NRL Tips & Preview – Round 24

Palmerbet Blog

Sports writer, JASON OLIVER, looks over all 16 teams and previews this weekend’s Rugby League action with his NRL tips for all Round 24 matches.

Broncos Eels
Te Maire Martin 1 Clinton Gutherson
Corey Oates 2 Maika Sivo
Kotoni Staggs 3 Will Penisini
Brenko Lee 4 Tom Opacic
Selwyn Cobbo 5 Waqa Blake
Ezra Mam 6 Dylan Brown
Adam Reynolds 7 Mitchell Moses
Thomas Flegler 8 Reagan Campbell-Gillard
Jake Turpin 9 Reed Mahoney
Payne Haas 10 Junior Paulo
Kurt Capewell 11 Shaun Lane
Jordan Riki 12 Isaiah Papali’i
Ryan James 13 Ryan Matterson
Billy Walters 14 Makahesi Makatoa
Kobe Hetherington 15 Jakob Arthur
Corey Jensen 16 Oregon Kaufusi
Rhys Kennedy 17 Marata Niukore


History:
Played 47, Broncos 22, Eels 25

Last Meeting: Round 19, 2022: Broncos 36 def. Eels 16

Final Thoughts: Round 24 of the 2022 NRL season can’t come soon enough for the Brisbane Broncos who were smashed by the Storm 60-12 last week. The Parramatta Eels, on the other hand, handed out a thumping of their own with a 42-6 win over the Bulldogs.

Just one change for the Broncos this week; Brenko Lee is back into the centres for Delouise Hoeter. Meanwhile, the Eels have named the same starting side but Makahesi Makatoa and Jake Arthur replace Bryce Cartwright and Ofahiki Ogden on the bench.

The odds on this one would have looked a little bit different a fortnight ago. Since then, the Broncos have been thrashed and somewhat exposed by the Storm. The Storm found success down the edges by hitting Ezra Mam on the left edge and played to the space around Jordan Riki on the right edge. Meanwhile, the Eels played out one of their best games of the NRL season last week. Isaiah Papali’i and Shaun Lane did their damage down the edges which is always a positive side for Brad Arthur’s side. The Eels lead the competition in offloads and threw another 16 of them in Round 23. It’s difficult to trust the Eels given their inconsistency. The Broncos, despite what we saw last week, do perform well at Suncorp Stadium. They’re playing for a spot in the Top 8, too. However, the Eels match up particularly well with the Broncos in their strengths on the edges and will run directly at a glaring weakness in the opposition. Expecting the Broncos to somewhat bounce back following last week’s disaster, this one looks as though it will finish with single digits between them.

Tip: Tri Bet (10.5) – Either Team by 10 or Less @ $1.94

Panthers Warriors
Dylan Edwards 1 Reece Walsh
Taylan May 2 Dallin Watene-Zelezniak
Izack Tago 3 Viliami Vailea
Stephen Crichton 4 Marcelo Montoya
Brian To’o 5 Edward Kosi
Jarome Luai 6 Chanel Harris-Tavita
Sean O’Sullivan 7 Shaun Johnson
Moses Leota 8 Addin Fonua-Blake
Apisai Koroisau 9 Wayde Egan
James Fisher-Harris 10 Tohu Harris
Viliame Kikau 11 Euan Aitken
Liam Martin 12 Josh Curran
Isaah Yeo 13 Bunty Afoa
Mitch Kenny 14 Freddy Lussick
Matthew Eisenhuth 15 Dunamis Lui
Spencer Leniu 16 Eliesa Katoa
Charlie Staines 17 Tom Ale


History:
Played 44, Panthers 27, Warriors 16

Last Meeting: Round 15, 2022: Panthers 40 def. Warriors 6

Final Thoughts: The Penrith Panthers, still without key players, pulled off an impressive 26-22 win over the Rabbitohs last week. In contrast, the New Zealand Warriors never looked like keeping up with the Cowboys throughout their 48-4 defeat.

