State of Origin is over for another year and we now make the run to the 2018 NRL finals.
The top eight has a solid lead over the rest of the team but there’s still key positioning up for grabs and the chance for one of the teams outside of the eight to make a late run.
Eight NRL games this week, kicking off this Thursday and we have free expert tips throughout the week.
7:50pm Parramatta Eels vs. Canterbury Bulldogs @ ANZ Stadium
The Parramatta Eels had every chance to pick up a rare 2018 win against the Knights last Friday but they were unable to hold onto a sizable lead.
It has been a dismal season for the Eels, which languish in last placed on the ladder but the Canterbury Bulldogs aren’t performing any better in 14th spot.
Coming off a loss to the South Sydney Rabbitohs, the Bulldogs will need to lick their wounds and pick up for this game, otherwise they could be in danger of the wooden spoon.
This game doesn’t have many fans excited but there should be plenty of tries scored.
Betting tip: Bulldogs to win @ $2.10 (BET NOW)
Bulldogs by 4
6:00pm Cronulla Sharks vs. Canberra Raiders @ Southern Cross Group Stadium
This is shaping up as one of the more exciting games of the round as the Sharks look to hold the Raiders at bay on Friday night.
The Sharks are coming off a commanding 24-12 win over the Panthers last week and although the Panthers were missing most of their Origin stars, it was still a confidence building performance from the 2016 premiers.
Facing them this week will be the Raiders, which put away the North Queensland Cowboys 38-12 last week but they’re still four points back of eighth place on the ladder.
A strong showing will be needed to make the playoffs but we can’t see them getting past the Sharks.
Betting tip: Sharks to win @ $1.56 (BET NOW)
Sharks by 10
7:55pm Brisbane Broncos vs. Penrith Panthers @ Suncorp Stadium
We’re not sure what to make of Brisbane’s performance against the Warriors after looking excellent the week prior against the struggling Titans.
Playing with tired Origin stars might have worked against the Broncos are Suncorp, which almost went scoreless against the Warriors. They had no flow on offence and the Warriors tore through the middle of the tired ruck defence.
They welcome the Panthers into town this week, which are coming off an unsatisfactory performance against the Sharks, but they had excuses. Playing with James Maloney and Nathan Cleary isn’t easy and we’re expecting a much better performance this time around.
Bookmakers have the market close and it should be a tight game.
Betting tip: Panthers to win @ $1.95 (BET NOW)
Panthers by 6
3:00pm Newcastle Knights vs. Gold Coast Titans @ McDonald Jones Stadium
The Knights called on all their class last week to get up over the Eels and that momentum could roll over to this week against the Titans.
The two-point victory was a much-needed energy boost for the 11th-placed team which had been struggling to recapture the form they showed earlier in the season.
Gold Coast come into town with poor form and although they were a touch unlucky against the Roosters on Sunday, they were outclassed for most of the game and never showed the offensive ability they once possessed.
Both of these teams are effectively out of the playoffs and this game will be won by the team with the best attitude.
Betting tip: Knights to win @ $2 (BET NOW)
Knights by 8
5:30pm Wests Tigers vs. South Sydney Rabbitohs @ ANZ Stadium
That was a gutsy win from the Wests Tigers against the Dragons last week and it’s going to give them plenty of confidence going forward. Unfortunately for the Tigers, they’re about to run into the form team of the competition.
The Rabbitohs are tearing through the NRL this season after dismantling the Bulldogs last week and they won’t be taking the Tigers lightly this week.
A let down spot will inevitably come for the Rabbitohs but that shouldn’t come against the Tigers.
Betting tip: Rabbitohs – 9.5 @ $1.90 (BET NOW)
Rabbitohs by 14
7:35pm North Queensland Cowboys vs. St George Dragons @ 1300SMILES Stadium
Not many punters predicted just how bad the Cowboys season was going to be this year but they have shown nothing to get excited about.
In what is Johnathan Thurston’s final hurrah, the Cowboys and Thurston himself have offered very little and although they suffered some heartbreaking losses throughout the season, losing to the Raiders last week was the final straw.
Dragons’ fans will be a little miffed about their performance against the Tigers on Sunday but we’re predicting a bounce-back performance from the former premiership leaders.
They welcome back their Origin players and that should be enough to get past the woeful Cowboys.
Betting tip: Dragons to win @ $1.54 (BET NOW)
Dragons by 10
2:00pm New Zealand Warriors vs. Melbourne Storm @ Mt Smart Stadium
It’s always an exciting game when the Warriors play the Storm and expect a hostile environment at Mt Smart Stadium this Sunday afternoon.
The Warriors were flat against the Panthers two weeks ago, not helped by the international travel to the US, but they were back to their brilliant best against the Broncos.
The 26-6 win was a great display of running league and they never looked to panic against the Broncos, which were shut down under the final stages of the game.
Melbourne escaped with a one-point win over the Sea Eagles on Saturday night but coach Craig Bellamy would have been irate about their performance. There wasn’t much to get excited about but they will get some handy players back this week and it will make life tough on the Warriors.
Tough game to call but we’ll take the home value on offer.
Betting tip: Warriors to win @ $2.25 (BET NOW)
Warriors by 6
4:10pm Manly Sea Eagles vs. Sydney Roosters @ Lottoland
After scoring 13 points to hold a seven-point lead over the Storm last week, the Sea Eagles were unable to score a second half point and eventually lose by a single point.
It was a soul-crushing loss for the struggling club, which has been battling uphill all season but their inability to score points is ultimately costing them.
That’s not an issue for the Roosters, which should have a full-strength team this week and we’re expecting another Roosters victory.
Betting tip: Roosters to win @ $1.54 (BET NOW)
Roosters by 10