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NRL Tips & Preview – Round 12

The NRL premiership rolls into Round 12. kicking off with a heavyweight showdown and featuring the sans-Griffin Saints up against the Roosters. Of course, Indigenous Round makes this weekend an extra special one for rugby league.

NRL Tips – Brisbane Broncos V Penrith Panthers

19:50 (AEST), Thu 18th May@ Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane

History: Played 59: Broncos 35, Panthers 23, draws 1

Last meeting: Round 1, 2023: Broncos 13 d Panthers 12 at BlueBet Stadium

Team News: Adam Reynolds (head knock) is a huge out for Brisbane, replaced at halfback by Jock Madden. Penrith are unchanged, with Spencer Leniu sidelined last week by a gruesome training mishap.

What We Like: The Panthers are conceding just 12 points a game and the Broncos may struggle to break the visitors’ defence down without Reynolds pulling the strings – consider the Broncos under 14.5 points at $1.80. Jarome Luai broke his 2023 tryscoring duck last week and is $3.75 to back up with another four-pointer, while Reece Walsh ($3.45) looks the best-value Broncos Anytime Tryscorer.

Final Thoughts: Recent losses to Souths and last week to Melbourne – their only top-shelf opponents since rolling Penrith in Round 1 – have knocked Brisbane off the top of the ladder and may have rattled their confidence. If there’s any game Reynolds’ composure and direction will be missed, it’s against Penrith. The Panthers are only one game removed from a pretty ordinary run of form…but their 48-4 rout of the Roosters last Friday was a hell of a statement.

Best Bet: Result / Total Double – Panthers / Under 39.5 @ $2.70

NRL Tips – St George Illawarra Dragons V Sydney Roosters

18:00 (AEST), Fri 19th May@ Netstrata Jubilee Stadium, Sydney

History: Played 48: Roosters 26, Dragons 21, draws 1

Last meeting: Round 8, 2023: Roosters 27 d Dragons 26 at Allianz Stadium

Team News: With coach Anthony Griffin sent packing, caretaker Ryan Carr has recalled Zac Lomax and Jacob Liddle with Max Feagai and Moses Mbye dropping out. Ben Hunt is named at halfback with Jayden Sullivan on the bench. The Roosters have lost Joey Manu (ankle) and Sam Walker is also injured, so Drew Hutchison joins Luke Keary in the halves. Egan Butcher (concussion) returns, while Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (pectoral) has been named despite leaving the field last week.

What We Like: Will the Roosters’ spluttering attack or the Dragons’ questionable defence be the prevailing factor? Over 41.5 shapes as the best option with four of the teams’ last five producing 44 or more. Either team by 8 or less at $2.20 is also tempting with both sides on the ropes. Both fullbacks scored a try on Anzac Day; James Tedesco ($2.40) and Tyrell Sloan ($2.90) are solid Anytime Tryscorer value to dot down again.

Final Thoughts: St George Illawarra have bitten the bullet and sacked coach Griffin in the wake of six straight losses and a jarring 42-22 defeat in Townsville. Count on a temporary bounce-back from the bristling Dragons. A confidence-stricken Roosters side – outscored 68 to 10 by the Cowboys and Panthers in the past fortnight – has fallen out of the Top 8 and have lost key man Manu to injury. The Tricolours are vulnerable. Both teams are at a far lower ebb than they were when they played out an Anzac Day thriller, but this shapes as being similarly close.

Best Bet: Handicap – Dragons +6.5 @ $1.90

NRL Tips – South Sydney Rabbitohs V Parramatta Eels

20:00 (AEST), Fri 19th May@ Allianz Stadium, Sydney

History: Played 133: Rabbitohs 75, Eels 55, draws 3

History: Round 22, 2022: Rabbitohs 26 d Eels 0 at CommBank Stadium

Team News: Daniel Suluka-Fifita comes into the South Sydney side for Jed Cartwright (concussion), who was a late replacement for Tom Burgess (back) in Round 11. Mitchell Moses returns from a head knock at Jake Arthur’s expense, while Parramatta have been hit by an injury to Shaun Lane (hamstring), which sees Bryce Cartwright promoted to the second-row and Makahesi Makatoa join the bench. Sean Russell replaces Haze Dunster on the Eels’ flank.

What We Like: The Rabbitohs are yet to concede more than 20 points in a game and have leaked just 18 total in the past three rounds; look to the Eels to score under 16.5. Alex Johnston scored two tries in both wins over Parramatta in 2022, making the $3.80 about the prolific winger to bag a double very tempting.

