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The Roar’s NRL expert tips and predictions: Round 22

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11th August, 2021
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After two weeks of frankly seemingly big games which let down a majority of fans, Round 22 hits and it could be a return to the real blowouts on paper. This is The Roar’s NRL expert tipping for Round 22.

While there were some closer games in Round 21, they weren’t particularly where they would have produced the best footy, with the Rabbitohs trouncing the Eels, and the Panthers and Roosters not putting on a great show despite the 20-14 scoreline.

Melbourne’s ten-point win over Manly might have given us a clearer idea about which teams can push the purple horde to the brink though.

On the tipping front, AJ and I had a dismal week trying to make up ground, grabbing only five. Everyone else managed to get seven, with no-one tipping the Warriors. While everyone got that particular upset wrong, I tipped the Broncos, AJ took the Roosters and we both put far too much faith in Canterbury. Or was that a lack of faith in the Tigers?

Anyway, Round 22.

The Storm will play the Raiders on Thursday evening in a game that looks and feels like one-way traffic. The Storm have been a bit clunky in the last three weeks, it’d be fair to say, but they are overdue to get back to their best.

The Dragons play the Panthers and Brisbane will play the Roosters in a Friday night no-one is likely to remember before Saturday starts with the Rabbitohs and Titans in what is likely to be a high-scoring shootout. The Cowboys then play the Tigers in a game that – well, who knows. It could be anything.

The Sea Eagles and Eels will clash in the late Saturday game. It’s a game with a mountain of top-four implications, but judging by the Eels’ form in the last couple of weeks, it could be a bust.

Sunday sees the Warriors play the Bulldogs – and isn’t there something about those Warriors at the moment? Back-to-the-wall stuff. It’s a shame they are no chance of making the finals.

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The Knights and Sharks finish things off for Round 22 in a game with enormous finals implications.

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 22.

I’ll hand it over to the clubhouse leader and resident poet – although there is no poetry this week – The Barry to lead us off.

Jahrome Hughes runs.

(Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

The Barry

Tips: Storm, Panthers, Roosters, Rabbitohs, Cowboys, Sea Eagles, Warriors, Knights

With the Raiders lending the Bulldogs a couple of players this week, I’d love to see them get a win. Craig Bellamy and the purple rain make it hard to see how that could happen. The Raiders’ best chance comes if Bellyache starts rotating and resting his key players, but even then…

Panthers haven’t had things their own way over the past couple of months. They’ll be looking to flex against the fading Dragons and should win well.

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The Broncos are the only team below fourth spot to have beaten the Roosters this year. I can’t really see lightning striking twice. It’s been interesting to see how the Roosters have used Joey Manu over the past month or so. Smart coaching.

The Titans could really make a statement here and go close to nailing down a top-eight spot with a win against Souths. Unfortunately that seems to be the time they’re most likely to stumble. Normally Souths would be fighting for a top-two spot, but with semi-finals being played at neutral venues, finishing second or third is all academic.

Cowboys to beat the Tigers.

Manly-Parra has to be the game of the round. The Sea Eagles can stake a claim for a top-four finish, which seemed inconceivable after the first month of the competition. Parramatta are in their late-season freefall yet again, and talk of million-dollar demands from their captain in August is pretty demonstrative of why this happens.

Warriors to beat the BullRaiders. Bullders. Bulldozers. Whatever. Thanks to the green machine for lending us two of their guys.

Despite doing everything they can to prevent it, the Sharks are still somehow clinging onto eighth spot as a traffic jam mounts behind them. The Knights can be every bit as frustrating but should maybe possibly get the win here.

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Mary Konstantopoulos

Tips: Storm, Panthers, Roosters, Rabbitohs, Cowboys, Sea Eagles, Warriors, Knights

It’s incredibly difficult to tip against the Storm at the moment. Even after not being at the best against Manly last week, the Storm still won convincingly, showing us all why they are favourites to win the premiership. The Raiders usually aim up against the Storm, but I am not brave enough to tip them, which means Ricky Stuart will need to wait at least one more week for his 100th victory as Raiders coach.

