Welcome to The Profits Round 6 2017 NRL kicks off on Thursday night from Brisbane and The Profits NRL expert Scooby previews all the matches and shares his best bets.
Brisbane Broncos (9th) v Sydney Roosters (3rd)
The Broncos went down to Sydney last Thursday and left empty handed after the Bulldogs upset them by 3-points. After scoring early, it appeared as though the Broncos would be capable of shutting their opponents out of the contest; a decision to take the FG opportunity on the stroke of HT showing the maturity that was developing. Unfortunately, they were unable to turn the pressure they were building into points, unable to make the most of an 86% completion rate. Their defence was again strong, although having 45% share of possession forced them to make 70 more tackles than the Bulldogs; this built fatigue and limited their opportunities. The Roosters were also beaten in Round 5, their first loss of 2017. The Sea Eagles came out and played to the level of their opponents, in what was yet another defensively-focused match. In previous matches, the Roosters were making errors like any other team, although they were able to cover them with strong defence. They also were making the most of attacking opportunities; both of these factors evaded them in their match against the Sea Eagles and they were made to pay for their mistakes. The loss will not cause panic within this team; they have plenty of positives to draw upon, nevertheless, it will be interesting to see how this squad responds after a strong start to the season. The Broncos will offer a difficult challenge for them, with some injuries expected to reduce the impact that players have off the bench and the overall power they generate through the middle.
Broncos = Unchanged, although there is considerable doubt around James Roberts and whether he will play or not.
Roosters = Isaac Lui is named at prop for Dylan Napa (injured), with Kane Evans joining the bench.
Overall = Broncos 18 Roosters 15
Last 5 Matches = Broncos 3 Roosters 2
At Suncorp Stadium = Broncos 61% Roosters 50%
Form = Broncos 1 loss – Roosters 1 loss
Surprisingly, the Broncos head into this game as favorites, with many believing that the Roosters had several weaknesses unearthed last week in their loss. That may be the case to some extent, although the class, which they have, still remains. The visitors lose some power in their team with the injury to Napa, as majority of this game will be played within the forwards. Another game back in the top grade will assist Jake Friend at hooker and the Roosters pack will have some pride to salvage from last week. The Broncos will also be out to do the same; some of the defence, which they exhibited last week, was very physical. They got up in the face of their opponents and forced them to produce something special to grab the win. The Broncos had their chances and even if they had changed a few simple errors, the result may have still been the same. Fact is, the Broncos halves were disappointing in their execution, regardless of what the forwards produced up front. The loss of Roberts also reduces an attacking weapon on the edge that they are accustomed to using and the Roosters have been very effective strike on both sides. Their record at this ground will not daunt them and they will be up for the challenge. One loss isn’t enough to suggest that they are on a slide and they have proven how dangerous they can be several times this year. The upset appears to be the more fancied option at this stage, although with minimal separating the two teams, this game could be decided by less than a converted try.
Either team under 6.5 points @ $2.60
Play it Safe = Roosters @ $2.10 – Sticking with the Roosters to just win this contest could be a good idea. The above selection suggests the game will be tight, but it must be noted that the average margin of victory in the past 5 matches sits at 10.2 points. Consideration should also be given to Roosters 1-12 @ $3.10.
Newcastle Knights (15th) v Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs (12th)
The Knights took to the field against the Sharks last week to put behind them a horror match up in 2016, with their 1-point loss just about erasing any memory of previous efforts. It was a great effort by the visitors to stay within striking distance of their opponents; the fight and belief within this team is something to be admired. Furthermore, the maturity younger players are developing at a good rate and the Knights are doing everything possible to ensure that they do not finish at the bottom of the ladder. The Bulldogs put a poor effort behind them in Round 4 to come out and beat the Broncos 10-7. It required them fighting back from an early try and they showed great determination in this performance. It was a much-needed win too with pressure building on the squad and their coach, Des Hasler. Amazingly, they have lifted an enormous weight off their shoulders and now have an opportunity to achieve back-to-back wins for the first time this year. The improvement within the playing squad was evident given the energy that was expended by some players; James Graham in particular was fantastic on both sides of the ball. Surprisingly, without Mbye leading the way, the Bulldogs appears to have a calm over their attack towards the end of attacking sets, with positive kicks placing their opponents under pressure. It will be interesting to see if this same level is maintain from that point onwards.
