As the dust finally settles on Game 1 of the State of Origin series, attention can finally turn back to a full round of fixtures. For the past two weeks, NRL fans have had to view a reduced number of games, as the byes to alleviate player fatigue and injury have taken effect. Not that there is anything wrong with this, at the forefront of the decision making process should be the players welfare. The issues are that it is difficult to assess the true form of teams. Now is the time that they need to be reaffirming their position as a genuine contender and perhaps pick up victories against opponents missing representative players. On top of this, several players will be pushing for a call up into the Origin arena, as a more spice and excitement is added to a jam-packed weekend of rugby league.
Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles v Canterbury-Bansktown Bulldogs
There are two matches in Sydney on Friday night with the feature contest-taking place at Brookvale Oval, as the Sea Eagles host the Bulldogs. It is a very short turn around for the Manly boys, as their last game was on Sunday against the Broncos. They were unable to capture to desired result there, eventually comprehensively beaten. They were missing several first-grade players through injury, while at the same time being boosted by some returning. Even with players returning, it will take a few matches for them to regain complete match-fitness. There is no doubt, that a match against their bitter rivals will lift them to another level. There is no love lost between these two teams, with the rivalry only amplifying in recent years as Des Hasler parted ways with the club where he made a name for himself. Fortunately for the Bulldogs, they should be well prepared for this match following a bye in Round 12. It was certainly needed for the entire squad, who either featured in a bruising loss to the Roosters in Round 11 or played in origin. The next few weeks are going to be difficult for them, as they are without Josh Morris and Josh Reynolds. Reynolds will return soon, but Morris is set for an extended spell on the sidelines. This will cause disruption to their team, but with majority of their game plan revolving around the forwards, they should be able to cope rather well. It will be interesting to see just how they respond, especially against a team that will be egger to bounce back. This match is sure to have more than it’s share of passion and a great way to start the weekend.
Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles
In a boost for the Sea Eagles, both Anthony Watmough and DCE have been named to make their return. This may be more false hope than anything from Geoff Toovey and it will be interesting to see if they actually take a place on the field. Their inclusions has pushed Jack Littlejohn and James Hasson out of the team, with Littlejohn added as 18th man. Both players are still a chance of missing out and the Sea Eagles are keeping very tight lipped on the player’s fitness. DCE should play, but the injury suffered by Watmough could be season ending. Hopefully for Sea Eagles fans, it isn’t and they can continue to get back to full strength. They are wounded after their loss last week, but the returning players will be better for the match fitness, which that game offered.
The Bulldogs Origin stars, minus Josh Morris, return to the Bulldogs team this week. The reuniting of the Blues halves in Bulldogs jerseys forces Reni Maitua and Moses Mbye out of the team altogether. Tony Williams has been named in the second row, forcing Dale Finucane back to the bench and Pat O’Hanlon out of the team. With Morris missing, the backline remains the same, with Tim Lafai and Chase Stanley in the centres; and Krisnan Inu is retained on the wing. The strength of the Bulldogs remains in their forwards and the returning stars are sure to bring a high level of confidence with them to further boost the table leading Bulldogs.
Overall = Sea Eagles 62 Draw 5 Bulldogs 51
Last 5 games = Sea Eagles 2 Bulldogs 3
At Brookvale Oval = Sea Eagles 33 Draw 3 Bulldogs 19
TAB Sportsbet = Sea Eagles $1.80 Bulldogs $2.05
Centrebet = Sea Eagles $1.80 Bulldogs $2.05
Sportsbet = Sea Eagles $1.75 Bulldogs $2.12
Betfair = Sea Eagles $1.80 Bulldogs $2.18
Several things are aligning for the Sea Eagles in this match, which is supporting their chances of winning. For starters, they are returning to their home ground, Brookvale Oval, where they have been very dominant. Along with this, they are bouncing back from an embarrassing loss and have a few quality players returning to their team. The stars appearing to be aligning, but it is still puzzling to see the Bulldogs so distant in the betting markets. They are only missing Josh Morris and still retain a forward pack that is dominant in attack; and difficult to break down in defense. Either way, this match is set to be a very close contest. On the surface, it is a little too close to call, but there is a reason why the Bulldogs are sitting at the top of the table. The Sea Eagles stars that have returned will still need a few weeks to regain their match-fitness. The Bulldogs halves will carry confidence from their Origin victory and will aim to lead their team to victory. Even with the upset tipped, the safer option is to support a close contest where either side prevails by less than a converted try.