Final Thoughts: Souths are on a six-game march that has carried them to the top of the NRL ladder, beating four of their fellow Top 8 teams in succession before shutting out Wests Tigers 20-0 last Saturday. Latrell Mitchell keeps producing the goods every week, Campbell Graham is on fire and the Rabbitohs’ synergy on both sides of the ball is very compelling. Parramatta are nearing desperation time at 4-7 as last year’s runners-up languish in the bottom four. Mitch Moses’ absence contributed to last week’s 26-18 defeat in Canberra – and they’ll be better for his return – but the Eels’ consistency issues run deeper. Souths romped home in both clashes with the blue-and-golds last season and seem destined to do similar at Allianz for their seventh straight win in the rivalry.

Best Bet: Margin – Rabbitohs by 11 to 20 @ $4.40

NRL Tips – Cronulla Sharks V Newcastle Knights

15:00 (AEST), Sat 20th May@ C.ex Coffs International Stadium, Coffs Harbour

History: Played 58: Knights 31, Sharks 26, draws 1

Last meeting: Round 25, 2022: Knights 38 d Sharks 16 at McDonald Jones Stadium

Team News: Connor Tracey keeps his place in the Cronulla centres for late Round 11 withdrawal Siosifa Talakai (neck), while Oregon Kaufusi (illness) returns for Cameron McInnes (broken hand). Braden Hamlin-Uele (medial ligament) is in the extended squad. Newcastle are unchanged.

What We Like: Five of the Knights’ last eight games have produced 55 points or more – the total line is set at 46.5 points for this one. Get behind Jesse Ramien ($2.30) and Lachlan Miller ($3.30) to score a try against their former clubs, while Bradman Best also looks good value at $3.40 after his double last week.

Final Thoughts: Fourth-placed Cronulla received a Magic Round reality check from the Dolphins but bounced back with a relatively comfortable 20-14 win at Manly. The Sharks will need to be better in Coffs Harbour if the Knights produce something like their performance last Sunday. Refreshed from the bye, the Novocastrians piled on 34 second-half points to beat Gold Coast 46-26. The shimmering headline was the performance of Kalyn Ponga, laying on three tries and scoring a brilliant solo try to take the game away from the Titans. There should be a solid chunk of support for the Knights in Coffs and there’s a smell of an upset about this one after the Sharks’ minor downturn in the past fortnight.

Best Bet: Handicap – Knights +8.5 @ $1.90

NRL Tips – Wests Tigers V North Queensland Cowboys

17:30 (AEST), Sat 20th May@ Leichhardt Oval, Sydney

History: Played 42: Tigers 23, Cowboys 19

Last meeting: Round 19, 2022: Cowboys 27 d Tigers 26 at Queensland Country Bank Stadium

Team News: Wests Tigers’ 17 is unchanged with Brent Naden a week away from a return from suspension. North Queensland’s only change sees Riley Price come in for Jamayne Taunoa-Brown (head knock); Jason Taumalolo is another week away.

What We Like: Showing plenty of spirit defensively, the Tigers are struggling to score points. Both games at Leichhardt earlier this season produced 32 points or less and an under 42.5 play looks a solid one – as does time of first try 8 minutes or later at $1.89. Kyle Feldt has six tries in his last six games and is a tempting $1.89 as an Anytime Tryscorer.

Final Thoughts: Following up their breakthrough wins over Penrith and St George Illawarra in consecutive weeks with another stoic effort against Souths, Wests Tigers held the NRL’s form team to 8-0 with 10 minutes to go before conceding a couple of late tries. Despite their troubles, the Tigers have only been genuinely belted once in 2023. North Queensland, meanwhile, have dug their way out of a deep hole with convincing wins over the Roosters and Dragons. Their star 2022 performers are regaining confidence after stuttering starts to the season, and the Cowboys’ class in key positions and strike on the edges and out wide should be enough to squeak home in the heart of Tiger territory.

Best Bet: Margin – Cowboys 1 to 12 @ $2.85

NRL Tips – Dolphins V Melbourne Storm

19:35 (AEST), Sat 20th May@ Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane

History: First meeting

Team News: The Dolphins have named Brenko Lee and Jesse Bromwich to return from hamstring injuries, with star debutant Valynce Te Whare and Poasa Famausili dropping out. Ray Stone (head knock) makes a return on the bench and Mark Nicholls (thumb) is a chance of being a late inclusion. Nelson Asofa-Solomona (rib) has been named at prop after coming off the bench last week, swapping roles with Tui Kamikamica.

What We Like: The Dolphins have an 8-2 over record with only two of their games producing less than 46 points; their last five have seen totals of 50-plus. Over 42.5 total points is an obvious play. The wing battle between William Warbrick ($2.00) – who bagged a double last week – and Tesi Niu ($2.40), a tryscorer in his return from injury in Round 11, looks likely to produce four-pointers in both directions.

