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NRL Predictions & Tips - Round 18 2024

NRL Predictions & Tips - Round 18 2024

Once again, the NRL delivered a round of tremendous upsets in Round 17. Only 2 premiership points separate 5th and 12th on the ladder, and with less than 10 weeks to go in the season, it really is anyone’s guess who will take home the chocolates in 2024. There are some genuinely intriguing match-ups this week, so with that being said, let’s dive in and take a look at what Round 18 has in store for us.

Thursday night footy will travel to Commbank Stadium, to see the Parramatta Eels host the South Sydney Rabbitohs. South Sydney are on a four-game winning streak that started with a decisive 42-26 victory over the Eels. Parramatta, aiming to avoid a fourth consecutive loss, will be motivated to recover from a frustrating defeat to the Knights despite Mitchell Moses' efforts post-Origin. The Eels may see winger Haze Dunster return, while Matt Arthur hopes to retain his spot following a solid debut. For the Rabbitohs, the return of Tevita Tatola, Latrell Mitchell, and Cam Murray from injuries and Origin duties boosts their bid for a fifth straight win to continue their ascent from the bottom of the ladder. I’m tipping South Sydney to walk away victorious this weekend. Rabbitohs by 18 points.

Friday night’s curtain raiser will see the Cronulla Sharks, coming off two narrow defeats and having lost four of their last five matches, host the Gold Coast Titans in Coffs Harbour. Despite slipping to fourth on the ladder, Cronulla aims to bounce back against a well-rested Titans team, who are coming off a 66-6 demolition of the Warriors and a Round 17 bye. With up to five players returning from injury, the Titans will see intense competition for spots as young stars vie to impress coach Des Hasler. This is a must win game for the men from the shire, with Nicho Hynes under some immense pressure after failing to put both of their last two games away off his boot. They say you should never write off a champion, and this could be Hynes' opportunity to reignite his side’s season. I’m tipping the Sharks by 14 points.

Friday night’s main event will see a 2023 Grand Final rematch. The Brisbane Broncos return to Suncorp Stadium to take on the Penrith Panthers. Both sides are seeking to recover from disappointing Round 17 losses after resting several Origin stars. Broncos coach Kevin Walters, despite a 32-16 loss to the Warriors, praised his team's defensive effort and looks forward to the return of Reece Walsh, Payne Haas, and Patrick Carrigan. Similarly, Panthers coach Ivan Cleary, after describing their loss to the Cowboys as "baking a cake with no icing," will welcome back four Origin stars as they aim to close the gap with ladder leaders Melbourne. The Broncos haven’t previously been able to get the job done against Penrith, and while they continue to slide down the ladder, and Penrith continue to rise, the prediction here seems obvious. Penrith by 13 points.

Super Saturday will kick off with the well and truly barking Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs hosting the New Zealand Warriors at Accor Stadium. The Bulldogs' impressive 2024 resurgence continued with a narrow victory over the Sharks, setting them up to challenge another of last year's finalists, the Warriors, in Round 18. Cameron Ciraldo's squad has already surpassed their total wins from 2023, thanks to a strong defensive effort, second only to the Panthers in points conceded through 17 rounds. The Bulldogs will face a confident Warriors team, rejuvenated by a 32-16 win over the Broncos and led by Te Maire Martin and Chanel Harris-Tavita, despite sitting three points outside the top eight. The Warriors, who won both encounters last year, will face a transformed Bulldogs team boasting an undefeated record at home this year and the return of key players like Kurt Mann, Josh Addo-Carr, Connor Tracey, and Jacob Preston. I’m tipping the Bulldogs by 12 points. 

