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The Roar’s NRL expert tips and predictions Round 20: Plethora of stars back in action as teams fight for their place in the Top 8

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19th July, 2023
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Hey Roarers!

We finally had the last of the split rounds, it’s now full steam ahead to the finals.

The Knights were too strong against the Tigers on Friday night, taking out a 34-18 win up at Newcastle. It was an important two points for the home side, and while it’s a tough time in Tiger Town at the moment, but their shining light is their young fullback Jahream Bula – what a superstar he is destined to become.

The Broncos didn’t let the emotion of Josh Reynolds playing his final game for the Bulldogs affect their mission, with another Reynolds by the name of Adam having a blinder and leading his side to a 44-24 win at Belmore.

The Cowboys have found their form at the right time of the season, making it five wins in a row after taking down the Sea Eagles 19-8 at Brookie.

I have been saying it for most of the season – what are they putting in the lattes out at Bondi? The Roosters were dealt their tenth loss of the year, going down 30-16 against the Storm at the SCG on Saturday night.

Let’s Gone Warriors! Our mates across the ditch had a party against the Sharks, with a huge 44-12 win in front of their home crowd. Shaun Johnson and Luke Metcalfe were in great form against their old club – whose tag of being the team that can’t beat anyone in the Top 8 continues to stick.

The Dolphins gave the Panthers a bit of a scare up at Redcliffe on Saturday, but the Premiers held their nerve and fought back for a 24-14 win.

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What a way to end the round! Eels were down to 11 men, shoulders and knees flying everywhere, a try you had to see to believe, one major call missed as per Graham Annesley, three players suspended – and in amongst all of that the Eels beat the Titans 25-24.

AJ and Manly tipped the card getting all seven correct, with Mike and Paul just behind each getting six. Stuart and I each tipped five, while it was another tough week for The Crowd with three. Stuart is still in the lead on 93, with Mike closing in n 97. Mary and Paul are both on 88, while AJ has jumped up to fifth on 84. The Crowd have slipped down to sixth on 81, while I’m still loving life on the golf course on 78.

Ok, onto Round 21! There are some big names on the sideline for teams that must win, including Tino Fa’asuamaleaui, Reagan Campbell-Gillard and Maiko Sivo.

But my goodness, it’s the who’s who of players coming back in pretty much every match, including Josh Papali’i, Bunty Afoa, Reece Walsh, Payne Haas, James Tedesco, Dane Gagai, Nathan Cleary, Viliame Kikau, Dale Finucane – as well as about 1000 Bunnies including Latrell Mitchell.

BRING! IT! ON!

We begin with the battle for the spoon as the 16th-placed Dragons host the last-placed Tigers 7:50pm tonight at WIN Stadium. Let’s just all hope for the best, ok?

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Friday night footy kicks off in New Zealand to watch the fifth-placed Warriors and the fourth-placed Raiders at Go Media Stadium at 6pm. The Warriors are eyeing a Top 4 spot while the Raiders will be doing everything they can to keep theirs.

Then it’s up to Sunshine Coast Stadium for the Adam Reynolds Cup between second-placed Broncos and the eighth-placed Rabbitohs at 8pm. The Bunnies are the strongest they have been in a while and know they must win to stay in the eight.

Super Saturday starts at 3pm at Cbus Super Stadium when the 12th-placed Titans host the 14th-placed Roosters. Did anyone pick Gold Coast to be above the Chooks at this time of the year?

BALLARAT, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 27: Cameron Munster of the Storm passes the ball during the NRL Trial Match between the Melbourne Storm and the Newcastle Knights at Mars Stadium on February 27, 2022 in Ballarat, Australia. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

(Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

The Knights are sitting in tenth and on a mission to play finals footy. They host the third-placed Storm on Saturday at 5.30pm at McDonald Jones Stadium who have well and truly found their groove.

Another two teams who have come good at the right time of year are the ninth-placed Cowboys and the seventh placed Eels. Queensland Country Bank Stadium at 7.35pm is the place to be for one of the games of the round – this will be awesome!

Um…..then on Sunday, we have this game. Ladder leaders the Panthers host the 15th-placed Bulldogs at 2pm at BlueBet Stadium. Do we have the mercy rule in the NRL?

