Our man and tipping guru Tipping Point is back to guide you through this week’s tips yet again. Some mouth-watering clashes but hard ones to tip, as some teams look to cement form and others look to regain it.
Round 18 Tips
Season: 75/129 (58%) Last week: 4/5
At a glance: Raiders, Roosters, Broncos, Storm, Sharks, Manly
Raiders v Knights, GIO Stadium
Friday night football returns to Canberra for the first time in a long time with GIO Stadium hosting two of the NRLâ€™s most out-of-form teams, with just one win between them from their last five games (ironically, it was Canberraâ€™s win over the Knights in round 14). The Knights in particularly have been abysmal recently, with just one win from their past 11. If you add in the Raidersâ€™ awful home record this year â€“ just one win from seven in 2015 â€“ and youâ€™ve got yourself a pretty awkward tip. On balance I think you have to take the Raiders; theyâ€™re bound to start winning at home soon and they traditionally finish seasons quite well. And as for the Knights? I think the spoon looms. Interestingly, new Raider Joey Leilua is unable to play against former club Newcastle as part of the deal that was brokered pre-June 30.
Panthers v Roosters, Pepper Stadium
The Roosters head to the foot of the mountains firm favourites against a resurgent Panthers outfit that many are tipping to squeeze into the top eight despite a massive injury toll. On recent form you give the Panthers plenty of hope having enjoyed consecutive wins over the Tigers and the Bunnies, but I think the Chooks will be too good here, especially with the Origin contingent all tipped to back up. What worries me about this game is that the Roosters are hot and cold, and tend to play poorly against the weaker sides; I think an honest Penrith side should bring out their best, and even with the dreaded â€œaway favouriteâ€ tag I think theyâ€™ll get the job done.
Bulldogs v Broncos, ANZ Stadium
This is the match of the round for mine, and I canâ€™t wait to see these sides go at it, in particular the Origin players â€“ five New South Welshman and four Queenslanders will resume hostilities and Iâ€™m sure the Blues contingent will be looking to repair some dented pride. These sides have been red-hot lately, in particular the table-topping Broncos who havenâ€™t lost a game since round 10. With a solid record at ANZ and a winning record over the Dogs I expect their winning streak to continue on Saturday night: the Broncos look in ominous form in 2015 and I think the fact that their halves and hooker do not play Origin keeps a spring in their step. The Dogs will take some beating though, but the Broncos are top of the table for a reason.
Warriors v Storm, Mt Smart Stadium
I always enjoy when these sides come together because an awesome game of footy usually ensues. As they often do, the Warriors got through the Origin period with a few sneaky wins and will be confident of victory over a Storm outfit which has been battered by injuries and indifferent form, with just one win from their last five. I wouldnâ€™t actually read much into recent form though, and I reckon this game and the Warriorsâ€™ overwhelming favouritism is a trap. To use cricketing terminology, the Warriors are flat-track bullies, running up scores against the lesser sides but coming up well short against the better sides. Theyâ€™ll also be without Hoffman and Hurrell due to injury. Meanwhile, with their Origin trio back on deck, the Storm will not give an inch in this game and I expect them to come away with the two points.
Sharks v Dragons, Remondis Stadium
Two traditional rivals come together on a Sunday afternoon in the Shire in what is a repeat of their round 12 clash. The Dragons got the cash in that game quite handsomely, but itâ€™s a very different Red V that will take the field, both in terms of personnel and form. Ironically, the Dragons havenâ€™t won a game since round 12, and have turned in some disappointing performances with a mounting injury list taking a real toll. I have to say I like the Sharks here. Playing at home and with some pretty decent form, I think they can get up and break their recent losing record over the Dragons. For the Dragons, Dugan is in massive doubt which robs the Red V of their biggest attacking threat, whereas the Sharks are tipped to be without Gallen who is now a week-to-week proposition with the rib injury he suffered in Origin II.
Titans v Manly, Cbus Super Stadium
Titans fans wouldâ€™ve drawn a circle around this fixture ever since DCE announced his contract backflip, but I donâ€™t think Manly will be fazed by what will no doubt be a paltry Monday night crowd on the Goldie. The Titans have played well above their weight this year, but I canâ€™t see them winning any games until Aidan Sezer returns. Manly ought to be too good in this one, otherwise they can start planning Mad Monday.
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