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The Roar’s NRL expert tips and predictions Round 26: Teams scramble for position as star hopeful for long-awaited return

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23rd August, 2023
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Hey Roarers!

Heroics and heartbreak, close calls and controversy – just another week in the NRL!

The Cowboys remain on the wrong side of the Top 8 after going down to the Sharks 32-12 on Thursday night. Not even Jason Taumalolo’s 250th game was enough to motivate the Cowboys, with the Sharks putting in a solid performance to take home the valuable two points.

The Warriors were pushed to the limit by the Sea Eagles on Friday, taking out a 29-22 win at home on Friday night. The victory was overshadowed by a controversial call on a tackle by CNK on Reuben Garrick that has divided the masses. What did you think of it, Roarers?

Somehow the Roosters are still in it, taking out a 34-12 win on Friday night at Commbank Stadium. It’s been a tough season for Parramatta who gone from holding the title of 2022 Grand Finalists to now not playing September footy.

We were back out at Commbank on Saturday afternoon where the Tigers secured their fourth win of the year with a nail-biting 24-23 victory over the Dolphins. A Jamayne Isaako field goal was trumped by a sideline Api Koroisau penalty goal that hit the crossbar and bounced over.

Despite the Titans taking an early lead over the Panthers on Saturday afternoon on the GC, a controversial sin-binning to the home side was the beginning of the end. The premiers eventually kicked into gear and went on for a dominant 40-14 win. The Penrith juggernaut just keeps on keeping on.

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The Dragons pushed the Storm all the way on Saturday night down in Wollongong, with the visitors crossing late for a 38-28 win. Jahrome Hughes remains one of the most underrated playmakers in the game, and that hit from Eli Katoa was just beautiful.

Can you still see the huge smile on my face? The Knights made it seven wins on the trot with a 29-10 victory over the Rabbitohs on Sunday in Newcastle. KP is flying, Marzhew is a machine, the officials showed they can count to eight, and Latrell just keeps making friends wherever he goes!

The Raiders and Bulldogs finished off the round down in the nation’s capital, with the Green Machine scoring two late tries to sneak home with a 36-24 win.

AJ was the only one to tip the Sharkies, which saw him take out a perfect round. Paul and Stuart tipped seven, Mary, Mike and I tipped six, while it was a tough week for you legends in The Crowd tipping four. Mike and Stuart now share the lead on 121, while Mary is in third on 118. Paul sits in fourth on 117, with AJ still in fifth on 112. The Crowd is sixth on 105, while yours truly has finally cracked the hundred, now on 104.

Ok, onto round 26 – two to go!

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The table-leading Panthers host the 11th-placed Eels tonight at Bluebet Stadium at 7.50pm. We seem such a world away from last October.

The 16th-placed Dragons head across the ditch on Friday to face third-placed Warriors at Go Media Stadium at 6pm. There is still a chance the Red V could get the spoon………

Then it’s back across to Suncorp Stadium where the 14th-placed Dolphins take on a desperate 9th-placed Cowboys with their finals chances on the line at 8pm. We are also in for a great battle of the fullbacks when former teammates Hammer and Drinky go head-to-head.

Super Saturday kicks off down in Melbourne as 4th placed Storm host the 13th-placed Titans at AAMI Park at 3pm. All eyes will be on Paps – will he play?

We then make our way up to Allianz Stadium to see the 10th-placed Roosters and the last-placed Tigers at 5:30pm. Are we in for another 66-point thrashing by the Chooks, or is an upset on the cards?

Then it’s back down the freeway to see the 6th-placed Raiders host the 2nd-placed Broncos at 7.35pm. The Green Machine can’t afford a loos with such a poor for and against, while the Broncs will be eyeing that minor premiership.

Sunday Footy begins at 2pm when the 15th-placed Bulldogs clash with the 12th-placed Sea Eagles at Accor Stadium. Maybe it will be good?

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And then it’s back up to Newy for another Sunday blockbuster when the 7th-placed Knights take on the 5th-placed Sharks at McDonald Jones Stadium at 4pm.

The Rabbitohs have the bye…something tells me they won’t all be hanging out together in their spare time.

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

Panthers, Warriors, Dolphins, Storm, Roosters, Broncos, Bulldogs, Knights

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The Eels look to have lost interest. They are simply no chance against the Panthers on Thursday. A travelling Dragons squad will also have little hope against a Warriors side set to secure a spot in the top four.

The Dolphins are travelling a little better than they did a month or so back and the Cowboys found nothing against the Sharks last week. In something of a 50/50 tip, I’ll back the Dolphins at home.

I’m not going out a limb by saying the Storm will be too strong for the Gold Coast on Saturday afternoon.

I’m tipping the Roosters with little confidence this week. James Tedesco is out and the team sheet continues to look better than performances on the paddock. Surely they beat the Tigers who nabbed a rare win last week?

It is a big banana skin game for the Broncos in Canberra. The Raiders rounded up the Dogs last week, but this is a far tougher test and the away team still has eyes on top spot. Brisbane by a slim margin, even without Adam Reynolds.

The Sea Eagles are faltering badly late in the season, yet still should be too good for a Canterbury team that simply cannot defend effectively for long periods. Actually, reverse that. There is something wrong at Manly. Dogs to win. 

The Knights and Sharks looks the match of the round and both have a little momentum as the finals approach. McDonald Jones Stadium will be packed and buzzing for this one. Knights in a cracking affair with plenty of points scored for the fans.

