The NRL will return to Brisbane in 2022 for the third instalment of Magic Round which has become one of the competition’s marquee events.
Magic Round has become an important part of the NRL calendar, not only does it bring a festival atmosphere to rugby league but it takes the game back to its second home in the heart of Queensland.
It allows fans from all 16 clubs to come together and celebrate the “greatest game of all,” by watching all eight teams live and seeing all of the game’s biggest superstars including the likes of Tom Trbojevic, Nathan Cleary, James Tedesco and Cameron Munster.
This year’s event will be bigger and bolder than ever including what will be the biggest game of the regular season between the Penrith Panthers and the Melbourne Storm.
Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs vs Newcastle Knights, Friday 6pm
Magic Round will open between the Bulldogs and the Knights on Friday night with both teams desperate for a win. Unfortunately for both sides, this game could very well decide who will “win” this year’s wooden spoon after disappointing starts to the season.
The Bulldogs showed promise in their opening win of the season but have since returned to their form from previous seasons despite the marquee signings of Matt Burton and Josh Addo-Carr. However, a win over the Roosters could give them the confidence they need to go on a winning run.
Meanwhile, the Knights were in first place after the first two rounds but have since fallen off a cliff, going on to lose their next six games including big losses at home to the Sea Eagles, Eels and Storm.
It should be a great game despite the team’s poor records, however, I think the Bulldog’s recent confidence boost and their star power will be good enough to defeat an out of form Knights side.
My tip: Bulldogs by 8.
Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles vs Brisbane Broncos, Friday 8pm
Friday night’s main event will once again be between Sea Eagles and the Broncos, this game may be listed as a home game for the Manly side but it will mean nothing as the locals will come out in numbers to cheer on their hometown team.
The Sea Eagles are coming off a fourth-place finish last season and are considered one of the competition’s true premiership contenders but a giant injury toll has halted their start to the season.
The Broncos have had an improved start to the year, led by their new captain Adam Renyolds, the Broncos will remember that they lost this fixture last year 50-6 so they should be fired up for the match.
However, with the returns of Josh Aloili and arguably the game’s best player Tom Trbojevic, I think that Manly will be too strong for a Broncos side who will be wanting revenge for last year.
My tip: Sea Eagles by 12.
New Zealand Warriors vs South Sydney Rabbitohs, Saturday 3pm
The Warriors will be hoping to upset last year’s runners-up, the South Sydney Rabbitohs who are finding form after a slow start to the season.
Unfortunately, the Warriors’ solid start to the season has been overshadowed by their record-breaking 70-10 loss to the Melbourne Storm on ANZAC day.
While the Rabbitohs have lost some big names like former captain Adam Renyolds and Dane Gagai, they have started to rack up some big wins over teams like the Roosters and the Sea Eagles.
The Warriors will be hoping to stay within finals contention but the Rabbitoh’s attack will more than likely be too good for a Warriors defence that has proven to be weak.
My tip: Rabbitohs by 20
Gold Coast Titans vs St.George Illawarra Dragons, Saturday 5:30 pm
The Titans will host the Dragons at their home away from home in another game that could decide who can sneak into the top eight come season’s end.
After sneaking into the finals last year many predicted the Titans would improve in the 2022 season. However, with just a few wins to open the season, it could all be over soon if they don’t start securing some victories.
Meanwhile, the Dragons have been able to rack up a few wins after an incredible start to the season from their captain Ben Hunt as well as their star centres, Moses Sulii and Zac Lomax.
Both teams will see this as a must-win game to earn a spot into the top eight, as a loss will give the opposition a four-point start. I do think that playing in front of a “home” crowd will give the Titans enough energy to score an upset in a close one.
My tip: Titans by 2
Melbourne Storm vs Penrith Panthers, Saturday 7:30 pm
What is shaping up to be the match of the regular season will be the highlight of the weekend as the defending premiers, the Penrith Panthers will take on the Melbourne Storm in a top of the table clash.
These two sides have dominated the NRL post-Covid-19 with both sides finishing in the top two and winning premierships over the past two seasons.
In 2020, the Storm defeated the Panthers in the Grand Final before the Panthers would get revenge in last year’s prelim final, knocking the Storm out of the finals series en route to their premiership win.
Both sides have been on fire to start the season and it could go either way, there will be plenty of fire on that field as we enter another chapter in the game’s hottest new rivalry.
However, I think that the Panthers will be able to defeat the Storm off the back of their forward pack where the Storm has been weakened due to recent injuries.
My tip: Panthers by 6
Cronulla Sharks vs Canberra Raiders, Sunday, 1:50 pm
Sunday kicks off between two teams at different ends of the ladder as the Sharks will play the Raiders.
The Sharks have lived up to the high expectations they had coming into this season after the signings of Nicho Hynes, Dale Funicane and the appointment of their new head coach Craig Fitzgibbon.
Unfortunately, it’s been a very disappointing start to the season for the Raiders who sit at the bottom of the ladder. After making a grand final and making the top four in both 2019 and 2020 respectively, many thought the Raiders would bounce back after a disappointing season last year.
However, the Raiders have been far from their best and currently sit near the bottom of the ladder. It would take some incredible turn of form to compete with a red hot Sharks side and I just don’t see that happening.
My tip: Sharks by 16
Sydney Roosters vs Parramatta Eels, Sunday 4:05 pm
It will be another fiery game of the magic round weekend when two premiership contenders go head to head as the Roosters play the Eels.
The last time these two sides met was filled with controversy after Drew Hutchinson left the field with a collapsed lung as a result of some foul play by the Eels’ five-eighth, Dylan Brown.
This forced Roosters coach Trent Robinson to famously call the officiating ridiculous.
Although the Eels have arguably been the more impressive side I think the Roosters will have enough star power to cause an upset.
My tip: Roosters by 10
Wests Tigers vs North Queensland Cowboys, 6:25 pm
The final game of the magic round for 2022 will be a very interesting clash between the Tigers and the Cowboys for various reasons.
The Tigers were awful to start the season with their coach Michael Maguire on the verge of being sacked. However, since then the Tigers have turned around their form and secured one-point wins over the Eels and the Rabbitohs to push themselves back into finals contention after they looked destined for the wooden spoon.
The Cowboys were another favourite for the wooden spoon this season but have been the surprise packet of the season, holding a top-four spot for most of the season.
The Tigers will still see this as a winnable game against an in-form Cowboys side who are playing well above their weight. It will be a cracking match to end the weekend and I think the Tigers may just catch the Cowboys sleeping and cause an upset.
My tip: Tigers by 2
Magic Round will be an experience like no other both on and off the field. There are some cracking matches that could go either way and it’s sure to be one hell of a weekend.