Knights = Nathan Ross (injury) returns on the wing for Jacob Gagan. There is a reshuffle in the forwards, with Danny Levi to start at hooker and Jamie Buhrer moving back to the second row.
Bulldogs = Moses Mbye (suspension) returns at halfback, pushing Matt Frawley to the reserves.
Overall = Knights 16 Draw 1 Bulldogs 15
Last 5 Matches = Knights 2 Bulldogs 3
At McDonald-Jones Stadium = Knights 57% Bulldogs 40%
Form = Knights 3 losses – Bulldogs 1 win
Effort is high at the Knights but for a young team, this can only be maintained for so long without winning. They will take confidence from their performance last week, yet there is a belief that had the Sharks clicked into gear, the margin of victory would’ve been far greater. The Bulldogs proved last week just what they’re capable of and with news that Hasler is staying longer, the pressure is released within this squad. They can now begin to play with more freedom, although it will be interesting to view the impact that Mbye has on this team upon his return. That shouldn’t upset the Bulldogs too much and they’re still strong favorites to take out this contest. Most are expecting the Knights to be spirited, but causing an upset against the Bulldogs is another level altogether. Their forwards have plenty of power through the middle of the field and with some difficult games ahead, this is one match they will want to make the most of. The difficult decision comes down to deciding on the margin of victory in favor of the visitors. Their record isn’t great at this ground, however they were successful here last year. The average margin of victory in the past 5 wins for the Bulldogs sits at 9.2 points, although some of those wins were narrow ones against a far better Newcastle team. The Knights improvement this year, especially at home, has been great and they have the solitary loss here by 6-points to the Rabbitohs. If the Bulldogs get rolling early, they could win this game by much more than a converted try.
Bulldogs -6.5 @ $2
Penrith Panthers (8th) v South Sydney Rabbitohs (11th)
The Panthers travelled down to Melbourne last week full of confidence that they could overcome their poor record against the Storm. After 80 minutes, that record still remains and the Panthers left wondering where they needed to improve. Possession was heavily weighted in their favor and they were still unable to capitalize, rather 15 total errors reduced their effectiveness and missed tackles at crucial stages opened the door for the Storm. That was all they needed to send a message to the Panthers that in order to compete with the top teams, they need to improve several areas of their play. The Rabbitohs were also unable to win on the road, as they travelled to Townsvilee and left with a 14-point loss and a few key injuries. No doubt the pressure is building within this team as they attempt to manage the fitness of each player and get them back out onto the field sooner rather than later. Their match against the Cowboys demonstrated the different in class between the two teams, as well as the lack of creativity on the side of the Rabbitohs. Even with a lesser share of possession, the Rabbitohs still had their opportunities to score points but came up short. Pressure is building on this team that is attempting to play mistake-free football but they are coming up short of results. If this trend continue, the slide down the ladder, which the Rabbitohs are currently experiencing, could become a lot worse. Facing the Panthers after they too were unsuccessful will pose a new challenge altogether for this team.
Panthers = Matt Moylan, Waqa Blake and Peta Hiku (dropped) have been stood down this week. Dylan Edwards is named at fullback, while Michael Oldfield and Malakai Watene-Zelezniak are named on the wings. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak shifts into the centres for Tyrone Peachey (injured). Sitaleki Akauola is the new face on the bench.
Rabbitohs = Unchanged.
