2013 NRL Round 2 Preview

NRL

Round 2 begins in western Sydney with a blockbuster between traditional rivals in the 80’s. Such is the expectation around this clash, Parramatta have chosen to move it from Parramatta Stadium and out to ANZ Stadium at Homebush. It will hopefully generate a larger crowd and a greater number of fans will have the opportunity to view this game live. After the first Thursday night match of the season, the expectation and excitement around this clash will be high. It seems like a great concept that is only around for a short amount of time, but may become a more permanent fixture in following seasons.

Parramatta Eels v Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs

When: Thursday 8:05pm
In this game, we will get a good indication of just how much the Parramatta have improved under coach Ricky Stuart. They turned in a very good performance against the Warriors last Saturday night and their fans are entitled to be a little excited. To put things into perspective though, the Warriors were terrible and wouldn’t have troubled any side in this competition. But it is better signs than the Eels showed last season. The Bulldogs had a far tougher game against a very dominant Cowboys team. They learnt the hard way about the talent of Thurston and were outplayed. Considering the players that they were missing, it wasn’t a bad performance. The Cowboys were tested early and the Bulldogs had them worried at one stage, they just weren’t able to maintain that for the entire game. They will again be on their game and coach Des Hasler will have them focused on the job at hand. It promises to be a very fiery clash and one that can answer a lot of questions about the hopes of both teams for the remainder of the season.

Parramatta Eels

As mentioned above, the Eels were doing the right things in their Round 1 win. All things considered, you would think that Parramatta would head into this game with no changes, unless forced by injury. Well, that’s exactly what has happened here. Luke Kelly has suffered an injury and will be out for a few weeks. As a result, Joseph Paulo moves from lock to 5/8. It will be interesting to see how he supports Sandow but he is a talented footballer. No doubt his job will rest in shifting the ball to the outside backs and taking on the defensive line where possible. Matt Ryan comes off the bench to start at the position of lock. Replacing him on the bench is rookie Kelepi Tanginoa. He is a Parramatta junior and big things are expected of this youngster. The Eels will be high on confidence heading into this clash and should use that to their advantage. What they cannot get back into the habit of is throwing the ball around recklessly and expecting one of their individual stars to create something out of nothing. They could be forced to try this approach if their forwards fail to take control of the game. It is no secret that this is a strength for the Bulldogs and majority of the game is won and lost in this area.

Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs

The Bulldogs have named an unchanged lineup heading into this clash, including the naming of Mitch Brown on an extended bench. There is no real guide as to why he is named there, perhaps as a cover for a late injury. The Bulldogs were good in their defeat at the hands of the Cowboys and have the same amount of time between games as the Eels. They have a few problems to contend with that revolve around the back 3 and how they will defend. Steve Turner was named to do that last Saturday but he was swapping with winger Dury Low throughout. No doubt this will happen again and will perhaps offer more in attack for the Bulldogs as Low holds the record for tries in the NYC (Under 20’s). They will look to gain control of this game through their forwards and there were players that were able to stand up in the absence of their regular stars. Just like 2012, it created some room for the aggressive Josh Reynolds to move around. Throw in Josh Morris and Krisnan Inu on the edges and you have a possible winning formula.

Recent History

Last 5 games = Eels 1 Bulldogs 4

Odds
TAB Sportsbet = Eels $2.10 Bulldogs $1.75
Centrebet = Eels $2.20 Bulldogs $1.70
Sportsbet = Eels $2.30 Bulldogs $1.62
Betfair = Eels $2.28 Bulldogs $1.75

Verdict

The Bulldogs are the side to beat in this clash. That is not discounting the Eels and their win over the Warriors but there is a possibility that performance was masked by the inadequacies of their opposition. The Bulldogs are still a fair distance from their best, but that is due to the quality players they are missing from their top squad. What it has done, is given them the opportunity to “blood” some younger players and challenge others to step up. They also have Des Hasler at the helm and he will ensure that they learn from their mistakes against the Cowboys. This will be a close contest though and the Bulldogs will be pushed to the end, but should come out on top. A close, physical and tough encounter lies ahead.

Suggested Bet
Bulldogs @ $1.75

Marginal call = Bulldogs 1-12 @ $3.10 – If I am recommending the Bulldogs to win, it is simple that I would mention this bet as my next best. It is going to be a close game and with all of the firepower missing from the Bulldogs, their scoring capacity might be limited.

Welcome back Williams = Tony Williams First Try @ $15 – Big T-Rex returns to face the side where he played his entire junior footy. He could have easily ended up wearing the blue and gold in this clash but he isn’t. Expect him to hurt them in this game and even cross for the opening try.

