Last week Matt Pritchard predicted six of the eight games in round 18. Here’s a look at round 19’s predictions.
Parramatta Eels vs Canterbury Bulldogs (Thursday 7:50pm, ANZ)
Last Five: Parramatta 4 wins, Canterbury 1 win
There won’t be too much excitement about this game, but it will prove a tipster’s nightmare. Given the Eels have won the last four of five clashes, it would seem logical to back them. However, after last week’s performance, where handling wasn’t their best friend, you would swear not to tip them this week.
Canterbury proved two weeks back that teams can lose with healthy leads within the last five minutes. Ignore last week’s effort against South Sydney, they were so flat after being beaten at the death against the Raiders. So, if this game’s close going into the final ten, you wouldn’t want to be backing the rookie Dogs line-up. Mitch Moses, the ball is well and truly in your court.
PREDICTION: Eels 22 Bulldogs 18
Cronulla Sharks vs Canberra Raiders (Friday 6pm, Southern Cross Group)
Last Five: Cronulla 3 wins, Canberra 2 wins
This will be a cracking game between a side who are well on their way to September and the other who are starting to build a late season charge to the finals. In the corresponding match at Southern Cross Group Stadium, the form of Jordan Rapana was hitting its 2017 peak as the Raiders kept their finals hopes alive. Last week, they built on their Bulldogs win with an impressive fast finish to trounce the Cowboys.
Cronulla were tested by a rookie Panthers side without Maloney, Peachey and Cleary. It was the magic of Matt Moylan who was the big difference. The Sharks want a tight contest as they’re the masters of winning those games. Canberra will need to jump out of the blocks quickly and establish a good lead to give themselves a huge chance of winning. Will the Sharks play the rest of 2018 for the soon-to-be retiring legend Luke Lewis?
PREDICTION: Sharks 24 Raiders 14
Brisbane Broncos vs Penrith Panthers (Friday 7:55pm, Suncorp)
Last Five: Brisbane 3 wins, Penrith 2 wins
It’s the second of the blockbuster Friday night clashes between two teams who suffered defeats last week. The form of Brisbane at home is waning – almost toppled by the Raiders after giving up a huge lead, they surrendered in the daylight to New Zealand Warriors. And that loss was with their Origin players included.
Penrith rested their Blues reps and were competitive enough in their loss to Cronulla. There’s a hunger in the media for Jarome Luai to play at fullback at some point of the season and against a Broncos side struggling, he could be a lethal weapon. Mansour is back and will provide excellent go-forward. The Broncos suffered more pain last week with Jayden S’ua out for the season but they do have the returning James Roberts and we know too well what danger he poses for opposition sides. I’m backing the Panthers in this one, given their Origin players are back.
PREDICTION: Panthers 24 Broncos 18