Round twenty six selections

Penrith Panthers vs Parramatta Eels – Thursday night – BlueBet Stadium

The 2022 grand finalists meet again, and the fortunes of both clubs seem to have taken very different paths as the year progressed. It's hard to believe that when they met in round 4 it was the Eels who prevailed. The Panthers keep on keeping on, and the Eels can plan an early holiday. Mathemagicians will put together a combination of circumstances that will get the Eels into the top eight, but the odds of it happening are at Powerball levels. Brian To'o returns for the home side and with a minor premiership up for grabs I expect the Panthers to do what they do, and what they do is win. Note that the Eels have the bye next weekend, so this is probably their last game for the year. With that in mind, the Eels get the earliest holiday of all the teams in the NRL. It's quite a fall from the dizzying heights of 2022.

Verdict – Panthers by 13

Result – Eels 32 defeated Panthers 18

New Zealand Warriors vs St George Illawarra Dragons – Friday night – Go Media Stadium, Auckland

Even if the Warriors win their last two regular season games this year, and they probably will, I can't see them forcing their way into the top two on the ladder. If they happened to lose their last two games, and they probably won't, there is some chance they could lose a spot in the top four. And it will be the latter, the risk of losing a top four spot, that should drive them to victory on Friday night. This is also their last regular season game at home, so we can assume another packed venue in front of a group of fans who are passionately engaged with the fortunes of their team. Apparently there's a Rugby World Cup on soon, but this is the team the Kiwis have fallen in love with, and the Warriors deserve it. Lomax returns for the Dragons which will help a little, and they wouldn't want the Tigers winning any more games this season. Regardless, the Warriors will be wah-wah-winning.

Verdict – Warriors by 10

Result – Warriors 18 defeated Dragons 6

Redclifffe Dolphins vs North Queensland Cowboys – Friday night – Suncorp Stadium

It's a must-win game for the Cowboys (9th). They're level on points with both the Rabbitohs (8th) and the Roosters (10th) - the Roosters will probably win this weekend and the Rabbitohs (bye) are guaranteed the two points. They're not playing like winners of late, but the circumstances could be enough to see them lift. The Dolphins have won just one of their last ten, which isn't a surprise given the circumstances. What is nice to see is the continuing effort from the new club, who continue to be competitive without getting the points. Three of their last four losses have been by two points or less, so they're close. They also have some key returns on Friday night, with Tabuai-Fidow, Lemuelu and Kenny Bromwich returning to the starting side. They'll be competitive again but I wonder if history will repeat itself here - another narrow loss. Stay strong Dolphins fans. Keep your Chins up. Keep your Chins up.

Verdict – Cowboys by 2

​​​​​​​Result – Cowboys 34 defeated Dolphins 10

Melbourne Storm vs Gold Coast Titans – Saturday afternoon – AAMI Park

It's the last game at home for the Storm, for a while at least - providing they retain their place in the top four they are guaranteed at least one finals game at home. Papenhuyzen returns on an extended bench and there's some chance he could be a late inclusion. The Titans are essentially playing for pride at this point. I expect they'll play with more pride next week, in their final game at home against a team they should beat. Kieran Foran returns in the halves from a sternum injury. A significant inclusion no doubt, but the injuries to Campbell and Sami are heavy losses, and we could see a heavy loss for the Titans on Saturday.

Verdict – Storm by 16

​​​​​​​Result – Storm 37 defeated Titans 16

Sydney Roosters vs Wests Tigers – Saturday night – Allianz Stadium

A few moons ago I suggested there was a chance that the Chooks and the Bunnies could be playing for the last spot in the finals in their last game of the regular season. As each week has passed the probability of that event taking place has increased. The Chooks do need to take it one game at a time though, and that means winning on Saturday. They'll be doing it without their club captain who is out with concussion protocols, but Joseph Manu is a more than handy replacement at fullback. The Roosters also welcome back Waerea-Hargreaves and Sam Walker this weekend - timely returns at the business end of proceedings. The Tigers notched up a rare win last week, but only just. They face stiffer opposition here, and an opponent with much more on the line. What's the big deal about Brooks getting a BBQ from the club? Giving it to him on the field is a bit weird, but at least they were transparent about it.

Verdict – Roosters by 10

​​​​​​​Result – Roosters 32 defeated Tigers 8

Canberra Raiders vs Brisbane Broncos – Saturday night – GIO Stadium

Theoretically the Raiders can still miss the top eight, and that would probably be a fitting result. Their points differential (-108) is barely better than the Titans (-109) or Dolphins (-111) and there wouldn't be many people that think either of those teams deserve to be in the finals this year. A win on Saturday puts an end to any doubts, but this isn't easy. The Broncos are resting Reynolds for another week, but his absence didn't stop them blowing away the Cowboys in Townsville a fortnight ago. Since the last State of Origin game, the Broncos have won four from four and scored 164 points. To put those recent performances in perspective, if they played like that all season their points differential for the year would be +576. To add more weight to those numbers, those four games were all against teams fighting for a top eight finish. They're going well, and they can win the whole thing. 

