Matt Pritchard picked three of the four winners last week. Check out the predictions for round 18 of the National Rugby League
Penrith Panthers vs Cronulla Sharks (Friday 6pm, Panthers)
Last Five: Sharks 4 wins, Panthers 1 win
On paper its 4th place vs 6th place and a complete mismatch, which will draw debate about how such a blockbuster game was set down for less than forty-eight hours after the final Origin clash in Brisbane.
Penrith have decided to rest their three New South Wales Blues players which results in the most inexperienced spine following the injury to Dallin Watene-Zelezniak. Cronulla have a definite advantage and back it up with their impressive record against the Panthers in recent history. It will be close, but the Panthers will have to go above and beyond and win the forward battle and have Waqa Blake produce another blinder.
PREDICTION: Sharks 24 Panthers 20
Newcastle Knights vs Parramatta Eels (Friday 7:55pm, McDonald Jones)
Last Five: Knights 3 wins, Eels 2 wins
Welcome back Mitch Pearce! Your direction and guidance around the paddock has been missed by the Novacastrians. Talented Nick Meaney gets a chance to impress in his NRL debut at fullback and should make this his home while Kalyn Ponga sits on the injury bench.
Michael Jennings, after a cameo for the Wenty Magpies in New Zealand last week, returns to the centres alongside Jarryd Hayne. Despite Newcastle’s poor home record, documented in my round 16 preview prior to their loss to the Bulldogs, I think they can win this one.
PREDICTION: Knights 22 Eels 16
Canterbury Bulldogs vs South Sydney Rabbitohs (Saturday 3pm, ANZ)
Last Five: Rabbitohs 3 wins, Bulldogs 2 wins
The Good Friday clash was a cracker with the Bunnies coming from behind to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Since then, both sides have followed different ladders. South Sydney have climbed to the top and the Bulldogs to the bottom.
With a relatively inexperienced halves pairing and a devastating loss on the bell last week, it’s hard to see the Bulldogs winning. Although the Rabbitohs were given a fright in Cairns a fortnight back and without GI they are down on a tad experience. Expect the Bulldogs to fight but the game experience of Adam Reynolds to prove too good in the end.
PREDICTION: Rabbitohs 30 Bulldogs 18