St George-Illawarra Dragons v Brisbane Broncos

When: Friday 8:05pm
No surprise to see the Broncos feature in another Friday night fixture, this time it is down in Wollongong and they are hosted by the Dragons. This is a crucial clash, as the loser will head into Round 3 winless. So who does fair better in this game? The Dragons had a very tough start to the season on Sunday as they had to head down to Melbourne to face a very hot Storm side. Not much was expected of the Dragons and they didn’t really deliver either. There were a few positives in their performance and that revolved in and around their forward play. At the end of the day though, they were comprehensively beaten and the pressure has already increased on coach Steve Price and their key players. The Broncos were in a different boat though. They kicked their 2013 campaign off against the Sea Eagles in front of a packed Suncorp Stadium. Things were going ok for the Broncos with a few mistakes in their play, but they looked to have the measure of their opponents. Then after scoring a great team try, finished off by Lachlan Maranta in the 34th minute, they shut down and didn’t score another point in the match. Manly’s forwards were brutal and pressured the Broncos into simple mistakes. The game plan executed by the Sea Eagles really was detrimental to the Brisbane side, namely their halves. They have a lot of defensive frailty’s to cover up in a week and they could find it difficult to manage. The stage is set for a very intriguing encounter that could relieve pressure on one side, while building the pressure on the other.

St George-Illawarra Dragons

The Dragons have a very short turn around from their Sunday afternoon clash down in Melbourne. To make matters worse, that game was played in 30+ degrees and a lot of their players (as well as the Melbourne side) were struggling with recovering post-match. There is no surprise that under fire coach Steve Price has named no changes to his squad, as they wouldn’t have had a full chance to assess player fatigue or injury. Centre Chase Stanley did leave the ground with his knee in a brace but he has been named. His replacement will be Daniel Vidot if required but Stanley will be given until Thursday to prove his fitness. All you can do is pay attention to @NRL_TheProfits twitter feed for final team news. The Dragons will be looking for a much-improved performance this weekend and if they don’t, the pressure could build on their squad as well as their coach. Luckily, it is still early enough for the Dragons to rectify a poor performance the previous week.

Brisbane Broncos

It has been suggested that both sides are in a similar situation running into this game, but the Broncos were far more disappointing then the Dragons were. They were at home and made crucial errors throughout the game. A lot of traffic was also directed the way of Scott Prince; and Justin Hodges found himself doing double in defence. Heading into this week, coach Anthony Griffin has named an unchanged lineup. It is a positive sign that he has done this and shown faith in his playing group. It was always going to take time for them to work to a new style of play, but then again, it wasn’t as if they had made too many changes to their playing roster. The key for the Broncos in this game is learning from their errors against the Sea Eagles and increasing their completion of attacking sets.

Recent History

Last 5 games = Dragons 1 Broncos 4

Odds
TAB Sportsbet = Dragons $2.15 Broncos $1.70
Centrebet = Dragons $2.20 Broncos $1.70
Sportsbet = Dragons $2.10 Broncos $1.75
Betfair = Dragons $2.22 Broncos $1.80

Verdict

This game is harder to pick than most think. The loser of this game may have their season heading down the wrong path after only two weeks. In terms of improvement, the Broncos have a far greater level to lift if they are to win this game. The Dragons also have to lift, but there were a lot of positives in their loss to the Storm. For the sake of a selection, the Broncos are the side for me. They possess a better pack of forwards as well as outside backs that are a lot stronger in defence. They are capable of lifting the to the level that is required of them to win this match. It will be a tough game though, and the Dragons will be putting up a fight. The Broncos should win the match but the margin is puzzling to decide on. It all depends on how well the Dragons aim up in defence, so 1-12 sounds right but I would stay away from that market.

Suggested Bet
Broncos @ $1.80

Tough margin = Broncos @ $3.10 – The Broncos may find themselves struggling to deal with a tough game plan if the Dragons choose to follow the same one that Manly executed. This option offers a lot of value in a game that promises to be close.

Broncos get home late = HT/FT Double Draw/Broncos @ $15 – This option provides plenty of value if you believe that it will be a close game and the Broncos will win the game in the second half. The Dragons will put up a fight as well so this option does seem relevant for this game.