The Panthers may still be missing Nathan Cleary, but with Matt Burton playing as confidently as he is, the Panthers should have no trouble beating the Dragons. Despite looking like making the top eight at the start of the year, the impact of the suspensions has really hurt the Dragons, and in recent weeks they have also missed the stability of Ben Hunt. No doubt Tariq Sims will also be sorely missed in the Dragons pack this weekend.

Even with so many missing players – you can add Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Angus Crichton to the list too – I’m tipping the Roosters to beat the Broncos. The Broncos are a fascinating side that can score points when they stop making silly errors, play basic footy and don’t go for the ‘hail Mary’ play on each tackle. But the Broncos still have too many errors and silly play in their game to beat a side as classy as the Roosters.

The Titans have improved significantly over recent weeks, so I’m keen to see how they go against a top team like the Rabbitohs. I’m tipping the Rabbitohs, but I want to see how the Titans aim up. In the past the Titans have struggled when play does not go their way; if they do that against a side like the Bunnies, their for and against will suffer.

The Cowboys have not won a game in a long time, and I think that losing streak ends this week against the Wests Tigers. The Wests Tigers just scraped home against the Bulldogs last week and have been my most disappointing side of the year. Their lack of willingness to defend has been hurting them, and I expect the Cowboys to take full advantage of that.

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The Sea Eagles will beat the Eels, and as an Eels fan the less said about this game and the Eels recent performances, the better. The Warriors will continue their stellar finish to the season with another win over the Bulldogs.

The last game should be a beauty. The Sharks’ finals hopes are hanging by a thread after losing a very winnable game last week. The Knights’ confidence is soaring at the moment, and I’m predicting they beat the Sharks and cement that top eight spot.

Nathan Cleary of the Panthers celebrates kicking a field goal

(Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

David Holden

Tips: Storm, Panthers, Roosters, Rabbitohs, Cowboys, Sea Eagles, Warriors, Knights

My admittedly very rough calculations suggest there are 41 NRL games remaining this season, including the finals series. While the Crowd may be hard to catch at this point, the three-tip differential to the Barry is far from insurmountable.

All I need is some 50-50 games, which I guess haven’t been that plentiful this year. But it’s the business end of the season, so surely there are some cliffhangers out there for me to pick – or guess correctly. With that in mind, onto this week.

First up on Thursday night we get the Storm and the Raiders. Did we see just a little flicker of fear in Craig Bellamy’s eyes last weekend? Melbourne eventually got the win, but the Sea Eagles performance suggests it won’t all be one-way traffic in September.

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Having said that, the Storm are playing the Raiders and not Tommy Turbo’s team. The Raiders seem to have rediscovered some of their lost mojo, but it won’t be enough to win.

BBQ gate appears over for the Dragons for the moment, but Ben Hunt remains on the sidelines. Things are not necessarily purring for the Panthers either at the moment, but they are still winning. Even with a few key players out they should account for St George.

The Broncos have shown some improved form in recent weeks, maybe as a result of playing nothing but home games. It’s still not enough for Kevin Walters though, who will give version 17 of his halves combinations a shot on the weekend.

I’m cold on the Roosters, and Angus Crichton’s suspension will make them only more susceptible to a good old-fashioned plucking. But they seem to beat the teams below them on the ladder, so I will tip the Roosters this week.

The Rabbits and Titans should be an entertaining match-up on Saturday afternoon. Rather than being a two-horse race, I think the title is now between four clubs, with the Sea Eagles and Rabbits the new additions.

Call him a master tactician, mercurial or even a pain in the backside, but Wayne Bennett would love nothing more than to depart Redfern after winning the premiership. They will get the win.

The thought of the Cowboys and Tigers on Saturday night doesn’t fill me with excitement. Those Tigers fans still dreaming of a miracle run to the eight should know better. I’m going to go with the Cowboys purely because they are playing at home. We will leave it up to Annastacia Palaszczuk, but they may even have a home crowd cheering them on.

Are the Eels gone for 2021? I don’t want to be a doomsday merchant, but it certainly appears that way. Reed Mahoney, sadly, is gone for the year and Clint Gutherson is struggling for form. Compare that to a Manly team that gets better each week. The Eels will fall out of the top four this round.

