Thursday 7th April, 8:05PM, McDonald Jones Stadium
An intriguing clash kicks off round 5 with the Knights, on the back of two straight losses hosting the Sea Eagles are chasing three consecutive wins after a slow start in rounds 1 and 2. After an outstanding performance in round 3 against the Raiders, Manly are reeling from an MCL injury to Tom Trbojevic ruling him out for at least the next month of football. After two wins and an admirable performance against the Panthers, the Knights were shut out 18-0 by Cronulla last Friday. Interestingly, the Knights have won their last three against the Sea Eagles, including an 18-10 home victory in the teams’ sole 2021 clash while ‘Turbo’s’ absence is a blow for Manly, the Sea Eagles have won four of their last five without the reigning Dally M Medal winner.
A huge game for a pair of 2-2 teams with a third win for either side no doubt exceeding a lot of people’s expectations. Shaun Johnson’s presence is invaluable to the Warriors, not only steering the side around the park, but also providing their spark in attack. The Cowboys took a step backwards last week after consecutive thrashings of the Raiders and Broncos, going down 28-4 to the Roosters and lose fullback Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow to injury. The two encounters between the sides in 2021 were decided by a total of 5 points, including the round 8 fixture with the Warriors almost blowing a 20-point halftime lead before prevailing 24-20. The Warriors are the slightest of favourites at Redcliffe and I’m backing the aforementioned Johnson to lead his team to another win.
After a positive start to the season with 2 wins, the Broncos have come crashing back down to Earth after two poor performances against the Cowboys and Warriors and are now under additional media scrutiny after star forward Payne Haas and halfback Albert Kelly were caught in a late night scuffle. The Roosters did well to bounce back against the Cowboys, highlighted by Joey Manu’s two try performance and will be looking to move back into the top 4 with a win on Friday ast Suncorp. Promising young guns Selwyn Cobo and Kotoni Staggs have committed 26 errors between them in 2022 and Broncos will need all of Adam Reynolds’ experience to turn their form around. In saying that I struggled to find an edge in this match but going with the home side to lift in front of the Brisbane faithful.
Melbourne were able to clean up the high error rate that plagued them in the early rounds to thump the Bulldogs by 44 points, highlighted by a 4 try effort to fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen. The Storm flyer has returned to the form that saw him being compared to James Tedesco and Tom Trbojevic in the early part of 2021 prior to his concussion problems and will no doubt be pushing for representative selection in a few weeks time. The Raiders were simply no match for the Sea Eagles in Mudgee and despite having recorded the most offloads in the competition so far, are struggling with continuity in their attack. The Storm have won their previous 3 encounters with the Raiders by an average margin of 18 points, and with their form arguably not as strong as previous seasons, I’m expecting the Storm to pile on the points again.
Souths were comprehensively beaten by the Panthers in round 4 but are playing better than their 13th spot on the ladder suggests and will take solace with the ever improving Lachlan Ilias in the halfback position. The Dragons were blown off the park 48-14 by Parramatta in Round 4 and looked like a team with not many answers, a troubling sign for Anthony Griffin early in the season. Souths have a dominant record over South Sydney winning an outstanding 16 of the last 19 games between the sides, including the last seven straight. The Rabbitohs always seem to grow a leg at home and I envisage them recording a dominant win at Accor Stadium on Saturday evening.
Super Saturday ends with the Titans hosting the Eels in the second clash between the sides in 2022, with their opening week’s clash marking itself down as one of the season’s best clashes.
Following an after-the-bell loss to the Sharks, the Eels stunned the Storm in extra-time in a high-quality showdown and blitzed old rivals the Dragons 48-14 with the halves pairing of Dylan Brown and Mitch Moses two of the most form players in the competition. The Titans have recorded wins over the struggling Warriors and Tigers and while their form is patchy, the combined margin in the Titans’ four games this season is a remarkable 10 points. Despite being away from home, the recent form of the Eels is outstanding and I’m taking their line as one of the best bets of the round.
The Sharks have now won three games on the trot and appear to be relishing playing under first year head coach Craig Fitzgibbon who’s defensive nous is evident with the Sharks having the lowest amount of points against with 52. The Tigers meanwhile continue to struggle, compounded by a heartbreaking 8-6 loss to the Titans in round 4. The pressure is on coach Michael Maguire to turn around form of the merger club who has stuck with an unchanged team heading into Sunday’s game. Both sides have seen two of their last three games go comfortable on the unders line and so I’m going to go with the unders as the recommended bet for this game.
First place takes on fourteenth to end round 5 and the Bulldogs could be in for a long 80 minutes based on current formlines. Trent Barrett’s side is only averaging 7 points a game and will have a tough time coming up against an outstanding defensive Panthers outfit which simultaneously has only let in 54 points so far in 2022. Nathan Cleary returned from a shoulder injury and didn’t appear to miss a beat in the Panthers comfortable win over Souths and considering the Panthers beat the Bulldogs by 26 points and 28 respectively across their two games in 2021 and the line on offer looks too good not to take.
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