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The Roar’s NRL expert tips and predictions: Round 20

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Expert
28th July, 2021
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A pair of blockbusters will serve as finals previews in Round 20, with just six weeks to go until the NRL finals. This is The Roar’s NRL expert tipping.

Those blockbusters in question have been unfortunately derailed by injury, but the Roosters and Eels, to go with the Storm and Panthers, should still be excellent games, no matter how much the depth is being tested out.

Elsewhere, the Tigers will square off with the injury-ravaged Warriors on Friday, before the Broncos take on the Cowboys in what probably won’t go down into the history books as a must-watch start to the weekend.

The Dragons will then fight for their top-eight spot on Saturday against the Rabbitohs, before the Knights and Raiders put plenty on the line in a clash with a mountain riding on it.

The Sunday games see the Bulldogs attempt to build against the Titans, who have been defensively awful but attackingly good enough on an inconsistent basis, before the Sea Eagles and Sharks finish off the round in another game with finals hopes riding on it.

David, Mary and you, The Crowd, took the spoils out of last weekend, only getting the Parramatta tip wrong to have a successful seven out of eight weekend.

The Barry got the Bulldogs wrong, and I got the Dragons wrong, giving us six. Notice a trend there? Something about don’t tip with your heart?

AJ, on the other hand, also ended up with six, but got the Raiders right, only to go ahead and tip the Knights and Tigers.

The Crowd have now taken the lead, ahead of The Barry by a point, with David three behind him and Mary a further two. With six weeks to go, it’s still anyone’s competition… Well, not AJ and myself, but you know what I mean.

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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 20.

Mary’s up first this week.

Mary Konstantopoulos

Tips: Eels, Tigers, Cowboys, Rabbitohs, Raiders, Storm, Titans, Sea Eagles

The Eels had a tough game against the Canberra Raiders last week and will look to bounce back with a win over the Roosters. Plenty of people have doubts about how far the Eels can progress in September, but if the Eels are serious this is a must-win game.

The Roosters have been extremely impressive this year given the number of key injuries and retirements to the squad. Even with an inexperienced halves combination, if the Eels can’t beat a Roosters team this down on troops, then it’s time to pack up and go home.

The next game is a tough one. The Wests Tigers seem to have no interest in defence at the moment and the Warriors seem to be struggling; perhaps the news that they won’t have a home game any time soon has impacted them. I’m tipping the Wests Tigers here, particularly given how many players the Warriors are missing for this game.

Daine Laurie

(Photo by Speed Media/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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The Cowboys have shown plenty of good signs in recent weeks and for that reason, I think they should easily beat the Broncos and the Bunnies should have no trouble beating a Dragons side missing several key players.

The next game is one of the most interesting of the round given that both these teams are battling for a top-eight spot. The Raiders have been impressive in recent weeks and the Knights are really struggling without Mitchell Pearce. Without Pearce I am going to have to tip the Raiders.

The next game will also be a cracker; is it a Grand Final preview? Still no Nathan Cleary for the Panthers so I am tipping the Storm who, no matter which players are in or out of the team, have been ruthless on so many occasions throughout the year. I imagine Craig Bellamy was disappointed with the performance last week too so look to the Storm to bounce back strongly.

The Titans should beat an ever-improving Bulldogs and the Sea Eagles will be too strong for the Sharks who are another team battling for that final top eight spot.

David Holden

Tips: Eels, Tigers, Broncos, Rabbitohs, Raiders, Storm, Raiders, Sea Eagles

Well, it’s taken 19 rounds, but have we finally seen a chink in the Barry’s armour? His love of the Bulldogs finally brought him undone last weekend. He is probably unlikely to pick them again but we are within striking distance with six rounds remaining.

We do get a chance to narrow the gap further this weekend. It’s the first time in ages that the top 8 sides all play each other and the bottom 8 sides follow suit. That surely means there are some 50/50 games, right?

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First up on Thursday night we have the Roosters vs the Eels. Full marks to the Roosters for battling adversity this year under a mounting injury toll. But I reckon they are vulnerable, they just haven’t played anyone good enough recently to expose it. The Eels are also struggling without Mitchell Moses, but I think they will win.

Mitchell Moses offloads the ball.

Mitchell Moses offloads the ball. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

The loser from the Tigers vs Warriors fixture can kiss their 2021 season goodbye. Unfortunately for the Warriors, they have done the same to Roger Tuivasa-Sheck who has returned to NZ before Jacinta bursts the bubble. The Warriors are similar to that boxer who keeps getting put down but manages to get back on their feet. I think the turmoil will prove too much this weekend and they will be flattened.

The Broncos and Cowboys games are always tightly contested, and this will prove no different. These sides are difficult to pick. Long periods of mediocrity punctured by glimpses of promise. Let’s be honest. This is a coin toss. I will go for the Broncos as they are playing at Suncorp.

There are battles between top eight sides and then there is the Rabbits and Dragons. The Dragons are still impacted by BBQ-gate and may just take their medicine this weekend. South Sydney will get an easy win.

The Knights and Raiders is almost a mini final, well definitely for Newcastle anyway. A loss here could consign them to the scrapheap in 2021. I’m not sure that the Raiders have re-discovered their mojo but they have remembered how to defend. Injuries continue to hinder the Knights and Canberra will end the round inside the eight.

We have been awaiting the grand final rematch for almost the entire season. Both teams were below their best last week, quite possibly because they were looking ahead to this round. The Storm’s record at Suncorp is imposing and I just think they have too much strike power for the Panthers. It will be tight, but Melbourne will get home.