Overall = Panthers 14 Rabbitohs 12
Last 5 Matches = Panthers 2 Rabbitohs 3
At Pepper Stadium = Panthers 54% Rabbitohs 31%
Form = Panthers 1 loss – Rabbitohs 2 losses
Looking at this game early, many suggested that it would be an easy enough win for the Panthers. Since the beginning of this week, they have stood 3 key players down, lost another one through injury and have a short turnaround from although loss to contend with. This places increasing pressure on the team and will be a great test of their mental strength early on in the season. Lucky for them, the core of the team, most notably Cleary and Wallace, still remain. They will want the forwards to generate plenty of power against the bigger Rabbitohs pack, who will be out to bounce back from their loss last week. Believe it or not, despite only having two wins to their name, the Rabbitohs have been playing measured football. If they can manage to find the right way to finish attacking sets, they will cause some headaches for the Panthers. The inclusion of Cook at hooker appears to have improved this team somewhat, with the forward pack producing more, they will be a strong challenge for the home team. The Rabbitohs record at this ground isn’t ideal, yet they appear to have a strong recent record over the Panthers, winning at 66% in the past 9 matches. The Panthers failed to make a statement last week and if they are to finish up the top of the competition, this is a game that they should aim to win and win well. Confidence is not high though, as a 3-game losing streak for the Rabbitohs, regardless of their decline in recent years, is hardly a habit they want to develop. Do not invest too much money on this contest at all.
Panthers -3.5 @ $1.85
Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles (5th) v St George-Illawarra Dragons (2nd)
The Sea Eagles made it 3-consecutive victories last Friday and in the same effort, handing the Roosters their first loss of the season. In an exciting tussle between two solid teams, the Sea Eagles produced an impressive play in the closing minutes that allowed Dylan Walker to race to the line untouched. It was a match that was always going to challenge them and the entire squad was up for the contest. Walker, DCE and the Trbojevic brothers were great and were well supported by those around them. This sets up a thrilling clash early on in the season against the Dragons, yet another team that no one expected to be where they are on the table at this stage of the season. For them, they were able to overcome a Tigers team, which appeared ready to turn their season around with new regime taking over. The Dragons had other ideas though; their 87% completion rate meant that they were continually pressuring their opponents when in possession and despite making more tackles, they recorded less misses. This has been a surprising turnaround for the Dragons, who are now combining stronger defence with attacking potency. The loss of Dugan will hurt them to some extent, although plenty of credit for their efforts has to go to their forwards. The way in which they are setting a platform in the middle of the field and obtaining quick ruck speed is to be admired. With the Manly forwards growing in confidence, the battle will be on to gather dominance early on in this match.
Sea Eagles = Darcy Lussick (injury) returns on the bench, with Jackson Hastings shifting back to the reserves.
Dragons = Jason Nightingale shifts to fullback for Josh Dugan (injured), with Kurt Mann the new face on the wing and Euan Aitken (injury) returning in the centres. Hame Sele is the new face on the bench.
Overall = Sea Eagles 9 Dragons 15
Last 5 Matches = Sea Eagles 3 Dragons 2
At Lottoland = Sea Eagles 63% Dragons 42%
Form = Sea Eagles 3 wins – Dragons 2 wins
The recent effort and execution of both teams has been impressive; they are playing with a level of class that demonstrates to others how improved they are. The Dragons have been playing great, although there are some questions around the quality of opponent they have been facing. They were victorious in their most difficult game against the Sharks and ambushed the Panthers early, however the Sea Eagles pose a whole new challenge altogether. The quality of opponent that both teams have beaten has been questioned and could be a major reason why the Sea Eagles head into this game as favorites, combined of course, with their superior record at this ground. The extra time that they get to prepare for this game compared with their opponents should also work in their favor, as well as the injuries suffered last week by the Dragons. The visitors have improved the defensive structure and ability to score points, although they will need to lift to another level here if they are to be competitive. Unfortunately for the Dragons, winning this match appears to be hope rather than fact. In terms of the margin, many believe that this game will be close; the Sea Eagles attack is building each week and with this comes increasing confidence. The Dragons may just struggle to stop their momentum; combine this with the Sea Eagles 14.3 average winning margin in their past 4 wins and there is value within this game being decided by more than 2 converted tries.