North Queensland Cowboys v Melbourne Storm

Saturday night footy features a fantastic contest between two sides that will be pushing for the premiership at the seasons end. The Cowboys are back at home and host a Storm side that is ready to continue on a strong start to the season that featured a trip to England to win the RLWCC. Sooner or later though, the travel is going to take a toll on the team. For the Storm, they will want to build as many points as possible in the early rounds and before the SOO period. It is no secret that they struggle through and after SOO because of the fatigue of the “Big 3”. So a win here is important to their cause. But the Storm will have their work cut out for them against a tough and physical Cowboys team. The Cowboys had to work their way around a very tough Bulldogs side that wasn’t giving too much away in their match. Sure, the Bulldogs were missing a few key players and were always going to be difficult to beat; yet when compared to the Cowboys, you would be wrong for thinking that they wouldn’t win. They did deliver and it was on the back of some Thurston brilliance. After a long offseason, we were reminded just what he is capable of and how the Cowboys are a side that should be feared throughout 2013. Of course, a lot of their success does depend on their forwards and whether or not they can keep their entire squad fit and firing through 26+ Rounds of the competition. For the moment this has occurred and they are looking good. They will be tested in this match but it is going to be a great measure of their skill and potential. One thing is for sure; this match is going to be a cracker one to watch. If you do anything this weekend, make sure you sit down and watch this quality game of rugby league.

North Queensland Cowboys

The Cowboys head into this game on the back of a fairly decent display against the Bulldogs that they will be looking to build upon. Johnathan Thurston was the catalyst for that performance and the Cowboys will be looking to him here for another strong performance. They have named an unchanged lineup heading into this game and that includes keeping Tariq Sims on the bench along with Jason Taumalolo. Hooker Scott Moore remains in the starting side after his NRL debut. He was solid for them around the ruck and might prove a very good buy from the UK. The obvious strength for the Cowboys apart from their forwards is their left hand side. When attacking the line, they will set up for a big sweeping play to allow Kane Linnett or Ashley Graham to score in the corner. This does require precision and a good platform set by the forwards, both things the Cowboys achieved against the Bulldogs. This will be their acid test, but you would think that they would be able to lift for their first home game of the season.

Melbourne Storm

There is no surprise to see an unchanged lineup named for the Storm, albeit for the 18th man. Brett Finch has not been named this week and Slade Griffin is. He is probably only there to cover for a late injury. The hardest battle for the Storm will be to overcome fatigue from their Round 1 clash. It was a very hot day and, much to the frustration to coach Craig Bellamy, there were no 20min water breaks for players. Second rower Ryan Hoffman reportedly lost 2kg in that match and was quoted as saying it will take him until Tuesday/early Wednesday to recover. They are travelling up to Townsville on Thursday so you would think that they would be pushed for time to prepare for this clash. Then again, we are talking about the Storm. They were impressive during their last two competitive matches and have sent a message to the rest of the competition that they will be hard to stop again.

Recent History

Last 5 games = Cowboys 2 Storm 3

Odds

TAB Sportsbet = Cowboys $1.95 Storm $1.85
Centrebet = Cowboys $1.95 Storm $1.87
Sportsbet = Cowboys $1.92 Storm $1.92
Betfair = Cowboys $2.00 Storm $1.99

Verdict

This is probably the most difficult game to pick in Round 2. Both sides look very evenly match on paper with the quality that the Cowboys possess in the forwards, able to counter the “Big 3”. But there are a few factors that may sway this game in one sides favor. The biggest one that is standing out is the conditions they played their last game in. It was a very hot day and the recovery of the players has been hampered. Going from Melbourne and up into another hot and humid climate may prove problematic for the Storm. Despite the class that they have, their players may find it difficult to establish a platform to work from. This will be a very close game and it would be surprising to see the Cowboys win by a 13+ margin.

Suggested Bet
Cowboys @ $2

Good value on a margin = Cowboys 1-12 @ $3.20 – Its all mentioned above. This game will be a close contest and if the Cowboys win, it will be a smaller margin rather than a large one.

Give it to Gavin = Gavin Cooper First Try @ $21 – He crossed the line once in the win over the Bulldogs and you would expect him to be a chance again here. Thurston loves to include him in an attacking play and he could do to the Storm, what they do to every other side with Ryan Hoffman.

New Zealand Warriors v Sydney Roosters

The first NRL Premiership game in New Zealand occurs here as the Warriors return home from a dismal display in Round 1, to host a Roosters side that is promising a lot in season 2013. You would be right for thinking that nothing had changed from 2012 to 2013, as the Warriors were nothing short of terrible in their seasoning opening encounter against the Eels. Coach Matthew Elliot has shot to the front of the market in “first coach sacked” and the pressure continues to build. It has been no secret that there has been a “culture problem” at the Warriors for some time now and they need the right coach to kick start them into action. Another 80 minutes may completely reveal whether or not Elliot has the ability to do this. It will be a boost for them returning home, although their opponents may have other ideas. The Roosters will have had a lot of time to recover from a tough clash against the Rabbitohs to open the season. The hype around them was related to the acquisition of SBW as well as their chances. They were tipped to do quiet well this season but they will have to improve remarkably to have a chance of pushing for the Top 8 towards the business end of the season. They were out played in majority of the areas, yet there were a few positives in their performance. Michael Jennings was leathal out wide and he needed the ball more often to cause concern for the defence. James Maloney also displayed some positive signs and there will be interest related to him considering he left the Warriors at the end of the 2012 season. The complete effect he will have on the Roosters side remains to be seen and it may take a few more weeks for him to settle into his role. Sometimes in the NRL, you cannot afford “adjustment time” and you need to get the job done to get the 2 premiership points. Both sides will be eager to opening their 2013 account and the stage is set for an intriguing contest.