Final Thoughts: The Dolphins produced their biggest – and arguably most impressive – win of their short history in Magic Round, thrashing the Sharks 36-16 via a first-half blitz. Their spine has been one of the most consistent and effective in the league, despite a few enforced personnel changes. Coming off the bye, the Dolphins also get captain Jesse Bromwich back. Melbourne responded to a disappointing post-bye loss to Souths with a solid 24-16 win over a willing Brisbane outfit, spearheaded by Cameron Munster and Harry Grant. It’s a crucial clash with the winner keeping pace with the top four and the loser slipping into a midtable logjam. The Storm have shown their championship qualities at times in 2023, but they don’t seem capable of blowing teams off the park as they routinely did in their pomp. The Dolphins have every reason to be confident of an upset at Suncorp – this should be a beauty.

Best Bet: Tri Bet – Either Team by 8 or Less @ $2.25

NRL Tips – Canterbury Bulldogs V Gold Coast Titans

14:00 (AEST), Sun 21st May@ Accor Stadium, Sydney

History: Played 21: Titans 11, Bulldogs 10

Last meeting: Round 19, 2022: Titans 36 d Bulldogs 26 at CommBank Stadium

Team News: Josh Addo-Carr is set to return after a false start last week, with impressive wing debutant Blake Wilson named as 18th man. Karl Oloapu is promoted to the Bulldogs’ halves as Josh Reynolds reverts to the bench and Sam Hughes gets a bench nod with Franklin Pele out. Gold Coast welcome Erin Clark (finger) back to the bench for Iszac Fa’asuamaleaui.

What We Like: The Titans have scored exactly 26 points in their last five matches. The Bulldogs have conceded 24-plus in five of their last six, so the Titans to score over 23.5 points looks a sound option. Knights left centre Bradman Best had a field day against Gold Coast last week – bustling rookie Paul Alamoti ($3.70) could cash in here. David Fifita ($2.60) has rediscovered his tryscoring touch and will be a chief strike weapon against Canterbury.

Final Thoughts: A gilt-edged chance for both teams to get back in the winner’s circle. Canterbury have lost five of their last six and sit 15th on the ladder, unable to get near the Warriors in a 24-12 loss. They’re still a bit rudderless and short on grunt up front. Gold Coast will be wondering how a third straight win got away from their in such emphatic fashion, leading Newcastle 18-12 early in the second half before getting blown away 46-26. Strong individual performers were plentiful, but shaky defence remains their Achilles heel – they are leaking more points per game than any team in the NRL, with the Bulldogs second-worst. Piling on points hasn’t been an issue for Justin Holbrook’s side, though, and their attacking enterprise should be enough to get over the home side, despite Addo-Carr’s return.

Best Bet: Handicap – Titans -1.5 @ $1.90

NRL Tips – Canberra Raiders V Manly Sea Eagles

16:05 (AEST), Sun 21st May@ GIO Stadium, Canberra

History: Played 62: Sea Eagles 38, Raiders 23, draws 1

Last meeting: Round 24, 2022: Raiders 48 d Sea Eagles 6 at GIO Stadium

Team News: Canberra have lost Zac Woolford (concussion) but Danny Levi (broken jaw) returns on the bench, with Tom Starling to start at hooker. Manly get two big inclusions in the shape of Jake Trbojevic and Josh Schuster, but Josh Aloiai (shoulder) and Kelma Tuilagi (facial fracture) are out. Ben Trbojevic will start in the second-row, while Samuela Fainu and Ben Condon join the bench. Cooper Johns drops to the reserves.

What We Like: Back the Raiders to put on a bit of a score here – and over 4.5 tries for the hosts is offering a juicy $2.12. Hudson Young ($2.35) and Matt Timoko ($2.65) are in fine tryscoring touch, while Elliott Whitehead ($6.25) can find the line. Tolutau Koula ($4.00) is a value option in the Sea Eagles line-up.

Final Thoughts: Canberra have won five in a row to climb into the Top 8, outlasting Parramatta 26-18 at home last week. They’d like to finish off their opponents with more authority, but wins are wins – and the likes of Young, Timoko, Fogarty and Wighton and are good, consistent form. Meanwhile, if Manly think the return of Jake Trbojevic and Schuster will steer them out of their three-game skid, they’re mistaken. With ‘Turbo’ well short of 100 percent, the Sea Eagles’ attack looks listless. But it all starts with the aggressive defence that subdued Melbourne in Round 7 (but feels like an age ago). Raiders are the pick at home.

Best Bet: Handicap – Raiders -4.5 @ $1.96


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