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To wrap up the round it’s the sixth-placed Sharks taking on the eleventh-placed Sea Eagles at Poinstbet Stadium at 4pm. Cronulla are happy because Manly are out of the Top 8, Manly are happy because Cronulla are playing like crap. Anything could happen with this one!

The Dolphins have the bye, and I think they will be spending the weekend working out all the mathematical equations they can of still making the finals.

If you want to go up against the experts, remember to get your tips in by 5pm tonight to be counted in The Crowd’s tips.

Happy tipping everyone!

Stuart Thomas

Dragons, Warriors, Rabbitohs, Titans, Storm, Cowboys, Panthers, Sharks

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The Tigers are a tough team to tip at the best of times, let alone up against the Dragons at WIN Stadium and without Luke Brooks.

Warriors versus Raiders looks a belter between fourth and fifth on the ladder, with plenty of stars returning. New Zealand in the game of the round.

All the stars are back for the Bunnies clash with the Broncos on the Sunshine Coast. Finally, Souths are able to field a team that looks like a winning one on paper. Latrell to make all the difference as Brisbane start their late-season fade.

The Titans should beat the Roosters at home, with the loser of the match kissing goodbye to season 2023.

Melbourne are rolling along nicely. The Knights do not have the weapons to match them through the centre third and a comfortable Storm win is on the cards.

Cowboys and Eels is another ripping match-up. Home turf could decide the winner, with both teams desperate to keep top-four hopes alive with two competition points.

Penrith will put plenty of the Bulldogs on Sunday, with Cameron Ciraldo certain to be under pressure across the final six weeks due to a very disappointing season at the helm.

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The Sharks should beat the Sea Eagles at home because they simply have to if the top four is still on their radar.

(Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Mary Konstantopoulos

Dragons, Warriors, Brisbane, Titans, Storm, Cowboys, Panthers, Sharks

What a way to start the weekend; with the battle for the wooden spoon. I don’t want to spend too much time talking about these disappointing teams, but I’m tipping the Dragons. The Tigers just seem to live in a state of dysfunction and with that chaos occurring around the team, I can’t possibly see them being successful.

This game could determine who makes the top four at the end of the season and I am all in with the Warriors. They have been my most improved team of the year and certainly have the forward pack to match it with the Raiders. Shaun Johnson is in exceptional form and I’m tipping the Warriors to get it done in front of their home crowd.

What about the ins for this next game? It could be a preview to the Grand Final. I’m going to tip the Broncos in this one simply because I think it might take South Sydney a little bit of time to get back to their best, especially with several key players returning from injury. Reece Walsh will no doubt be explosive in this game and I’m looking forward to the fullback battle between him and Latrell Mitchell.

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Is it an upset if I tip the Titans against the Roosters? The Titans have been much improved in recent weeks and after a couple of very narrow losses they are due a win. The Roosters season is over, so I wonder how they will be showing up for the rest of the season.

The Storm will beat the Knights.

The next game should also be a cracker. It’s a shame that the Eels will be missing a couple of players. I’m tipping the Cowboys because of their home-ground advantage, the players the Eels are missing and also because the Cowboys will no doubt be looking for revenge after the grand final qualifier last year.

The Panthers will thrash the Bulldogs and the Sharks will beat the Sea Eagles.

TOWNSVILLE, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 23: Jason Taumalolo of the Cowboys runs the ball during the NRL Preliminary Final match between the North Queensland Cowboys and the Parramatta Eels at Queensland Country Bank Stadium on September 23, 2022 in Townsville, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

(Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Paul Suttor

Dragons, Warriors, Rabbitohs, Titans, Storm, Cowboys, Panthers, Sharks

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Wests Tigers will seal their second straight wooden spoon in Wollongong. Dragons by 16.

The Warriors will remove any remaining doubt that they are top-four contenders against Canberra. Warriors by 10.

Souths will get back in the grand final conversation with all their big guns back in Brisbane. Rabbitohs by 8.

Gold Coast will all but extinguish the Roosters’ flickering finals flame. Titans by 6.