New Zealand Warriors

The Warriors have their work cut out for them this week if they are to turn around the performance against the Eels. You would think that team changes named by coach Matthew Elliot would be a catalyst for a change in performance, but he hasn’t wielded the axe just yet. A similar performance this week may just force his hand. Of course, there are a few changes. Manu Vatuvei is out of this clash with an injury and is expected to miss a few weeks. Bill Tupou comes into the side on the wing in his place. Feleti Mateo has been handed a “wake up call” and has been dropped back to an extended bench. Steve Rapira, who was left out of the side on Saturday altogether, takes Mateo’s place in the starting side. The extended bench also features Ben Henry, who is the play most likely to miss out as Pita Godinet will be the replacement hooker throughout the game.

Sydney Roosters

The Roosters also need to improve from their opening performance to the Rabbitohs and the spark must come from a number of areas. Coach Trent Robinson has only made one change to the starting lineup for this clash but it is a very notable one as SBW is named in the starting side and Mitchell Aubusson has been shifted back to the bench. He joins an extended interchange bench of 5 players that includes Boyd Cordner and late purchase Luke O’Donnell, who both were omitted from the side on Thursday. It must be said that it’s surprising to see SBW named, despite all of the hype surrounding his debut. He is a very talented athlete but in his return to rugby league, he looked very lethargic around the field and struggled to hold his position in the defensive line. But coach Trent Robinson obviously has faith in him lifting from that performance. If there is one area that the Roosters need to improve on, it is the direction their halves offer them. They should watch how well Manly executed their game plan in Round 1 and have that stick in their mind. That and getting the outside backs early ball because Michael Jennings and co looked dangerous when this occurred.

Recent History

Last 5 games = Warriors 3 Roosters 2

Odds

TAB Sportsbet = Warriors $2.22 Roosters $1.70
Centrebet = Warriors $2.10 Roosters $1.70
Sportsbet = Warriors $2.10 Roosters $1.75
Betfair = Warriors $2.22 Roosters $1.79

Verdict

Look for a lot of improvement from the Warriors as well as the Roosters. But one side has to lose and in this instance it looks like it could be the Warriors. They have a lot of problems to fix up within their attack and defence. The Roosters showed plenty of promise in their loss to the Rabbitohs, especially when they had the ball in hand. If they can play to a similar structure and limit the amount of mistakes they have, it could be a different story to last week. In saying that, a high scoring encounter is expected and the Roosters should be on the good side of that. Especially if the Warriors are loose again in taking down the ball carrier and not allowing second phase play.

Suggested Bet
Roosters -2.5 @ $1.90

Tri your luck= Roosters Over 6.5 points @ $2.45 (Tri Bet Option) – The Roosters look as though they may be able to score some easy points with the players they have on the edges. Throw in a poor Warriors defense and there could be points aplenty for the Roosters.

Jump into Jennings = Michael Jennings First Try @ $11 – The Roosters were at their most dangerous when their attack was flowing to their left hand side. On the end of that is Jennings and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck. Maybe when he makes a break this week, he will hold the ball and back his ability.

Gold Coast Titans v Canberra Raiders

Two winless sides face off in the first game to kick start “Super Sunday”. The clash will be taking place in sunny Queensland and see’s the Titans hosting a Raiders side that will be aiming to live up to some of the expectation that was placed on them heading into this season. To say that they were disappointing would be an understatement. Their played was riddled with errors and they were unable to control the tempo of the game. As a result, the Panthers rolled right over the top of them on more than one occasion. They also needed to be more structured in defence when it mattered most, and they weren’t. The Titans displayed a far better performance when compared to the Raiders, not that it was difficult to do. They were always going to have their work cut out heading down to Sydney and facing the Sharks amid all of the controversy surrounding their club and players. But they were able to rise to the occasion and match the Sharks level of aggression. It was a very physical encounter that was low scoring. You cannot help but think the Titans will struggle to score points this year due to their halves, but they should also have little points to chase as their defence is very strong. It will be interesting to see if they learnt from their mistakes against the Sharks and whether their dullness in attack can be fixed within one week. It is still early on in the competition but either side will be very pleased to walk away from this game with a win and 2 competition points in the bag.

