Round 17 was not great for Dragons and Dolphins fans. Particularly for the Red V, as the Ben Hunt saga took a few more twists and turns. It must be bittersweet knowing that the star player who wants out of the club ASAP has agreed to keep playing.

Reece Walsh faced the judiciary and will miss three matches, while Dylan Brown faced the NSW courts, and his immediate future remains up in the air while the NRL Integrity Unit finalises its investigations.

Finally, the Penrith Panthers showed their mettle, resting all five of their State of Origin players and still putting together a clinical performance to take down the near full-strength Newcastle Knights.

Embed from Getty Images

Round 18: Tips and SuperCoach Notes

Cronulla Sharks vs St George Illawarra Dragons
Thursday 29th June 7:50pm | PoinsBet Stadium, Sydney

Why the Sharks will win: It's been a week of poor preparation for the Dragons, as all of the focus has been on whether their star player even wants to be there for another match. The Sharks are coming off the bye and will love to put the sword through their bitter rivals in front of a big home crowd.

Why the Dragons will win: Possibly the biggest reason why the Dragons can win this week is down to the fact that quite often, when something is a sure thing in the NRL, the world turns on its head. The Sharks are absolute certainties, and there's your upset headline ready to go. The Dragons have had a very distracting week, but sometimes adversity like this can bring a team together. There will be some very fired-up players this week running out in the red and white, still under the guidance of an interim coach.

Fansided tip: Sharks by 24

SuperCoach notes: Sione Katoa knows his way to the try line and plays on the same side as Dallin Watene-Zelezniak. After watching the Dragons' defence last week, Katoa could easily tonne-up. Many will go the straight-captain route on Nicho Hynes this week, but there's a big chance Val Holmes could go massive against the Tigers, so a VC option is worth considering.

Embed from Getty Images

New Zealand Warriors vs South Sydney Rabbitohs
Friday 30th June 6:00pm | Go Media Stadium, Auckland

Why the Warriors will win: This Warriors side is firing on all cylinders and benefiting from the fact that traditionally, they are far less affected during the State of Origin period. Dally M voting has gone behind closed doors, but you get a feeling that Shaun Johnson is right up there in the mix. For South Sydney they are a far different side without Latrell Mitchell in the side. Since he's injured himself, they've gone 1-3.

Why the Rabbitohs will win: Just a month or so ago, the Rabbitohs were the form side of the competition, and Cody Walker was playing sublime footy in the mix for Origin selection. The Warriors just finished beating up a half-hearted train-wreck Dragons and will not be game hardened for this match-up at all. The Bunnies have the talent to ambush the Warriors in Auckland.

Fansided tip: Warriors by 8

SuperCoach notes: With a BE of 36, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak hasn't shown many signs of slowing down with a 5-round average of 93.4, while Shaun Johnson is arguably the form halfback of the competition right now, boasting a 3-round average of 119.3. There are rumours that young gun CTW Tyrone Munro ($200K) will be elevated to the Rabbitohs' starting side. @RL_Guru on Twitter has noted he's made the transition from SG Ball to NRL First Grade in less than 6 months.

Embed from Getty Images

Melbourne Storm vs Penrith Panthers
Friday 30th June 8:00pm | Marvel Stadium, Melbourne

Why the Storm will win: Riding the hot and cold wave, the Storm are confidently coming into this home game after putting 54 on the Sharks, followed by easy wins over the Tigers and Sea Eagles. Combinations are settling down, and newer signings such as William Warbrick are finding their feet in the Bellamy-led system. Cameron Munster is welcomed back this week, which boosts their chances considerably.

Why the Panthers will win: The best defensive side in the competition took a gamble last week against the Knights, resting all five of their Origin stars and still getting the win. The Knights weren't great, but last week's weakened Panthers side would have still beaten most other sides in the NRL. Penrith has the run to the premiership down to a fine art.

Fansided tip: Panthers by 4

SuperCoach notes: Storming back into relevance is Xavier Coates ($414K), who has regained his confidence after starring for Queensland in State of Origin Game Two. He has a 3-round average of 73. For those who hold William Warbrick, he's in stunning form lately but comes up against the league's best defensive side in the Panthers, and tries could be harder to come by. Jahrome Hughes has a 3-round average of 97.3, although he has been steering the ship around in Cameron Munster's absence. Those who saw the value in Jaeman Salmon will be disappointed seeing him revert back to the bench this week.

Embed from Getty Images

Canberra Raiders vs Gold Coast Titans
Saturday 1st July 3:00pm | GIO Stadium, Canberra

Why the Raiders will win: Looking at the previous week's form often means little for the Gold Coast Titans, who have taken the mantel off the Warriors for being the most inconsistent and hard-to-tip side in the comp. While they beat the high-flying Broncos at Suncorp, it's worth mentioning that several Brisbane players would have been coming down from the high of being part of the Origin series win and that, often, a mid-season coach-dumping can click players' minds back into gear as they start to prepare for the next regime.

Why the Titans will win: They dumped their coach mid-season despite running equal eighth but produced their best defensive effort last week, taking down front-runners and 'big brothers', the Broncos - without their captain Tino Fa'asuamaleaui. The Raiders have fallen somewhat from their solid run of five straight wins and are just scraping by. Canberra is also having trouble shaking off the Raiders/Faders tag, several times this year leading by plenty, only to win by a few.

