The NRL’s top four is becoming more clear-cut, with Penrith, Melbourne, Parramatta and Sydney Roosters all banking round 11 wins to consolidate the crucial positions on the ladder – although gutsy Canberra may have something to say about that over the last nine weeks of the regular season.
Below that bunch, Newcastle, Cronulla, Manly, Wests Tigers, Souths and, at a stretch, St George Illawarra appear set to engage in a two-month rumble for the remaining three NRL finals spots.
The wooden-spoon battle is equally intriguing with just one win separating stragglers North Queensland, the Warriors, Gold Coast, Brisbane and bottom-placed Canterbury.
The 2020 Indigenous Round is certain to shake up the table once again.
All the analysis is here with Sportsbet’s NRL round 12 preview, including fearless NRL round 12 predictions and NRL round 12 teams news.
ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS V SOUTH SYDNEY RABBITOHS: NRL ROUND 12 PREDICTION
THURSDAY 30 JULY – 7:50PM
Two round 11 losers who find themselves in the bottom half of the NRL standings get the rugby league weekend underway.
St George Illawarra’s recent momentum was stunted by a 28–24 derby loss to Cronulla last Saturday. The Dragons fought back impressively after the Sharks shot to a Bunker-aided 14-point lead, but they flubbed a couple of late chances to win the match.
In NRL round 12 teams news, the 11th-placed Saints are set to be boosted by the return of Tariq Sims and Jordan Pereira from injury. The bad news is, Trent Merrin and impressive rookie halfback Adam Clune have been ruled out, meaning Ben Hunt reverts to halfback.
South Sydney are struggling to shake off their flat-track-bully reputation. All four of the Rabbitohs’ wins since the restart have come against teams currently in the bottom half, and they have lost all six games against top-eight sides – including against Newcastle (20–18) and injury-ravaged Canberra (18–12) in the past fortnight.
Latrell Mitchell is back from suspension, which sees Alex Johnston revert to the wing. First and foremost, however, the Bunnies’ underperforming pack must lay a decent platform for attacking threats Mitchell, Damien Cook, Adam Reynolds and Cody Walker.
Souths have won 13 of their last 16 against the Saints, including the last four straight. Five of the last eight encounters were decided by margins of four points or less. Last season the Rabbitohs powered to a 34–18 victory at Kogarah in round 2 and held on 20–16 at ANZ Stadium in round 19. Adam Reynolds polled five Dally M votes across the two games.
This shapes as the hardest match of the NRL round 12 preview to get a read on, but the Dragons have undoubtedly turned a corner since their 0–4 start and will be smelling an upset here.
NRL round 12 tips
Head-to-head: St George Illawarra Dragons
Best bet: Line – St George Illawarra Dragons +4.5
WESTS TIGERS V NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS: NRL ROUND 12 PREDICTION
FRIDAY 31 JULY – 6:00PM
Wests Tigers are in the all-too-familiar ninth spot on the ladder with a 5–6 record after winning only one of the last four games. Following a 48–0 demolition of the Broncos, the Tigers ran out of steam in a 2–16 loss to the Eels last Thursday – but positive signs still abound.
Harry Grant sat atop the Dally M standings as voting went secret, Benji Marshall has flourished after his recall to the halves, and the likes of Josh Aloiai and Luciano Leilua are starring in an unheralded pack.
The embattled Warriors have won just one of their last six, but followed up a meek 46–10 surrender to the Sharks in round 10 with a gallant 18–10 defeat to two-time premiers the Roosters. The Warriors still lack polish and attacking invention, but their dogged defence was an inspiration against the NRL’s most potent offensive unit.
The nomadic club now faces yet another challenge, with top-liners Ken Maumalo, David Fusitu’a and Agnatius Paasi heading home for family reasons. But a massive boost comes in the form of a pair of Parramatta loan players, Daniel Alvaro and George Jennings, who come straight into the side and are arguably an upgrade on what the Warriors had. Wayde Egan also returns at hooker.
On the Tigers’ side of the NRL round 12 teams-news fence, Luke Garner and Alex Twal will offset the loss of Michael Chee-Kam (concussion) and Russell Packer (suspension).
The Tigers have won five of their last six against the Warriors, including a 34–6 rout at Campbelltown in early 2019. Six of the teams’ last eight meetings produced 44-plus points.
The Tigers will view the competition points on offer against the lowly Warriors as essential. But if last week’s valiant showing can become the Warriors’ base level, this will be much closer than the line and midweek head-to-head odds suggest.