Gold Coast Titans

As stated above, the Titans would have probably won their match against the Sharks had they had a quality number 6 or 7. No point in mulling of missed opportunities because the Titans are going to find this a major problem of their play for the entire season. Coach John Cartwright has named an unchanged lineup for this match, showing that he has the faith in the two halves he currently has. It will take time for them to develop but doing it together could be problematic. They are lucky enough to play behind a very talent forward pack that was able to match a sizable and tough Sharks side in defence. They will be strong in this area of their game and will have to because they don’t look like scoring a lot of points. Luke O’Dwyer has been named as the 18th man and will probably drop off the extended bench prior to kickoff. They will need another big performance from their big names including Bird, Myles and Taylor. Coming off the bench again this week, Dave Taylor must lift his work rate. The early signs for him are positive but the Titans need to ensure they are using him the right way.

Canberra Raiders

All is not well at the Raiders this week with news surfacing that they are on the brink of sacking star fullback Josh Dugan for breaching alcohol rules relating to injured players. No surprise to see his partner in crime here was Blake Ferguson, both of whom have been dropped for this match. It is perhaps only the surface of a big problem for the Raiders that have players worried more about their appearance and social life rather than playing football. Reece Robinson will start at fullback, where he was named against the Panthers only for Dugan to be a late inclusion. Edrick Lee is also named to start on the wing in the absence of Ferguson. The other change for them is on the extended bench with Brett White promoted from 18th man to the interchange. He is a straight swap for Mark Nicholls and it is certain that Furner made this move with the motivation towards adding more size to his pack and a player who is certain to carry the ball forward and get his job done. There is also speculation over the fitness of lock Shaun Fensom but the Raiders medical team has cleared him. If he is a late withdrawal, Joel Edwards will probably come into the starting side.

Recent History

Last 5 games = Titans 3 Raiders 2

Odds
TAB Sportsbet = Titans $1.45 Raiders $2.75
Centrebet = Titans $1.48 Raiders $2.70
Sportsbet = Titans $1.48 Raiders $2.70
Betfair = Titans $1.52 Raiders $2.82

Verdict

Another tough game to choose from and you have to consider what both teams will bring into this game. The Raiders have had a week to forget after a poor performance against the Panthers and then certain players breaking the team’s alcohol policy. That has the possibility to galvanize the team together and they could get back to their winning ways. On the other hand, the Titans were good in their narrow loss to the Sharks. They were unable to finish though at key points in the game and it is a problem that may remain again this week. There is no question surrounding the Raiders ability to score points, just the fragility of their play. If it comes down to it, the Titans will be able to hold out the Raiders for a certain amount of time but may eventually crack. Can you smell an upset? The Raiders to get the money in this game, provided their play improves to what they are capable of.

Suggested Bet
Raiders @ $2.82

A Dozen does it = Raiders +12.5 (Dozen start) @ $1.45 – This is a safe option for punters to throw into a multiple bet. Especially if this match is going to be a closer than most think, the Titans may struggle to overcome this margin.

Right on the money = Jack Wighton First Try @ $15 – Tipped him last week on the basis that the Panthers were weak out wide and they were. The Titans are no different. Wighton should find himself marking up against Brad Takairangi who he may just get the better of early.

Wests Tigers v Penrith Panthers

The Sunday “Game of the Day” is out at Campbelltown and has the Tigers hosting a Panther side that will be high in confidence. It is a remarkable difference between the Tigers side that were embarrassed in their Round 1 fixture on MNF against the Knights. Generally in the first round, you see a few positives and negatives from a side as they struggle to get things together. In the case of the Tigers, there were very little positives that surfaced. They looked disjointed in defence and without direction in attack. Is there a quick solution for them? There is only one way we can find out and the rigorous NRL season offers the opportunity at redemption the following week. As their confidence is high, the Panthers will be looking to continue on some great early season form and they need to strike while the iron is hot. Whether or not there was in validity in that performance remains to be seen as the Raiders were extremely poor and ill disciplined. There was a lot of stats shown at halftime (as well as fulltime) that heavily favoured the Panthers, if there is one negative out of their performance, it is that a quality side would have put the Raiders away much earlier than they did. By their own admission they were tipping a poor showing, maybe that was just to lower the expectation that sides have of them. Whether or not the Panthers are a far better side than many have given them credit for, remains to be seen; and it is only a clash against the Tigers this week that will shed more light on this issue.

