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NRL: Round 21 Preview and Tips
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by @twodollarpeeks

Panthers v Bulldogs

The last time these two sides met this year, the Panthers handed out a thumping to the tune of 38-0. The Bulldogs are slipping down the ladder and are playing some ordinary football. Meanwhile, the Panthers have won 3 in a row and are making a late charge to the finals.

James Graham returns to the Canterbury side after missing the last month through injury. Meanwhile, Panthers skipper Matt Moylan is ruled out with a hamstring injury. Bryce Cartwright and Dean Whare are named as reserves but are unlikely to play.

The Bulldogs are generally good when their backs are against the wall after a big defeat and the Panthers lose a lot in attack without Moylan. However, the form and motivation factor is key in this fixture. I’m tipping Panthers 1-12 @ 2.85

 

 

 

Warriors v Sharks

The Warriors come into this clash having lost their last 3 and are 6 points out of the top 8. The Sharks will be looking to secure a spot in the top 4 but are without five-eighth James Maloney with Fa’amanu Brown taking his spot in the lineup but are boosted by the return of Jack Bird in the centres.

The last 4 matches between these two sides have been decided by 4 points or less & the Warriors have a 6-3 home record in 2017 while the Sharks have a 7-1 away record. The Sharks forward pack has been dominating of late while the Warriors pack have struggled.

While the numbers are in the Warriors favour, their current form is not. The Sharks -4 @ 1.93 looks good value.

 

 

 

Eels v Broncos

Parramatta are devastated by the loss of form fullback Clint Gutherson for the season to an ACL injury last week. While they have a quality deputy in Bevan French to replace him, his presence will be sorely missed. The Broncos are boosted on the fullback front with captain Darius Boyd returning from injury.

Both teams are in great form, dropping just 1 match out of their last 5. However, the Eels credentials seem overstated with their recent opposition all being struggling teams (the Storm were without Origin players in their matchup). The Broncos have the wood on their opposition lately though with dominant victories in their last 3 clashes.

The Broncos will have one eye on securing a top 4 spot and should be too good in this match. Broncos -6.5 @ 1.93

 

 

 

Knights v Dragons

The Dragons may have found their long term fullback with Matt Dufty, holding his spot after having a field day on debut against Manly last week. Josh Dugan returns to replace the injured Euan Aitken in the centres. For the Knights, Ken Sio replaces Chanel Mata’utia (concussion).

The Knights continued their season long story of competing against good teams but unable to convert it into points. They were within 6 points of the Roosters with 20mins to go before they powered away. The Dragons will be looking to consolidate their place in the top 8 after thrashing Manly and seem to have found their mojo in attack.

The teams are priced closer than expected, probably because the Knights are at home and  only just lost to them in their last encounter. While I think the Dragons line is great value after last weekend, I’m tipping Over 44.5 @ 1.91

 

 

 

Rabbitohs v Raiders

With the Rabbitohs season virtually over and the Raiders clinging on to a the faintest hope of a finals berth, both these teams are now essentially playing for pride.

The Rabbits have made a few key positional changes after a decent performance against the Sharks last week with Cody Walker into the halves & Alex Johnston reinstated as fullback the most significant. The Raiders are without Soliola & Rapana due to suspension, joining Papalii in the stands.

The Rabbitohs were better last week than the scoreboard suggests and will be looking to back up that performance with a win. The Raiders loss probably looked better than it was with the Storm missing Smith and Slater for a significant chunk of time. Rabbitohs 1-12 @ 3.60

 

 

 

Roosters v Cowboys

Both teams come into this game on the back of good form and both are well in contention for a top 4 finish. Both the Roosters and Cowboys have won 4 of their last 5, albeit against weak or depleted opposition.

The Roosters are still without Friend & Cordner who are both significant contributors for the tricolours. Fensom and Bolton are in some doubt for the Cowboys but they are boosted by the return of Antonio Winterstein.

The Rooster struggled for 60mins against the battling Knights last week and some good fortune allowed them to score a late flurry of points. The Cowboys haven’t been putting their oppositions away either and this is an important match for both sides. I like the Cowboys +3.5 @ 1.93

 

 

 

Storm v Sea Eagles

The Storm will be without fullback Billy Slater after he was infamously knocked out by Sia Soliola last week. Storm captain Cameron Smith is named but doubtful due to a pec injury. Manly are boosted by the returns of Matthew Wright, Api Korisau and Brenton Lawrence who were sorely missed last week.

The Sea Eagles will be looking to bounce back after a 30-point belting at the hands of the Dragons and are by no means guaranteed a spot in the top 8. While their attack has been strong, its their defence that has been troublesome, as shown last week. The Storm showed through the origin period how they are capable of handling missing personnel.

The Sea Eagles will be better this week but the Storm should still get the win. Storm H2H @ 1.62

 

 

 

Titans v Tigers

The Titans are holding onto the slimmest of hopes of playing finals footy and will need to win almost every match to have a chance. The Tigers are finished this season but will be looking to avoid the wooden spoon, currently 4 points clear of Newcastle.

The Titans hold a 4-1 record of the Tigers in recent history but ran into a Penrith side who have hit some form. Whie they’ll be missing hard-running centre Konrad Hurrell through injury, they’ve shown good signs in recent weeks.

The Tigers haven’t lost a match in their last 5 by more than 2 converted tries and hold the statistic in their last 4 against the Titans. I like the Titans in a close one.

Titans 1-12 @ 3.10

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