Well, what can you say about that? Round 1 was a tipsters nightmare, but with such quality on display so early it was hard to be too disappointed.
The Dragons did a number on the Broncos, and all of those summer predictions that the Broncos were short of a halfback are looking all too real. Put simply, they cannot win the competition with these two halves. They are simply too similar, and provide no direction to a team that is missing some leadership. Wayne Bennett has some thinking to do. The Cowboys did nothing to dampen enthusiasm about their premiership chances, knocking off the Sharks with Michael Morgan in the stands. The Knights made an early statement against Manly, and while many will talk about the Mitchell Pearce finish, the real beacon of hope for Novocastrians was the debut of Kalyn Ponga. Lock him in now as the next long term Queensland fullback.
The Tigers shocked the world against the star studded Roosters, who it looks like will take some time to find their feet. The imminent return of Luke Keary can’t come quick enough, and James Tedesco will be glad he doesn’t have to face the Tigers fans every week.
The Warriors showed there might be some hope this year over the ditch, while the Storm did what they do best, dismantling the Bulldogs in an impressive display. Cameron Munster shone at fullback, but the Bulldogs will be encouraged by the form of both Kieran Foran and Moses Mbye, who will make a good fist of fullback this year.
The Eels and the Raiders both blew significant leads that they should’ve hung on to, and Brad Arthur and Ricky Stuart will have sleepless nights this week after letting those games slip. The Panthers looked good when they started to play, and the Titans could surprise some teams if they can keep their stars fit and firing.
The Big Games
Another cracking round kicks off with the Sharks hosting the Dragons on Thursday night. This will give us a better read on the Dragons’ form than last week, but fans of the Red V will be nervous about getting too excited too early.
The Roosters and Bulldogs will both be looking to bounce back this weekend, and much will depend on the ability of the Chooks’ pack to lay a platform for their halves. It still feels like they are short one quality forward, and Dylan Napa and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves simply must stand up this week.
We’re then off to Brisbane for the always fascinating clash between the Broncos and Cowboys. We will learn a lot about this Brisbane team from the way they respond to last week’s drubbing, and all eyes will be on Kodi Nikorima and Anthony Milford to step up and take control. It’s difficult to see them getting close to this Cowboys team, though, whose forward pack should have the size and speed to rumble through the smaller Broncos.
The other big game to be sure not to miss is the clash of Round 1 losers the Sea Eagles and the Eels. Both will be desperately disappointed with their last start results, and this should ensure a quality match on Sunday afternoon. The Eels are fancied by punters to be thereabouts when the finals roll around, but they won’t want to let too many early season games slip by before they crank into gear.
They let us down after their fast start last weekend, but surely the Eelswill bounce back this weekend. They are outsiders again against Manly, so we’re putting our trust in Brad Arthur and making the Eels ($2.05) out best bet of the weekend against the Sea Eagles.
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