Wests Tigers

It happens almost every week in the NRL, but coaches are left no other choice when their side is involved in MNF. I am talking about the Tigers naming an unchanged lineup (to their final starting side) following their demolition at the hands of the Knights. It is interesting to note that Aaron Woods has again been left on the bench and Jack Buchanan has been named to start the match. Buchanan does look like a player who will develop into a quality forward, but he cannot afford the battering he copped last game, each week. It would be extremely surprising if this were the final side that ran out on Sunday afternoon. If there were a few changes that coach Mick Potter would make, you think that it would be the dropping of Matt Utai after his poor performance. It would also be surprising if Eddy Pettybourne were left out of the clash again. The Tigers could have done with his dynamic ball running and strong defence. Expect Benji Marshall and Robbie Farrah to also lift in this game. Farrah was always trying his guts out on MNF but Marshall went missing for majority of the match. A lot of pressure does fall on their shoulders at different points and they can be excused, but not every week. Those players around them need to stand up and help them out, most notably halfback Jacob Miller.

Penrith Panthers

It was a vastly different performance in Round 1 for the Panthers compared to what most people were expecting. They ran out a side that looked committed throughout and one that was willing to do anything to get the victory. Yes the Raiders were abysmal, but you can only play what is in front of you. It is certainly good to start the season off on the right foot. So, coach Ivan Cleary had no problems with maintaining the same side that got the job done for him on the weekend, including the 18th man. It was a great debut in Panthers colours for several players. Lewis Brown and Sika Manu stood out on the edge of the ruck and were strong in defence. Dean Whare was strong at fullback and definitely showed why he left Manly to play this position. He popped up all around the field and was great in supporting the ball carrier. Perhaps the most impressive debut for the Panthers came from reserve hooker, James Segeyaro. He was dynamic out of dummy half and left Cleary with no choice but to leave him on the field in favour of captain, Kevin Kingston. If he continues along the same form line, Kingston may find himself getting a tap on the shoulder. It was also good to see the rest of the Panthers forwards work well together. They need to ensure that this is where they play majority of their football, as they can be quiet week on the edges at points during the games.

Recent History

Last 5 games = Tigers 5 Panthers 0

Odds

TAB Sportsbet = Tigers $1.70 Panthers $2.15
Centrebet = Tigers $1.65 Panthers $2.27
Sportsbet = Tigers $1.70 Panthers $2.18
Betfair = Tigers $1.76 Panthers $2.30

Verdict

If you were asked to choose which team was woeful in Round 1 just by looking at the odds, you would say Penrith. So it is puzzling why the Tigers have gone up the price that they are. The Panthers are a better side than people are giving them credit for and they have the quality in their side to overcome the Tigers here. At the moment, the Tigers are not showing any positives to point towards a victory. I can smell another upset and the Panthers could go 2 from 2 at the end of this game. Traditionally, sides also struggle when backing up from MNF.

Suggested Bet
Panthers @ $2.30

Tigers improve, but not enough = Panthers 1-12 @ $3.50 – The Panthers will find themselves facing a far better Tigers side than the Knights played against. But they will also have learnt from a few mistakes that they made. This points to a close win for the Panthers.

Be safe with a start = Panthers +12.5 (Dozen start) @ $1.30 – If you are still not warming to the Panthers, then this is the bet for you. The Tigers look to have little ability when scoring points this season and points may be hard to come by. Expect the Panthers to match their attack throughout. This way you also guard yourself against a narrow Panthers loss (not that I think that will happen).

Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles v Newcastle Knights

After a very bruising, emotional and exciting clash last Sunday night, this game has a lot of expectation riding on it. There is no doubt though, both these sides will able to put on a show and it could almost be déjà vu. The Sea Eagles got the job done away from home in Brisbane in what was always going to be a tough contest. Despite a very poor showing from the Broncos, the Sea Eagles were glowing with the right game plan and great direction from their halves. There is still a question mark around their forwards but they were able to dominate a Broncos pack that featured a lot of representative players. It will be a very intriguing contest in this game when they are faced with a tough pack of forwards that are molded on a winning formula that is always associated with Wayne Bennett coached sides. There was always going to be a lot of expectation on the shoulders of the Knights and they delivered in impressive fashion in front of their home fans in the season’s first MNF game. But what is a true indication of what 2013 holds for them? Probably not considering how poorly the Tigers performed. But the Knights could do nothing about that and were probably responsible for the dismal play of the Tigers at certain stages. Both sides will want to stand up and make a statement in the Round 2 and it is a great match on offer for fans. More so, you can ease back into the working week with a great game of rugby league, maybe even a win!

Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles

The Sea Eagles were impressive at stages of their Round 1 performance and a lot of it can be put down to their halves. They dominated the game and as mention plenty of times before, they have executed the ideal game plan when targeting the weaker Broncos defenders. They will again have to come up with a similar plan as the strength in their forwards does seem to be a little less when compared to the Knights. They have the firepower on the field but do not have a lot coming off the bench. Coach Geoff Toovey has named an unchanged line up heading into this game, except for the inclusion of Tom Symonds on the bench. There was a question mark around the fitness of Anthony Watmough on Friday night as he appeared to cop a knock during the game, but he was able to return to the field when required. Perhaps Symonds is named to cover for him. They are still without co-captain Jason King and Brenton Lawerence gains his second start of the season. Justin Horo also remains in the back row and he made a solid debut in Sea Eagles colours. He is proving a suitable replacement for the injured Glenn Stewart. As mentioned above, the Sea Eagles will look towards their strengths when beating the Knights and considering it isn’t in the forwards, they may look to shift the ball to either of their centres in room. Both Steve Matai and Jamie Lyon were good in Round 1 and offer a lot of attacking opportunities while also being reliable in defence.

Newcastle Knights

Similar to the Tigers, the Knights have named an unchanged line up after backing up from MNF. Then again, why would Wayne Bennett feel the need to change a winning formula? Their forwards were dominant in defence and gave little opportunities to the Tigers in attack, shutting down almost all of their options before they had the chance to decide on one. Then they carried the ball forward with a high level of effort, usually moving over the advantage line. This made things easier on  Mullen and Gidley in the halves and they were able to provide extra room for the outside backs. Both Mullen and Gidley were also effective with their kicking game (despite the first kick out on the full), continually building pressure when attacking the Tigers line and getting repeat sets. This is effective football against any opposition as it increases the normal defensive workload of a side. Darius Boyd was also a standout performer and it seems as though he was linking in nicely to the attacking plays of the Knights. They did favour their left hand side a little more than their right, but were dangerous in both. Expect the same plays to be executed again with Boyd chiming into the line at the last moment and taking one of the multiple of options that is given to him.

Recent History

Last 5 games = Sea Eagles 3 Knights 2

Odds
TAB Sportsbet
= Sea Eagles $1.70 Knights $2.15
Centrebet = Sea Eagles $1.75 Knights $2.10
Sportsbet = Sea Eagles $1.67 Knights $2.25
Betfair= Sea Eagles $1.74 Knights $2.28

Verdict

This game promises to be a great one at that! The Sea Eagles possess a very talented side that is yet to be really test while the Knights are a side that is on the up and coming off a good win. You would hardly call their win over the Tigers a test either but it was more impressive than the Sea Eagles on the whole. It would be expected that Manly would lift to another level here playing in front of a packed Brookvale Oval for the first time this season. On the field though, it the balance tends to be with the Knights and the big factor leaning towards the Knights is the quality on offer within the forwards. This will be a very close game and a tough matchup between two sides. Needless to say, it would be surprising to see a margin over 1-12 but not so to see the Knights on the right side of the scoreboard.

Suggested Bet
Knights @ $2.28

Marginal victory = Knights 1-12 @ $3.50 – Brookvale Oval will certainly lift the Sea Eagles and make it harder for the Knights. If they are to prevail, it will by a smaller margin than 12. Get on early and get some good value for this bet.

Strong side, left side = James McManus FTS @ $9 – It is mentioned above that the Knights fancy a sweeping play to the left hand side of the field where Darius Boyd comes into the attacking line. At the end of this play is left side winger, McManus.

South Sydney Rabbitohs v Cronulla Sharks

Round 2 of the competition concludes this week with a good matchup between the Rabbitohs and the Sharks. Monday Night Football always offers a good matchup and it delivers here, providing the same Sharks team that is named, starts in this clash. There is a lot of uncertainty at the moment surround this club and there is a lot more water to pass underneath this bridge before all is known. To say the club is in total disarray is an understatement. The players and coaching staff are basically heading to work each day not knowing whether or not they will be employed at the end of the day. The does not apply to the entire organisation but certainly those related to the 2011 season. During their first game of the season, it was evident that it was also weighing heavily on the players minds with several emotional displays. None more so than Paul Gallen branding the names of those who have departed the club on the side of his jersey. No doubt, they will ride the wave of emotion here. It could be difficult for the Rabbitohs to manage but they will be up for any challenge. They looked good in their first match of the season and fought back from a slow start to the game to overrun the Roosters. There were various facets of their game that also offered scoring opportunities and most importantly, it was on the back of some very dominant forward play. They look one of the sides to beat this season and their fans are quick to mention that they have not one a competition since 1971. Like most other sides this week though, you cannot gauge a true measure of their Round 1 performance until they have played their second game. That also rings true for the Sharks and a clearer understanding of both sides is certain once the fulltime whistle blows. Let’s just focus on the “on field” action heading into this game and some quality rugby league will no doubt be present. Lucky we have MNF to ease back into the working week.