NRL round 12 tips
Head-to-head: Wests Tigers
Best bet: Line – New Zealand Warriors +14.5
BRISBANE BRONCOS V CRONULLA SHARKS: NRL ROUND 12 PREDICTION
FRIDAY 31 JULY – 7:55PM
It says plenty about Brisbane’s plight that besieged coach Anthony Seibold attempted to put a positive spin on his side’s 46–8 loss to Melbourne last Friday. The Broncos competed well to trail by just six at half-time but capitulated in a 32–0 second half.
The Broncos have lost eight out of nine since the NRL’s restart, conceding an average of 30 points per game.
Anthony Milford’s move to fullback was an abject failure and he switches back to five-eighth with Brodie Croft injured, while Darius Boyd slots into the familiar custodian role. Reinforcements arrive in the form of dummy-half duo Jake Turpin and Issac Luke, but Titans-bound wrecking ball David Fifita remains sidelined.
Cronulla held onto seventh spot with a nerve-shredding 28–24 win over St George Illawarra on Saturday, taking the foot off the gas after racing to a 14-point lead early in the second half.
Shaun Johnson is playing with marvellous control, leading the NRL in try-assists and forced line drop-outs, and has scored tries in back-to-back games for the 6–5 Sharks. But, with steady halfback Chad Townsend ruled out, the responsibility on the Kiwi’s shoulders continues to increase. Connor Tracey steps into the number seven hot-seat and Briton Nikora is back from suspension, which should ring alarm bells for the Broncos’ brittle defence.
Brisbane is on a six-match winning streak against Cronulla. Milford was the star of a 29–6 result in round 7 last season, while Payne Haas led an Origin-depleted side to a 24–22 victory in round 16.
The Sharks won’t get a better opportunity to end that drought, with the Broncos totally bereft of confidence and cohesion. Fifita and Turpin will take some time to get back into the groove, particularly coming into a struggling line-up.
NRL round 12 tips
Head-to-head: Cronulla Sharks
Best bet: Margin – Cronulla Sharks 11–20
SYDNEY ROOSTERS V GOLD COAST TITANS: NRL ROUND 12 PREDICTION
SATURDAY 1 AUGUST – 3:00PM
It’s been an underwhelming couple of weeks for two-time champs and 2020 premiership favourites Sydney Roosters, following up a shock loss to under-strength Canberra with a scrappy 18–10 win over the battling Warriors.
The fourth-placed Roosters took until the 69th minute to make a line break and effectively got home on the back of Luke Keary’s class. Boyd Cordner and Daniel Tupou remain on the short-term injured list, while Brett Morris has joined them with Ryan Hall coming onto the wing this week.
Gold Coast put the potential distraction of David Fifita’s 2021 signing aside to push competition leaders Penrith in a 22–14 loss on Sunday. It was arguably the 3–8 Titans’ best defensive display of the season, conceding just one second-half try.
Young livewire AJ Brimson has been named in the reserves as he vies to return from a broken back; his late inclusion would provide the Titans with another much-needed point of attack.
The Roosters have won five straight against the Titans. Brett Morris bagged a hat-trick and James Tedesco crossed for a double in a 58–6 mauling at the SCG in round 20 last season.
The Roosters will win this, but things just aren’t quite clicking for the team right now as injuries start to bite. Even the best teams go through flat spots and the premiers look tired. Beware of taking on the huge start in this one.
NRL round 12 tips
Head-to-head: Sydney Roosters
Best bet: Line – Gold Coast Titans +22.5
NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS V CANBERRA RAIDERS: NRL ROUND 12 PREDICTION
SATURDAY 1 AUGUST – 5:30PM
North Queensland have won just one of their last eight, beginning the post–Paul Green era with a disappointing 24–12 loss at home to Manly.
Jason Taumalolo and Francis Molo are carrying the Cowboys’ pack and fullback flyer Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow is a rare find, but it’s difficult to see this side competing on a regular basis until they get Michael Morgan’s direction and influence back. Jordan McLean lends a hand up front.
Canberra’s injuries keep on piling up, with fullback Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad (finger) the latest heading for a stint in the casualty ward. Jordan Rapana will slot into the key position, while star Englishman John Bateman and mid-season acquisition Corey Harawira-Naera have both been named for the trip to Townsville.
But the good news is the Green Machine are winning. The 2019 runners-up ground out gutsy victories over the Roosters (24–20) and Rabbitohs (18–12) in their last two starts to reaffirm themselves as a title chance.
