Round two of the NRL season dishes up a number of intriguing match-ups, with Sunday’s games posing the best betting opportunities. In round one, the top sides largely lived up to expectations, while it will be interesting to see the response from a number of under-pressure sides looking to bounce back and confirm they are genuine finals contenders.

Melbourne v Parramatta

Thursday 18/03/21

These two teams produced contrasting round one performances, with the Eels starting slowly before finding form late to beat the Broncos and the Storm flying out of the blocks before holding on for a win against the Rabbitohs.

To give some perspective, the Eels had to dig deep to beat the wooden spoon favourites, whereas the Storm were up against a genuine title contender.

The Storm’s early hard work afforded the opportunity to throttle down somewhat in the second half and ease to the line.

All of the stats here point to a Storm victory, with the reigning premiers holding a strong record against the Eels. Parramarra did beat the Storm here at Bankwest last year, but it was against a depleted Melbourne outfit.

Even without Cameron Smith, the Storm’s new spine already looks well gelled and their explosiveness in attack looks to have perhaps even lifted a touch. They remain the same clinical Storm outfit of recent years and should be accounting for the Eels here.

Rain in Sydney however is a factor and it’s not a huge surprise the line margin sits around the -6.0 mark for the Storm. Despite what will likely be a dour affair, the Storm should be able to put enough on the Eels to cover that try.

Suggested bet: 1 unit Melbourne Storm -6.0

Newcastle v New Zealand

Friday 19/03/21

Both sides kicked the season off with a victory last week against sides associated with a touch of hype.

It was hard not to be impressed by the Warriors clinical domination of the Titans.

While the Knights eventually toppled the Bulldogs in convincing fashiobn, with forwards Daniel Saifiti, David Klemmer and new recruit Tyson Frizzell proving they will cause many opposition headaches this season.

The strong 2020 form of the Warriors seems to have been built upon in the off-season and they appear destined for another finals berth. There was a lot to like in their composed and steady win against the Titans – perhaps a sign of an ever-maturing side.

Like the Knights, the Warriors have a solid forward pack, and with wet conditions, this should be where the game is decided.

While Newcastle are currently slight favourites in betting, the Warriors have won seven of the past 10 clashes between these sides and expect they can continue the strong form against the Knights.

Suggested bet: 1.5 units win New Zealand at $1.89 

Gold Coast v Brisbane

Friday 19/03/21

Both teams come into round two off tough losses, but you can certainly make a case for the Broncos being the more impressive in defeat.

The Broncos showed glimpses of improved form against Parramatta and were arguably a little unlucky to lose after a second half collapse.

In contrast, the much-hyped Titans were simply underwhelming against a clinical Warriors outfit.

It would be surprising if the new-look Titans didn’t hit back, however the Broncos signalled they may not be the pushover many were predicting in season 2021.

The Titans have won three of the last four encounters with the Broncos, but this is a game that could go either way. The odds tempt me into backing the Broncos, but they are simply not a betting proposition this early in the season.

No suggested bet

Bulldogs vs Panthers

Saturday 20/03/21

Penrith were impressive against a lowly Cowboys side to kick off the season – a performance which suggests they have another gear or two if needed.

An impressive second half helped shut out the Cowboys to win 24-0.

The Panthers also boast a 42-0 demolition over the Bulldogs in their last encounter, making it hard to envisage an upset here.

As for the Bulldogs, they come off a 32-16 loss, and while they looked capable in spurts, it wasn’t a performance which suggests they will be any match for the grand finalists and minor premiers.

Despite a likely soggy surface, I think Penrith will prove way too classy and a 3+ try victory won’t be out of reach.

Suggested bet – 0.5 unit on Panthers -15.5 pts at $1.95

Sea Eagles vs Rabbitohs

Saturday 20/03/21

An important early season clash with both teams having a point to prove after round one losses. In particular, the Sea Eagles will be looking to bounce back after a walloping from the Roosters (46-4), while the Rabbitohs were outclassed in the first half succumbing to the Storm 26-18.

The Rabbits will be stinging after their performance in Melbourne and have won four of the last five against Manly. It’s unlikely we’ll see a different result here and expect them to find their A-game against the Sea Eagles.

Admittedly, Manly are at home and they’ll also be looking to hit back after an unacceptable performance in round one, but the Rabbits should have too much firepower and cover the line.

Suggested bet – 1u on the Rabbitohs -8.5 at $1.90

Cowboys vs Dragons

Saturday 20/03/21

Another intriguing and pressure-filled early season clash for two sides with new coaches.

In round one, the Cowboys were no match for Penrith, while the Dragons showed glimpses in their loss to the Sharks. It will be interesting to see the response to last week’s first half benching of the Cowboys best forward, Jason Taumalolo.

The Cowboys are favourites and should be winning here, but happy to stay out with two largely average sides going head-to-head early in the season.

No suggested bet

Wests Tigers vs Roosters

Sunday 21/03/21

This is a game I’m keen to get involved in as the Tigers should be competitive against a Roosters side coming off an effortless round one win.

The Roosters demolished an average Manly outfit, while the Tigers were competitive for much of their clash with the Raiders. The Roosters’ win seems to have been somewhat overplayed in the market here, while the Tigers creditable effort in round one has been overlooked.

The Tigers will be looking for redemption after letting last week’s game get away late – and if they want to be ending their finals drought – they’ll be hungry for a better effort.

Happy to back the Tigers to cover the line at home.

If the Tigers can contain the Roosters, particularly the likes of try-scoring playmakers James Tedesco and Brett Morris, they should be in this contest for a long way.

Suggested bet – 2u Tigers +9.5 at $1.90

Sharks vs Raiders

Sunday 21/03/21

Another Sunday game I’m keen to get involved in with the Raiders sure to continue on from their big second half performance in round one.

The Sharks may have home ground advantage, but I’m concerned they had to search at many stages of the game to score the win against a struggling Dragons side.

With many of the view the Sharks are making up the numbers and not up to testing the top sides, it’s hard to see how they make a contest of this clash with the Raiders.

The Raiders have also won the past four against the Sharks.

Suggested bet – 3u Raiders to win at $1.43


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