Here he is again, our man Tipping Point, to help you decide who to tip and the pros and cons behind it. A chance for a big tipping round this week, with only a couple of games truly undecided. Here are the tips.
Round 20 Tips
Season: 86/143 (60%) Last week: 6/8
At a glance: Broncos, Roosters, Warriors, Storm, Rabbitohs, Panthers, Bulldogs, Cowboys
Round 20 is shaping up like a full-toss from a part-time offie – everyone ought to hit it out of the park this week. Five matches this weekend have the underdog giving away over 10 points at the line which is just extraordinary for the NRL, a competition noted for the evenness of its field. If you havenâ€™t played your wildcard/joker card, now would be an ideal time to go for double points given the lopsided nature of some of the matches.
Broncos v Titans, Suncorp Stadium
Apart from their heavy loss in round one, the Broncos have been untouchable at Suncorp this season and with a good record over the Titans â€“ Gold Coast have only won in Brisbane once â€“ they should walk it in. Aidan Sezer returns for the Gold Coast in welcome news, as they were deadset diabolical last week against the Knights and need some direction from their classy halfback.
Tigers v Roosters, ANZ Stadium
Itâ€™s official, the Roosters are coming good. With six straight wins the Chooks are hurtling toward a top four finish and loom as a massive threat to the title. As for the Tigers? Anchored to the bottom of the ladder and with their skipper out indefinitely, the Tigers are reeling. Given Jason Taylorâ€™s comments during the week about a three-year rebuilding phase, things could get worse before they get better for the Tigers, and thereâ€™ll be more misery heaped upon them on Friday night.
Warriors v Sea Eagles, Mt Smart Stadium
Manly jet across the Tasman a broken side. With their finals aspirations crushed, their #7 in massive doubt and 14 players allegedly tapped on the shoulder during the week, things could get messy in Auckland, especially coming off a Monday night fixture. The Warriors ought to win this and win it well.
Storm v Dragons, McLean Park, Napier (NZ)
Straight off the bat this game is a lot closer than the odds would have you believe. At a neutral venue and with most of their key players back on deck, the Red V can definitely spring a surprise on the Storm, who Iâ€™d expect to be a bit flat after their massive victory last Friday for Cameron Smithâ€™s milestone game. Itâ€™ll also be the second time in three weeks that theyâ€™ve had to travel across the ditch. I know St George havenâ€™t won since May, but thatâ€™s bound to change sooner or later and it could well come on Saturday night. In saying all that, I personally will be taking the Storm but if you want to stand out from the crowd this week then the Dragons are the pick of the upsets.
Rabbitohs v Knights, ANZ Stadium
The Bunnies enjoyed a much-needed return to form last week over the Dragons and with Isaac Luke returning to the side I think theyâ€™re building toward top gear for their title defence. They have a great record at ANZ with nine wins from their past 11 and I donâ€™t think the Knights will get close to them.
Panthers v Raiders, Pepper Stadium
The whole round turns on this game where I anticipate the tipping spread to be split 50/50. With a potential perfect round up for grabs itâ€™s crucial to get this game right. The Panthers are narrowly ahead with the bookies despite their last-start shellacking against the Storm, and Canberraâ€™s strong away form in 2015 â€“ where theyâ€™ve won five from eight â€“ has many thinking the Green Machine can steal a win. What makes this tip even harder is that itâ€™s a long time since they last played â€“ weâ€™re talking round 10 in 2014 – so thereâ€™s no recent match-ups to compare. Thereâ€™s very little between the sides, but Iâ€™m leaning slightly toward the Panthers for the win. They generally lift at home, and I think they have the pack to match the Raiders and an edge in the halves, particularly with Sam Williams out. The Raiders were poor last week and I donâ€™t think Josh McCrone, playing his first FG game in over a year, is going to fix the directional issues they had against the Sharks. Iâ€™ll take the Panthers in a tight one.
Bulldogs v Sharks, Belmore Sports Ground
Itâ€™s back to Belmore for Sunday afternoon footy and it promises to be a cracking game. In a quirk of the NRL draw, this is just the fifth match-up between the two sides since 2011. The critical point to note is that the Dogs have won all of those fixtures, and I expect them to get up on Sunday. The Sharkies are a good, tough side and they go into the match on the back of consecutive wins, but to me the Doggies are just a cut above: their forwards are bigger, their bench is meaner, their backs are faster and their halves have a touch more class. Theyâ€™ll win by a try or two.
Cowboys v Eels, 1300Smiles Stadium
Here we have the shortest price favourites Iâ€™ve seen in a long while in the NRL, if not ever. The Cows are currently paying about $1.10 for the win and you really canâ€™t fault the bookies: the Eels have been gutted by injury and suspension (theyâ€™ve now lost Wicks, Watmough and Sandow has been released), and they come up against a red-hot Cowboys side many think deserve to be premiership favourites. Throw in Parraâ€™s poor travelling form and the Cowboys awesome home record and you could not have a greater mismatch.
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