Another long weekend means another extended weekend of Rugby League as the rounds starts Thursday night with the Sharks hosting the Sea Eagles and ends Monday with the Storm hosting the Warriors. Hopefully across those 5 days, there is a winner or two for us.
Cronulla Sharks ($1.44) v Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles ($2.75)
Thursday 21st April, 8:05PM, PointsBet Stadium
A huge game kicks off round 7 as the Sharks host the Sea Eagles on Thursday night in what could be the game of the round. Despite a loss against a hot Storm outfit last round, Cronulla has been excellent through the first six weeks of the NRL season but will be without captain Dale Finucane and Braden Hamlin-Uele, who will be out long term after starting the year as one of the best front rowers in the competition. Whilst those two are a big blow for Craig Fitzgibbons side,, Wade Graham, Matt Ikuvalu, Briton Nikora and Connor Tracey all return. The Sea Eagles have been without Turbo for a few weeks now, but it hasn’t slowed them at all, and their Round 6 win over the Titans was their fourth in succession with Daly Cherry Evans and Keiran Foran once again playing excellent football on either side of the field. Despite the loss of Finucane and Hamlin-Uele, the Sharks will be able to bounce back on Thursday night and return to the winners circle.
Brisbane Broncos ($1.27) v Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs ($3.80)
Friday 22nd April, 7:55PM, Suncorp Stadium
Suncorp once again plays host to a Friday night fixture as the fourteenth placed Broncos host the sixteenth Bulldogs. Both clubs showed promise in early rounds, but have dropped off in recent weeks with both suffering heavy defeats in round 6. The Broncos returned 20 good minutes of footy against premiership favourites the Panthers, but were simply outclassed against a much better football side. The Bulldogs game followed a similar narrative who let in 6 tries against the Rabbitohs after scoring the first try of the game. There has been a quite extensive line set for this game which is most likely due to the Bulldogs inability to score points, averaging under 10 per game and a negative points differential of 89. On the flip side the Broncos have a points differential of negative 59 which on numbers alone, suggests there is not a whole lot between two sides who will be parked at this end of the ladder for the season.
North Queensland Cowboys ($1.85) v Gold Coast Titans ($1.95)
Saturday 23 April, 5:30PM, Queensland COuntry Bank Stadium
The first game on Saturday is another Queensland ‘Derby,’ as the Cowboys host the Titans. It’s fair to say that neither side has lit up the NRL in 2022, but both have shown glimpses of promise and ability, and this may end up going down as one of the better matches of the round on the dry Townsville track. The Cowboys recorded an extremely gutsy win in round 6 and now find themselves in the top 8, whilst the Titans also showed fight to make a game of their clash against Manly after being down double figures early. The Titans have had 5 of their 6 games go over the total points, and with the Cowboys also averaging almost 20 points per game I see this as another high scoring fixture.
Wests Tigers ($3.90) v South Sydney Rabbitohs ($1.25)
Saturday 23rd April, 7:35PM, CommBank Stadium
You aren’t a fan of Rugby League if you didn’t enjoy the Wests Tigers win in Round 6, (unless of course you support the blue and gold of Parramatta). Returning halfback Jackson Hastings turned in the best performance of his career, and one of the best of the season, including the match winning field goal to seal his sides first win of the season. The decision to switch Hastings to half and Luke Brooks to five-eighth proved to be a masterstroke from coach Michael Maguire as Hastings had a hand in all the tries and Brooks appeared to enjoy the freedom of playing wider out. The Rabbitohs were far too good for the Bulldogs in Round 6 and appear to be building nicely after a slow start to the season. I am confident the Rabbitohs victory on Saturday, but if the Tigers can repeat their efforts from round 6, I expect them to be in this game for a long time.
Newcastle Knights ($3.10) v Parramatta Eels ($1.27)
Sunday 25th April, 2:00PM, McDonald Jones Stadium
You would need a few pages of text to describe the Eels would be feeling after going down by a field goal in round 6 against wooden spoon favourites the Tigers. Whilst credit must be given to the Tigers, Parramatta cannot expect to be a serious title contender on the back of a loss like that. However, that also gives us a better price about them this weekend against a Knights side without a win since round 2. No doubt the Kalyn Ponga contract situation would have been effecting the side in the background and with that behind them, coach Adam O’Brien will be looking to break the run of outs on Sunday afternoon. Nonetheless, with Junior Paulo returning for the Eels, I’m envisaging a big bounce back in round 7 and try and affirm their spot in the top four.
Penrith Panthers ($1.10) v Canberra Raiders ($6.80)
Sunday 25th April, 4:05PM, Bluebet Stadium
The Panthers have continued on in 2021 without a fuss, winning all 6 games, and remarkable going 5-1 against the line with five victories by 14 points or more – a positive sign for the recommended bet below. The side is a model of consistency, leading the competition in possession and completion rates, post contact metres and points scored, and all that has been with Nathan Cleary and Brian To’o missing a large majority of games. This game comes at a bad time for the Raiders, coming off a dismal 18-12 home loss to the Cowboys after leading by 12. There’s pockets of positivity but the Raiders have struggled to play more than 40 minutes of decent footy in any game this year and a road trip up the Hume Highway looks to have come at a bad time for Ricky Stuart’s men. I am always hesitant to back a team to cover this big of a line, but in front of the Penrith faithful, I’m expecting the Panthers to rack up a cricket score against a flailing Raiders side.
Sydney Roosters ($1.26) v St George Illawarra Dragons ($3.90)
Monday 26th, 4:00PM, Sydney Cricket Ground
The first of two Anzac Day clashes will see the Dragons take on the Roosters, in what is one of my favourite fixtures each year, no matter the respective formlines of either side. The Dragons proved too strong for the Knights in Round 6 to snap a losing streak, with the returning Josh Maguire proving the X-factor, whilst Ben Hunt was once again outstanding and does not get the plaudits he deserves as a player. The Roosters come in here having won 4 of their last 5 games yet have not really looked like they are playing anywhere near their best, in particular half Luke Keary. Considering that, I don’t see a whole lot between the two sides and will be happy to back the Dragons to cover the line on Monday.
Melbourne Storm ($1.11) v New Zealand Warriors ($6.50)
Monday 26th April, 6:30PM, AAMI Park
The 5-1 Storm produced played their best football of 2022 in round 6, dominating an in-form Sharks side 34-18 on the back of a Cameron Munster display which has all but sealed him a hefty, long term contract.The Storm have won the last 11 straight between the two sides – including the last four by margins of 22 points or more and the Warriors will have their work cut out for them on Monday evening. The Warriors were admirable in last weeks loss to the Warriors, with Reece Walsh a stand out, but will need more assistance from Shaun Johnson to spark an attack which can often look out of ideas. Jesse and Kenny Bromwich return from a COVID-enforced break which only enhances the Melbourne side and although I have previously noted I am hesitant to back teams at these wide lines, such is the potency of the Melbourne attack at the moment I simply couldn’t look for a bet anywhere else.
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