The second Super Saturday clash will see the Wests Tigers return to Leichardt Oval to do battle with the ladder-leading Melbourne Storm. The Melbourne Storm aim to extend their lead at the top of the NRL ladder as they travel to Sydney to face the Wests Tigers. Craig Bellamy's team, fresh off a fourth consecutive victory with a 16-6 win over the Canberra Raiders, seeks a more effective attacking performance. This poses a challenge for the Wests Tigers, who conceded 40 points in a Round 17 loss to the Sydney Roosters, ending their two-game winning streak and dropping them to last place. Despite this, the Tigers will try to leverage their unbeaten home record at Leichhardt Oval. Melbourne will see Queensland Origin star Harry Grant return, but will be without Xavier Coates due to a hamstring injury. The task at hand seems a little too much for the Tigers this week, and I’m tipping a Storm victory by 24 points.

Super Saturday’s closing clash will see the North Queensland Cowboys return to Townsville to welcome the Manly Sea Eagles to Country Bank Stadium. All eyes will be on Tom Trbojevic as he returns from injury to help Manly's push for the finals. Trbojevic, playing in the centers for the first time since 2016, rejoins a Sea Eagles side that won two and lost three games in his absence. Manly sits just outside the top eight, while the Cowboys, boosted by an upset win over the Panthers despite key absences, are now seventh. The Cowboys will see the return of their Origin stars and possibly winger Semi Valemei, post-ankle surgery, for the upcoming game. In front of a home crowd, and with momentum on their side, I’m expecting a Cowboys win by 14 points.

The Sunday ticket will kick off with the Sydney Roosters and St George Illawarra Dragons going head-to-head in an ANZAC Day rematch! The Dragons aim to redeem themselves from a heavy Anzac Day defeat. Following their 60-18 loss in Round 8, the Dragons have managed four wins from seven games and currently sit in eighth place. The Roosters, leading the league in points scored this year, come off a dominant 40-6 win over the Wests Tigers, with halfback Sam Walker excelling. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves will become the Roosters' most capped player, but the team will miss Joseph Manu due to a fractured hand, adding to their injury woes in the backline. Despite this, the Roosters remain formidable opponents for the Dragons' redemption efforts. The Chooks have epitimised the “next man up” mentality all year, and I don’t expect that to change. Roosters by 26 points.

Closing out the Sunday ticket will be the Canberra Raiders, returning to GIO Stadium, to take on the Newcastle Knights. The 11th and 12th place teams on the ladder, the Knights and Raiders, face off in an intriguing matchup. The Knights, buoyed by a thrilling home win over the Eels with standout performances from Bradman Best and debutant Will Pryce, will travel to Canberra to face the Raiders. The Raiders, coming off a narrow 16-6 defeat to top-ranked Melbourne, are eager to end a three-game home losing streak at GIO Stadium. Historically, the Knights have struggled in Canberra, with only two wins in their last seven visits, though they did secure a 28-6 victory there last season. Newcastle's lineup may be strengthened by the possible returns of forwards Leo Thompson and Dylan Lucas as they begin a crucial three-game stretch before their final bye in Round 21. The time is now for the Raiders to step up and give their home faithful something to cheer for. Raiders by 8 points. 

This week's NRL action promises excitement and pivotal clashes. Kicking off at CommBank Stadium, the Eels host the Rabbitohs, who are on a four-game winning streak. The Sharks, after two narrow defeats, will seek redemption against a well-rested Titans team in Coffs Harbour. Friday night's main event features a 2023 Grand Final rematch as the Broncos face the Panthers. Super Saturday begins with the Bulldogs hosting the Warriors, followed by the Tigers taking on the top-ranked Storm at Leichhardt Oval, and concludes with the Cowboys hosting the Sea Eagles in Townsville. On Sunday, the Roosters face the Dragons in an ANZAC Day rematch, while the Raiders aim to end a home losing streak against the Knights. Tensions are high as each team battles for crucial points in their respective matches. So strap in to your arm chairs, and get ready for this weekend’s footy action. As we head into finals, don’t forget to grab your team’s 2024 supporter gear from Jerseys Megastore; in store and online! Jersey’s are the place to go for all things footy!