Sea Eagles -6.5 @ $2
Soaring High = Sea Eagles 13+ @$2.90 – The loss of Dugan at the back causes a reshuffle that opens up a possibility of fragile defence on the edge. Not only that, the Dragons are expected to tire towards the end of this contest courtesy of a short turnaround. They are a tough team though and the Sea Eagles will have to work hard to reach this goal but it is definitely within reach.
Gold Coast Titans (14th) v Canberra Raiders (7th)
The Titans left Auckland without a win but yet again, displayed a level of determination that is to be admired. Unfortunately, the struggling team suffered more injuries to key players and it left them with a hole during the match. In turn, this impacted the players coming off the bench and unable to continue to pressure the Warriors into the second half. Scoring all of their points in the first half, a late try to their opponents sealed the deal for the home team. Now, with just the one win to their name, they face yet another tough task on the back of a short turnaround. The Raiders moved past the Eels with relative ease last week in Canberra, nevertheless, they will be disappointed that they allowed their opponents back into the match, conceding two tries in the second half to narrow the margin to just 4-points with 25 minutes remaining. The Raiders still managed to score late points to pull away from their opponents and perhaps the late fight shown by the Eels was credit to them rather than the home sides fragility; it will be something that they should endeavor to improve upon if they have aspirations of climbing further up the ladder. Consistency has always been difficult for the Raiders to obtain and this game is one which they should be in control of the result from start to finish. Having the game play out that way is another thing altogether and the Titans have shown several times this season, their ability to upset the rhythm of their opponents over 80 minutes.
Titans = Tyrone Roberts (injured) is replaced at fullback by Tyrone Roberts-Davis, with Anthony Don the new face on the wing. Konrad Hurrell (injury) returns in the centres, allowing Chris McQueen to move back to the second row for Nathaniel Peteru (injured).
Raiders = Elliott Whitehead (suspension) returns at second row, pushing Clay Priest back to the bench and Dave Taylor to the reserves.
Overall = Titans 11 Raiders 8
Last 5 Matches = Titans 2 Raiders 3
At Cbus Super Stadium = Titans 49% Raiders 33%
Form = Titans 2 losses – Raiders 1 win
Each week, another challenge presents itself to the Titans and yet again, it revolves around injuries and covering missing players. They are certainly doing everything possible to compete in matches and probably should’ve been beaten by more last week, yet managed to stay within striking distance of their opponents. That being said, the lack of execution from the Warriors at key points allowed them to stay in the contest. The Raiders were guilty of a similar issue, yet they will relish the challenge to make amends here. Their attacking power should eventually wear the Titans down in most areas, with the Titans conceding 28 PPG so far in 2017. They are able to score plenty themselves (23.6 PPG), only slightly behind the Raiders 24 PPG, but defence over 80 minutes is bound to be the deciding factor in this contest. It has improved since the beginning of the season, with the only concern ahead of this match being the Raiders poor record at this ground; nevertheless, their last trip north returned an 8-point victory, meaning that they have won 2 out of their past 3 matches there. They are deserving favorites, but be wary of the fight that lies within the Titans team. If their defence plays as it has so far this season, there is no limit to the points that the Raiders can score in this game.
Raiders -8.5 @ $1.90
Piling on the Points = Raiders 13+ @ $2.30 – As mentioned above, the Titans defence is questionable; they struggle to limit their opponents attacking power and rely a lot on their own team producing points. With the Raiders conceding an average of 19.8 PPG, it may not be as easy as most think and they may pull away from their opponents late, who are also recovering from a tough trip to New Zealand last Sunday.