Either team Under 6.5 points @ $2.65
Parramatta Eels v North Queensland Cowboys
It was only a few weeks ago in Round 8, when the Eels travelled north to Townsville and were sent packing by the Cowboys. On Friday night, they have a chance to exact revenge for their 28-point loss, as they host the Cowboys at Pirtek Stadium. A lot has changed since that match, with the Cowboys finding momentum on the back of increased consistency in their ball movement. Many are quick to point out that such performances are occurring at their home ground, with the time now for them to step up and ensure that they can emulate the same performances on the road. Their win last week against the Storm will give them the confidence that they need, as will any performance where you can keep an opponent to nil. It was an under strengthened opponent, but they were still able to capture the 2-competition points. A 7-day turn around might be what the Eels need as well, following a disappointing loss to the Panthers. It was a match where they were only missing Jarryd Hayne, albeit following his heroics in Origin 1. Unfortunately, the rest of the squad was unable to step up and cover for his loss. On top of that, the Eels were outplayed in several areas and made to pay for their mistakes. As the season wears on, it is becoming apparent that they have a lot of work left to do if they are aiming to completely turn around their results in previous seasons. Luckily for them, they are heading in the right direction at this point of the season. With Hayne back in their team and the Cowboys travelling, this contest is capable of producing anything one the whistle blows to start the match.
The Eels suffered a major blow this week, with news surfacing that hooker Nathan Peats, has been ruled out with injury for the remainder of the season. This has cause some concern at the club, with his replacement this week being Luke Kelly, who is considered a better halfback or 5/8 rather than hooker. Elsewhere, they are boosted with the return of Willie Tonga and Kenny Edwards. Tonga replaces Ryan Morgan and will be egger to return to the form he was producing prior to being injured. Edwards’ inclusion pushes David Gower to the bench, which covers nicely for the suspended Mitchel Allgood. Lee Mossop has been named to make his first start in the NRL and all eyes will be on the English import when he takes the field. Of course the final and most significant inclusion is of co-captain, Jarryd Hayne, who missed last week after SOO two days earlier.
North Queensland Cowboys
Following a tidy performance, the Cowboys have maintained an unchanged lineup. Joel Riethmuller has been added to the team as 18th man, but if all players are fit, he is likely to miss out on selection. The Cowboys finally found a suitable balance within their team that encouraged attacking football. It would’ve been pleasing for coach Paul Green, who has searched so hard for a solution. As mentioned above, the task for them now is to produce on the road and capture a road victory.
Overall = Eels16 Draw 1 Cowboys 13
Last 5 games = Eels 1 Cowboys 4
At Pirtek Stadium = Eels 11 Cowboys 5
TAB Sportsbet = Eels $2.05 Cowboys $1.80
Centrebet = Eels $2.00 Cowboys $1.83
Sportsbet = Eels $2.00 Cowboys $1.83
Betfair = Eels $2.08 Cowboys $1.86
The loss of Peats for the Eels is going to be one that disrupts the momentum of this team. Their opponents will be the first to tell anyone that, as they have struggled since Aaron Payne retired. The contest is close and the Cowboys are perhaps a little over at the odds, given their terrible record on the road. They were able to produce a victory in Round 8 and will aim to draw confidence from that effort. If they can get their act together in this match, then the Eels should prove no issue for them. The middle part of the season is generally a period where the “middle of the pack” teams struggle. This game should be no different and although there is a lot of hope around the selection, the Cowboys should be able to capture a 13+ victory for the second time this season against the Eels.
Cowboys – 2.5 @ $2
Riding the margin = Cowboys 13+ @ $3.60 – As stated above, this is where the “middle” teams struggle for consistency. The removal of Peats from their team is only going to prove more difficult for their forwards to gain momentum, halting their progress and allowing the opportunity for the Cowboys to continually roll over the advantage line.