South Sydney Rabbitohs

The Rabbitohs have had the longest break of all the teams heading into their Round 2 fixture on MNF. They will lose a day in Round 3 when they play on the Sunday so it is probably important that they make the most of the time that they now have. Coach Michael Maguire was happy with his side’s performance, but still said that they have a lot of work to do. No surprises to see a number of sides throw this line out after an impressive early season display. There is some truth to that as the Rabbitohs could have made a better start in the clash, after conceding the first try. There is a slight change to the Rabbitohs team and they are forced to be without their star forward Sam Burgess who took the early guilty plea for his high shot on Mitchell Pearce. He will only be missing for one game but his value will certainly be missed. His spot in the starting side is taking by new recruit Jeff Lima who is promoted from the bench. There is no doubt that he will be able to do the job required of him but perhaps not with the same amount of effectiveness that Burgess does. He was very solid with his ball carries when he came on. Missing one Burgess isn’t a problem as the Rabbitohs appear to have unearthed another Burgess-talent, his younger brother George. Just like his brother, George is a monster and he is hard to stop when he has the ball in hand. Expect him to gain more minutes this week. As Lima is promoted from the bench, Dave Tyrrell and Jason Clarke come onto the interchange. They are also without centre Beau Champion for a number of weeks through injury. His place in the side is taken by Bryson Goodwin, but Justin Hunt has also been named as 19th man and may get the late start over Goodwin. This is probably the only area where the Rabbitohs have a weakness.

Cronulla Sharks

Admit all of the controversy, the Sharks have again named a strong squad and it is unchanged from the week before. As mentioned above, they will be riding high on emotions. They have named an extended bench of 7 that includes Chad Townsend, who can only be named in case Todd Carney is not cleared of injury. It is a strong bench as well but there could be a few changes to the final side. This involves Chris Heighington perhaps starting this game like he did against the Titans. Jeff Robson was solid at halfback at very stabalising for Carney. Other strengths for the Sharks include the impressive debuts of their recruits. Luke Lewis was good (as expected) but the so was Michael Gordon. If they can keep this guy fit for the entire season, he will be one of the buys of the season. He also adds a lethal goal kicking percentage and can easily turned 4 points into 6.

Recent History

Last 5 games = Rabbitohs 3 Sharks 2

Odds
TAB Sportsbet
= Rabbitohs$1.26 Sharks $3.75
Centrebet = Rabbitohs$1.30 Sharks $3.60
Sportsbet = Rabbitohs$1.28 Sharks $3.75
Betfair= Rabbitohs $1.28 Sharks $4.30

Verdict

The Rabbitohs are the side to beat in this clash. Cronulla will put up quite a fight in the game but the Rabbitohs harbor too many chances around the field that will trouble the Sharks. They have plenty attacking options all over the park that includes a kicking game and second phase play. It will be a great measure of their forwards ability against a quality pack like the Sharks. When it is all compared, the Rabbitohs also have a stronger bench. Then to top it all off, they have Greg Inglis and Isaac Luke. They are two superstars who have the ability to change a game with one simple play on the field. As for the margin, it could be anything. If the Rabbitohs are on, 13+ is on the cards but I will stick with 1-12 because of the strength of the Sharks defence.

Suggested Bet
Rabbitohs over 6.5 points (Tri Bet) @ $1.50

Justified Margin = Rabbitohs 1-12 @ $3.10 – The 13+ margin is shorter with the bookies but they perhaps have not counted on a very smart and strong Sharks defensive line.

Luke’s luck = Isaac Luke FTS @ $21 – He was one of the best players in the win over the Roosters and he is always looking to get a try when the Rabbitohs are attacking the line.

Good luck!
Scooby

Author

I have followed Rugby League since I was young enough to watch it and growing up in Sydney, it was inevitable. I will always make it my business to watch all 8 NRL fixtures per week and follow it with more than just passion. During my playing career, I have played at several representative levels, with and against current players. I began writing previews on NRL games early on in 2012 and really found a passion within this. I enjoy listening to various people and their opinions on the game, and then forming my own. Coupled together with another passion, gambling, I soon learnt that there was a market out there for more than the rugby league diehards. Hopefully I can pass on my knowledge of the game to help you win some cash.

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Scooby

Hey guys, i'm Scooby! I have followed Rugby League since I was young enough to watch it and growing up in Sydney, it was inevitable. I will always make it my business to watch all 8 NRL fixtures per week and follow it with more than just passion. During my playing career, I have played at several representative levels, with and against current players. I began writing previews on NRL games early on in 2012 and really found a passion within this. I enjoy listening to various people and their opinions on the game, and then forming my own. Coupled together with another passion, gambling, I soon learnt that there was a market out there for more than the rugby league diehards. Hopefully I can pass on my knowledge of the game to help you win some cash.

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