The battle for a Top 8 spot is heating up after the Raiders beat the Sharks in Round 18. Meanwhile, Lachlan Lewis may have locked the Bulldogs in for the spoon following his brain fart on Sunday night.

Raiders Make Their Move?

The Canberra Raiders have been bitterly disappointing this season. Arguably the most disappointing of all 16 teams so far in 2021. However, such is the nature of the competition right now and the fact a bad team – probably two – will play finals football means they’re still a chance of cracking the Top 8.

Canberra’s 34-18 win over the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks on Saturday evening could prove pivotal. With the Sharks one of the teams above them on the ladder, the Raiders have pulled them back to now be 9th and just 14 points behind in for and against.

Ricky Stuart has finally found the right rotation for Tom Starling and Josh Hodgson. Starling played 55 minutes off the bench again in Round 18 while Hodgson spent the full 80 minutes jumping between dummy half and lock forward. Meanwhile, Corey Harawira-Naera and Joseph Tapine are starting to play good football with Jack Wighton also showing promising signs after Origin.

There has always been too much talent on this roster to be this bad. Now, the Raiders are starting to rectify their season. They’re now at an appealing $2.10 to finish Round 25 inside the Top 8 on the NRL ladder.

Storm: Still Good

The Melbourne Storm cruised to another victory in beating the Newcastle Knights 48-4 on Saturday night.

They still have Harry Grant and Ryan Papenhuyzen to return…

At $2.50 to win the Provan-Summons Trophy, the Storm are in superb form and will only get better as September draws near.

Wounded Warriors

Could it get any worse for the New Zealand Warriors than losing Tohu Harris and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck inside the first 15 minutes of a game?

Probably not, and that’s what makes their 30-16 loss to the Penrith Panthers so impressive.

To keep the score respectable after losing two more players and having no bench for the second half is an incredible effort. Matt Lodge (80 minutes) and Addin Fonua-Blake (74 minutes) put in huge performances to prop up the Warriors middle while Eli Katoa and Jazz Tevaga also impressed throughout their lengthy stints.

Tuivasa-Sheck had been named at five-eighth but only managed 14 minutes before leaving the field with a concussion. Still, the Warriors started to show some sign of a developing attack having displayed little sign of improvement in recent weeks.

At 14th on the ladder and at $13 to make the Top 8, any hope of playing finals football is over for the Kiwi club. Losing Harris for the year puts a ceiling on how much they can improve in 2021 now, too. However, they should be able to do enough to avoid the wooden spoon ($23).

Lewis Loses It

The Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs led the South Sydney Rabbitohs 12-10 at halftime. LED!

A Lachlan Lewis brain snap all but ended their chances of an unlikely victory, though.

By tackling Cody Walker to the ground as the two teams headed towards the sheds for halftime, the referee had no choice but to send Lewis to the bin for 10 minutes. While the Bulldogs did well to keep it to 18-12 when he returned, the work they’d been asked to do in defence eventually caught up to the pack. Three Souths tries in the final 20 minutes kept the Bulldogs at bay as Lewis’ silly mistake proved costly.

Brisbane losing to Wests earlier in the day had provided the Bulldogs with a chance to close the gap between 15th and 16th on the ladder. Now, they’re $1.12 favourites to finish the 2021 NRL season with the least wins.

NRL Against The Spread Standings

The Storm just keep doing it…Round 18 marked the 11th time in 14 games that they’ve cracked 40 points. It’s also the 14th consecutive game they’ve covered the spread.

Meanwhile, back-to-back Raiders covers leave the Warriors dead last against the spread.

After Round 18

Top 8
Bottom 8
Storm (15-2)Dragons (8-9)
Eels (14-3)Bulldogs (7-10)
Sea Eagles (11-6)Cowboys (7-10)
Sharks (10-7)Titans (7-10)
Rabbitohs (9-8)Roosters (7-10)
Tigers (9-8)Broncos (6-11)
Panthers (9-8)Raiders (5-12)
Knights (8-9)Warriors (4-13)