Jarome Luai is back from injury and James Fisher-Harris from suspension for the Panthers. Matt Eisenhuth moves to the bench with J’maine Hopgood out of the side. For the Warriors, Chanel Harris-Tavita is into the halves for Daejarn Asi while Josh Curran takes Jack Murchie’s spot on the edge.

There is a sense of inevitability around this one. The Panthers are winding up into finals football and welcome back two key players to the side this week. Meanwhile, the Warriors are waiting for the 2022 NRL season to finish. Getting back to New Zealand for Round 25 will be the focus for many of the players already. Still, Stacey Jones has named one of the better 17’s of the season. Harris-Tavita helps defensively while Tom Ale has looked good off the bench since returning. Where the problems will come is in the middle. The Panthers lead the NRL in yardage at 1,742 running metres per game. The Warriors, on the other hand, are dead last with only 1,372 running metres per game. Shaun Johnson will be blamed for the result should it go the way the odds suggest, but the Warriors haven’t been able to lay a platform for their playmakers all year and are unlikely to do so in this one. We’ve seen glimpses of an improving Warriors side while the Panthers have come back to the pack just a little bit in recent weeks. The promise of the end of the season and a return home might just be enough to get the visitors to start well and keep the scoring low early.

Tip: Total Score – Under 50.5 @ $1.90

Storm Roosters
Nick Meaney 1 James Tedesco
David Nofoaluma 2 Daniel Tupou
Young Tonumaipea 3 Paul Momirovski
Justin Olam 4 Joseph Manu
Xavier Coates 5 Joseph Suaalii
Cameron Munster 6 Luke Keary
Jahrome Hughes 7 Sam Walker
Jesse Bromwich 8 Jared Waerea-Hargreaves
Harry Grant 9 Sam Verrills
Nelson Asofa-Solomona 10 Matthew Lodge
Felise Kaufusi 11 Angus Crichton
Kenneath Bromwich 12 Nat Butcher
Brandon Smith 13 Victor Radley
Chris Lewis 14 Connor Watson
Tui Kamikamica 15 Egan Butcher
Tom Eisenhuth 16 Lindsay Collins
Josh King 17 Siosiua Taukeiaho


History:
Played 44, Storm 26, Roosters 18

Last Meeting: Round 14, 2022: Storm 26 def. Roosters 18

Final Thoughts: The Melbourne Storm have certainly played themselves into form. They turned up to Suncorp Stadium and thrashed the pants off the Broncos 60-12. Similarly, the Sydney Roosters hammered a sorry Tigers team 72-6 in Round 23.

Felise Kaufusi returns for the Storm with Tui Kamikamica dropping to the bench as the only confirmed change. As for the Roosters, Lindsay Collins and Siosiua Taukeiaho return on the bench and Paul Momirovski is back into the centres.

Both teams are flying into this game but the form guides look slightly different. The Storm picked up an impressive win at Suncorp Stadium last week while the Roosters beat up on a sorry Tigers side that looked more like they were offering an opposed training session than they did a first-grade footy match. Still, both sides are in superb touch with the ball in hand. It’s in defence where this one will be won and lost. A poor period without the ball from one team will go a long way to determining the result. The Roosters have been defending well recently to concede only 14 points per game. It’s the area they struggled with most early in the season. However, they’ve not been challenged all that much in recent weeks. A turnover of players in the middle and the reintroduction of Paul Momirovski on the edge may cause problems. Meanwhile, the Storm have been inside the NRL’s top four in defence for much of the season. Despite their relative struggles, they’ve always proven to be a tough line to crack. At home and coming into form themselves, the Storm should have enough to take the chocolates on Friday night.

