The 2016 NRL season continues this weekend with the last major bye round. There are only four matches to be played over four days but most of the teams will be hit hard by the origin selections. Continue reading as we our NRL Round 18 Preview and Betting Tips.
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Parramatta Eels vs Sydney Roosters (Friday 7.50pm AEST)
The Eels terrible week was compounded by a loss to the Sharks on the weekend that all but sees their finals hopes diminished. It is likely they will be deducted the 12-competition points this week which will see them drop to the bottom half of the table. However, there were positive signs for the future as Bevan French crossed for a hat trick and showed off his pace and footwork throughout the match. He is tipped to replace Michael Gordan at fullback next season, which gives their fans something to celebrate in the near future.
Meanwhile the Roosters have had a terrible season themselves and have registered just three wins. They were their own worst enemy against the Bulldogs as they should have claimed the victory but they bombed multiple opportunities by dropping the ball over the line or the last pass being forward. Mitchell Pearce put on a great performance in his return to action and he will need to continue that into this weekend if the Roosters are to stand a chance in this one. The Eels have lost a lot of punch in the middle of the field and that will be where they lose this weekend with the Roosters having a lot of punch up the middle of the field. Meanwhile they will be deflated after losing their competition points and they won’t be able to put together an 80-minute performance.
Canterbury Bulldogs vs Wests Tigers (Saturday 7.35pm AEST)
These two sides will be severely undermanned this weekend with their best players representing their state on Wednesday night in State of Origin. The Bulldogs will be without Josh Jackson and David Klemmer but Josh and Brett Morris will remain in the side, which is a massive boost for the club. Meanwhile the Tigers will be without their captain Aaron Woods and Robbie Farah whilst James Tedesco will make his debut for New South Wales at fullback.
The impact is a lot worse on the Tigers as they lose their best forward, their hooker and their best attacking weapon. Whilst Jackson and Klemmer are key players for the Bulldogs game plan, they are replaced easier as the dogs have a lot of depth in the forwards and have forwards such as James Graham and Aiden Tolman who can play big minutes. They also keep together their back line which has been clicking lately as they have won their past four matches and climbed into the top-four for the first time this season. I am predicting their forward pack to get the upper hand comfortably in this contest whilst the Tigers will struggle to score points without their livewire fullback making a massive impact from the back of the field.
Penrith Panthers vs Cronulla Sharks (Sunday 4pm AEST)
The Cronulla Sharks created history against the Eels as they won their 12th-straight match and maintained their spot on the top of the table. The side has taken great strides forward throughout this period and are now the premiership favourites. However, this weekend they are massive outsiders for obvious reasons as they will be without five of their stars. James Maloney, Andrew Fifita, Paul Gallen, Wade Graham and Jack Bird will be playing for New South Wales, which will bring massive changes for the team this weekend. The side does have a lot of depth but unfortunately for them they are facing a Panthers outfit they won’t be making any changes to their squad as Matt Moylan was overlooked for James Tedesco after putting in two solid performances in Game 1 and 2.
Moylan will come out with a chip on his shoulder and will want to have a terrific game to show New South Wales fans what they will be missing out on whilst he will want to state his claim to return to the side in the future. The Panthers fell to the Tigers on the weekend in a disappointing performance, as they weren’t able to capitalise on their opportunities and the score line favoured them in the end as they piled on two tries in the dying minutes. Nathan Clearly continued to play at a high level for an 18-year-old halfback playing in just his 4th NRL game whilst Bryce Cartwright was caught out defensively in the five-eighth position as he James Tedesco burned him on multiple occasions. Cartwright is a natural back rower and he could continue to be a liability defending in this position. However, with the Sharks missing five of their best stars, we are predicting a narrow victory for the home side.
Canberra Raiders vs North Queensland Cowboys (Monday 7pm AEST)
The Raiders almost blew two-competition points on the weekend as they trailed the Newcastle Knights by 22-points early in the first half. The Knights are currently sitting on the top of the table and just have one victory to their name and it would have been an embarrassing loss for the Green Machine, especially on home soil.
However, the side was able to regroup at halftime and lock the scores up before they would eventually clinch the match with a remarkable try in golden point. The win has pushed them into a great position on the ladder and they will want to maintain their momentum with a win against a depleted Cowboys outfit.
The defending champions will be without Johnathan Thurston, Michael Morgan, Justin O’Neil, Kane Linnet, James Tamou, Gavin Cooper and Matt Scott due to Origin and injury. This rules out half of the side’s starting line up which will bring in a lot of inexperienced players into the squad. The Raiders should take advantage of the Cowboys being without their forward pack as the Green Machine has one of the biggest in the competition. This will put the side on the front foot and contribute massively to the team creating scoring opportunities.
Take note: Any of the tips in this article are simply the author’s opinion, so bet at your own risk and always gamble responsibly. Also be sure to check out the Before You Bet Twitter Page for all our thoughts in the lead up to bets! Happy punting!
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