Sydney Roosters v Melbourne Storm
A blockbuster match-up kicks off round 16 with the Roosters hosting a white-hot Storm. After 12 straight wins, the high-rolling Storm will face one of their sterner tests in recent months. Amazingly, the unstoppable Storm have failed to hit 40 points just twice this year. As for the Roosters, this clash will be important for their top four hopes and they will be bolstered by the return of young gun Sam Walker. The Storm is likely to rest forwards Christian Welch and/or Felise Kaufusi, but the Bromwich brothers are able replacements. The Storm have won the last three encounters between these two – and two of them were demolition jobs. The line of two converted tries seems a little excessive, but I’m confident the Storm will still get the job done and grab the points.
Suggested bet – 2.5u Storm win at $1.29
New Zealand Warriors v St George Illawarra Dragons
Two sides clinging onto top eight hopes face off giving this Friday night clash a little extra importance. I still believe the Warriors have the better roster and most potential if they can put it all together (which continues to prove a big ‘if’). Mid-season recruits Dallin Watene-Zelezniak (wing) and Chad Townsend (halfback) have been hurried into the side while Roger Tuivasa-Sheck goes back to fullback in the absence of Reece Walsh (hamstring). Fullback Matt Dufty (shoulder) returns for the Dragons while suspended Mikaele Ravalawa is a loss for their try-scoring power. Tariq Sims, Ben Hunt and Andrew McCullough all came through Origin without incident and have been named to play. The Warriors have won just three of their past 11 but there’s been plenty of creditable performances and near misses among the defeats. Additionally, the Warriors have won their past five against the Dragons.
Suggested bet – 3u Warriors win at $1.74
Penrith Panthers v Parramatta Eels
After suffering consecutive Origin period losses, the Panthers returned to the winners’ circle last round with a convincing 28-point win over the Roosters. They now face the Eels, who come off three straight effortless wins, albeit against much lesser opponents. The Panthers enjoy playing here at BlueBet, winning their past 16 at the venue, including eight this season. The last time these two sides met, it was at BlueBet Stadium, and Penrith scored a 20-2 demolition. But the concern here is the loss of superstar Nathan Cleary who is set to miss the next month with a shoulder injury. Cleary’s influence in steering this side around in all parts can’t be underestimated. Try-scoring machine Maika Sivo returns for the Eels and will also pose problems for the Panthers defence. However, I don’t think the market has fully factored in Cleary’s omission, with the Eels surprising value.
Suggested bet – 1.5u Eels win at $2.50
Canterbury Bulldogs v Manly Sea Eagles
One of the bigger mismatches of the round with the Sea Eagles likely to be way too good for the Bulldogs. With only two wins all year, the Bulldogs shouldn’t pose any threat for the high-flying Manly outfit. Origin stars Tom Trbojevic and Daly Cherry-Evans ware likely to play for Manly, but Jake Trbojevic remains sidelined with a hip injury. The Sea Eagles have won five of their past six games against the Bulldogs and that should be extended here. The Bulldogs have lost their last seven here at Bankwest. Keeping this one pretty simple with the Sea Eagles likely to prove way too classy.
Suggested bet – 1.5u Manly -24.5 at $1.85
Canberra Raiders v Gold Coast Titans
An interesting clash here and an important one for these two sides’ finals aspirations. The Raiders have won seven of their last eight against the Titans, but they’re a side which has now lost eight of its past 10 this season. Similarly, the Titans have lost four straight and likewise, eight of its last 10. There’s no doubt both sides have the talent to play finals – and perhaps even shake things up if they make the eight – but now is the time they must chalk up wins. For the Raiders, veteran centre and co-captain Jarrod Croker (knee) returns for the first time since round seven and adds much-needed stability. While for the Titans, AJ Brimson and Kevin Proctor are big inclusions. David Fifita, Tino Fa’asuamaleaui and Moeaki Fotuaika are all named to back up from Origin II for the Titans. If The Titans can turn around their troublesome defence, they have the list to win this and start to turn things around for 2021.
Suggested bet – 1u Titans win at $2.85
Newcastle Knights v North Queensland Cowboys
Another important clash with two sides also vying to cement their top eight credentials. A key inclusion is Kalyn Ponga for the Knights, while Maroons trio Val Holmes, Kyle Feldt and Francis Molo have been included for the Cowboys. In a positive for the Knights, the home side has won this clash on the last seven occasions when these two sides have met. However, Newcastle only possess only a 4-4 record on home soil this season. They are also aiming for back-to-back wins at home for the first time all season. While the Knights have some key inclusions, I think the Cowboys will be competitive here and happy to back them with the head start.
Suggested bet – 1u Cowboys +6 at $1.90
Brisbane Broncos v Cronulla Sharks
After the unfathomable win over the Roosters only weeks ago, the Broncos have slipped back into a four-game losing streak. In all of the losses, they’ve been completely blown off the park with 28, 30, 18 and 46 point defeats. In contrast, they now take on a Sharks outfit with four consecutive wins on the board. Kotoni Staggs is a key inclusion for the Broncos, but it’s expected he’ll be ring-rusty, and with Xavier Coates out, it’s hard to see where they score points. The Sharks are enjoying this Origin period and go in largely unchanged. They should be too good here.
Suggested bet – 1.5u Sharks -8.5 at $1.85
Wests Tigers v South Sydney Rabbitohs
The West Tigers mid-season revival has been sapped by two straight losses against the powerhouse Melbourne and Paramatta sides in recent weeks. It doesn’t get any easier here against the Rabbitohs, whose five Origin players – Latrell Mitchell, Dane Gagai, Damien Cook, Jai Arrow and Cameron Murray – got through Sunday night without injury and have been named to start. Souths have won the past three clashes between these two sides, but they were all decided by slender margins. I think the line is a tad excessive here and the Tigers could be competitive.
Suggested bet – 0.5u Wests tigers +20 at $1.90