The round kicks off between the Roosters and Broncos at the SCG, with both teams desperate to keep touch with the top 4 and top 8 respectively. Given the turbulence their opponents in Round 20 faced during the week, the Roosters were poor against the Sea Eagles and will need to step up their play against a Broncos side also coming off a poor performance at home against the Tigers. They were far too good for the Eels the week prior, who subsequently beat the league-leading Panthers rather convincingly, so coach Kevin Walters will be sure to get his much improved side focused for this week’s clash. Despite their up and down form throughout 2022, the Roosters seem to hold favoritism in most games, but I can’t go past the $2.35 on offer for the Broncos here.
Melbourne snapped a four-match losing streak last round with a 12 point win over the Warriors at Mt Smart Stadium. The Storm can’t seem to catch a break on the injury front, with Justin Olam and Nick Meaney both out injured, leaving room for recruit David Nofoaluma to make his debut for the club. Last-placed Gold Coast have now lost their last nine and have only beaten the Storm 6 times out of the 24 meetings between the sides. The odds make this one difficult to bet on, but with all the ongoing changes for the storm and only averaging 14.5 points in their last 4 games, I’m going with the unders in this fixture.
After arguably the most eventful week in the club’s history, it will be interesting to see how the Sea Eagles back up in a must win clash against the Eels. Five of the players who missed last week’s game – Jason Saab, Christian Tuipulotu, Tolutau Koula, Haumole Olakau’atu and Toafofoa Sipley – return but Josh Schuster has been left out and Josh Aloiai is injured. Parramatta remain the NRL’s biggest puzzle, moving back up to sixth on the ladder with a second win over Penrith this season. This one very much feels like it could go either way, with the Sea Eagles being so good at home but with the Eels capable of beating anyone on their day, I’ll still with the over between two teams full of points.
Saturday 6th August 3:00PM, Sunshine Coast Stadium
The Bunnies have found form in the perfect moment for a serious top four assault, and despite a gold point loss to the Sharks in round 20, are still heading into the pointy end of the season with a tonne of momentum. The Warriors’ 24-12 loss to the Storm in Auckland last Friday was their 10th in 11 games and it’s tough to imagine them pushing South Sydney for a full eighty minutes in current form. The Rabbitohs handed the Warriors a 40 point thrashing at Sunshine Coast Stadium in 2021, and with a dry fast track for them to play with, I anticipate a big win for South Sydney
The Panthers will attempt to bounce back from defeat for only the second time this season when they travel to the nation’s capital on Saturday evening. Last week’s loss was compounded by losing Nathan Cleary for five weeks on account of a dangerous tackle, and will now employ the inexperienced Sean O’Sullivan and Jaeman Salmon in the halves. Canberra is keeping its finals chances alive after winning its last three matches but have been defeated by Penrith in their last 3 clashes, including one by 30 points in round 7. Even with their Origin halves combination unavailable, the odds for the Panthers are too good to ignore.
The Sharks step out in Round 21 following a thrilling win over South Sydney led by Nicho Hyne, and can keep the pressure on the top two with a win over arch rivals the Dragons. The Dragons meanwhile sit two points outside the Top 8 after three losses from their last four games, with last week’s loss to the Dragons almost putting an end to their finals hopes. The Sharks have won the six of the last seven southern Sydney derbies, including a 36-12 win at WIN Stadium earlier this year, and will account for the Dragons with ease again on Saturday night.
Bundaberg plays host to an NRL fixture as the Bulldogs and Cowboys go head-to-head on Sunday afternoon. The Bulldogs have now remarkably won four of their last 6 games and after a lot of scrutiny throughout his career, it is good to see Kyle Flanagan beginning to assert himself as a premier halfback in the competition. Meanwhile, North Queensland returned to normal proceedings with a 26 point win over the Dragons, on the back of their last minute win over the Tigers. Despite the good Bulldogs, the Cowboys should have too much class, so let’s hope this bet lands and we can all enjoy a rum to finish off our weekend.
Sunday 7th August 4:05PM, Campbelltown Sports Stadium
The second-last Wests Tigers host 14th-placed Newcastle Knights to end round 21 in a clash for pride for both sides. The Tigers are on an upswing, following their road trip to Queensland, with a close loss to the Cowboys, followed by a dominant win over the Broncos. The Knights now possess the west defensive record in the NRL and have had a torrid week, with David Klemmer publicly admitting he wants out of the club. The Knights easily won the corresponding clash earlier in the season, but on account of recent form, I’m siding with the Tigers.
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