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Daniel Tupou of the Roosters scores a try

(Photo by Scott Gardiner/Getty Images)

Mary Konstantopoulos

Panthers, Warriors, Cowboys, Storm, Roosters, Broncos, Sea Eagles, Knights

The Eels season has really fallen in a heap. There are lots of excuses I can make and a lot of improvements that can be made, but the team looks tired and ready for this season to end. Penrith are still fighting for that Minor Premiership and have everything to play for, so I’m picking them for a win.

The Dragons have improved in recent weeks and have pushed several teams above them on the ladder. But the Warriors continue to get the job done and will get it done again in front of their home crowd. 

While the Dolphins have overachieved and been fun to watch this year, they are completely out of players.
The Cowboys to win and keep their finals hopes alive.

The Storm will beat the Tigers and the Roosters will hold onto hope with a win against the Wests Tigers.

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The Raiders had their biggest win of the season last week (against the Bulldogs) but I just don’t see them being competitive against the Broncos who have been so exciting to watch this year.  

The Sea Eagles will beat the Bulldogs and I’m predicting the Knights to beat the Sharks in what is going to be match of the round.

(Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

(Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Paul Suttor

Panthers, Dragons, Cowboys, Storm, Roosters, Broncos, Sea Eagles, Sharks

Penrith are resting players even though Ivan Cleary claims they have some sort of injury. If he sits another 10, the Eels might have a chance. Panthers by 20

The Warriors are wavering, St George Illawarra are showing some steel. An upset is brewing in Auckland like a DB Bitter. Dragons by 4

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The Dolphins are running out the clock, the possibility of staying in the finals race should be enough to fire up North Queensland. Cowboys by 8

Melbourne could put 50 on the Titans who have probably thrown their last punches before going to the canvas. Storm by 26

The Roosters will eradicate any hope Wests had of avoiding the spoon. Roosters by 10

Canberra are perplexingly staying in the finals race despite being an average side. Broncos by 12

Canterbury and Manly at Accor Stadium, there’s speculation doing the rounds that there are still tickets available if you get in quick. Sea Eagles by 12

Newcastle are on a streak of seven, Cronulla are on a sequence of three. The Sharks will be the streakers after this one. Sharks by 4

Cammeron McInnes runs the ball

(Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

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Mike Meehall Wood

Panthers, Warriors, Cowboys, Storm, Roosters, Broncos, Sea Eagles, Knights

The Panthers will thrash the Eels, who have nothing to play for anyway.

The Warriors have been out of form, but nobody is tipping the Dragons here. NZW get it done.

The Cowboys have to win, the Dolphins don’t. NQ will take it.

Melbourne in Melbourne against a team that can’t tackle. Easy pick, Storm to win.

The Chooks are on a roll and could top last year’s 72-6 against a busted Tigers.

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The Raiders underwhelm, the Broncos are off the bye…Brisbane to take it but it might be close.

Manly v Canterbury could be absolutely anything…I’ll take my Beaches boys out of loyalty and nothing else.

Newcastle are in red-hot form and the Sharks aren’t going bad either. I’ll take the Knights on home advantage but this should be a cracker whatever happens

WOLLONGONG, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 23: Shaun Johnson of the Warriors scores a try during the round 17 NRL match between St George Illawarra Dragons and New Zealand Warriors at WIN Stadium on June 23, 2023 in Wollongong, Australia. (Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images)

(Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images)

AJ Mithen

Panthers, Warriors, Cowboys, Storm, Roosters, Raiders, Sea Eagles, Sharks

Yes, you’re right to swoon at my perfect round 25 as I hit the line with the style of a tipping Usain Bolt. Copy me this week if you want, I’m here for you.

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Penrith to mathematically shut the door on Parramatta for 2023.

The Warriors in a minimum-effort tuneup against the Dragons.

Cowboys over Dolphins, but it’s not impossible Wayne’s crew will get this one.

Storm over Titans.

Roosters over Tigers in a sneaky good one and your presumptive champions, the people’s team the Canberra Raiders will welcome club legend Kevin Walters to his old stomping ground before laying a casual 56 on his hapless Broncos.

I’ll take Manly over the Doggies in the whatever of the round, and Sharks over the Knights in what may be deemed a mild upset.

(Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

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Danielle Smith

Panthers, Warriors, Cowboys, Storm, Tigers, Broncos, Bulldogs, Knights

Panthers to hit the final nail in the Eels’ coffin before their last round bye and trip to Bali.

Dragons will put up a fight by the Wahs will get the job done at home.

Dolphins have a few names back and will give it a red-hot crack, but the Cowboys have a finals spot to play for and will be doing all they can for the two points.

The Storm will boost their points differential against the Titans.

I’m gonna do it! I’m tipping the Tiges!

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Broncos fresh off the bye will be too strong for the Raiders.

Hooley Dooley. Coin flip is needed for all of the wrong reasons…….hmmmmm……..Bulldogs.

Nicho Hynes? Never heard of him. As always, I’m tipping my Knights.

Round 26AJDanielleMaryMikePaulStuartCrowd
PEN V PARPENPENPENPENPENPEN ?
NZL V STINZLNZLNZLNZLSTINZL ?
DOL V NQLNQLNQLNQLNQLNQLDOL ?
MEL V GLDMELMELMELMELMELMEL ?
SYD V WSTSYDWSTSYDSYDSYDSYD ?
CAN V BRICANBRIBRIBRIBRIBRI ?
CBY V MANMANCBYMANMANMANCBY ?
NEW V CROCRONEWNEWNEWCRONEW ?
Last week 8 6 6 6 7 4
Total112104118121117121105
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