Fansided tip: Titans by 2

SuperCoach notes: David Fifita is almost in the must-have territory and looks to be in career-best form, averaging 1.2PPM across 75-80 minutes. For the Raiders, Corey Horsburgh is dual 2RF/FRF at $633K and has come to the fore in the 13 jersey, where he averages around the 70 mark.

Embed from Getty Images

North Queensland Cowboys vs Wests Tigers
Saturday 1st July 5:30pm | Queensland Country Bank Stadium, Townsville

Why the Cowboys will win: Just over a month ago, the Tigers put 66 points on a woeful Cowboys outfit in Luke Brooks' 200th NRL game. Since then, the Tigers have lost Brooks and their inspirational hooker Api Koroisau and have not won a single game. They've enjoyed two byes, making the elapsed time seem more productive than it was. North Queensland, on the other hand, have had a complete form reversal and is one of the hottest teams in the competition.

Why the Tigers will win: Sometimes, the form of two teams going into a high-interest match can be irrelevant. While the Tigers of late have been poor, and the Cowboys have been far better, the Tigers will still take a hell of a lot of confidence into this match after the drubbing they handed down in their last encounter.

Fansided tip: Cowboys by 18

SuperCoach notes: Thomas Dearden ($603K) is owned by only 3.1% and has a 3-round average of 89.3. His BE is -12 this week and against a Tigers outfit missing Api Koroisau and Luke Brooks, he could go large. Valentine Holmes and Scott Drinkwater could have a field day this weekend, while Jeremiah Nanai has his mojo back after a brilliant performance in Origin.

Embed from Getty Images

Brisbane Broncos vs The Dolphins
Saturday 1st July 7:35pm | The Gabba, Brisbane

Why the Broncos will win: The Dolphins have conceded an average of 42 points per game in their last three starts. That is abysmal. It's difficult to see them getting up for this one against the supreme roster of the Broncos, who will be hurting after being knocked off the top of the ladder.

Why the Dolphins will win: The Broncos were given a reality check last round, losing at home to the Titans, who had only that week dumped their coach, Justin Holbrook. The Broncos have had a favourable schedule this year, with the majority of their matches played at Suncorp in similar timeslots. Without their livewire Reece Walsh, the Broncos lose a lot of attacking flair.

Fansided tip: Broncos by 16

SuperCoach notes: Troubling signs for Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow as he was spotted training in the centres this week, with Kodi Nikorima looking to start at fullback this weekend. Brendan Piakura ($289K) has cracked the run-on side for the Broncos and is starting to show his value, vaunting a BE of -3 this round. Reece Walsh has accepted a three-game ban, and in the high-ceiling fullback position, it could be costly to have him taking up cap space during this period.

Embed from Getty Images

Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs vs Newcastle Knights
Sunday 2nd July 2:00pm | Accor Stadium, Sydney

Why the Bulldogs will win: Last week was there for the taking for the Knights, as Penrith rested five big-name Origin stars. They also lost another highly winnable game against the Roosters in Newcastle, leaving their fans bewildered. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs were getting back to basics and resting during their bye. Matt Burton and Josh Addo-Carr return for the Bulldogs, handing them some much-needed spark in attack.

Why the Knights will win: The Bulldogs have been pumped by the Sharks and Eels in their last two matches and are still missing troops, particularly up front. Their last win was just over a month ago against the hapless Titans. Newcastle should have far too much strike, particularly in their outside backs, and could lap the Dogs in this one.

Fansided tip: Knights by 14

SuperCoach notes: Up against the worst defensive team in the competition, it could be a big day for Greg Marzhew, Dominic Young and Kalyn Ponga. Matt Burton has been solid in a struggling side with a 5-round average of 82, and he returns this week along with his wing-combination partner Josh Addo-Carr. It will be interesting to see how Burton performs when the Bulldogs finally get some size and muscle back into the front line.

Embed from Getty Images

Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles vs Sydney Roosters
Sunday 2nd July 4:05pm | 4 Pines Park, Sydney

Why the Sea Eagles will win: A host of big names will return for the Sea Eagles home game this Sunday arvo, bolstering the squad for a game against the worst attacking team in the competition. Jake Trbojevic, Ben Trbojevic, Brad Parker, Jason Saab and Kelma Tuilagi all slot straight back into the team. While Tom Trbojevic is set to miss the rest of the season, Reuben Garrick is a highly capable stand-in.

Why the Roosters will win: In three of their past four games, the match margins for the Roosters have been 1, 2 and 2 points, with the outlier being a 30-6 loss to the Panthers. They've been poor by their own standards, but they've been in these games, being competitive and within striking distance. Manly has not been great lately so this match could be a scrap-a-thon. This will work to the Roosters' advantage.

Fansided tip: Sea Eagles by 7

SuperCoach notes: Joseph Manu has been one of the diabolical Roosters' best, boasting a 3-round average of 86.3. The Chooks are struggling to score points, but Manu is still posting decent scores. Nathan Brown has run and tackled hard, and at only $372K, he has been promoted to the starting side. For Manly, Reuben Garrick owners will love seeing him at fullback, where he will likely finish the year in lieu of the injured Tom Trbojevic.

Embed from Getty Images


  1. Sharks by either 40 or dragons by 2. It’ll depend on which dragons turn up and if Hunt’s behaviour will distract them again like against the warriors.

Comments are closed.