Tip: Margin – Storm 1-12 @ $3.20

Raiders Sea Eagles
Xavier Savage 1 Tolutau Koula
Nick Cotric 2 Raymond Tuaimalo Vaega
Matthew Timoko 3 Brad Parker
Sebastian Kris 4 Morgan Harper
Jordan Rapana 5 Christian Tuipulotu
Jack Wighton 6 Kieran Foran
Jamal Fogarty 7 Daly Cherry-Evans
Josh Papalii 8 Josh Aloiai
Zac Woolford 9 Lachlan Croker
Joseph Tapine 10 Toafofoa Sipley
Hudson Young 11 Haumole Olakau’atu
Elliott Whitehead 12 Andrew Davey
Adam Elliott 13 Dylan Walker
Tom Starling 14 Ben Trbojevic
Emre Guler 15 Josh Schuster
Corey Horsburgh 16 Martin Taupau
Corey Harawira-Naera 17 Kurt De Luis


History:
Played 35, Raiders 14, Sea Eagles 21

Last Meeting: Round 4, 2022: Sea Eagles 25 def. Raiders 6

Final Thoughts: The Canberra Raiders made a meal of it but managed to escape Newcastle with a 28-22 win over the Knights last week. The Manly Warringah Sea Eagles, however, continue on their downward spiral following a 40-6 loss to the Sharks.

Ricky Stuart has named the same Raiders 17 again this week. Meanwhile, Des Hasler has named Raymond Tuaimalo Vaega to make his debut on the Sea Eagles wing in place of Alfred Smalley. Andrew Davey is back and straight into the starting side.

The odds ($1.25/-13.5) signal the Raiders as heavy favourites. However, given the inconsistency of this side and the predictability of their struggles in a match they should win comfortably, this one is a lottery. The Sea Eagles are in terrible form but have shown enough throughout the 2022 NRL season to suggest they’re more than capable of an upset. They still pose a threat through the middle while Daly Cherry-Evans and Kieran Foran can guide this side around the park and into points. As the Raiders showed last week, playing for their season and a spot in the Top 8 doesn’t trigger a fast start to a match. Should the Sea Eagles get downhill and start to build a lead, we can trust them to hold onto it for longer than the Knights did in Round 23. Everything points to a Raiders win, and that is half of the problem. Most anticipate some sort of improvement out of the Sea Eagles sooner rather than later, too. Chaos follows the Raiders and this week is unlikely to be any different.

Tip: Handicap – Sea Eagles +13.5 @ $1.90

Sharks Bulldogs
Lachlan Miller 1 Jake Averillo
Matt Ikuvalu 2 Jacob Kiraz
Jesse Ramien 3 Aaron Schoupp
Siosifa Talakai 4 Braidon Burns
Ronaldo Mulitalo 5 Josh Addo-Carr
Matt Moylan 6 Matt Burton
Nicho Hynes 7 Kyle Flanagan
Braden Hamlin-Uele 8 Max King
Blayke Brailey 9 Jeremy Marshall-King
Royce Hunt 10 Paul Vaughan
Briton Nikora 11 Josh Jackson
Wade Graham 12 Raymond Faitala-Mariner
Dale Finucane 13 Luke Thompson
Teig Wilton 14 Zach Dockar-Clay
Cameron McInnes 15 Joe Stimson
Aiden Tolman 16 Harrison Edwards
Andrew Fifita 17 Chris Patolo


History:
Played 35, Sharks 16, Bulldogs 19

Last Meeting: Round 16, 2022: Sharks 18 def. Bulldogs 6

Final Thoughts: The Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks did it easy to beat the Sea Eagles 40-6 last week. It wasn’t quite the same for the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs who went down early on their way to a 42-6 defeat at the hands of the Eels.

The Sharks welcome back Siosifa Talakai from injury but lost Connor Tracey for the season. Teig Wilton returns and takes Braydon Trindall’s spot on the bench. The Bulldogs have shuffled things around: Luke Thompson starts; Josh Jackson to lock; Tevita Pangai Jr is out.