North Queensland Cowboys (4th) v Wests Tigers (16th)
The Cowboys handled the Rabbitohs as expected last Friday, getting past their opponents by 14-points. Their victory was not without its negatives though, with hooker Jake Granville set for an extended stay on the sidelines. He has the ability to relieve pressure on Thurston and Morgan by getting the forwards rolling through the middle of the field. It isn’t exactly panic stations for the Cowboys though, although it could be an area that opponents look to exploit. That win now makes it four from them this season, although they still only have a +3 point’s difference courtesy of a few close matches earlier this season. The Tigers head to Townsville with clarity following the announcement of Ivan Cleary as head coach. It was a tough two weeks for the Tigers with interim head coach, Andrew Webster at the helm; they gave up a 14-point lead against the Storm and scored just the solitary try against the Dragons. Within their last match, there are several positives to focus on, most notably their 84% completion rate. It appears that their defence is in need of improvement and perhaps an overall attitude chance after they missed 43 total tackles. Cleary has his work cut out for him turning around the fortunes of the team and he isn’t afraid of upsetting a few people in his strive for success. The overall attitude within this squad is in need of an overhaul and one of the greatest challenges is heading up to Townville to beat the Cowboys on home turf, yet they can make a large statement on the changes they are aiming to make with their performance over 80 minutes.
Cowboys = Ben Hampton is named at hooker for Jake Granville (injured), with Kayln Ponga coming onto the bench. Patrick Kaufusi returns to the starting side for Coen Hess, who will start from the bench.
Tigers = Jacob Liddle comes onto the bench for Matt Ballin (injured).
Overall = Cowboys 15 Tigers 17
Last 5 Matches = Cowboys 3 Tigers 2
At 1300Smiles Stadium = Cowboys 83% Tigers 17%
Form = Cowboys 2 wins – Tigers 3 losses
With turmoil continuing within this club, this is a game that could lift the Tigers out of the negative headlines. Even if they weren’t to win the match, they still would make a statement in their first game under the guidance of Ivan Cleary. The Cowboys are unsurprisingly favorites for this game, with form and a strong home field advantage swaying punters their way. It needs to be noted that in the Tigers last 3 losses at this ground, their average margin sits at 33-points. There is also a distinct lack of class and effort within the Tigers team that is only going to be questioned further with the news of Moses’ recent request. Things are great for the Cowboys though, with the withdrawal of Granville bound to test them in the middle. The amount of work, which he gets through on both sides of the ball, alleviates pressure on his team. Thurston and Morgan may find themselves a little more rushed if the Tigers apply pressure in this area. Nevertheless, the Cowboys should be able to grab an easy enough win over the Tigers. Expect the visitors to have a renewed confidence as all players aim to impress their new coach. This will only take them so far though, as the overall class of the Cowboys prevails. In terms of an investment, it is hard to find value in the Cowboys winning this game and the confidence is low (in terms of a margin) given the changes that are going on at the Tigers. Watch and wait for coming weeks but if you must, an option is below.
Cowboys 13+ @ $1.60
New Zealand Warriors (13th) v Parramatta Eels (10th)
The Warriors just got over the line against the Titans last week at home, sealing the match when Ryan Hoffman crossed with 2 minutes to go, after scores were locked at 22-all with 15 minutes to go. It was an underwhelming display from the home team, who struggled to get the upper hand over their crippled opponents. After suffering more injuries, the Titans lacked power towards the end of the match, although many thought that the Warriors would’ve taken care of the result earlier. It wasn’t to be after a slow start, yet there were some positives; the Warriors had an 86% completion rate, carried the ball for 500m more than the Titans and missed just 21 tackles. If the Warriors can repeat this level, improvement is certainly ahead. The Eels were unable to overcome their poor record in Canberra, eventually beaten by the Raiders by 12-points. They demonstrated determination though, fighting within 4-points of their opponents with 25 minutes remaining. Like the Warriors, they too had a high completion rate (83%) but let themselves down in defence, missing a massive 44 tackles and committing 11 errors. A 3-game losing streak makes a good start to the season feel like a distant memory and they will have their work cut-out for them attempting to turnaround their fortunes.
Warriors = Charlie Gubb swaps roles with James Gavet, with Gubb named to start at prop. Nathaniel Roache comes onto the bench for Ata Hingano.
Eels = Tepai Moeroa (suspension) returns in the second row, allowing Beau Scott to more to lock and Nathan Brown back to the bench.
