NRL Magic Round Tips & Preview

Magic Round is upon us and we’ll be treated to eight quality games of footy, all from Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium!

Two games on Friday, three on Saturday and three on Sunday. The only certainty is that Caxton Street is going to be an absolute scene, particularly after Day 2.

There is plenty of value to be unearthed, and you can find my complete NRL Magic Round Tips below.

Canterbury Bulldogs vs Newcastle Knights
Knights (+3.5)

Probably not the game that everyone is looking forward to, but props to the NRL for getting this one out of the way immediately.

It’s been an understandably poor start to the season for the Bulldogs.

A rare win in Round 8 was immediately forgotten when they failed to account for a similarly disappointing Raiders outfit last week and every game will seemingly be tough for them for the remainder of the campaign.

The Knights have also well and truly underperformed and despite looking competitive against the Cowboys for 60 minutes in Round 9, ultimately suffered another unflattering defeat.

I think that the value in this one lies with backing the Knights to cover the line as outsiders.

Manly Sea Eagles vs Brisbane Broncos
SGM: Sea Eagles (-3.5)/Turbo Anytime Try

Understandably, most pundits are expecting the Storm/Panthers game to be the best in Magic Round, but I think that there is a real case to be made for this one.

The Sea Eagles have performed well without Turbo in the side for the last month or so and his re-emergence last week resulted in a dominant win over Wests.

Plenty of young Sea Eagles are really starting to make their mark, and continued improvement as the season progresses will see them firm as a genuine premiership threat.

The Broncos have also continued to improve recently, and they are chasing a fourth win in success this week, following tough performances against the Bulldogs, Sharks and Bunnies.

Their defence has been the key to their success and they’ll need to be at the best to account for Manly’s multi-dimensional attack.

The Sea Eagles won this game by 50 points in 2021, and while I’m not expecting a result as one-sided as that, I do believe that they will win again.

New Zealand Warriors vs South Sydney Rabbitohs
Rabbitohs 13+ ($2.35)

The Warriors have been nothing short of terrible in 2022 and they face another uphill battle in the first Saturday game in Magic Round, against the Rabbitohs.

They’ve snuck home for a few tight wins, but they’ve also suffered some of their worst defeats in history, and with some of the quality players on their roster, they really shouldn’t be as poor as this.

A return to New Zealand cannot come quickly enough, but there are still a few weeks to go before that happens.

The Rabbitohs are another club that have underperformed, but they have been far better than the Warriors and to me, this one looks open and shut.

Gold Coast Titans vs St George Illawarra Dragons
Dragons to Win ($1.90)

Betting actually suggests that this will be the best contest in Magic Round: at publish, there’s $1.90 about both the Titans and the Dragons.

Neither side has been particularly consistent or convincing, but the Titans have been quite poor; particularly for a side with a strong roster, who made the finals last season and who looked to have plenty of upside heading into 2022.

Round 9 saw them suffer a heavy 44-16 defeat to the Roosters, and they have still won only two of nine games to sit fourteenth on the ladder.

The Dragons also suffered a big defeat to the Storm in Round 9, but to be fair, most clubs are suffering big defeats to the Storm this season.

They’ve returned some good efforts between poor ones, and I think that they are a noticeably better side than the Titans, currently.

Melbourne Storm vs Penrith Panthers
Panthers (-3.5)

It’s the one that everyone has been waiting for since Round 1, and what looks like a Grand Final preview will be contested between the Storm and the Panthers on Saturday night.

These two clubs have been head and shoulders above literally everyone else so far, and this is sure to be a thrilling contest.

The Storm have been destroying opponents, 40+ points at a time, and it was the Dragons who felt their wrath in Round 9.

Unfortunately, they will be without star fullback and Dally M leader Ryan Papenhuyzen this week, who has been sidelined with a minor hamstring tear.

That is a notable handicap, though their depth of talent is excellent.

The Panthers suffered their first defeat of the season to the Eels in Round 9, and I think that will only pump them up more in Magic Round.

Penrith truly is a magnificent footy team and I think that they are well placed to create a dynasty throughout the next few seasons.

I would not have been able to split them had Papenhuyzen been named, but I think that with his absence, the Panthers will just be a little too good.

Cronulla Sharks vs Canberra Raiders
Sharks 13+ ($2.10)

The Sharks can keep the pressure on the Panthers and the Storm at the top of the table by beating the Raiders on Sunday afternoon.

They look the real deal in 2022, and the Sharks bounced back from a shock loss to the Broncos with a comfortable win over the Warriors in Round 9.

On top of that, they boast a big, mobile forward pack, some talented backs and perhaps the best wing pairing in the league.

The Raiders have really regressed this year, and coach Ricky Stuart will surely be performance managed out of the club at season’s end, should they not show any signs of improvement.

While they did return to winning form last week, it was at home against a poor Bulldogs outfit and the performance was scrappy as best.

Sydney Roosters vs Parramatta Eels
Eels (-3.5)

Another terrific contest looks like materialising between the Roosters and the Eels on Sunday afternoon.

The Roosters are another club that has underperformed through the first couple of months of the NRL season, but they have done enough to maintain a position in the top eight, and they have looked good from time to time.

In Round 9 they destroyed the Titans and I am confident that performance and result will put them in good stead this week.

The Eels have been let down by their enormous inconsistency having lost to the Tigers a few weeks ago, but then became the first club to defeat the Panthers this season in Round 9 – good luck figuring all of that out.

Surely that performance was enough to instil the belief required of a top four side, and they can strengthen their claims by winning again this week.

Wests Tigers vs North Queensland Cowboys
Cowboys (-8.5)

The resurgent Cowboys are offered another great opportunity to win when they take on Wests Tigers on Sunday night.

I am the first to admit that I thought they were specials for the spoon this season, but the Cowboys continue to prove me, and a bunch of other pundits wrong by improving, winning and maintaining a position in the top four.

They weathered an early storm to ultimately run away comfortable winners over the Knights last week, and this shapes as a similar sort of game.

The Tigers have also continued to improve recently, but their return to winning form was halted by the Sea Eagles in Round 9 and they face a similarly difficult task against a Queensland side in Queensland this week.