Verdict – Broncos by 10

​​​​​​​Result – Broncos 29 defeated Raiders 18

Canterbury Bulldogs vs Manly Sea Eagles – Sunday afternoon – Accor Stadium

Apologies to anyone that listened to me when I said the Sea Eagles could still make the top eight, because they can't. They gave a good account of themselves in New Zealand last week, and a few interesting calls didn't go their way, but it was not to be and their season is over. With that in mind, I'm tipping the Dogs in an upset here. The visitors will be feeling a bit empty and they are backing up from the trip across the ditch. This is the Bulldogs last game at home for the year, and I'm hoping give their fans a day out. They're a clear outsider, and that's fair, but I'm not afraid to tip a mad result every now and then. Here's me...getting mad.

Verdict – Bulldogs by 4

​​​​​​​Result – Sea Eagles 42 defeated Bulldogs 24

Newcastle Knights vs Cronulla Sharks – Sunday afternoon – McDonald Jones Stadium

7th plays 5th in what could be the game of the round. Both teams are in form and have all but guaranteed themselves a finals berth (theoretically the Knights could miss out, but it's a theory that wouldn't hold up to much scientific rigour). The Sharks did beat the Knights quite convincingly earlier this season in Coffs Harbour, but this Knights team have come a long way. This is also the Knights 'Old Boy's game and their last regular season game at home. I'll leap to the conclusion that this game sells out (if it hasn't already), and I see no reason to get off the Knight train. Sing it with me peeps.

Verdict – Knights by 7

​​​​​​​Result – Knights 32 defeated Sharks 6

Wally Lewis - round twenty six selections (in bold)

Note: tips from Wally will be published on Wednesday night or Thursday morning

  • PANTHERS vs Eels
  • WARRIORS vs Dragons
  • Dolphins vs COWBOYS
  • STORM vs Titans
  • ROOSTERS vs Tigers
  • Raiders vs BRONCOS
  • Bulldogs vs SEA EAGLES
  • Knights vs SHARKS

Guns N' Roses - Nightrain (Tokyo 1992) HD Remastered


GMac's picture

Gosh this is a tough competition. I've followed it years and this year finally having a crack. I dont know any other tipping comp that is so competitive. Love it!!

The Thinker's picture


It's ridiculous, isn't it?

I can't even get close to the leaders - I'm a fraud :-)

Also, I haven't updated the leaderboard yet, but I think our top two after round 25 are having their first crack this season.

All the best

The Thinker

The Thinker's picture

Greetings football fans

I have updated the NRL ladder and the tipping comp after round 25. Another handful of us managed a perfect round on the weekend, congrats to you all. The teams that let most down were the Cowboys and the Rabbitohs.

If anyone notices any issues with the scoring just let me know. I'll have my tips for round 26 published on Wednesday.

All the best

The Thinker

Gerex Lee's picture

I want to see the winning teams of nrl games round 26 please.

The Thinker's picture

@Gerex Lee

Hopefully I've got a few right this week.

All the best

The Thinker

Footy chick's picture

Axl stole my gym shorts. I've been looking for those for months.

newbie from perth's picture

8512121505225182515145 …

Yeah, so Latrell is sorry for the elbow to Frizell. Admits it was a bit grubby and he’s trying real hard to get that part out of his game. And don’t forget he tells us he puts bums on seats. Well I suppose that makes it alright at the end of the day doesn’t it? Umm, well no it doesn’t Latrell.

I might be a bit old fashioned but I have a saying I try very hard to live by and it’s … “if you walk past it, you accept it”. I’m taking a risk here by saying this but I just can’t keep walking past it. Look, there’s no doubt at all that he’s an absolute star when his head is in the right place and yes, I was gutted when he left the Roosters but … I’m sorta glad we don’t have to deal with that sort of behaviour anymore. I’m also glad we won’t have him playing against us in Round 27 as it might make it a bit easier for us 😁. Anyway that’s my rant over.

One last thing Boss … there’s no way I was gonna click on that Guns’n’Roses clip after seeing what he was wearing. I don’t think I could sit through that watching a grown man cavorting around in hot pants for god knows how long. Ewww 😱. OK, let’s do this thing …

Bye = Rabbitohs

Panthers vs. Eels @ BlueBet
Probability @ 75-25
Ladder Position = Panthers
Bookies Favourite = Panthers

Verdict: There is an obvious class difference between these two sides. Barring a huge upset, this one picks itself … Panthers by 14.

Warriors vs. Dragons @ Daniel Anderson Stadium
Probability @ 75-25
Ladder Position = Warriors
Bookies Favourite = Warriors

Verdict: Yeah, the Warriors keep racking up the wins but I thought they looked vulnerable last week against Manly. The Dragons have been pretty average most of the year but were alright last week. Matched it with the Storm for most of the game and aren’t without a chance this week. Call me stupid but given the Warriors’ propensity to sneak over the line when they should win easy I’m going the upset here … Dragons by 4.