Overall = Warriors 14 Eels 20
Last 5 Matches = Warriors 3 Eels 2
At Mt Smart Stadium = Warriors 58% Eels 38%
Form = Warriors 1 win – Eels 3 losses
The Warriors are slight favorites for this contest given their recent win and the form of their opponents. The Eels poor record at this ground is also cause for some concern leading into this contest. They have been competing in recent matches, yet unable to grab the win as poor execution has let them down. A high level of intensity can be difficult to produce, especially if you are doing it without winning; the Eels will only be able to maintain this for so long. After 3-consecutive losses, the Eels could be closer to a win than their form suggests. The Warriors haven’t been much better by any stretch, although the inclusion of Foran appears to have had a positive influence on this team. The Eels will remember that this is the same player that turned away from them and while it will be “nice” in the lead up, they are bound to give him some “extra attention” on the field. He is tough enough to handle it and perhaps the Eels should focus more attention on actually winning the contest rather than attempting to throw off a former player. This game could come down to defence and as it stand, the Warriors allow an average of 24 PPG compared with the Eels 20.8 PPG; the Eels also average slightly more than the Warriors in attack with 18.4 PPG compared with 17.6 PPG. In the two Warriors wins this season, they have failed to limit their opponents scoring. The Eels can score point in bunches too; this means that the eventual margin could be high. As for the winner, the Warriors are still yet to impress with a performance, with their usual flair dulled somewhat; the Eels could just come out and shock their opponents. Invest around a high scoring match and watch these two teams fight it out for the win.
Over 44.5 points @ $2
Melbourne Storm (1st) v Cronulla Sharks (6th)
This game is the first meeting between these two teams since the Sharks were victorious in the 2016 GF. It has a high quality event in which a late try to the Sharks edged them 2-points ahead, with the Storm having one last chance at stealing the win. It wasn’t to be though and it is no surprise that 6 months on, these two teams still have a high level of quality and sit at the right end of the competition ladder. The Storm are the only undefeated team remaining in the competition and their most recent win over the Panthers made a statement about their intent. Hopes were high for the visitors, yet the Storm never allowed them into the contest and beat them by a comfortable 22-points. Now, with the news surrounding Cronk, they have extra motivation for their 2017 campaign. The Sharks are on a 2-game winning streak and were somewhat lucky to overcome the Knights last week by 1-point at home. Perhaps they were guilty of dropping their intensity against a lesser opponent, either way, they left with a win. It is always difficult being the Premiers because teams come prepared to win and make a statement against the previous years benchmark. In many respects, it was an uncharacteristic performance by the Sharks; they completed at 74% and made 12 total errors. If they play to this same level, the Storm will make them pay for their mistakes. This is a great way to finish out the round and no doubt the intensity will be very high given their previous history.
Storm = Unchanged.
Sharks = Unchanged.
Overall = Storm 21 Sharks 11
Last 5 Matches = Storm 3 Sharks 2
At AAMI Park = Storm 74% Sharks 0%
Form = Storm 5 wins – Sharks 2 wins
It is difficult to do, but you have to remove all of the emotion and sentimental feelings that are contributing to this match. There are plenty storylines running through this contest that can distract you from the overall match up. Looking at the contest between the two sides, the Sharks record against Melbourne and in Melbourne isn’t great. They have never won at this ground and have only won 3 out of the past 10 meetings between these two teams. In their past 5 matches, the average margin of victory for the Storm over the Sharks in Melbourne is 22.8 points. That does not read well for the visitors and after an underwhelming performance last week, their potential of winning is questioned further. The Storm are famous for starting the season strong as they lose quality during the representative period. This year is no different and they will be out to ensure that their winning streak continues. The Sharks are building back to the team they were last year, although at this early stage, they are still a little behind that mark. By their own admission, they will need to improve several areas in order to be competitive and peak at the right stage of the season. Losing this game will not cause them too much concern and with that in mind, the Storm appear to have what it takes to win. Their forwards are producing a strong foundation week after week and the attacking weapons on the edge of the field compliment them. As for the margin, manly believe that it will be tight; however the Sharks appear to struggle at this ground. Once the Storm cover the line, there is no limit to what are capable of achieving as the Storms defence has conceded just 48 points in their first 5 matches.
Storm -6.5 @ $2