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Welcome back to our NRL predictions and tips for Round 9 of the NRL. There were some colossal score lines over the weekend particularly on ANZAC Day, with the average winning margin for the round going over 20 points per game. As we turn to the matches coming, it's very possible we might see a continuation of that trend, with quite a mismatched draw in bound.

Thursday afternoon kicks the round with the South Sydney Rabbitohs playing host to the Penrith Panthers at Accor Stadium. The Panthers have welcomed back Nathan Cleary over the weekend, and they seem to be beginning to find some of that unstoppable form that has seen them win the last three premierships. It wasn’t a flawless performance against the Cowboys, but there are certainly some positive signs for the boys from the foot of the mountain. Conversely, the Bunnies seem to be hanging Jason Demetriou out to dry after another uninspired performance against the Storm, conceding a massive 54 points. An increased demonstration of effort and pride in the jumper would be considered a win for Souths faithful this week. Im going with the Penrith Panthers by 30 points.

Friday night’s curtain raiser sees the Canberra Raiders travel up to the Northern Beaches of Sydney to take on the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles. The Sea Eagles managed to rally together quite well after conceding early points against the Eels last week, whereas the Raiders failed to score a point in a 40 point loss to the Sharks, to celebrate Ricky Stuart’s 500th game. With Manly currently undefeated at home in 2024, I don’t see this game going well for the Raiders. They didn’t really ever look like scoring on Sunday without Jamal Fogarty, and it would take a tremendous turn around to get in the contest this week. Manly Sea Eagles by 24 points.

Friday night’s main event is my pick for the Match of the Round, with the Brisbane Broncos taking on the Sydney Roosters at home. Despite two late tries by the Tigers, the Broncos never looked like they got out of second gear on Saturday; and the Roosters demolition job of the Dragons was very much a team effort as eight individual try scorers got over the line as the Chooks piled on 60 points. Adam Reynolds played well for the Broncs, but left the field early with cramp, but not before pulling off one of the great intercepts in the dying stages of the game. Both sides boast impressive back lines and formidable forward packs, I’d expect this game to be close, but the Brisbane Broncos will walk away with an 8 point win.

We’ll be in attendance this weekend for the first of three Super Saturday clashes. The Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs have cracked the top eight to finish the round gone, after having a week off with the bye, and they will be taking on an ever improving Wests Tigers outfit. It was a game that probably didn’t quite go to plan for the Tigers against the Broncos, but they showed some signs of fight, and didn’t embarrass themselves against a genuine top four contender. The improved defensive structure and dominant left edge of the Bulldogs (Matt Burton, Viliame Kikau, Bronson Xerri and Josh Addo-Carr) will likely be too much for the Tigers this week though, and I’m tipping a Bulldogs win by 14 points.

The second Super Saturday clash is likely to be another blow out, despite the Titans finally opening their account for 2024 with a three point win over the Warriors in New Zealand no less. The Gold Coast Titans play host to the Melbourne Storm. The Titans have shown signs of improvement consistently with each of the passing few weeks, but the joint-top of the table Melbourne ought to be too big of a challenge for them this week. Coming off a 34 point win over the Rabbitohs, it’s hard to see Bellamy’s men switching off for this upcoming game, when they trail the Shark’s for-and-against by 40 points, a genuine opportunity to try and peg that back a touch. Melbourne Storm by 28 points.

Super Saturday will close out in Townsville again, with the North Queensland Cowboys taking on the Dolphins. Both sides are coming off losses to Penrith and Newcastle respectively. The Cowboys showed some tremendous fight in the second half against the Panthers, whereas the Dolphins took an arguably shock loss to a Knights line-up that was missing Kalyn Ponga. Trai Fuller has played exceptionally well in the last two games for the Phins, who are a much better side than their last match would suggest. I’d be expecting Wayne to reach deep into his bag of tricks this week, and bring home a Dolphins win by 13 points.

The Sunday ticket will open up with the Newcastle Knights going up against the New Zealand Warriors, in another match of the round contender. The Knights came out looking to prove they aren’t just a one man team with Ponga out for the next three months, and did so successfully against and embattled Dolphins attack. The Warriors on the other hand are well overdue a win, after recording two losses and a draw in their last three games despite being potential premiership contenders. I’m expecting a resurgence from Shaun Johnson, and the Wahs leadership group in general, to prove that they are still here in a closely fought contest. New Zealand Warriors by 4 points.

Closing out the Sunday Ticket will see the Cronulla Sharks take on the St George Illawarra Dragons. The Dragons are coming off an emphatic loss to the Chooks, and the Sharks are coming off an equally emphatic win against the Raiders. The Dragons have been very hit and miss so far this season, one week they play very well, the next they can look as if nothing has changed in Wollongong. The Sharks on the other hand, are scoring tries for fun and really dominating sides with their forward pack. I’d be quite surprised if the result and margin aren’t incredibly similar to last week for these two teams. I’ll be taking the Cronulla Sharks by 36 points.

There you have it, it’s a big weekend of footy coming up with a few potential blow outs and some equally close games as well! I’ll be looking to improve upon last weeks efforts (6 from 8), by taking what I feel are some real stand outs in each contest; tipping the Panthers, Sea Eagles, Broncos, Bulldogs, Storm, Dolphins, Warriors 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!