Dolphins vs. Cowboys @ Suncorp
Probability @ 35-65
Ladder Position = Cowboys
Bookies Favourite = Cowboys

Verdict: The Dolphins let one slip last week but had legitimate excuses. OK, they can’t make the 8 but pretty sure that won’t stop them having an honest crack. I thought the Cowboys were disappointing last week. They should’ve done better and had everything to play for. Have they run out of gas? Considering the Dolphins have 4 big names returning this week I’m tipping … Dolphins by 6.

Storm vs. Titans @ AAMI
Probability @ 75-25
Ladder Position = Storm
Bookies Favourite = Storm

Verdict: I thought the Storm made hard work of it in their win last week. They’re not at the level we’re all accustomed to seeing but they’re getting the wins on the board. The Titans are capable on their day but without Campbell and Sami they’re gonna find this one just a little tougher than usual. This is fairly straightforward … Storm by 12.

Roosters vs. Tigers @ Allianz
Probability @ 75-25
Ladder Position = Roosters
Bookies Favourite = Roosters

Verdict: The Roosters seem to have found a little bit of form lately. Teddy will be missing but Walker and JWH return so maybe that evens it out a bit. Not sure but looking forward to see how Sammy handles it. The Tigers had a good (gutsy in my opinion) win last week but this will test them. The Roosters have a slim chance of still making the 8 so they’ll want to make sure they get this done … Roosters by 16. Begurk! 🐔 Begurk! 🐔

Raiders vs. Broncos @ GIO Stadium
Probability @ 35-65
Ladder Position = Broncos
Bookies Favourite = Broncos

Verdict: The Raiders weren’t all that impressive in their win against the Bulldogs last week in my opinion. For a team in the 8 they should’ve done better, especially at home. I am still not convinced with their credentials I must say. The Broncos have had a week off and will be primed for this. They simply have too much class across the park compared to the Raiders and they should lift for Corey Oates’ 200th … Broncos by 12.

Bulldogs vs. Manly @ Accor
Probability @ 40-60
Ladder Position = Manly
Bookies Favourite = Manly

Verdict: The Bulldogs weren’t too bad last week I thought. They were right in it for a large chunk of the game and took it up to the Raiders. What impressed me was they never gave up. Manly did well last week too and some may argue they could’ve won against the Warriors. Manly will miss Garrick’s influence and goal kicking (obviously) but welcome back Parker and Ben Trbojevic. Not sure with this one but seeing as I have a soft spot for them and they’re playing at home … Bulldogs by 4.

Knights vs. Sharks @ McDonald Jones
Probability @ 55-45
Ladder Position = Sharks
Bookies Favourite = Knights

Verdict: Wow, they’ve saved the best till last this week. This should (in theory) be a very good encounter and will show us exactly where both of these sides are at. The Knights surprised me a little with their win last week but after watching extended highlights I can see why they’re the “real deal”. They’re playing some really good footy at the right time of the year and will be hard to beat at home. The Sharks gave the Cowboys a 20 point “lesson” last week. Or did they? Can’t work out if they did or if the Cowboys were below par. At any rate, the Sharks definitely have the class to push the Knights on Sunday. Now, who to tip? I might use some logic for a change … Knights by 8.

Let’s finish off with another “Song of the Week”…

I know I’ll probably upset a lot of people but this is, in my opinion, the best version I’ve heard, better than the King’s. Sacrilege I know but each to their own eh?

OK kids, good luck with your tipping and may your team win by 40 points! Cheers 🐔 🐔 🐔

David Sugo's picture

Great tips I supported

Mary S's picture

Half time in the big match, and I have to say, it's a pleasure to see that not everything is going Panthers' way.

Great to see them flustered for a change!!!!!


MGM's picture

Hiya Mary,
I wish THAT was the 2022 Grand Final !
Or even their last meeting that went to Golden Point.

MGM's picture

To all you punters out there -
Eels were $8.00 to win ....
Imagine taking them at 13+ , with Mika and Gutho to both get a double and then throw in Cleary also to score !
I love throwing in a wild multi like that to back up more likely combos but (i can't believe I'm going to admit this) .. I was busy joining the wife at The Star for a couple of Bingo sessions after taking her to Sydney Eye Hospital for her Cataract follow up this arvo !!

The Thinker's picture


Just curious - did you get it?

The wild multi, not the cataract surgery for your wife.

Also, I hope the surgery went well.

All the best

The Thinker

Rikki Sixx's picture

Hi Thinker

Have all the scores been updated? My score is the same as last week and doesn't include the 7 tips I got this week. Others seem updated. Thanks

The Thinker's picture

@Rikki Sixx

All updated now - you are in equal third place.

You happened to drop by when I was part way through updating the scores.

All the best

The Thinker

Rikki Sixx's picture

Thanks Thinker! Sorry to hassle you while you were updating scores!

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