach hat on, I’ll be watching very closely what happens with Tohu Harris, named on the extended bench.

I don’t think there’s a player who Origin has had a more profound effect on this year than Payne Haas. Struggling for form earlier in the season, it’s like Origin has made him remember he’s a better player than his teammates and he’s really stepped up. Broncos to win and unfortunately drop the Bulldogs a step closer to the wooden spoon.

Bulldogs face Souths in the last game of the round. Haven’t we already played them twice? With Cody Walker and Alex Johnston in sublime form, $1.05 for the bunnies is generous.

Mary Konstantopoulos

Tips: Eels, Sea Eagles, Roosters, Sharks, Storm, Panthers, Broncos, Rabbitohs

It’s unclear how many Parramatta Eels and Gold Coast Titans players will back up from State of Origin, but the Eels should have more than enough strike power to win this one. Both teams have a lot of attacking flair, so I am expecting it to be a high-scoring game. The biggest challenge the Titans seem to have is showing resilience when things don’t go their way. I’m expecting the Eels to take advantage of that.

The Sea Eagles may have had a stumble last time they were impacted by State of Origin, but with the number of Dragons missing for this game and potential squad issues given the events of the last two weeks, I expect the Sea Eagles to win this game by plenty.

The Sharks are in the top eight now and need to beat the Raiders to remain in there. Despite Canberra’ pitiful form, they are still in with a chance to make the top eight. They also seem to be more balanced now and have worked out how to use Josh Hodgson and Tom Starling more effectively. Even with the improvement shown last week, I am tipping the Sharks.

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The injury-riddled Roosters should still have enough in them to beat the Cowboys, who really seem to struggle when Jason Taumololo isn’t on the field. The Storm will beat the Knights and the Panthers will beat the Warriors, who for me, have been one of the most disappointing teams this year.

The competition has been moved for good reason, but the Broncos will certainly get a benefit. We know how much the Broncos enjoy playing at Suncorp and despite their pitiful winning record for the last two years, do play better at home. The Broncos will beat the Tigers who seem to have given up on their coach.

Their defence has been woeful the last couple of weeks and I wonder how much longer Michael McGuire has in him.

The Rabbitohs will beat the Bulldogs too, despite the Bulldogs putting up a fight against the Roosters last week.

David Holden

Tips: Eels, Sea Eagles, Roosters, Sharks, Storm, Panthers, Broncos, Rabbitohs

Well, State of Origin is done for another year and the business end of the NRL season is upon us. In some bright news for Queenslanders, the whole NRL caravan has moved up north. This gives them the chance to watch live two good teams play each other, something which is quite rare for fans north of the border.

I’d like to say a big thank you to all the NRL coaches who named their Origin players this weekend. We know at least some of them are fibbing, which makes it difficult for tippers, especially on a Tuesday night.

The Barry extended his lead on me by one last week, primarily due to my thought that my Sharks are hopeless. They still are, but not quite as hopeless as the Warriors. But, no guts, no glory. I’ll keep picking the occasional upset to narrow the gap.

We get a doubleheader on the Gold Coast first up on Friday night.

I’m not sure whether the Titans’ thrashing of the Raiders was a permanent return to form or just a type of torture for Titans fans, as they slip back into the abyss. They are playing a team in the top 6, which in 2021, means a loss. Reed Mahoney is back and the Eels will win.

Dylan Brown of the Eels passes the ball

(Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)

Talking of torture, the Sea Eagles play the Dragons second up. Dragons fans are in for a month of pain as St George drip feeds the one-game bans over a month. I get the reasons for this, but it is really just spreading mediocrity. The Sea Eagles proved how ordinary they are without DCE and Tommy Turbo. They return this weekend and Manly will win.

This is an important game for the Raiders and Sharks. The Raiders jagged a win last week and may have turned the corner. However, it was against a weakened Eagles so I don’t think we can read too much into this. I’m picking the Sharks, purely because I look like an idiot if I pick against my team twice, only for them to win.

