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NRL Predictions & Tips - Round 8 2024


Welcome back to our NRL predictions and tips for Round 8 of the NRL. Last week continued the trend of anyone can beat anyone, with some hard-fought wins and significant signs of improvement from last season’s cellar dwellers. This week brings with it one of the biggest days on the NRL Calendar, ANZAC Day. So, let’s get down to business.

Thursday afternoon kicks off the first of three ANZAC Day games, with the Gold Coast Titans making the trip to Auckland to take on the New Zealand Warriors. I backed Gold Coast last week against Manly and it nearly came off, as they went down by just four points in an all-out try fest. The Warriors were upset by the Dragons in a shock loss and will be eager to bounce back in front of their home crowd in their first ANZAC home game in recent memory. The Titans have shown signs of improvement with each passing week, but their defence still has a lot to answer for. Des seems to be working his magic in overcoming the strictly offence-based approach at the club, but unfortunately I don’t see this being the week things fall into place just yet. New Zealand Warriors by 12 points.

Our second ANZAC Day clash will see the St George Illawarra Dragons host the Sydney Roosters. The Red V looked really good against the Wahs last week, as the Chooks went down to Melbourne in yet another close game. It’s been quite difficult to get a read on the Sydney Roosters so far this year, initially coming out of the gates looking like premiership contenders, they’ve since slipped off in key moments in recent weeks. The Dragons look to be going from strength to strength each week and making those improvements under Shane Flannagan from last season. This has the potential to be a match of the round contender, and ultimately, I think will come down to who wants it more. Can the Roosters pull it together for a full eighty minutes, and reduce some of their errors from last week? Or will the Dragons continue their path of improvement? It’s hard to decide, but I’m leaning towards the Sydney Roosters by 6 points.

ANZAC Day’s main event will be one you don’t want to miss. The Melbourne Storm takes on the battling South Sydney Rabbitohs. The Storm have established themselves as the Kings of the Close Game in 2024, but the Bunnies are coming fresh off a hard-fought win against the Bye too. Melbourne seems to continuously find a way to win each week, and Xavier Coates appears to be in career best form. South Sydney are playing for Demetriou’s job once again after showing enough fight against Cronulla to secure his safety for another few weeks. It will be very interesting to see if the week off has helped the team bond as a unit, or if they will continue with this trend of 13 individuals taking the park. I’m hopeful for more fight and solidarity from the Rabbitohs this week, but I’d expecting Melbourne in Melbourne to be too much of a challenge to also get the win. I’m going Melbourne Storm by 16 points.

Friday night’s contest between the Manly Sea Eagles and Parramatta Eels will have all eyes on it, after the Eels had 40 points put on them in 30 minutes by the Dolphins last week. Coach Brad Arthur labeled his side a “part-time team”, but I for one am very curious to see how much of an advantage the 35 degrees plus humidity played into the Dolphins advantage. The Eels looked quite simply, gassed, on Friday after putting up a solid first 50 minutes. The return to Sydney this week should provide more of an insight as to whether the Eels do have what it takes to contend with the top sides, or if as I suggested a couple of weeks ago, the wheels are starting to fall off the wagon at Parramatta. At Manly, DCE and Luke Brooks seem to be forming a tremendous partnership in the halves, and Tommy Trbojevic is getting back to his old unstoppable ways. With or without drastic improvement from the Eels, it’s hard to go past Manly this week. I’m taking the Sea Eagles by 14 points.

The first of two Super Saturday clashes will see the Brisbane Broncos travel down to Campbelltown to take on the Wests Tigers. Benji’s boys put up a valiant effort against the Panthers last week, unlucky to miss out on a couple of tries, and looked to have really improved in their effort areas. However, the Broncos spine is looking electric, even without Adam Reynolds, and Reece Walsh is coming off a stellar performance against the Raiders. I would expect this game to unfold very similarly to the Tigers game on the weekend just gone. The Tiges will put up a respectable effort against last year’s grand finalists, but ultimately won’t quite be strong enough. Brisbane Broncos by 14 points.

Super Saturday will close out with the North Queensland Cowboys playing host to the Penrith Panthers. The Cowboys just didn’t give themselves a chance against the Sharks on Sunday, coughing up too many errors and being too predictable in their attack, managing just the one try. They will have to do some serious hard yards at training this week if they are to even stand a chance come Saturday. The Panthers looked settled against the Tigers last week, and just went about their business with solid defence and attack, still navigating the competition with relative ease without Nathan Cleary. Based on last week’s efforts, I’m expecting a 20-point win for the Penrith Panthers.

The Sunday ticket will open with the Dolphins hosting the Newcastle Knights. The Dolphins did very well to stay in the contest for 50 minutes against the Eels last week, before ultimately the humidity of Darwin caught up with Parramatta and the Phins were able to ambush their opposition with 7 tries in 24 minutes. Wayne Bennett’s side appears to be fairing very well without Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow, where the Knights have traditionally struggled without Kalyn Ponga. Newcastle were overrun by an enthusiastic Bulldogs outfit, and lost Kalyn after 60 minutes to a foot injury (to accompany his pre-existing hip pointer injury). Three different halves pairings in the first 7 rounds for the Knights appears to be creating a sense of instability in a side that many predicted to be doing far better than they are. Inconsistency, combined with no star player is indicating to me that the Dolphins will win this one by 14 points.

Closing out the Sunday Ticket will see the Cronulla Sharks travel down to the nation’s Capital to take on the Canberra Raiders. The Sharks didn’t ever get out of first gear as they overran the Cowboys on Sunday 42-6. They were simply too strong and have established themselves at the top of the ladder with ease. The Raiders let themselves down last week in the first half against the Broncos, leaving themselves too much of a deficit to climb in the final forty minutes. They produced a drastically improved second half, however the loss of Jamal Fogarty for the next 12 weeks will be a real test of the depth of the Raiders squad. Their Knock-On Effect NSW Cup side are sitting 4th with a 4 win and 2 loss record, but they have lost both of their last two matches to the North Sydney Bears, and Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs respectively. Adam Cook has played well enough, without banging the door down in reserve grade. Will he get the call up to replace the injured Fogarty, or will Canberra have enough cap space available to go shopping in the U.K market? Either way, the Sharks look to be far too good right now, and I’ll be sticking with Cronulla by 18 points.

There you have it, it’s a big weekend of footy coming up with three ANZAC Day blockbusters, and a few head-to-heads thrown in over the weekend to keep your eye on! I’ve played it a little bit safe this week, taking the favourite in each contest; tipping the Warriors, Roosters, Storm, Sea Eagles, Broncos, Panthers, Dolphins and Sharks to all walk away victorious. How many do you think I’ll get right this week? We will have to wait and see. As always, if you haven’t already got your fan gear for 2024, make sure to head into Jersey’s Megastore for All Things Footy!