Penrith Panthers – $1.60 at Sportsbet
St George Illawarra Dragons – $2.35
Friday’s NRL Round 18 clash at Panthers Stadium sees two teams at opposite ends of the form spectrum.
After a horror start to the year, Penrith have roared into finals contention with six wins on the bounce.
The last of those was a 22-point thrashing of the Gold Coast Titans that pushed the Panthers into the top eight for the first time this year.
St George Illawarra have gone the other way, falling in a heap after starting the season among the top few challengers in the 2019 NRL betting markets.
Injuries have played their part, but it is still difficult to comprehend how a team with so many State of Origin representatives can achieve so little.
Sitting 14th and four points outside the eight, every game is a final now for the Red V.
Penrith Panthers Round 18 team news
– Latest Penrith Panthers odds
Nathan Cleary has not featured since hurting his ankle in the second game of the State of Origin series, but he returns this week alongside NSW halves partner James Maloney. That pushes Jarome Luai to the interchange, while Jed Cartwright drops to the reserves.
Out: Jed Cartwright (reserves)
In: Nathan Cleary
St George Illawarra Round 18 team news
James Graham joins the forward pack a long spell out with a broken leg and Darren Nicholls steps in at halfback for the rested Ben Hunt. Jeremy Latimore is off with a knee injury, while Patrick Kaufusi and Josh Kerr replace Jacob Host and Reece Robson on the bench.
Out: Ben Hunt (rested), Jeremy Latimore (knee), Jacob Host, Reece Robson (both reserves)
In: James Graham, Patrick Kaufusi, Josh Kerr, Darren Nicholls
Panthers vs Dragons tryscorer betting tips
Brent Naden – Several scoring threats have emerged during Penrith’s golden run, so singling out one is no easy task. Naden has four tries from five starts this year and offers plenty of value in the major markets.
Mikaele Ravalawa – The Dragons might be struggling, but Ravalawa is having a good year on the wing. The Fijian has found the line nine times this season and looks the most dangerous of the St George Illawarra backs.
Panthers vs Dragons NRL stats and trends
- Penrith’s 85% kicking conversion rate is the best in the competition
- The Panthers are also top for missed tackles (645) and penalties conceded (130)
- St George Illawarra have conceded more points (365) than any other team
- The Dragons have lost eight of their last 10 games
Panthers vs Dragons NRL Round 18 predictions
One of these teams is hot and the other is not. If the Panthers keep doing what they’ve been doing, they should have no problems against a Dragons side that continues to underperform. The return of Nathan Cleary tilts the scales even further in Penrith’s favour.
Penrith Panthers to win by 1-12 points – $2.88 at Sportsbet
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