South Sydney Rabbitohs v Brisbane Broncos
The Rabbits are low-flying and go into this Thursday night encounter as well-deserved red-hot favourites. Benji Marshall will land the No.6 jersey in place of the suspended Cody Walker – a key omission for the Rabbits. Expect a classy showing from Benji who no doubt will be looking to take advantage of this opportunity and impress. Benji and his fellow Rabbitohs playmakers will be looking to exploit the Broncos vulnerability through the middle where they let in most of the Storm’s 40 unanswered points last week. Quite simply, the Broncos are many levels below the Rabbits and will be no match for a quality side playing in front of a home crowd.
Suggested bet: 1u Rabbitohs -21.5 at $1.90
New Zealand Warriors v Manly Sea Eagles
The Warriors will be disappointed they couldn’t get the win against an under-strength Roosters side and now face the struggling Manly side. Addin Fonua-Blake will miss through injury – a big loss for the Warriors, while Tom Trbojevic will miss another week after not being named in the Manly 21. The Warriors are leading the competition for completion rates but will be looking to translate this stat into points – and more victories – and will eye this clash as an opportunity to be more creative. It seems the perfect time to switch things up against the Sea Eagles who are lacking confidence and personnel, especially in the forward pack.
Suggested bet: 1.5u Warriors -7.5 at $1.95
Penrith Panthers v Canberra Raiders
Match of the round here with the undefeated Panthers hosting the Raiders. The Raiders bring in a number of quality players, with Joseph Tapine returning from an ankle injury and Josh Papalii resuming as a starter in the front row. The Raiders are yet to truly hit their straps but will be primed to make a statement away from home after a mediocre start to the season (despite being 3-1). Having conceded only 16 points all season, the Panthers defence holds the key. In this match last season the Penrith defence was stellar in its 24-0 first half, eventually holding the Raiders out 28-12. They should have too much class again, but not sure we’ll see a blowout.
Suggested bet: 2u Penrith win at $1.40
Gold Coast Titans v Newcastle Knights
The injury-decimated Knights will benefit from the return of Kalyn Ponga but will miss the likes of Mitchell Pearce, Kurt Mann, Tex Hoy and Jacob Saifiti. David Klemmer is also in doubt, but Connor Watson and Blake Green returning will be beneficial. For the Titans, Brian Kelly will return while there’s an injury cloud over Jamal Fogarty. The Titans were more than competitive during many stages of their loss to the Raiders and have won their past three when hosting the Knights. If they can’t score victory here, there’ll be big concerns about their finals’ credentials.
Suggested bet: 3u Titans win $1.34
Canterbury Bulldogs v Melbourne Storm
The hapless Bulldogs haven’t been able to trouble the scorers in four games of footy but will enjoy the return of key players Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, Jake Averillo, Josh Jackson and Luke Thompson. For the Storm Harry Grant and Brenko Lee are important inclusions after they wiped the floor against the Broncos. A lot depends on how the Bulldogs approach this clash: will they throw caution to the wind and take on a clearly superior opponent or take a cautious approach and try not to be blown out of the water? For that reason, I’m happy to sit back and watch this one.
No suggested bet.
Sydney Roosters v Cronulla Sharks
Jesse Ramien returns from suspension for a Sharks side which is showing signs of promise. They were clinical against the lowly Cowboys and are presented with the opportunity to topple an undermanned Roosters side. In past encounters the Sharks have never been fully blown away by the Roosters, and this time, the two sides wheel out very different sides. The Roosters are ripe for the picking and the Sharks can confirm their finals aspirations with an upset win.
Suggested bet: 1u Shark win at $3.10
Wests Tigers v Cowboys
The return of Cowboys skipper Jason Taumalolo is a huge plus for a North Queensland side desperate to show some pride after a dismal start to the season. Unfortunately for the Cowboys, they come up against a somewhat resurgent Tigers outfit which has shown more than a few glimpses of quality play and tried valiantly against the Eels last week. If the Tigers can put it all together, they’ll be way too good for the Cowboys.
Suggested bet: 2u Wests Tigers -9.5 at $1.90
Parramatta Eels v St George Illawarra Dragons
This shapes as a quality contest with a stern test for the rapidly improving Dragons up against the Eels at Bankwest. The Dragons have strung together three straight wins, but they’ve all been against lowly opponents. New Eels recruit Bryce Cartwright looks set to make his Eels NRL debut against the Dragons, while Ryan Matterson also looks set to return. This is a solid test for the Dragons progression, but not sure they’ll have enough firepower against the undefeated Eels.
No suggested bet