NRL preview: Round 20

The Origin period is done and dusted and it’s all eyes on the premiership as we prepare for a blockbuster run to the finals. 

Sharks v Rabbitohs

Make no mistake, the Sharks got absolutely destroyed by the Titans in atrocious conditions up on the Gold Coast last week. The fatigue of a gruelling Origin campaign really showed on some of the stars and the loss of James Maloney was telling.

The Rabbitohs, well, they were simply outgunned by a confident and in form Cowboys side that sums up their season in a nutshell.

We’re willing to chalk the Sharks performance last week up to the absence of Maloney and the conditions but we expect them to bounce back in a big way at home against a Bunnies side that just lack identity and class at the crucial moments.

Prediction: Sharks -9.5 @ $1.90

Broncos v Bulldogs

They may be without their captain for another few weeks but with Anthony Milford back alongside Ben Hunt in the halves, you get the feeling that the Broncos are once again capable of beating any side on their day.

The Bulldogs are in the midst of their worst season for the best part of a decade. Des Hasler’s side lack imagination in attack and the absence of captain James Graham was very evident in their last performance against the Knights.

With the Origin period behind them and advantage that comes with playing at Suncorp Stadium against a parochial crowd, we love the Broncos with the line.

Prediction: Broncos -8.5 @ $1.90

Dragons v Sea Eagles

Yes, the Dragons have struggled throughout the Origin period, but it’s over now and if they don’t get going soon their season will be also. On a positive note, they Red V return to WIN Stadium and meet a Manly side they absolutely pummled 35-10 at Lottoland in Round six.

Manly are not only one of the surprise packets of the season but also one of the most consistent sides in the competition. The high-flying Sea Eagles returned to winning ways last week against the Tigers, albeit unconvincingly.

The Red V were extremely unlucky not to come away with the win against the Raiders last week but you get the feeling they will use that disappointment to fuel them in this one. They have the bigger pack and will look to roll the mobile Manly side up the middle which should blow this game wide open.

Prediction: Dragons +2.5 @ $1.80

Raiders v Storm

The Raiders snapped their losing streak and got the win over the Dragons last Friday night, but they were far from impressive. Ricky Stuart’s side lacked creativity in attack and if not for a Aidan Sezer intercept and a Josh Papalii shoulder charge on Josh Dugan, the Dragons would have emerged with the result.

The Storm are sitting pretty atop of the NRL ladder and are coming off a much needed week off. Melbourne’s spine excelled in Origin Three which is a clear indication that the Craig Bellamy’s best players are at the peak of their powers.

The Raiders, on their day, are capable of brilliance, but we just haven’t seen it in 2017 and their error-riddled game will be punished by this well-oiled machine that is the Melbourne Storm – who won’t be put off by the cold weather.

Prediction: Storm -6.5 @ $1.85

 

 

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