It’s been an exciting start to the NRL season, with a number of unpredictable results making things tough from a betting perspective, but great from a viewing perspective. Here’s hoping we can get a few to go our way again.
St George Illawarra and Cronulla head into one of the NRL’s great rivalry matches with a handy win and a narrow loss apiece under their belts, but plenty of positives to take for each side. The Dragons forced a grandstand finish against the Panthers in round 2 on the back of their win against the Warriors, however will be without Andrew McCullough who has been ruled out with an elbow injury. The Sharks bounced back from finishing on the wrong side of a Canberra thriller with an after-the-bell triumph over the Eels courtesy of a Nicho Hynes conversion. Nicho Hynes was named as a player to watch in last week’s fixture and his performance alongside Matt Moylan should provide the Sharks faithful with a lot of hope for season 2022. The Sharks have won five of the last six southern Sydney derbies – including a pair of victories at Netstrate Jubilee Oval in Round 1 (32-18) and Round 11 (13-12) last season and while I am going with them to win on Thursday, that is without a lot of confidence.
Both clubs have begun the season 0-2, though the Tigers have less reason to smile after an insipid 26-4 loss to the Knights and do not appear to understand the attacking shape they wish to play, highlighted by only recording 2780 metres in their matches, third worst in the competition. The Warriors have fought back from double-digit deficits to lead in the second half against both the Dragons and Titans but have ultimately failed to put in a complete 80 minute performance. Whilst the odds have been set relatively close considering both teams back-to-back defeats, the Warriors to win looks too much value considering the greater upside they have displayed so far.
The Rabbitohs have started the season winless, and face another stern test when they clash with the Roosters on Friday night in the round’s marquee clash. They were poor when going down as dominant favourites against the Broncos in Round 1, and after fighting back into the contest with the Storm in Round 2, they were ultimately undone by a Ryan Papenhuyzen field goal in the golden point period. That second half performance was obviously a vast improvement, however the Storm were also poor in that half, providing Souths with a multitude of attacking opportunities. Interestingly, Taane Milne has been named at left centre with Jaxon Paulo on the right wing, after the switch mid-game last week, coinciding with their comeback. This game will have plenty of spice as Latrell Mitchell and Joey Manu match up for the first time since Latrell’s high shot in round 24 last year, and I’m siding with the tricolours in what should be an entertaining clash.
Two of the competition’s unbeaten sides Penrith and Newcastle take their round 3 match to Carrington Park in Bathurst, giving the Rugby League faithful of country New South Wales their first taste of NRL for 2022. The Panthers dismantled Manly 28-6 and held off St George Illawarra in round 2 without Nathan Cleary, who has been named in the extended reserves list. His late inclusion would be welcome following an injury to Brian To’o and further concern over the left shoulder of James Fisher-Harris. The Knights have been the surprise packets of the opening fortnight, stunning the Roosters 20-6 before cruising to an emphatic 26-4 defeat of Wests Tigers despite missing Kalyn Ponga and David Klemmer. Jake Clifford has been in sparkling form to start the year with 2 try assists while Maroons star Dane Gagai is shaping as the best buy of the year in the centres. While Penrith has only dropped one of its last ten games against Newcastle the Panthers, the Knights are simply playing too well to ignore the line on offer.
Like clockwork, the Melbourne Storm have started the season with two wins coming from behind to beat Wests Tigers, the perennial contenders survived a late fight-back from South Sydney to win 15-14 in golden point via a Ryan Papenhuyzen field goal. Both performances have been way below par considering the caliber of their squad, which does not bode well for opposing teams in the upcoming rounds. The Eels were outgunned in the middle by the Sharks pack and finished on the wrong side of just about every attacking metric despite enjoying 54 percent possession and completing at a superior 87 percent. Parramatta had Melbourne’s number in 2021, beating Melbourne them in Round 2 (16-12) at home and Round 24 (22-10) at Suncorp Stadium – the latter snapping the Storm’s record-equalling 19-match winning streak, however their forward pack struggled to assert its dominance in the middle last week. Even with Harry Grant out of the Storm side with a positive Covid result, the class factor of Munser, Hughes and Papenhuyzen should be enough to get them over the line.
The Raiders backed up their Round 1 win over the Sharks with an embarrassing loss at the hands of the unfancied Cowboys in Townsville and will be wanting to bounce back at home against the Titans. Young Brad Schneider is back from COVID protocols in the No.7 jumper, while the backline looks far better on paper for the return of Nick Cotric and Jordan Rapana on the flanks. Gold Coast is 1-1 and are seemingly always involved in thrilling matches, edged 32-28 by Parramatta in round 1 before getting home 20-18 against the Warriors. AJ Brimson made an immediate impact and the Titans are considerably better with the Origin representative in the lineup and I’m backing him to lead the Titans to an upset win in Canberra on Saturday.
Whilst this rivalry has lost its luster in recent years as both sides have struggled for form, the matchup between the Broncos and Cowboys always seems to bring the best out of both sides. Brisbane is looking for its first 3-0 start since 2009 following the 11-4 upset of Souths in round 1 and a hard-earned 16-10 win over the Bulldogs with Adam Reynolds’ immediate effect on the way the Broncos get around the park a noticeable highlight. North Queensland were the big turnaround team of Round 2, bouncing back from a loss to the Bulldogs to a convincing 26-6 victory over Canberra, however have struggled away from home in recent times. I’m expecting Payne Haas to continue his barnstorming start to the season, having recorded 145 post contact metres in his opening two games and will lead the Brisbane pack around the park.
After a pair of convincing losses to the Panthers and Roosters, Manly will be looking to kick start their season but will not face an easy task against a Bulldogs side showing more starch and belief than in the past few years. As expected, Matt Burton has been a great off season signing, but yet again finishing scoring chances is the Bulldogs’ chief bugbear. They enjoyed 59 percent possession and ran for over 500 metres more than the Broncos, yet have struggled to score points, but will no doubt turn as the team plays together more often. Manly has won its last six against Canterbury including a 66-0 win in Round 16 and 36-18 in Round 24 with Tom Trbojevic and Jason Saab scoring a remarkable 11 tries across the two games. I’m going with a left field selection with Addo-Carr to score his maiden try for the Bulldogs as the Manly defence down both edges being susceptible in the opening rounds.
Well the season is done and dusted for another year, here are the talking points from the 2017 NRL Grand Final. Super Storm Have we seen a better club team than the 2017 Melbourne Storm? Not in recent memory, that’s for sure. After dominating the regular season, some were questioning the Storm’s form through their […]
South Sydney v Gold Coast ANZ Stadium 7:50pm Friday 16 June South Sydney host an Origin and injury-ravaged Gold Coast side to kick-off an abbreviated round 15 in the NRL. The Titans lose the services of Jarrod Wallace, Nathan Peats and Jarryd Hayne due to Origin commitments while Kane Elgey and Karl Lawton have joined […]
NRL – 2019 Premiership Winner We’ll look at the top 6 favourites in the betting markets. Sydney Roosters $4.50 The Sydney Roosters proved all doubters wrong in 2018 by convincingly defeating the Melbourne Storm on the back of a Luke Keary masterclass and the heroics of Cooper Cronk in the season finale. For this reason, […]