Wed, Jul 25, 10:58am by Staff Writer
Round 20 of the 2018 NRL season begins with a blockbuster, when the Broncos host the Sharks at Suncorp Stadium.
The match of the round takes place on Sunday afternoon, when the fourth placed Roosters host fierce rivals and second placed St George.
Brisbane Broncos versus Cronulla Sharks
Thursday, 26 July 2018 at 7.50pm AEST at Suncorp Stadium
The Broncos bounced back from a horrible 26-6 loss to the Warriors in round 18 with a commanding 50-18 thumping of Penrith.
The home side are $1.78 favourites to beat the travelling Sharks who are paying $2.05.
Regardless of their good fortune from the referees, Cronulla are at full strength with the return of Luke Lewis to the second row.
The Sharks are fifth on the ladder, with a win placing them inside the top four, albeit potentially temporarily.
The round 15 match between these two teams ended in controversial circumstances when Corey Oates scored late in the match for the Broncos on a pass that was clearly forward.
The Broncos have won the past three matches against the Sharks, with Cronulla’s last win a narrow two point victory in 2016.
A round 23 match last season was the last time the two teams clashed in Brisbane and on that night, the Broncos spoiled Paul Gallen’s 300th game with a dominant 32-10 victory.
Brisbane should be too good in this one at home as they look to assure their top-four spot.
Best bet- Brisbane Broncos Big Win Little Win 1-12 at $3.10
North Queensland Cowboys versus Newcastle Knights
Friday, 27 July 2018 at 6pm AEST at 1300 SMILES Stadium, Townsville
After reaching the 2017 NRL Grand Final, season 2018 has been a nightmare for the Cowboys.
The side from North Queensland is fighting to avoid the wooden spoon when they host Newcastle on Friday night.
The home side is $1.54 favourites at Sportsbet, while the Knights are paying $2.50.
The Cowboys are enduring a horror run of form, losers of their past five matches. They have struggled in attack and have been porous in defence and sit in 15th spot on the ladder.
Newcastle welcomed back halfback Mitchell Pearce a fortnight ago and have won their past two matches, albeit against Parramatta and Gold Coast.
Fullback Kalyn Ponga returns after a minor knee injury, although his in some doubt after he rolled his ankle at training earlier this week.
The Knights are unlikely to make finals given they are three matches and a considerable point difference behind the eighth placed Warriors.
Nonetheless this season has been a drastic improvement for Nathan Brown’s team. The Cowboys have won their past four matches against Newcastle, but the Knights managed a shock 16-14 win over the Cows in round 2, 2015.
North Queensland are a horrible price to win this match given their recent futility, which has us all over the price on the Knights, especially if Ponga plays.
Best bet- Newcastle Knights to win at $2.50
Sydney Roosters versus St George Illawarra Dragons
Sunday, 29 July 2018 at 4.10pm AEST at Allianz Stadium
The high-flying Roosters host the Dragons on Sunday afternoon at Allianz Stadium.
The Chooks are $1.62 favourites to win the match at Sportsbet, with the Dragons priced at $2.30.
St George’s squad depth was tested during Origin, when the side had six State of Origin representatives, many from the victorious New South Wales side.
After a poor result against Wests Tigers in round 18, the Dragons convincingly defeated North Queensland 24-10.
The Roosters amassed a staggering 56 points on Manly last weekend, in one of the more pedestrian defence efforts seen in recent years.
The Dragons got the better of the Roosters in their traditional ANZAC Day clash in round eight this season, winning 24-8.
The Roosters had won three of the previous four matches prior to that contest and are great value to cover the current handicap of 3.5-points to grab another win this weekend.
Best bet- Sydney Roosters to cover 3.5-point handicap at $1.90
The Tigers ($1.44) have claimed the scalps of St George and South Sydney in the past fortnight and should have too much for the Dogs ($2.80) on Friday night.
It would not shock if the putrid Manly ($2.65) performance from last round fired up the Sea Eagles and led them to victory against an ailing Penrith ($1.49).
Souths ($1.22) should bounce back against the bottom-placed Eels ($4.35) on Saturday, while the Storm ($1.30) should roll the Raiders ($3.55) in Melbourne.
The Warriors ($1.47) are always a risky proposition as favourites, but have a good record on the Gold Coast against the Titans ($2.70).
NRL Round 20 Odds – Sportsbet
Brisbane $1.78 v Cronulla $2.05
North Queensland $1.54 v Newcastle $2.50
Canterbury $2.80 v Wests Tigers $1.44.
Manly $2.65 v Penrith $1.49
South Sydney $1.22 v Parramatta $4.35
Melbourne $1.30 v Canberra $3.55
Gold Coast $2.70 v New Zealand $1.47
Sydney $1.62 v St George $2.30
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