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Injuries cast a spell over festival of footy


We’re at the point in the season when just about every tipster could do with a magic trick or two.

Magic Round in Brisbane is tossing up a few tricky match-ups with the injury bug yet again making straightforward predictions a little dicey.

Cronulla’s Nicho Hynes is the biggest name under an injury cloud heading into the three-day festival of footy at Suncorp Stadium and the Sharks are sweating on him being able to shake off a calf strain for their showdown with the Roosters.

The middle Saturday match is undoubtedly the pick of the Magic Round schedule with the two Sydney sides in red-hot form. Maybe the Sharks don’t need Hynes after they managed to win in Melbourne last weekend while the Roosters have racked up three impressive wins on the trot.

Looking back at last week and did somebody say perfect round?

Mike Meehall Wood surged back into outright first in The Roar’s panel of experts after getting all eight selections right and he is guaranteeing he will do so again this week or he will hand in his resignation.

Injuries are also playing havoc with a Turbo-less Manly side, the Gold Coast who are down to their umpteenth choice halves combination and the Warriors with Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Shaun Johnson and Rocco Berry all out for their tussle with the premiers.

Here’s how the experts see Magic Round unfolding.

Stuart Thomas

Raiders, Sea Eagles, Titans, Sharks, Cowboys, Panthers, Storm, Dolphins

The Bulldogs are now entering some NRL matches as favourites and that shows just how far the rebuild has come. Sadly for Canterbury, the Raiders look too strong in the pack for them this Friday evening.

A couple of hours later, Manly will beat Brisbane; a team I’ll rarely be tipping until Adam Reynolds is back on deck and healthy.

The Titans and Knights looks a mighty close one to call and the boost the Coasties will get from the David Fifita news might be enough to see them continue their improved form on Saturday. The Sharks will beat the Roosters later on, with top of the table form too impressive to deny.

Surely the Cowboys get back on the winners list with two points against easybeats South on Saturday night? Sundays opening match between the Warriors and Penrith is a logical tip for the mountain men, although this should be the week where New Zealand finally lay it all on the line. Another loss here and the drums beat ever louder around pending change.

The Storm will demolish the Eels, before the final match of the round involving the Tigers and Dolphins will turn into a high scoring affair that the Queenslanders will win in the final ten minutes with a late try.

Fireworks in Suncorp Stadium

Magic Round at Suncorp Stadium. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

Nick Wasiliev

Raiders, Broncos, Titans, Sharks, Cowboys, Panthers, Storm, Dolphins

As much as I have been enjoying the improvements of the Bulldogs, Raiders should get it done.

Honestly, this might be the match of the round here, but it would be wrong to not back the Broncos with their ability to put sides away. Sea Eagles should be an exciting prospect though, it’ll be a close one. 

Both sides are hardly firing right now, but since their win over the Wahs the Titans look to have turned a corner under Des Hasler. Considering how similarly mixed the Knights have been, Gold Coast should have enough. 

Scratch my earlier statement, this is the match of the round. Sharks and Roosters will be a beauty, but the Magic Round conundrum may throw a spanner or two in the works. I’m backing Cronulla, but now with a lot of confidence.

If the Cowboys cannot get back into the winner’s circle this week, then I’ll be lost for words. I don’t see where a win is coming for the Bunnies right now – but I am waiting for when they’ll prove me wrong. 

Penrith are the side to beat right now, and as much as I want to be all up in the Wahs and see them make a statement here, I don’t see it happening.

Storm, pretty good. Eels, not so good. 

I pick the Phins, and I’m sad about it. As much as I am on the Benji train, the reality of the attritional nature of the NRL is quashing that spark. It’ll be oh so good when I can pick my team with confidence. One day. Any day now. 

Mary Konstantopoulos

Bulldogs, Broncos, Knights, Roosters, Cowboys, Panthers, Storm, Dolphins 

The Bulldogs have been one of the most improved teams this year and finally seem to have cracked the formula of using their edges. Despite the loss last week, the Dogs put in a good account of themselves and I’m tipping an upset against a Raiders team that has been up and down. 

I can’t tip against the Broncos at Suncorp for Magic Round but am expecting a high scoring affair against the Sea Eagles. 

The Titans have also been on the up, as have the Knights in recent weeks. Newcastle seem to have realised that they can’t just depend on Kalyn Ponga and it’s been good to see players like Bradman Best stepping up. Knights to win in another high scoring affair. 

This next game will be match of the round. The Sharks have proved they are the real deal and the Roosters attack has been incredible in recent weeks. I can’t tip against the Roosters given their attacking prowess recently, but think this will be close. 

The Cowboys will beat the Rabbitohs with both sides being extremely disappointing this year.  

