NRL Previews - Round 18

Warriors v Gold Coast Titans
Friday 8 July 2011, kickoff 6:30pm AEST; Mt Smart Stadium
Match History, Team Lists, Officials and LIVE score updates: click here.

The Gold Coast Titans are about to join a long list of NRL clubs with a trophy in their cabinet that they'd rather not have. But don't feel bad Titans fans. We've all been there. You start the season with high hopes after making the semi finals the year before and winning a big home semi... but then it all comes crashing down. A wooden spoon beckons.

Before John Cartwright's team begin planning their Mad Monday celebrations, they first get to travel across the Tasman to face New Zealand at Mt Smart Stadium on Friday night. Admittedly the Warriors have lost more than they've won this year; but at home on a cold and wet night in Auckland, they produce using the speed and skill of Shaun Johnson and Kevin Locke.

My tip: NZ Warriors 20-12


Parramatta Eels v Wests Tigers
Friday 8 July 2011, kickoff 7:30pm; Parramatta Stadium
Match History, Team Lists, Officials and LIVE score updates: click here.

The more and more times you watch the 2011 Eels play, the more you like their chances to turn it around. Unfortunately for Parramatta, the more and more they play, the bigger and deeper the hole they dig for themselves. Having lost their past 3 and not tasting victory since a round 11 win over the Sharks, the Eels can only hope for a bit of luck to fall their way against the Tigers on Friday night at Parramatta Stadium.

At this stage, it looks like being the opposite with Chris Lawrence and Todd Payten named to return for the visitors. What's more unlucky for the Eels is that Tigers coach Tim Sheens looks like he will spring the return of Benji Marshall on them. Either way, the Tigers have lost the ability to entertain and the Eels average just over 15 points per game in attack. How the mighty have fallen. Tigers at the death with Robbie Farah leading the way.

My tip: Wests Tigers 20-18

Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks v Canberra Raiders
Saturday 9 July 2011, kickoff 5:30pm; Toyota Stadium
Match History, Team Lists, Officials and LIVE score updates: click here.

Much has been made of the last meeting between these two clubs. Twas' round 1 of the season and the Raiders looked like world beaters at home in a drubbing. Interestingly, after this game the Sharks went on to beat St George Illawarra in round 2 and the Raiders went on to lose their next 8 games. Both clubs have been a work in progress this season and have come full circle for this match on Saturday at Toyota Stadium.

The Cronulla forward pack have become a sight to behold whilst the Raiders have found stability in the halves with Sam Williams and Josh McCrone combining well to win 4 of their last 6. This will be a beauty and far too good a match to be stuck in the 5.30pm timeslot. Hard to go past the Sharks at home in a contest highlighted by a vicious forwards battle and a return to the shire of Blake Ferguson. Could be fun.

My tip: Cronulla 24-12


Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs v Melbourne Storm
Saturday 9 July 2011, kickoff 7:30pm AEST; Adelaide Oval
Match History, Team Lists, Officials and LIVE score updates: click here.

What to make of the Bulldogs this year? Anyone's guess what has gone wrong at Belmore but depending on which newspaper you read.... the coach has one more chance, the board is split and the fans are calling for heads to roll. The truth is probably nowhere near any of this. They have the same record as the Tigers, Warriors and Panthers but will always get more press and more pressure. They have not handled it well recently.

If there was ever a week to turn around your fortunes in the NRL, this is not it for the Like

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