Gold Coast Titans v Penrith Panthers
Super Saturday is back this week, with 3 live games of rugby league ahead to entertain viewers for over 6 hours. The first match will kick off at 5:30pm in the Gold Coast, as the Titans play host to the Panthers. A win last week saw the boys from Penrith rocket up to 2nd on the competition ladder, rewarding them for their form this season as well as the steps they have taken to rebuild this club. It has been a long and painful wait, although despite travelling well now, they need to ensure that it is maintained until the conclusion of the competition. The Eels were no match for them last week, as they dominated possession and executed when it mattered most. The Titans should be fresh, following their bye in Round 12. It wasn’t ideal for them, as other results meant that they slipped out of the Top 8 and into 10th spot. A -35 points difference is mainly to blame for this, hopefully an area that does not come back to bite them when it matters most. They too have enjoyed a strong start to the season, but are about to attempt to push through another injury plagued season. Player availability at the club is already stretched, with several players missing through SOO selection. This means that such matches against superior opponents are going to be more difficult, but a victory will mean more to their chances at the end of the year. With so much more work to do, neither club will be focusing that far ahead just yet. However both have everything to play for here and will be trying hard to grab a vital victory.
Gold Coast Titans
The Titans have a host of changes this week, all of which increase the strength of their team. Brad Tighe is recalled to the centres, allowing William Zillman to move back to fullback and David Mead back to the wing. In the halves, Maurice Blair replaces Beau Henry, while Albert Kelly returns at halfback to play alongside him. In the forwards, Matt Srama will start at hooker with Beau Falloon still sidelined with an injury. Greg Bird and Nate Myles are also back; with Bird certain to be egger to get some much needed fitness prior to Game 2 of Origin. Mark Minichiello pushes back to the bench, along with Paul Carter, who is replaced at lock by Ben Ridge. Getting back to full-strength will boost their chances, but they still have to allow time for their combinations to form.
The Panthers have retained the same 17 that got the job done last week against the Eels. There were a few late changes to that team, with Isaah Yeo replacing Jamal Idris in the centres and Elijah Taylor taking Adam Docker’s spot at lock. This allowed Tyrone Peachey to be called into the team, while Nigel Plum and Bryce Cartwright being called onto the bench. In an interesting twist, Cartwright will take the field against the Titans, who is coached by his uncle. There is a host of talent on the field of the Panthers to use, but they still have to ensure that they are being guided by their halves. They are at their best with room to move but there are several questions still lingering about their chances when they are pressured.
Overall = Titans 4 Panthers 6
Last 5 games = Titans 2 Panthers 3
At Cbus Super Stadium = Titans 2 Panthers 2
TAB Sportsbet = Titans Panthers
Centrebet = Titans Panthers
Sportsbet = Titans Panthers
Betfair = Titans Panthers
Returning back to full-strength will boos the chances of the Titans in this contest. In saying that, you have to remember that it will take a few weeks yet before those players regain match-fitness. There is also uncertainty around the performance of Albert Kelly without a stable 5/8, as he is an individual player that would thrive when dominating the game rather than controlling a team. The Panthers are going to be a difficult team to move past, as they have fought their way to 2nd on the competition ladder on the back of consistent football. The Titans are still missing their first-choice halves combination, as well as their hooker. The Panthers have also proven themselves as a strong team on the road this season and the trip to the Gold Coast will not deter them. The Panthers should be able to cover the line but the defense of the Titans will keep them in the contest right until the end and make the final margin closer than most people think.
Panthers 1-12 @ $2.90
St George-Illawarra Dragons v Cronulla Sharks
A local derby between the Dragons and the Sharks is the 7:30pm feature match in Wollongong. These two sides met in Round 3 of this season, with the Sharks going to be egger to make amends for the loss they suffered previously. Make no mistake about it; the Sharks have a lot of work to do in order to get their season back on track. They are currently last on the competition ladder, with their most recent performance in Round 11 reminding fans of their lack of attacking power. Ideally, a week off last week should give them more confidence and a chance to work on the issues that are plaguing their season. The Dragons recovery time is not the same, as a MNF fixture has reduced their preparation time for this contest. To make matters worse, they were comprehensively beaten by a below-par Rabbitohs outfit. This game was also the first in charge for their new interim coach, Paul McGregor. He has his work cut out for him during his first HT speech, with the Dragons down by 14. Eventually, they were beaten by 19-points, although there are a few signs of life at the moment from the Red V. It is always difficult for teams to adjust to a new coach and with instant results expected, fans often overlook the difficulty of the task. With another week under their belts, much more should be expected of them here and hopefully they are able to produce a win here. Both sides are aiming to salvage something from their season; with this only ensuring that fans are going to witness two very desperate teams battle for a victory against one of their bitter rivals.
