The NRL returned with a bang in Round1 delivering quality games of football and a number of upsets along the way. The heat is on the Sydney Roosters and Manly as they lock horns in a Friday blockbuster, while South Sydney confronts a road trip ato AAMI Park to bounce back from a shock first-up. Newcastle and Brisbane, meanwhile, are eager to consolidate their positive starts to the season as another intriguing round awaits.
Round 2 kicks off with a blockbuster as the Storm host the Rabbitohs in what should be a bumper crowd at AAMI Park. The home side endured a horror round 1 despite their win over the Tigers, with serious injuries to Brandon Smith, captain Christian Welch and George Jennings. They are however boosted by Cameron Munster and Harry Grant returning from their respective suspensions and will be focused as the club celebrates Craig Bellamy’s 500th game in charge. The Bunnies were left to rue missed opportunities against the Broncos, but the return of Latrell Mitchell should ensure their attacking shape improves. The Storm have had the Rabbitohs number in recent years, including a 50-0 victory in 2021, and will look to extend the trend on Thursday night.
Last year’s premiers opened the 2022 season with a resounding 28-6 victory over Manly. The one-two punch of Isaah Yeo and James Fisher-Harris dominated the middle third of the field with both players running for over 180 metres, allowing the spine of Api Koroisau, Jerome Luai and Sean O’Sullivan to unleash the sides outside backs. The Dragons, whilst showing promise in their hard fought victory in Round 1, do not have the class and firepower to match it with the top elechon of sides. With the Panthers not missing a beat without star half Nathan Cleary, I expect them to win and win well t as they look to go back-to-back in 2022.
Two of the more disappointing sides in round 1 will look to bounce back on Friday night at the SCG. It was a very uncharacteristic Roosters performance against the unfancied Knights and appeared to lack the clinical edge that has seen them become one of the benchmark sides in the competition over the past decade. The Sea Eagles started favourites in their match against the Panthers but were no match for a rampaging Panthers outfit who enjoyed 59% possession on 87% completion rate. As always, watch for the contest between Tom Trbojevic and James Tedesco who were both quiet by their lofty standards. Whilst I am struggling to split the sides, I’m expecting a sharp improvement out of the home side.
The Warriors would have been disappointed with their efforts against the Dragons last week, while the Titans same troubles as last year resurfaced, conceding 32 points to the Eels on Sunday. The Warriors lose Shaun Johnson, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak and Viliami Vailea to injury this week, however Reece Walsh and Matt Lodge return from suspension at fullback and Ash Taylor makes his debut at halfback for the Warriors against his former side. I struggled to split the two when it came to making a winning selection but the Warriors line looks too much value and one of the better bets on the weekend.
NRL returns to Shark Park after two years as the famous venue underwent renovation and will no doubt be rocking on Saturday afternoon, as the side look to bounce back after a round 1 defeat to the Raiders. After starting fast against the Titans, the Eels let in a lot of soft tries and were ultimately quite fortunate to come away with a win after kicking 3 penalty goals in the second half. Expect a big game from off season recruit Nicho Hynes who should be able to exploit a fragile Eels defence.
Saturday 19th March, 7:35PM, Queensland Country Bank Stadium
The Cowboys didn’t instill a lot of confidence in their faithful in round 1, struggling to score points against a Bulldogs side expected to finish towards the bottom of the table. The Raiders just managed to beat the Sharks in what was one of the games of the round, with 2020 Dally M Medallist Jack Wighton a standout. Hooker Josh Hodgson is expected to miss up to a month of football with a knee injury, however is replaced in the starting line up by Tom Starling who impressed last season when opportunities presented themselves, with his speed and ball play around the ruck a huge asset to the Raiders. While an away trip to Townsville, especially in March, is always a tough ask, I cannot see the Cowboys going close and the Raiders going two and zero on the season.
The Knights surprised even their most loyal fans last week by beating the Roosters away from home, while the Tigers very much made the Storm work for the 2 points. Yet while there are plenty of positives for both sides, I am finding it extremely difficult to anticipate what will be on offer in round 2. Did the Knights pour their all into winning last week and use up all that off season adrenaline against the Rooster? Will the Tigers be plagued again by inconsistency round to round? I’m struggling to pick a winner each way but believe it will be a close content and going for either team by under 6.5 points in the Triple Margin selection.
Recommended Bet: Triple Margin I (Any Other Result) $2.70
The Broncos were arguably the most impressive victors out of round one, considering they were coming up against last years’ beaten grand finalists and without new captain Adam Reynolds. While much has been made of Reynolds and fellow recruit Kurt Capewell, Payne Haas led the way with 82 post contact metres, consistently giving his side front foot ball. The Bulldogs got their season off to the best possible start with a grinding win over the Cowboys, however there are still plenty of questions about their attacking structure, with the inexperienced duo of Jake Averillo and Matt Burton struggling to organise consistent attacking raids.
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