Speaking of disappointing, what has happened to the Warriors? Even without Nathan Cleary, this should be a cakewalk for the Panthers because without Shaun Johnson it’s unclear where the Warriors points will come from. 

The Storm will demolish the Eels and the Phins will get a win against a Tigers team really struggling with injury.

Paul Suttor

Bulldogs, Broncos, Knights, Sharks, Cowboys, Panthers, Storm, Dolphins

Canterbury’s form has been solid in recent weeks while Canberra continue to confound by not being as bad as their depleted roster would suggest. Dogs by 6

Brisbane could put a big score on Manly – no Adam Reynolds wasn’t much of a blow for the Broncos last week but no Tommy Turbo will prove to be a big one for the Sea Eagles. Broncs by 18

It’s usually always a good time to get the Gold Coast but it’s even better than usual with Sam Verrills and Chris Randall forming their fifth-choice halves combination. Newcastle by 14

The doubt around Nicho Hynes is a problem for Cronulla and the Roosters were red hot on Sunday against the Warriors. Sharks by 1

Souths have been woeful all season, the Cowboys for the past month. This should be the highest scoring match in Magic Round because neither can tackle. North Qld by 2

Penrith are not travelling too flash yet they’re still in second spot and will have too much everything for the weakened Warriors. Panthers by 10

Melbourne don’t make excuses when their top players are out, the Eels do. Storm by 12

The Dolphins keep on keeping on while the Tigers are yet to truly find their mojo under Benji Marshall. Dolphins by 7

PENRITH, AUSTRALIA - MAY 10: Jack Cole of the Panthers kicks the ball during the round 10 NRL match between Penrith Panthers and Canterbury Bulldogs at BlueBet Stadium on May 10, 2024, in Penrith, Australia. (Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images)

Jack Cole kicks. (Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images)

AJ Mithen

Raiders, Broncos, Titans, Roosters, Rabbitohs, Panthers, Storm, Dolphins

Magic Round here! Now watch me make my tipping opposition… disappear!

We begin with your presumptive champions, the people’s team, the Canberra Raiders getting the party started by laying a casual 56 on the hapless Bulldogs.

Broncos will murderise Manly, Titans will get the Knights in an absolute stinker, Roosters over Sharks but I don’t see high scores. 

I’m on the Bunnies to take down the decrepit Cowboys cos why not? Panthers to murderise the Wahs, Storm to murderise Parra then the Dolphins to handle the Tigs pretty easily. 

Hope I’m wrong, cos the round doesn’t look all that exciting when you see it that way!

Mike Meehall Wood

Bulldogs, Broncos, Knights, Roosters, Souths, Panthers, Storm, Eels

He’s back at his rightful place at the top of the panel and starting to put time into the others on the tipping tour de force. Magic Round is as follows:

Dogs are looking strong and unchanged, the Raiders were excellent against Manly and have a week off, but my guess is the Dogs take it in a close one. Hard to call though.

Absolutely not hard to call the Friday night match: Broncos by a thousand, and I can’t wait for my Sea Eagles to stop giving Brisbane a free win every year.

The Titans are playing two hookers as halves and a lock as hooker. Newcastle have underwhelmed but they’ll be way too good here.

The Sharks are in great form, so are the Chooks. It’s game of the round and my gut tells me the Roosters take, though I don’t have much confidence.

When you’re at the top you can showboat, so with that in mind and the knowledge that there is usually at least one Magic Round shock, I’m calling it for South Sydney. Neither side can defend so this should be wide open to some chaos.

There’s no chaos in a Panthers game, they defeat the Warriors and by plenty.

Ditto the Storm, who might be down a few but are way too good for a Parra side down even more.

The Phins are up, the Tigers are down. No worries here for Uncle Wayne.

Round 11 Stuart Thomas Nick Wasiliev Mary Konstantopoulos Paul Suttor AJ Mithen Mike Meehall Wood The Crowd
CBR v CBY Raiders Raiders Bulldogs Bulldogs Raiders Bulldogs ?
MAN v BRI Manly Broncos Broncos Broncos Broncos Broncos ?
GCT v NEW Titans Titans Knights Knights Titans Knights ?
CRO v SYD Sharks Sharks Roosters Sharks Roosters Roosters ?
SSY v NQC Cowboys Cowboys Cowboys Cowboys Cowboys Cowboys ?
NZW v PEN Panthers Panthers Panthers Panthers Panthers Panthers ?
MEL v PAR Storm Storm Storm Storm Storm Storm ?
WST v DOL Dolphins Dolphins Dolphins Dolphins Dolphins Dolphins ?
Last Round 5 7 5 6 6 8 4
2024 tally 52 52 44 53 47 55 52

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