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The Bulldogs have shown some grit in recent weeks but let themselves down against the Sharks. The Bulldogs are resigned to the spoon whilst the Titans have it all to play for…and their away game is at home.

Don’t let 6th vs 7th on the table fool you. Unfortunately for me, there is a massive gulf between Manly and Cronulla. Cronulla are still a shot of qualifying for finals but fans thoughts are starting to turn to next year. The Sea Eagles will be too good.

AJ Mithen

Tips: Roosters, Tigers, Cowboys, Rabbitohs, Raiders, Storm, Titans, Sharks

I continue to chase down Scott and through him the rest of you. There’s plenty of time for me to achieve my dreams and haunt your nightmares!

I’m sorely tempted to back the Roosters against Parra but they’re just too banged up. You know what? I’ll do it anyway. Roosters in a squeaker.

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Tigers over Warriors in the battle of the bludgers.

Cowboys over Broncos ‘cos lol Broncos.

Souths will knock over the Dragons by about 30, but they’ll still cop 28. Weird season for the Bunnies. A chance to pinch top two!

Your beautiful Canberra Raiders to continue their Mithen-esque charge to glory by accounting for the pathetic Newcastle, who wouldn’t know an opportunity if it knocked.

Storm by a thousand over the Penrith Panthers NSW Cup side. Ivan’s clearing the decks so his Panthers squad is fit when the games actually matter.

Titans by two dozen over the Bulldogs, who for all the positive signings media remain the team they contracted for 2021.

I think Cronulla can pinch one off Manly. Let’s see.

Braden Hamlin-Uele of the Sharks stands over Jack Williams after post try celebration.

Braden Hamlin-Uele of the Sharks stands over Jack Williams after post try celebration. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

The Barry

Tips: Roosters, Tigers, Cowboys, Rabbitohs, Raiders, Storm, Titans, Sea Eagles

How far can the Roosters be stretched before they break? Add Billy Smith and Matt Ikuvalu to the casualty list. Easts haven’t beaten anyone above them on the ladder this season but I’m leaning towards them here.

Hard to get excited for the Tigers versus Warriors. Tigers to edge them in the Who Cares Cup?

Cowboys hung so tough last week against the Storm. can they do it twice in a row? If they aim up like last week, they’ll put a score on the Broncos. Hopefully they’re not complacent.

Souths to flog the Dragons.

Looking at the ladder and team lists and the Knights v Raiders game could go either way. Knights just seem so fragile at the moment while something has clicked at the Raiders and they’re playing tough footy. Raiders.

The previously unbeatable Storm and Panthers have had the jitters over the last couple of weeks. What should be a September preview has a bit of an asterisk against it with the number of outs the Panthers have. Storm should win but even so, the Panthers can take a lot out of a close loss.

Josh Addo-Carr of the Storm

(Photo by Speed Media/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Three weeks for Luke Thompson. What a joke. His late tackle on Brailey was silly and unnecessary and deserved ten in the bin. But three weeks? It wasn’t high and it wasn’t dangerous. If a team at the top of the ladder had their best player rubbed out for three weeks for that there’d be an uproar. NRL gave up on their high tackle crackdown but still making an example out of the battlers. More high farce in a farcical season. Titans.

The Sharks have been hanging onto a top-eight spot for a while without really shooting the lights out. They have a pretty friendly run home but the Sea Eagles will be far too good in this one.

Scott Pryde

Tips: Roosters, Tigers, Broncos, Rabbitohs, Raiders, Storm, Titans, Sea Eagles

Mitchell Moses being out is a huge blow for the Eels. If they couldn’t handle it against the Raiders, they sure won’t be able to against the Roosters. Only hope for Parramatta is that the Roosters’ injury woes stop them from being as strong defensively, but even then, the blue and gold don’t have the offensive strike to make them pay.

That other blockbuster will similarly be decided by injury. No Nathan Cleary is the key one, but Isaah Yeo and James Fisher-Harris being out are just as important. Melbourne will have far too much through the middle third to relinquish this one.

In the remaining games, the Tigers will beat the Warriors, who like Penrith and Parramatta, are missing plenty. Their middle third has been absolutely decimated by injuries, and the Tigers proved they can put points on a fortnight ago.

The Cowboys can’t win away from Townsville, so the Broncos will chalk a win up there, while the Rabbitohs are scoring over 40 points a week in the last month. They will run through the out of sorts Dragons.

The Raiders and Knights is a tougher game to tip, but Canberra have found some form and should pick up the win.

Canterbury wouldn’t beat anyone, so the Titans will win there, as inconsistent as they have been, and the Sharks are a danger to the Sea Eagles, but they miss more tackles than anyone else, which is a recipe for disaster against Tom Trbojevic.

Round 20 AJ Mary David The Barry Scott Crowd
SYD v PAR SYD PAR PAR SYD SYD PAR
WST v NZL WST WST WST WST WST WST
BRI v NQL NQL NQL BRI NQL BRI BRI
STI v SOU SOU SOU SOU SOU SOU SOU
NEW v CAN CAN CAN CAN CAN CAN CAN
MEL v PEN MEL MEL MEL MEL MEL MEL
CBY v GLD GLD GLD GLD GLD GLD GLD
CRO v MAN CRO MAN MAN MAN MAN MAN
Last week 6 7 7 6 6 7
Total 86 102 104 107 95 108

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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