The Big Marn’s NRL Round 18 Preview
This will be an OUTSTANDING clash to kick off Round 18 with the Bulldogs sitting in 2nd spot and the Tigers in 8th position.
The Bulldogs are putting pressure on the Storm for the minor premiership, while the Tigers need a victory to stay in the eight and keep clear of the chasers.
The Tigers will welcome back Liam Fulton and Curtis Sironen from injury, while Sam Perrett makes his debut for the Bulldogs after his mid season switch from the Roosters.
It could come down to the battle of the hookers between Michael Ennis and Robbie Farah.
Ennis will have a point to prove after Robbie Farah got the nod for NSW during the Origin series.
The Tigers defence has been shaky the last two weeks and the $1.60 on offer with Sportingbet Australia for the Bulldogs looks like a good bet.
The Raiders continued their dominance over the Dragons in Canberra but will face a tougher assignment when they travel to Melbourne to face the competition leaders.
The Storm has an impressive record over the Raiders winning 23 of the 30 clashes between the sides.
Melbourne is coming off the bye and a loss to the Bulldogs before that. They will be desperate to win and stay clear at the top of the ladder.
The Storm will be relying on their Origin stars backing up and will be need to get the job done without Billy Slater once again.
The Warriors have played five times at Skilled Park for just one victory and will need to improve on that record.
They beat a depleted Cowboys side last week, so this will be a bigger test as they push for a spot in the Top 8.
The Titans will be freshened up for this clash after coming off the bye, but will be sweating on the fitness of Nate Myles and Greg Bird after Origin.
The Warriors have the more settled line-up with no players on Origin duty and need to keep winning to stay in touch with the eight.
I’m expecting the Warriors to ignore the history books and put on a dominant display against the Titans.
There is some excitement starting to build out South Sydney way as the Rabbitohs look like playing finals football this season.
The Knights have put two victories back to back and are making a late charge towards the finals but need to keep winning as they still sit two wins outside the eight.
Souths second rower Dave Taylor produced a man of the match performance against Penrith last week after being dropped from the QLD side. He will want a repeat performance to prove a point to the QLD selectors.
Zeb Taia replaces the injured Kane Snowden in the front row, while Greg Inglis & Darius Boyd will need to back up after Origin.
It’s always a great clash between these two bitter rivals who played back to back grand finals in the early 80’s.
Manly are raging favourites and are always a tough side to beat at Brookvale Oval.
The Eels will be relying on Jarryd Hayne getting through Origin if they are any chance of causing an upset.
Glenn Stewart has been named in the Manly side despite being ruled out for NSW with injury but would appear unlikely to play in this clash.
T-Rex was dominant in Manly’s last outing when they thumped the Roosters and could cause some damage against his former club.
Like the situation with Souths, fans in the Shire are starting to get excited about the Sharks chances of playing finals football.
The Sharks recorded an impressive victory against a depleted Broncos side last week and will need to back up that performance.
They will be hoping both Paul Gallen and Todd Carney back up after Origin as they look to cement their spot in the Top 4.
The Roosters have a pretty good record against the Sharks and a decent record at Toyota Park, but the Sharks are a team on the rise and playing with plenty of confidence.
There is plenty of pressure on Roosters coach Brian Smith and the players to lift after their performance against Manly where they were thumped 52-14.
Melbourne Storm $3.50
Manly Sea Eagles $5.50
Brisbane Broncos $7
Canterbury Bulldogs $7
Wests Tigers $9
South Sydney Rabbitohs $11