St George-Illawarra Dragons
Paul McGregor has made a few more changes that have carried over from their last match against the Rabbitohs. Josh Dugan has been named in the centres, while Peter Mata’utia shifts to the wing to replace Brett Morris. It could be a sign towards the NSW selection thoughts, with McGregor in close contact with Daley. This has allowed Adam Quinlan to be named at fullback and Benji Marshall at half. Trent Merrin returns to the starting team, which forces Tyson Frizell back to the bench. Jack de Belin and Mike Cooper have been named, despite missing last week through injury. Their covers for that match, Shane Pumipi (18th) and Will Matthews (19th) are now likely to miss out on selection. As stated last week, something is still missing from this Dragons team and it wouldn’t be too much to ask from their fans to see a little more fire from the entire team, especially heading into a local derby.
Also desperate for a change to their results, Peter Sharp has named several changes this week. Nathan Gardner is named at fullback, with Michael Gordon shifting into the centres to replace Ricky Leutele. Nathan Stapleton and Jacob Gagan are named on the wings, with Sosaia Feki and Jonathan Wright left out of the team. Gagan is named to make his NRL debut, while Fa’amanu Brown is doing the same at 5/8. Daniel Holdsworth is the final piece of the puzzle, in a completely new-look backline. The forwards only have one change, with Luke Lewis returning at second row and Tinirau Arona pushing back to the bench. This pushes Tupou Sopoaga back to 18th man. There is a hint around that Paul Gallen may return from injury, but with the Origin series on the line, this may take preference over club football.
Overall = Dragons 16 Draw 1 Sharks 16
Last 5 games = Dragons 3 Sharks 2
At WIN Stadium = Dragons 4 Sharks 1
TAB Sportsbet = Dragons Sharks
Centrebet = Dragons Sharks
Sportsbet = Dragons Sharks
Betfair = Dragons Sharks
Initial signs immediately point to the Dragons, largely due to the injury toll that the Sharks find themselves in. You only have to look as far as the new backline that they have named for this match, it is completely different from the one that took the field in their last match and it will take time for their combinations to form. Their backs are against the wall and being at the bottom of the table is sure to detract their confidence. Nevertheless, they are a team that always rises against their rivals and will be out for a fight. If this match was played at Remondis Stadium, then the Sharks would strongly come into contention, the only problem is that it isn’t and they have just the one win to their name at WIN Stadium. The Dragons have lost their mojo, with this game providing the perfect opportunity to find it with a dominating performance. Benji Marshall has to combine with Gareth Widdop to steer these team towards victory. As for the margin, the Sharks defense will keep it tight, as will the flatness of the Dragons attack. The smaller option appears to be suitable, yet rules out the line on offer.
Dragons 1-12 @ $2.85
Making a case for selection = Josh Dugan FTS and/or LTS @ $9 – Dugan is pushing hard to feature in Game 2 of Origin and with selection on Tuesday, this is the last chance he has to press his case. He will need the ball with greater room to move and could possibly be facing a weaker opponent defensively.
South Sydney Rabbitohs v New Zealand Warriors
Rugby league fans are treated to 3 live games this Saturday and the third and final match will kick off at 9:30pm EST. This is because the Rabbitohs have chosen to take their match against the Warriors across to Perth. It has become a regular occurrence for the Rabbitohs each season, as they reward their loyal supporters in Western Australia. It poses a tough trip for both teams though, with the Warriors travelling further than they normally would, while the Rabbitohs have to play this match after a MNF contest. In the past few weeks, no team in the competition has looked as dominant, yet as flat as the Rabbitohs. They have completely outplayed their opponents; yet appear as though they could be easily beaten with a few passages of play from their opponents. This match will test them though, with the Warriors seemingly improving with each winning performance that they produce. Even with their loss against the Bulldogs, they appeared to be a stronger outfit on the back of that effort and have learned from the fragilities within their play. Consistency has always been a problem for the Warriors, with their combinations within their team working to overcome this. Shaun Johnson is as dynamic as ever and he is now being well complimented by Sam Tomkins at fullback. Andrew McFadden had his work cut out immediately, trying to turn around the performances of this team. Throughout the SOO period, where other teams struggle with player fitness, they should be able to lift to another level as none of their stars are away on representative duty. With questions lingering about the ultimate potential of both teams, the Rabbitohs and Warriors will be desperate to clinch 2-competition points, as well a silence doubters around the league.
