Brisbane Broncos v Melbourne Storm
The Broncos have home ground advantage as they look to back up their shock win over the Roosters with victory against the Storm. In the Broncos’ favour is they meet a Storm side still far from full strength, with Ryan Papenhuyzen, Cameron Munster, Jahrome Hughes, Harry Grant and now Christian Welch all out. However, the problem for the Broncos is that the undermanned Storm still managed to put on 34 unanswered points against Canberra last weekend. Add to this, the Storm have dominated recent meetings with the Broncos, winning the past nine in a row. The last time the Broncos beat the Storm at Suncorp Stadium was in March 2009. Recent performances weigh heavily in favour of the Storm, but it’s hard to ignore their severe lack of personnel and the Broncos side should be playing with some newfound confidence.
Suggested bet – 1u Broncos +20.5 at $1.90
North Queensland Cowboys v New Zealand Warriors
Both teams face off in this clash with momentum after the Cowboys scored a 16-point win over the Knights and the Warriors took a 14-point victory over the Wests Tigers. Only a month ago these two sides faced off at Central Coast Stadium with the Warriors taking the points 24-20 win. It was a very even contest, with the Warriors’ precision kicking proving the difference. The suspension of Jason Taumalolo will hurt the Cowboys and makes it difficult to see them turning the tables, despite gunning for their fifth straight win at home this season. While I’m a big fan of the Warriors this season, they are still marred by inconsistency and are yet to win two games in a row this season. It’s hard to back them as the market elects in this one.
No suggested bet
Wests Tigers v St George Illawarra Dragons
These two sides come into this clash after both let victory slip in the late stages last week. The Wests Tigers led the Warriors with less than 20 minutes to go and the Dragons fell to the Sharks in extra time. James Roberts is back for the Tigers while the Dragons have Tariq Sims return and Gerard Beale makes his debut. Those two inclusions still can’t mask the lengthy list of outs for the Dragons, making them ripe for the Tigers’ picking. The Dragons have also now lost five of their past six, while the Tigers are showing glimpses of form which could press for a top eight spot. In addition, the Tigers won this clash 16-8 only a few weeks ago. A lot of things point to a Tigers win, but the price is skinny against a Dragons side which surely isn’t too far off them, even with personnel issues. It’s a big ‘if’, but if the Dragons can rectify their standing as the worst in the NRL for missed tackles then they should be competitive here.
Suggested bet – 0.5 u Dragons win at $2.55
Penrith Panthers v Canterbury Bulldogs
A monumental mismatch, with the unbeaten Penrith firing on all cylinders after a 56-0 demolition of the Rabbitohs. While the Bulldogs are 1-10, they’ve shown glimpses of improvement in recent weeks losing by only 10 points away to the Gold Coast and then a 2-point loss to Canberra. These two sides clashed earlier this year with Penrith prevailing 28-0 and the line this time is a little higher. The stats point in favour of Penrith handling the jump in points to cover, having covered the line in each of their last five home games against Canterbury. Given this is a Saturday afternoon game, it’s hard to see Penrith not putting a barrage of points on the Dogs.
Suggested bet – 0.5u Penrith -35.5 at $1.90
South Sydney Rabbitohs v Parramatta Eels
Interesting to see how these two premiership hopefuls hit back after two demoralising losses last round. The Rabbits were embarrassed by the Storm (following up a similar thumping to Penrith a few weeks earlier), while the Eels fell to Manly 28-6. For the Rabbitohs, Cameron Murray and Jacob Host return from injury and bolster a side with an already strong record against the Eels. I think we can draw a positive from the Rabbitohs only losing to the Storm and Panthers in 2021, but it also should give an insight as to whether the Eels are up to those two sides and a genuine premiership contender. This is basically a test of which side responds best to their woeful showing last week, but there is mounting evidence to suggest the Rabbits are the most likely winners of this clash.
Suggested bet – 1u Rabbitohs win at $1.68
Sydney Roosters v Canberra Raiders
Another clash featuring two sides coming off big losses, with the Roosters embarrassed by the Broncos and the Raiders falling 34-0 to the Storm. There’s been more off-field drama for the Raiders with George Williams granted an immediate release to return home. There’s also been some distractions of a different kind for the Roosters with Victor Radley and Angus Crichton in the headlines during the week for copping big suspensions. While it’s another blow for a Roosters side with serious personnel issues, they’ve proven capable of overcoming these injury and suspension woes and are somehow still in the hunt for a top four spot. However, the question must be raised on whether last week’s shock loss to the Broncos was a sign of the Roosters finally succumbing to this pressure. I must say the Roosters have come up amazingly short here, especially given the Raiders welcome back key players such as five-eighth Jack Wighton, hooker Josh Hodgson and winger Jordan Rapana. It’s still a serious concern that the Raiders have conceded 171 points in their past six games to the Roosters 115, but they are still such a massive price given their quality inclusions.
Suggested bets – 1u Raiders win at $3.75 and 1u Raiders +11.5 at $1.95
Cronulla Sharks v Gold Coast Titans
David Fifita’s return from suspension is key here for the Titans who come into this after a less-than-convincing 30-20 win at home over the Bulldogs last week. While Fiftia is a big inclusion, the Titans will have to reverse past performances between these two sides, losing their past five meetings with the Sharks. The Sharks will also have a bit of confidence after last week’s tense overtime win against the Dragons. However, I’m banking on Fifita’s return giving the Titans too much firepower as they look to build on their standing as the fifth-best in the competition for try-scoring (45). In contrast, the Sharks are struggling in attack with only 33 tries to be in 13th spot in the comp. There’s also some reshuffling for the Sharks with Mawene Hiroti, Josh Dugan and Teig Wilton all suspended and Ronaldo Mulitalo, Siosifa Talakai and Jesse Ramien making returns. This is a game the Titans must be winning to be considered genuine finals contenders.
Suggested bet – 1.5u Titans -2.5 at $1.90
Newcastle Knights v Manly Sea Eagles
It’s hard not to believe the Sea Eagles are the real deal after they wiped the Eels last week. They’ve now won six of their last seven, only losing to the Panthers in that period. While the Knights have only won twice in the past nine matches and are a team seemingly on a sustained downward spiral after losses to the Cowboys and Tigers in recent weeks. But there is help on its way with the inclusions of gun fullback Kalyn Ponga and centre Bradman Best. These two are a huge boost for the Knights as they look to upset a flying Manly side further bolstered by the return of Curtis Sironen. The Sea Eagles are short enough given the big ins for the Knights who should be more competitive with their star duo back in the side.
Suggested bet – 0.5u Knights +11.5 at $1.90