The Bulldogs have coped a bit of a reality check in recent weeks. Their style of play is entertaining and much-improved on earlier in the season but isn’t conducive to getting into the grind and playing patient football against the better teams in the competition. The Warriors are far from good, but they plugged the middle in Round 22 and the Bulldogs didn’t have an answer. Similarly, the Eels dominated yardage and run up a score in Round 23. They’re up against a Sharks side being expertly guided around the field by Nicho Hynes and one that generates consistent and dangerous ruck speed through the middle. Luke Thompson will help the Bulldogs play more direct in yardage but Jackson’s move to lock puts a handbrake on their attack in good ball. Even if the Bulldogs defence does step up to put a lid on the Sharks attack, they’re unlikely to produce enough points to keep this one close.

Tip: Total Points – Bulldogs Under 12.5 @ $1.90

Rabbitohs Cowboys
Latrell Mitchell 1 Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow
Alex Johnston 2 Kyle Feldt
Isaiah Tass 3 Valentine Holmes
Campbell Graham 4 Peta Hiku
Izaac Thompson 5 Murray Taulagi
Cody Walker 6 Scott Drinkwater
Lachlan Ilias 7 Chad Townsend
Tevita Tatola 8 Jordan McLean
Damien Cook 9 Reece Robson
Hame Sele 10 Reuben Cotter
Keaon Koloamatangi 11 Luciano Leilua
Jai Arrow 12 Jeremiah Nanai
Cameron Murray 13 Jason Taumalolo
Kodi Nikorima 14 Tom Gilbert
Mark Nicholls 15 Coen Hess
Siliva Havili 16 Jamayne Taunoa-Brown
Thomas Burgess 17 Griffin Neame


History:
Played 36, Rabbitohs 18, Cowboys 17

Last Meeting: Round 17, 2021: Rabbitohs 46 def. Cowboys 18

Final Thoughts: The South Sydney Rabbitohs copped somewhat of a reality check in losing to an understrength Panthers 26-22 last week. Meanwhile, the North Queensland Cowboys barely broke a sweat while smashing the Warriors 48-4 in Townsville.

Izaac Thompson replaces Jaxson Paulo on the Rabbitohs wing this week. Thomas Burgess makes his return from injury with Hame Sele to the bench and Daniel Suluka-Fifita out of the side. Kodi Nikorima is also back onto the bench for this one. A ruptured testicle keeps Tom Deaden out of this one with Scott Drinkwater moving into the Cowboys halves. Hamiso Tabua-Fidow shifts to fullback.

This is the blockbuster the NRL needs after last week. The Rabbitohs are in fine form with the ball but still display issues in defence. It’s an area they’re slowly improving on, but are running out of time before the finals kick off. Meanwhile, the Cowboys are one of the best defensive teams in the competition. It’s dropped off a touch in recent weeks. Still, we can assume the scramble and inside pressure that defined their defence at its best will return for the end of the season. Drinkwater will see the Cowboys attack continue to hum on the left edge. He does, however, create a glaring weakness in defence. Drinkwater is a poor defender and will be a massive target for the Rabbitohs down the right edge. While the Rabbitohs typically look left, they’ll be dangerous on both sides of the field in this one. That variation and the Cowboys needing to travel is enough to signal the Bunnies as deserving favourites.

Tip: Handicap – Rabbitohs -6.5 @ $1.90

Tigers Dragons
Daine Laurie 1 Cody Ramsey
Brent Naden 2 Mathew Feagai
Starford To’a 3 Jack Bird
Asu Kepaoa 4 Zac Lomax
Junior Pauga 5 Tautau Moga
Adam Doueihi 6 Talatau Amone
Jock Madden 7 Ben Hunt
Joe Ofahengaue 8 Aaron Woods
Jake Simpkin 9 Jayden Sullivan
Zane Musgrove 10 Blake Lawrie
Tom Freebairn 11 Josh McGuire
Kelma Tuilagi 12 Jaydn Su’a
Fa’amanu Brown 13 Jack de Belin
Fonua Pole 14 Tyrell Fuimaono
Austin Dias 15 Jaiyden Hunt
Jacob Liddle 16 Jackson Ford
Kitione Kautoga 17 Tyrell Sloan


History:
Played 41, Tigers 20, Dragons 21

Last Meeting: Round 8, 2022: Dragons 12 def. Tigers 6

Final Thoughts: The Wests Tigers need to get out on the field to right the wrongs of Round 23. Somehow, their season went from bad to worse with a 72-6 loss to the Roosters. Meanwhile, it took the St George Illawarra Dragons being reduced to 12 men before they started to pull away from the Titans.