South Sydney Rabbitohs
The Rabbitohs were forced to name this side without completely assessing the recovery of their players following a MNF match. Fortunately, they appeared to get through the match with minimal disruptions, allowing them to name a relatively unchanged team. Alex Johnston returns, after being ruled out late with a leg strain. This forces Nathan Merritt back to NSW Cup, biding his time until Inglis is called back into the QLD team. Issac Luke is officially named at hooker after making his return last week, with Apisai Korosau shifting back to the bench. There is some news around that Luke Keary may be a late inclusion into the team and when he does, it is going to be interesting to see the impact that he is able to offer to this team.
New Zealand Warriors
Following an impressive display against the Knights, the Warriors have chosen to name an unchanged lineup for their trip to the west. Given this, they have been forced to name a few extra players to carry across for the trip, in case there is a late injury. Tuimoala Lolohea (18th) and Charlie Gubb (19th) will be called upon, but if all players are fit, they will miss out altogether. Finally, the Warriors attack is beginning to find its feet. It has taken a while, but now Tomkins is finally working well alongside Shaun Johnson. Consistency is still an issue, but with the forwards dominating like they have, there is no reason to question their potential just yet.
Overall = Rabbitohs 9 Warriors 18
Last 5 games = Rabbitohs 2 Warriors 3
At NIB Stadium = Rabbitohs 1 Warriors 0
TAB Sportsbet = Rabbitohs $1.47 Warriors $2.75
Centrebet = Rabbitohs $1.50 Warriors $2.65
Sportsbet = Rabbitohs $1.50 Warriors $2.65
Betfair = Rabbitohs $1.43 Warriors $2.80
The Rabbitohs carry a strong amount of favoritism into this match, despite having to back up from a MNF contest and appearing to be searching for answers in attack. By Maguire’s own admission, their defense is strong in the middle of the field and teams are finding it difficult to overcome their forward. If there is one team around that can provide a shock to this pack, it could be the Warriors. Their second-phase play is dynamic and given Shaun Johnson extra room to move could prove problematic. In saying that, the Warriors have had their troubles on the road and even with a positive performance last time out against Manly (in Perth). The extra travel time that this match offers isn’t going to suit their preparation and it may just allow the Rabbitohs to catch them off guard. Along with that, Issac Luke’s inclusion enhances the production of the forwards and creates a greater platform for the outside backs and halves to work from. The game should still be tight enough though, with the Rabbitohs prevailing with a 1-12 margin.
Rabbitohs 1-12 @ $2.90
Newcastle Knights v Wests Tigers
The first match on Sunday afternoon features the embattled Knights hosting the Tigers at 2pm. The city of Newcastle takes plenty of pride in its football team and in recent weeks, their proud name has been dragged through the headlines. Majority of the news has centered on the ownership at the club and the salaries of certain players remaining unpaid. With that put to rest, hopefully everyone involved with the club can focus on getting their season back on track. They came up short against the Warriors last week, again lacking a quality across the field that builds pressure on their opponents. Perhaps returning home will assist them, as time is quickly running out for them to make a charge towards the Finals. The Tigers will be ready to handle what they throw at them, coming from a week off after a narrow loss to the Broncos. Things are looking up at the Tigers; they have a youthful team that is slowly returning to full-fitness. Fans around the league are noticing their talent, but they need to make the most of it before they are again missing players through Origin. At the moment, they are letting their football do the talking and while they are appearing to be vulnerable in certain aspects, they have surprised plenty of people this season. This game presents a challenge to them against a team that will be hungrier than ever to grab a win. It is a test, but at the same time the Knights have several points to prove, making this match a promising game of rugby league.
The Knights are boosted this week by the return of two quality players from injury. Akuila Uate returns on the wing, forcing Josh Mantanello out of the team and back to NSW Cup. Uate’s impact is certainly needed on the edge and he is able to provide a powerful try scoring option. In the forwards, Beau Scott returns after his heroic effort in Origin. His inclusion has covered for the loss of Adam Cuthbertson, who has suffered a knee injury. Time is running out for the Knights to build several vital combinations within their team and Bennett will be disappointed how long it has taken. With a few more games at their disposal, the players returning from injury should be about to reach their potential.
After announcing his impending departure from the club, James Tedesco is back from injury to feature at fullback. As quickly as it was announced, news surfaced that Tedesco had changed his mind and wanted to stay at the club. It appeared as though his time at the club was running out, but now he is in for the long haul. Tigers fans will now be hoping to see him fit and at his best for the remainder of the season. In the forwards, Aaron Woods returns at prop, while Robbie Farah is back at hooker. This forces Martin Taupau back to the bench and Joel Luani out of the team altogether. Liam Fulton returns from injury and is named in the second row, replacing Sitaleki Akauola. Curtis Sironen is named as 18th man and if he doesn’t replace Anasta in the halves, he will be out altogether.