Both clubs picked up an away win over the other in 2019. A Jordan Rapana double helped the Raiders to a convincing 30–12 victory in Townsville in round 4, before a Michael Morgan–inspired Cowboys outfit grabbed an upset 22–16 result in the capital seven weeks later.
The Raiders’ injury toll is bound to spark a form drop-off at some point, but the Cowboys don’t seem capable of rolling anyone except their fellow cellar dwellers at present.
NRL round 12 tips
Head-to-head: Canberra Raiders
MANLY SEA EAGLES V PENRITH PANTHERS: NRL ROUND 12 PREDICTION
SATURDAY 1 AUGUST – 7:35PM
Seemingly on the skids without Tom Trbojevic and riding a three-match losing streak, Manly have climbed back into the top eight via back-to-back wins over Parramatta and North Queensland.
Addin Fonua-Blake’s return from suspension made a huge difference in Townsville, with the prop combining with Martin Taupau for more than 400m. Meanwhile, the halves combination of Daly Cherry-Evans and Cade Cust is starting to thrive.
The Sea Eagles’ defensive steel – which deserted them in recent heavy losses to the Sharks and Dragons – appears to be back.
Penrith continue to sail along at the top of the NRL ladder with just one loss against their name, but the Panthers had to dig deep to overcome the low-rated Cowboys (22–10) and Titans (22–14) in the past two rounds. Hooker Apisai Koroisau’s injury absence has been tough to adjust to but Nathan Cleary is leading the team superbly from halfback.
With Dylan Edwards and Dean Whare also still sidelined, strike forward Viliame Kikau’s return is a welcome relief for the Panthers in NRL round 12 teams news. Koroisau is a chance to return after being listed in the reserves.
Penrith has proved a bogey team for Manly in recent years, with the Panthers winning eight of the teams’ last 10 encounters. All but two of those matches featured 1–12 margins. The Panthers got up in a 15–12 nailbiter at home last season
Another tense low-scorer looms at Manly, with the Sea Eagles’ big, mobile pack and gritty style set to present the Panthers with their biggest test for several weeks.
NRL round 12 tips
Head-to-head: Penrith Panthers
Best bet: Total match points – under 36.5
CANTERBURY BULLDOGS V PARRAMATTA EELS: NRL ROUND 12 PREDICTION
SUNDAY 2 AUGUST – 2:00PM
The first match on Sunday’s docket shapes as an NRL round 12 preview mismatch on paper, but Canterbury have been buoyed by snapping their six-match losing streak last weekend.
The Bulldogs – currently under the charge of interim coach Steve Georgallis – stormed to a shock 18-point lead early in the second half at Newcastle, then held off a late fightback to bank their second win of the season at 18–12. Veterans Aiden Tolman (201m, 1 try) and Kieran Foran (95m, 1 line break, 1 try-assist) turned back the clock with inspired performances.
Parramatta responded to being knocked off the top of the table with a solid 26–16 win over Wests Tigers last Thursday. After a slow start, the Eels took control with four unanswered tries as Clint Gutherson (137m, 2 try-assists) and Reagan Campbell-Gillard (247m, 1 try) starred.
The Eels’ 10-day turnaround should allow Ryan Matterson to back up despite exiting early against the Tigers with concussion. The Bulldogs have named mid-season recruit Tim Lafai in the centres at the expense of Kerrod Holland.
Parramatta have won seven of their last nine against Canterbury, including a dour 8–2 result in the 2020 NRL season opener. That match continued a strong trend of low-scorers between the arch rivals – just one of the last 10 encounters produced a total of more than 32 points.
Backing under the points total looks the best play if betting in this grudge match, particularly with the Bulldogs being afforded a hefty start.
NRL round 12 tips
Head-to-head: Parramatta Eels
Best bet: Total match points – under 42.5
MELBOURNE STORM V NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS: NRL ROUND 12 PREDICTION
SUNDAY 2 AUGUST – 4:05PM
Newcastle Knights were the big losers of round 11, with their shock 18–12 loss to last-placed Canterbury compounded by season-ending injuries to Andrew McCullough and Connor Watson, and a stint in the casualty ward for veteran forward Sione Mata’utia.
Losing the club’s two best available dummy-half options leaves Knights coach Adam O’Brien in a bind. He’s been forced to throw the number-nine jersey to NRL novice Chris Randall, while young Phoenix Crossland joins the interchange.