Newcastle are not as terrible as you might think but the Storm are much better. Melbourne by 12.

North Queensland are looking dangerous, the Eels lack discipline. Cowboys by 7.

Penrith have all their stars back, the Bulldogs don’t have a prayer. Panthers by 36.

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Cronulla have made some long overdue selection changes that will get them past Manly. Sharks by 14.

Jared Waerea-Hargreaves of the Roosters is tackled during the NRL Elimination Final match between Sydney Roosters and Gold Coast Titans.

Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

Mike Meehall Wood

Dragons, Warriors, Rabbitohs, Roosters, Storm, Cowboys, Panthers, Sharks,

I absolutely live for a Spoonbowl, and this is the spooniest in years. Two genuinely awful teams, but I suspect the Dragons will be a mite less awful.

Warriors are great, the Raiders might be more lucky than good. Wahs to keep the good vibes going.

Souths have everyone back and need to win, the Broncos don’t and don’t. Bunnies to take it.

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The bludger’s bludger on the Gold Coast, with the team that can’t attack against the team that can’t defend. I’ll take the Chooks with no confidence.

The Storm will make mincemeat of the Knights (sorry Danielle).

Parra would have been my tip, but without RCG, they’ll struggle. Cowboys to win but it might be closer than people expect.

I don’t think I’ve ever been as confident in anything as the Panthers getting up this weekend. 50-0 would be light for the Dogs.

I’d love to tip my beautiful Beaches boys, but they let you down. The Sharks are underwhelming against good teams, but Manly aren’t very good so Cronulla will win.

Marcelo Montoya of the Warriors is tackled.

 (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

AJ Mithen

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Tigers, Raiders, Rabbitohs, Titans, Storm, Cowboys, Panthers, Sea Eagles

Tigers over Dragons in the battle of the bludgers. 

Your presumptive champions, The people’s team, the Canberra Raiders will head to Auckland and lay a casual 56 on the hapless Warriors.

Souths will send a message to the comp with a full squad by knocking over the Broncos.

Titans over Roosters with absolutely no confidence, cos it’s a game the Gold Coast should win.

Storm over Knights in a close one. 

Cowboys over Eels and I reckon they’ll paste them. 

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Penrith to beat Canterbury cos LOL Bulldogs. 

Manly to beat Cronulla and get them away from the top four. Sharks are pretenders!

 (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

Danielle Smith

Tigers, Warriors, Broncos, Titans, Knights, Cowboys, Panthers, Sea Eagles

The players from both teams will know what everyone thinks of this game and will be determined to put on a good show. I’m going Tigers in a close and hopefully exciting game.

I’m loving what the Warriors have brought to the competition this season, and their footy has been sensational to watch. They will get the win comfortably at home.

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I am so pumped for this game! Superstars all the way down the team list, the Bunnies wanting to stay in the Top 8, while the Broncos want the top spot. Huge coin flip………hmmmmmmm…….I’m going Adam Reynolds and his men in a thriller.

Desperate times call for desperate measures, and both these teams need to desperately win. I think the Chooks are cooked – I’m tipping the Titans.

Another cracker of a game. Had the Eels lost last week to the Titans (which they should of) the Cowboys would have jumped into the Top 8. Instead, they sit in ninth spot and are busting to break in. I’m tipping the Cowboys at home.

Hooley Dooley. No coin flip required. Panthers.

This could be a belter or a bludger. Sea Eagles in a close one.

Six-time premiership winners the Melbourne Storm? Never heard of them. As always, I’m tipping my Knights.

Round 21AJDanielleMaryMikePaulStuartCrowd
STI V WSTWSTWSTSTISTISTISTI ?
NZL V CANCANNZLNZLNZLNZLNZL ?
SOU V BRISOUBRIBRISOUSOUSOU ?
GLD V SYDGLDGLDGLDSYDGLDGLD ?
NEW V MELMELNEWMELMELMELMEL ?
NQL V PARNQLNQLNQLNQLNQLNQL ?
PEN V CBYPENPENPENPENPENPEN ?
CRO V MANMANMANCROCROCROCRO ?
Last week 7 5 6 6 5 3
Total8478889188 9381
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