Overall = Knights 9 Tigers 9
Last 5 games = Knights 2 Tigers 3
At Hunter Stadium = Knights 6 Tigers 4
TAB Sportsbet = Knights $2.00 Tigers $1.85
Centrebet = Knights $1.91 Tigers $1.91
Sportsbet = Knights $1.95 Tigers $1.88
Betfair = Knights $2.04 Tigers $1.92
Judging by the odds, even the bookmakers are puzzled when trying to select a winner here. The Tigers are the favorites, but they have several questions hanging over their head. Not as much as the Knights, perhaps explaining why the Tigers are slight favorites. They are playing a more consistent brand of football that is puzzling any team that they face. You only have to look as far as their match against the Broncos to realise that. They were understrength in that contest, yet were able to trouble the Broncos with surprising passages of play. The returning players will boost their chances further, but in the same instance, the Knights will be spurred on by their return to their home ground. They have had their troubles in recent weeks and their home fans are sure to turn out and remind them of their support. With little between the two teams, the suitable option appears to be selecting nothing more than a tight contest. As for a winner, with all of the Knights troubles, it is extremely problematic to select them, meaning that I would favor the Tigers in a two horse race.
Either team Under 6.5 points @ $2.90
Melbourne Storm v Sydney Roosters
The 3pm “match of the day” heads down to Melbourne this week, as the depleted Storm host the resurgent Roosters. Bellamy has been in the headlines this week complaining about the NRL’s reluctance to stage stand-alone Origin fixtures and with good reason. It is never ideal for any team, but the Storm coach was vocal following the injuries suffered by his key players. Following Origin, the Storm faced the Cowboys away and were comprehensively beaten. If that was a sign for the coming weeks, things are going to be very difficult for the Storm to combat. In all honesty, they are facing an uphill battle to even make the Top 8 at the end of the season. The Roosters are experiencing a completely different set of circumstances at the moment, as they are putting together consecutive victories on the back of exciting passages of play. They have had their flaws this season, but they have overcome majority of issues and setbacks to sit inside the Top 8. They were expected to beat the Raiders last week, but the fashion in which they performed would’ve been pleasing for all to see. Now, they need to reaffirm their placing within the Top 8 and place pressure on the leading teams in the competition. It is a place that the defending premiers deserve to be and one that their opponents want to be in, as they face one of the toughest challenges, in terms of performance, in the last 5 years.
The Storm had a host of changes last week, with majority of them carried over into this match. Cameron Munster will cover for Billy Slater at fullback, while Tohu Harris plays 5/8 alongside Ben Roberts at halfback. In the forwards, Ryan Hinchcliffe moves back to lock, while Cameron Smith features again in a major show of courage. On the bench, Mitch Garbutt and Junior Moors are named and will take the field at some stage. Things are getting extremely difficult for the Storm but they will need to use every piece of advice given by Bellamy and draw from the courage of their captain.
The Roosters have named an unchanged lineup this week, after their dominating display against the Raiders. Willis Meehan has been named as 18th man, but this would only be a cover in their trip down south. The Roosters are rolling forward and strengthening each week, with the combinations within their team looking as dangerous as ever. They are going to be a difficult team to break apart, with Mitchell Pearce and James Maloney undoubtedly spurred on by their omission from Origin. Remi Casty was also a welcome inclusion to the team, hopefully a sign of things to come with increasing minutes in the NRL.
Overall = Storm 14 Roosters 11
Last 5 games = Storm 3 Roosters 2
At AAMI Stadium = Storm 2 Roosters 1
TAB Sportsbet = Storm $4.00 Roosters $1.26
Centrebet = Storm $3.80 Roosters $1.28
Sportsbet = Storm $3.85 Roosters $1.28
Betfair = Storm $3.90 Roosters $1.33
This game appears to be a straightforward decision. The Storm are missing a host of quality players that would otherwise potentially change the outcome of this match. It would take a complete 80-minute performance from the Storm to even give them a chance in this match. The Roosters are moving from strength to strength this season and they are only just beginning to flex their muscles. The road trip down south of the boarder will not worry them too much, as they are facing a weakened opponent due to injury. Eventually, it will become too much for the Storm to handle and the Roosters will aim to grind them into the ground. As for the margin, the line that has been offered is very generous, in favor of the Storm. Take it on punters; the Roosters have an attack that will be ready to fire and place a mountain of pressure on their opponents. Given this, the margin should get out to 13+, as the Roosters stamp their authority on the rest of the competition and deal with a wounded animal.