The Warriors are rightly upset. No-one told them that the grand final might get played in New Zealand. If they knew that, they would have tried harder this year. Even Roger Tuivasa-Sheck might have hung around. No matter how upset they are, they will beat the Bulldogs, who are just wishing for 2022 to hurry up and get here.

In a way that’s similar for the Sharks. They can still mathematically make the finals but won’t. Their defence has more cracks in it than the Titanic, and we know how that ended. The Sharks are sinking in 2021 and the Knights will hit Cronulla with the final torpedo required to end their season.

Reece Walsh

(Photo by Ashley Feder/Getty Images)

AJ Mithen

Tips: Raiders, Panthers, Roosters, Rabbitohs, Tigers, Sea Eagles, Warriors, Knights

I’m approaching the magical triple figures! All part of the plan to ascend to glorious victory! Here are the tips to keep my roller-coaster headed up.

The people’s team, mighty Canberra. Raiders to knock over the evil purple empire. I can see the No. 56 in the Storm’s future, and not in a good way.

Panthers over Dragons, who are just deplorable.

Roosters over Broncos, who are just terrible.

Tigers over Cowboys, both teams who are just shocking.

Sea Eagles over Eels, who are just putrid right now.

Warriors over Bulldogs, who are just laughable.

Finally, Knights over Sharks, who are just hopeless. This is a certainty this week because Newcastle can’t beat anyone good but turn into the 2005 Tigers against the duds.

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Scott Pryde

Tips: Storm, Panthers, Roosters, Titans, Cowboys, Sea Eagles, Warriors, Knights

This round looks simple in a lot of aspects, but there are still a few tricky games to work out. One of those is not the Storm and Raiders. Melbourne are so overdue for a cricket score you’d swear Craig Bellamy was on holiday. They’ll blast past the Raiders with ease.

In a similar vein, my Dragons have just gone to water. Penrith are another team overdue for a big performance, and while the signs haven’t really been there, I’m not sure they need to be against the Dragons despite all the suspensions now finishing.

Roosters over Broncos. By a thousand. The Roosters won’t drop two games to the Broncos in the same year.

I’m going for the upset to start Saturday. South Sydney play a dangerous game. It goes a little bit like this: you score as many points as you can, we will score more. That game is even more dangerous against a fired-up Titans side who need this one ahead of next week’s clash with Melbourne if they are to stick around in the finals. Not only that, but the Titans are known for their attack.

Gold Coast aren’t certainties, but they have looked the goods against albeit weak opposition in the past couple of weeks. I’d say there will be 60 or more points in this one regardless of the result.

I’ll take the Cowboys over the Tigers because it’s in Townsville. A three-hour flight doesn’t help good teams, which the Tigers aren’t. They barely beat the Bulldogs last week.

Tom Trbojevic Manly will beat the Eels. Parramatta are untippable against other top sides at the moment. Manly are probably the best of the rest behind Melbourne too, while Penrith have so many out.

The Warriors have been impressive the last fortnight. So many out, backs to the wall, and I really liked what I heard from Sean O’Sullivan in a mid-week presser. It’s a team that look like they are starting to find their way. Dangerous to think the Warriors will win three straight, but they might just do so.

The Sharks? Toast. They’ll need the biggest turnaround in fortunes since the Dragons mowed down Manly at Brookvale despite being down 24 with 23 minutes to go in 2004. Ah, the glory days…

Sorry, where was I? Ah, yes. Cronulla. How they lost to that undermanned Warriors team last week is a mystery. Anyway, they miss more tackles than any other team, which is a recipe for Kalyn Ponga and Mitchell Pearce to have a field day.

Round 22 AJ Mary David The Barry Scott Crowd
MEL v CAN CAN MEL MEL MEL MEL MEL
STI v PEN PEN PEN PEN PEN PEN PEN
BRI v SYD SYD SYD SYD SYD SYD SYD
SOU v GLD SOU SOU SOU SOU GLD SOU
NQL v WST WST NQL NQL NQL NQL WST
MAN v PAR MAN MAN MAN MAN MAN MAN
NZL v CBY NZL NZL NZL NZL NZL NZL
CRO v NEW NEW NEW NEW NEW NEW NEW
Last week 5 7 7 7 5 7
Total 95 113 116 119 106 120

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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