I’m getting quite cold on the Roosters, who struggled to beat the Bulldogs last weekend. Tedesco is back, which makes a difference. However, after a great start, Sam Walker is going backwards, quite literally. Having said that, I think they will beat the Cowboys who are now questioning why they let Jake Clifford go.

The Storm are just toying with the rest of the competition, holding back Ryan Papenhuyzen and Harry Grant until they get a little tired of ripping the soul out of opposition teams on a weekly basis. It’s the Knights turn to become a hollow shell this weekend, as Melbourne reminds Newcastle just how far they are from being a contender.

The Warriors and Panthers is an interesting one, not that there is any real doubt about the result. Can the Panthers put teams away without Nathan Cleary and Jarome Luai? I’m not sure of the answer, but they will have too much for the Warriors.

The Broncos have put a bit of a gap between them and the spoon, and I think they will get the Tigers this weekend. Michael Maguire has reshuffled his halves and seems fresh out of ideas. Another loss will have him under increased pressure to keep his job, which isn’t such a horrible option.

Last up, the Rabbits play the Bulldogs. Canterbury played with some heart last weekend, which would have pleased Trent Barrett. Heart won’t be enough against the Rabbits, who should put on a show in this one.

Scott Pryde

Tips: Titans, Dragons, Cowboys, Raiders, Storm, Panthers, Broncos, Rabbitohs
Origin didn’t seem that bruising of an encounter, but of course, that’s a bloody easy thing to say when you’re sitting on the couch with a few beers… On an unrelated note, that’s the first Origin game I haven’t actively worked in about six years and goodness was it nice for a change.

I guess what I’m trying to say though, is that I haven’t factored in too many players not backing up into my tips.

That being said, the bubble means you can take the tipping textbook and throw it as far away as possible. Put that thing on a spaceship because it’ll be more use to an astronaut than it’ll be to you this weekend.

You’d normally expect the Eels to beat the Titans in something of a canter. But the unpredictability of the Titans, to go with Mitchell Moses backing up from Origin and David Fifita likely to be fired up are missing through suspension has me leaning to the Gold Coast.

Dragons over Manly because I refuse to tip the Sea Eagles without Tom Trbojevic ever again. They could be playing the Jersey Flegg wooden spooners and I’d still be tempted to not tip them.

North Queensland over the Roosters is another one that I don’t expect many to love, but the Roosters have enough disruptions without being put in a bubble and then being asked to do a match day flight to Townsville for a 3pm kick-off.

Genuinely, if they land in Townsville at Midday they’ll be on a plane at 9am in the morning. That isn’t preparation.

Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow goes in for a try

Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

I’ll take the Raiders to beat the Sharks who have shown next to nothing, and the Storm over the Knights because they are used to this bubble business. They are also used to beating everybody, averaging about 36 points per game this season. Matt Burton should give the Panthers enough to beat the Warriors too, although that’ll be closer than you think if Tohu Harris plays.

The Broncos have home ground advantage and the Tigers have been about as useful as wet newspaper. Ditto the Bulldogs, so give me the Rabbitohs by about 30.

Round 18 AJ Mary David The Barry Scott Crowd
GCT v PAR PAR PAR PAR GLD GLD PAR
MAN v STI MAN MAN MAN MAN STI MAN
NQL v SYD SYD SYD SYD SYD NQL SYD
CAN v CRO CAN CRO CRO CRO CAN CRO
MEL v NEW MEL MEL MEL MEL MEL MEL
NZL v PEN PEN PEN PEN PEN PEN PEN
BRI v WST BRI BRI BRI BRI BRI BRI
SOU v CBY SOU SOU SOU SOU SOU SOU
Last week 4 3 2 3 3 3
Total 73 89 91 96 85 95

Remember to get your tips in on the form below by 6pm this evening to be counted as part of The Crowd for this weekend.

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