Following Queensland’s thrilling State of Origin win on Wednesday night that sealed the Maroon’s seventh straight series success, footy fans around Australia can now get back to the NRL Telstra Premiership 2012 with Round 18 playing out this weekend.
Often after the hard core action of Origin the standard club games can seem a little slow and dreary but hopefully that won’t be the case this week with six games scheduled for Round 18.
Upset NRL Round 18 Tip: Titans to beat the Warriors Saturday night – bet now at bookmaker.com.au
Highlights of the round include the out-of-sorts Wests Tigers looking to claw their way back into a being a genuine semis chance when they take on the second-ranked Canterbury Bulldogs at Allianz Stadium tonight.
Then the ladder-leading but fast-fading Melbourne Storm take on the Canberra Raiders at AAMI Park on Saturday arvo, both matches important as the Dogs are just two competition points off the Storm as it stands now.
Monday night is also one to tune in for as the flying Cronulla Sharks look to secure their third position in the competition when they host the Sydney Roosters who come fresh off a bye.
Teams with a bye this week are the Penrith Panthers, North Queensland Cowboys, Brisbane Broncos and St George Illawarra Dragons.
See below for the NRLleague.com.au team’s exclusive 2012 NRL Round 18 match preview and predictions including the NRL odds, and our team and margin tip for each game.
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2012 NRL Telstra Premiership Round 18
Friday July 6, 2012 (7:45pm) – Allianz Stadium
- Wests Tigers ($2.70) v Canterbury Bulldogs ($1.47)
After all the pre-season hype and early good run the Wests Tigers have dropped to eighth spot and are in danger of missing out on the semis altogether.
They enjoyed a bye last week which they would have been crying out for after their 38 – 20 loss to the Knights in Round 16. That was their second loss on the trot after also going down in upsets to the Roosters 42 – 28 the previous week.
So can they get it back together this week?
Probably not when they face one of them most formidable teams in the comp.
The Bulldogs are barreling along at great speed having pushed up to second on the ladder thanks to five successive wins.
A bye last week has them fresh, before which Canterbury beat the Storm (Round 16), Dragons (Round 15), Rabbitohs (Round 13), Roosters (Round 12) and Sharks (Round 11).
The Tigers are down on spirit, have been shocking in defense and play the wrong team at the wrong time here.Bulldogs by 12
Saturday July 7, 2012 (5:30pm) – AAMI Park
- Melbourne Storm ($1.20) v Canberra Raiders ($4.60)
What happened to the Storm? Sure they still sit number one on the ladder but how long can they really keep it up if they are going to give away wins to the likes of the Bulldogs (Round 16) and the Tigers (Round 14).
In between they did rise to the challenge and beat Manly, and they are coming off a bye, but how Origin affects this squad on the weekend and which players back up will be key to their chances.
Still they are only playing the Raiders so result looks to be a given regardless of all of that.
Canberra are well down the ladder in 13th spot having had a miserable recent run. They do come off a close 22 – 18 victory over the Dragons from last Monday night, but before that they were crushed 40 – 18 by the Cowboys.
St George are the Raiders’ bunny team and their record against them is a great one, don’t expect back-to-back this week.
The Green Machine boasts zero consistency and will struggle not to get thrashed here unlike their Round 1 loss when Canberra were brave throughout a last minute 24 – 19 loss to the Storm in the opening round.Storm by 20
Saturday July 7, 2012 (7:30pm) – Skilled Park
- Gold Coast Titans ($2.50) v New Zealand Warriors ($1.53)
Saturday night sees the Warriors travel across the ditch as they continue their fight for a spot in the top eight. Right now they are ninth just under the Tigers, and the way Wests are going this week is the Warriors best chance of sneaking into semis contention.
They come off a confidence boosting 35 – 18 victory at home over the Cowboys from last week and have been playing well over the past few weeks.
This week they travel to the Gold Coast to take on the Titans who have proved playing at Skilled doesn’t really give them an advantage this year.
The Gold Coast are one below the Warriors on the ladder in 10th so on paper this should be a pretty even affair.
The odds are well in favour of NZ however as the Titans.
The Titans form isn’t horrible however. They were rested last week, only went down by two in a close 8 – 6 game with the Dragons in Round 16 and got the better of the Panthers the week before that which was their sith win from six matches.
The problem with both of these clubs is consistency.
Who turns up and who doesn’t will be the key.
With a number of injured players returning for the home team here including William Zillman and Beau Champion the Gold Coast might not feel the Origin impact (Bird & Myles) quite as much and we’re willing we’re willing to tip the Titans in a close one.Titans by 4
Sunday July 8, 2012 (2:00pm) – ANZ Stadium
- South Sydney Rabbitohs ($1.28) v Newcastle Knights ($3.70)
South Sydney will start short favourites in this Sunday arvo showdown, the sixth-ranked Bunnies looking to post successive wins after their easy 38 – 12 victory over Penrith last week.
The Knights also come off a win having defeated the Eels 20 – 12, but both the Panthers and Penrith are easy prey this year.
Before their win over the big cats the Rabbitohs couldn’t match Brisbane when defeated 26 – 12 in Round 16, while Newcastle enjoyed a massive 38 – 20 upset win over the Tigers that week.
These two sit worlds apart on the ladder with the Knights in 12th but looking at the results over the past few rounds they have been pretty evenly matched.
Souths are scoring plenty of points of late and get big Greg Inglis back after Origin so will be fighting not to get dusted like they did when going down 40 – 24 to the Knights back in Round 26 last year.
Bunnies need to win this for all their hard work to pay off and their determination has us tipping them in a match that is likely to feature 50 plus points.Rabbitohs by 6
Sunday July 8, 2012 (3:00pm) – Brookvale Oval
- Manly Sea Eagles ($1.15) v Parramatta Eels ($5.50)
Punters will find relief in this match compared to the other Sunday line-up with this one the easiest of the week to pick.
Manly are in fifth spot and close to knocking the Broncos over four fourth which they will be hoping to do over the next two weeks.
They had a bye last week before which they annihilated the Roosters 52 – 14.
The Eels meanwhile are either going to finish the season with an extra piece of wooden cutlery, or be thanking Penrith for their own shocking season.
With just three wins from 16 played Parramatta are barley worth a mention this year. They come off a 20 – 12 loss to the Knights, before which they beat the second worst team in the comp by one point.
But don’t lose all hope Eels fans, you are Manly’s bogey team in recent years.
The last time these two met Parramatta broke a four match losing start to the season to beat the Sea Eagles 29 – 20 in Round 4, can they do it again? Sorry but probably not especially without the injured Hayne plane.Sea Eagles by 16
Monday July 9, 2012 (7:00pm) – Toyota Stadium
- Cronulla Sharks ($1.49) v Sydney Roosters ($2.63)
The Sharkies are making a good run for the top two having swum into third spot following their easy 26 – 12 victory over the Broncos at Suncorp last Friday night.
They get skipper Paul Gallen and star No. 6 Todd Carney back for this too, the dynamic duo coming back from a heartbreaking Blues Origin loss, giving them even more strength as they play Carney’s old club the Roosters.
Sydney had a bye last week but were smashed in Round 16 going down 52 – 14 to the Sea Eagles. Can they bounce back here for captain Braith Anasta’s 250th NRL game?
It looks unlikely as Cronulla haven’t been beaten since their 26 – 6 shocker at the hands the Bulldogs back in Round 11.
Still if the Sharks get complacent the Roosters could peck their way to a win, it’s going to be tight but we’re sticking with the favourites – just.Sharks by 2
*All odds quoted are provided by bookmaker.com.au and subject to change