Rootsters 13+ @ $2.10
Go for a little more = Roosters 13-18 @ $4.75 – If you’re aiming for more value from your investment, then you may want to consider this betting option. It would be surprising to see a complete blowout on the score board and the Storm’s defense is still strong enough to hold their opponents.
Canberra Raiders v Brisbane Broncos
As winter is upon us, it seems suitable that MNF heads down to the nations capital, with the Raiders welcoming the Broncos. It will be a shock to the system to the travelling side, as the temperature down at GIO Stadium is set to be a stark contrast compared to what they are accustomed to. This may work into the hands of the hosts, as they look for any extra help they can get. After bouncing back into the winner’s circle in Round 11, they were brought back to reality against the Roosters last week. In the end, the scoreboard flattered them a little and overlooked the fragilities within their team. Ricky Stuart is going to have his work cut out for him trying to get this squad to reach their full potential. As for the Broncos, they are hoping to continue on with the form that saw them easily dispose of the Sea Eagles. They were a weakened opponent, but the production of their halves, namely Ben Hunt, removed the contest out of the match. His form is slowly improving and finally, he is beginning to show passages of play that support the argument that he is the man to lead this Broncos team forward. So far though, they have been inconsistent and timing in nicely, is the return of Sam Thaiday. The production of their forwards is essential to their success and releasing the pressure upon their outside backs. This is a match that they should win, but MNF combined with the cold in Canberra, can produce anything in 80-minutes of rugby league.
Ricky Stuart has shown faith in a losing team, choosing to name the same side that was defeated last week by the Roosters. In that match, there was the late change on the bench, with Joel Edwards being replaced by Shannon Boyd. The combination of Campese and McCrone in the halves is gaining momentum, but there is still plenty of work to do. They have to utilise the inclusion of Anthony Milford at fullback, before he leaves the club altogether. There will be added incentive here, as he will face the club that has ‘stolen’ him away for 2015 and beyond. Jack Wighton also has added motivation this week, with news around that he is one player being considered for selection in Origin to replace Josh Morris.
The Broncos have an impressive performance to build upon this week and are boosted by the return of an Origin player to further enhance their chances. Justin Hodges is named to return in the centres, in a move that pushes Dale Copley back to the wing and Lachlan Maranta back to 18th man. Aside from that, Jarrod Wallace is promoted back into the team and will wear jersey 17. Ben Hunt’s performances had people taking notice of his efforts and will aim to boost the Broncos attack further with his combination alongside Josh Hoffman and Ben Barba chiming in from fullback.
Overall = Raiders 19 Draw 1 Broncos 24
Last 5 games = Raiders 2 Broncos 3
At GIO Stadium = Raiders 12 Draw 1 Broncos 8
TAB Sportsbet = Raiders $2.40 Broncos $1.60
Centrebet = Raiders $2.30 Broncos $1.65
Sportsbet = Raiders $2.30 Broncos $1.65
Betfair = Raiders $2.50 Broncos $1.57
The Broncos are deserved favorites in this match and should play like it from the opening whistle. Even with the glimpses of hope this season, the Raiders are still yet to stamp their authority on the competition. They have underachieved to this point and only playing at home will bring them into the contest. If talent was a factor, they would almost be over the line but unfortunately for them, the Broncos possess a lot more than they have. Their pack of forwards is stronger and as surprising as it is to say, their halves play with more consistency than Campese and McCrone. If they are unable to dominate up front, the Raiders will come into calculations. It will be a close contest, but the sheer power of the forwards and finishing ability of the backs will allow them to dominate the match. Given they will not have things their own way, the shorter margin comes into calculations and appears to be the right way to go.
Broncos 1-12 @ $2.85
Cop Copley = Dale Copely FTS and/or LTS @ $9 – Copely has moved around a fair bit in recent weeks and this week finds himself back on the wing. He has played in the centres and the one thing that hasn’t changed, is his ability to find the try line. He is a dangerous threat with the ball and the Broncos will again look to his edge for points.
All of the above are the opinions of the author and are not recommendations or advice. The author may not be taking every bet listed above. Bet at your own risk.
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