NRL preview: Round 21

The race to the finals is well and truly on and Round 21 certainly looks a cracker. Here’s our best picks of the round.

Warriors v Sharks 

The Warriors are in free-fall right now and will miss the finals for the sixth consecutive year. Shaun Johnson won’t appear again this season and Kieran Foran’s mind will probably be on the Bulldogs – so in short things couldn’t be worse right now. On the positive, they did push the Cowboys last week in Townsville and will face the Sharks without their chief playmaker James Maloney.

The Sharks continue their push towards a top four finish after overturning their horrible loss to the Titans with a big win over the Rabbitohs last week. Quite simply, the Sharks have too much to play for and despite the loss of Maloney, they should have too much class in the clutch moments against the home side.

Prediction: Sharks -3.5 @ $1.90

Eels v Broncos

The Eels currently own the longest winning streak in the competition right now (Four wins) but the loss of their best player over the past 18 months, Clint Gutherson, is a monumental blow.

The Broncos, well, they were quite sensational against a lacklustre Bulldogs outfit and will certainly be encouraged by the return to form of their halves Ben Hunt and Anthony Milford – not to mention the re-signing of James Roberts on a four-year deal.

For the Eels, Bevan French is a pretty handy replacement at fullback for Gutherson but the lanky former Sea Eagle has brought so much energy to the club in recent seasons and we believe his loss will be too much to overcome.

Prediction: Broncos -6.5 @ $1.90

Storm v Sea Eagles 

The Storm are absolutely flying right now and look head and shoulders above any other team right now. Despite their sensational run of form, the Purple Haze were forced to deal with an almighty scare when Cameron Smith failed to finish the game last week with a pectorial strain but he has been given the all clear to return. The Storm will however be without fullback Billy Slater who is out with concussion which forces Cameron Munster to the back.

The Sea Eagles were brought crashing back to earth with a 52-22 thumping at the hands of a rampant Dragons last Sunday. Coach Trent Barrett gave no excuses for the performance but he will welcome back playmaker Blake Green and Api Koroisau which will no doubt bolster the side.

Manly will improve on last week’s horror showing but the Storm at home will be too much for the Maroon and Whites to handle.

Prediction: Storm -3.5 @ $1.90

Titans v Tigers

The Titans’ finals hopes all but came to an end following their loss to the Panthers last week but they have been playing some quality football over the past month, particularly at home. The spine of has been powering the Gold Coast recently with Jarryd Hayne, Tyrone Roberts, Ash Taylor and Nathan Peats all hitting some form here in the backend of the year.

The Tigers’ season from hell is almost over but they can hold their heads up high following last Sunday’s narrow one-point loss to the Eels. We expect them to bring that energy to the Gold Coast once again but the home side should overpower Ivan Cleary’s outfit in the second half.

Prediction: Titans -9.5 @ $1.90

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