Big changes for the Tigers: Luke Garner, Ken Maumalo, James Tamou and Alex Seyfarth are all out. Junior Pauga, Tom Freebairn, Jacob Liddle and Kitione Kautoga are in. For the Dragons, Francis Molo and Andrew McCullough are out. Jack Bird moves to the centres, Jack de Belin to lock and Aaron Woods to the bench.

The Tigers are deep into the wooden spoon battle and desperate for a win. Any of the positives from a promising couple of weeks earlier this month have gone. Jackson Hastings’ influence on the side has become painfully clear as the Tigers lack guidance in attack which puts further pressure on an already flimsy defence. Meanwhile, the Dragons have proven throughout the 2022 NRL season that while they aren’t a Top 8 quality team, they’re a step or two ahead of the cellar dwellers. Ben Hunt is the best player on the field and is enough on his own to get the Dragons over the line on Sunday. Expect the Dragons to play relatively no-frills football. They have the pack to grind the Tigers down through the middle and the kicking game to generate opportunities in good ball. As we’ve seen throughout the year, it’s only a matter of time before the Tigers’ line cracks. Their defence around the ruck is particularly poor. It won’t be pretty, but the Dragons should return home with the two competition points on Sunday.

Tip: Anytime Try Scorer – Jayden Sullivan @ $4.40

Titans Knights
Jayden Campbell 1 Tex Hoy
Jojo Fifita 2 Edrick Lee
Brian Kelly 3 Dane Gagai
Phillip Sami 4 Krystian Mapapalangi
Greg Marzhew 5 Dominic Young
AJ Brimson 6 Anthony Milford
Tanah Boyd 7 Adam Clune
Jaimin Jolliffe 8 David Klemmer
Sam McIntyre 9 Jayden Brailey
Tino Fa’asuamaleaui 10 Daniel Saifiti
David Fifita 11 Tyson Frizell
Beau Fermor 12 Brodie Jones
Isaac Liu 13 Sauaso Sue
Paul Turner 14 Phoenix Crossland
Herman Ese’ese 15 Jacob Saifiti
Moeaki Fotuaika 16 Pasami Saulo
Klese Haas 17 Mat Croker


History:
Played 26, Titans 12, Knights 14

Last Meeting: Round 16, 2022: Knights 38 def. Titans 12

Final Thoughts: The two competition points were there for the Gold Coast Titans last week but they allowed the Dragons to pile up the points with 12 men. Similar can be said for the Newcastle Knights who conceded 20 unanswered points to lose to the Raiders 28-22.

Brian Kelly makes his return from injury to line up in the centres for the Titans, replacing Patrick Herbert who has an injury of his own. In more exciting news, Klese Haas makes his NRL debut off the bench. The Knights welcome back Tyson Frizell and Daniel Saifiti as the only confirmed changes.

The Titans continued to threaten as an improving side last week but fell to pieces late in their match against the Dragons. In yet another reflection of the inexperience in their spine, the Titans had no idea how to attack 12 men. Instead, they conceded points on their way to a heavy defeat. Similarly, the Knights crumbled late after building a big lead. For a side that has struggled to score all season, the first half is a notable positive in isolation. Anthony Milford has his moments while Jayden Brailey is taking more control of the side every week. This game could be anything, though. Where the Titans look capable of piling up points behind AJ Brimson and Jayden Campbell, they’re just as likely to concede 20 in as many minutes.  Meanwhile, the Knights welcome back two key players and look capable of dominating the middle of the field if they play direct in yardage. There is little to split the two teams but with the genuine game-breakers in their side and the advantage of playing at home, the Titans can play themselves out of the wooden spoon conversation with a win here.

Tip: Win Try Combo – Jojo Fifita to score, Titans to win @ $2.00