Eradicating a huge error rate should be the Knights’ top priority ahead of a daunting trip to Queensland to take on Melbourne Storm.
The Storm have rumbled up to second on the ladder via five straight wins, pummelling Gold Coast and Brisbane by a combined 90–14. Josh Addo-Carr bagged back-to-back doubles, while Cameron Smith and Ryan Papenhuyzen are in irrepressible form.
Melbourne is on an eight-match winning streak against Newcastle, with the Knights scoring 16 points or less on each occasion. The last six encounters were decided by 14-plus margins.
The injury-hit Knights are heading into a very challenging period. The ruthless Storm are unlikely to give them any leeway and could run up another sizeable victory here.
NRL round 12 tips
Head-to-head: Melbourne Storm
OTHER NRL ROUNDS
2019 NRL Round 12 Preview
PENRITH PANTHERS V MANLY SEA-EAGLES PREDICTION
THURSDAY – MAY 30 – 7:50 PM
NRL Round 12 gets underway on Thursday with an interesting clash between the struggling Panthers and the injury-hit Sea-Eagles.
Penrith’s run of 6 straight losses finally came to an end last weekend when they scored their third win of the season, when they defeated Parramatta 16-10 in what proved to be another less than convincing performance.
Manly’s run of solid performances without the captain and halfback Daly Cherry-Evans came to a dismal end last weekend, when they were overrun by the Titans in the second half to lose 36-18. He’ll be missing again this weekend, as is star fullback Tom Trbojevic.
These sides have traded wins for their last 5 clashes. Penrith won the last clash 28-24 in Manly. Manly won the clash before that 18-10 at Panthers Stadium.
Milestones: James Maloney needs to score 3 points to reach 1800 points in his NRL career.
PARRAMATTA EELS v SOUTH SYDNEY RABBITOHS PREDICTION
FRIDAY – MAY 31 – 7:55 PM
These two NRL teams in Round 12 are playing with totally different form, however the in-form Bunnies will be without a number of star players due to State of Origin duties.
Parramatta have gone from sitting pretty in fifth place to drop down to 8th place courtesy of 3 straight losses leading into this game. With the Broncos and Tigers both having the bye, Parramatta will need to win to stay in the top 8, otherwise, they could drop down to 10th.
Souths have won their last 7 straight games, however they come into this game without Cody Walker and Cameron Murray, who have been their best players all season, as they’ve been called up for State of Origin duties. Adam Reynolds is under an injury cloud, making the Bunnies vulnerable against a practically full strength Eels side.
Souths have won the last two contests between these sides.
Milestones: Tepai Moeroa will play his 100th club and NRL career game.
CANTERBURY BULLDOGS V CANBERRA RAIDERS PREDICTION
SATURDAY – JUNE 1 – 7:55 PM
The NRL Round 12 tips for this match should still favour the Raiders, despite being without form winger Nick Cotric and five-eighth Jack Wighton.
The Bulldogs are fielding a side with plenty of young players, who weren’t expected to be a finals contender in 2019, however despite winning just 3 games and sitting in last place, they’ve been very competitive more often than not this year. Last weekend they went down to the Storm 28-6 at Belmore.
The Raiders started the year in fantastic form, climbing to third on the table with 6 wins from 8 games, however they’ve started to slip south after losing their last three games against defending premiers Sydney 30-24, the top of the table Souths 16-12 before last weekend’s shock 22-16 loss to the Cowboys.
Canberra has won their last 2 games against the Bulldogs and 4 of their last 5.
Milestones: Jarrod Croker needs 5 goals to become the 13th player since 1908 to reach 700 in his club career.
GOLD COAST TITANS V NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS PREDICTION
SUNDAY – JUNE 2 – 4:05 PM
This game looks set to produce one of the tightest NRL results in Round 12 given both sides are dealing with injuries and Origin representations.
The Titans NRL Round 12 team lists a near overhauled forward pack, due to injuries and State of Origin. Last week they managed to score a good win over Manly, coming from a 2 point deficit at half time to run away with a 36-18 victory.
The Cowboys have overcome a slow start to the season where they were 1 and 4, but have since won 4 of their last 6 matches, including their last two games against Parramatta 17-10 before last weekends impressive 22-16 victory over a strong Raiders side.
North Queensland have won their last 8 straight games against the Titans.
Milestones: Kyle Feldt needs 6 points to reach 300 for his club and NRL career.