Brisbane Broncos v Penrith Panthers
A colossal mismatch to kick off round six, with undefeated grand finalists Penrith taking on a struggling Brisbane outfit. The Broncos have home ground advantage, but it will matter for little, such is the disparity in talent and cohesiveness between these two sides. The Panthers are the form side of 2021 – thrashing the Cowboys, Bulldogs and Sea Eagles before a tight win over reigning premiers Melbourne and finishing fast to dispose of Canberra last week. The biggest talking point in the lead-up to this clash has been the Broncos dumping Anthony Milford, with Brodie Croft in to replace the maligned five-eighth. An interesting stat is that while the Panthers won the last encounter between these two, prior to that the Broncos had won four straight. Sometimes stats mean nothing in isolation. Probably more relevant this season is that Brisbane have conceded almost 32 points on average across their four losses so far, while Penrith, have conceded just 26 points all season.
Suggested bet – 3u Penrith -27.5 at $1.85
Newcastle Knights v Cronulla Sharks
The Knights return home after copping a thrashing in Titans’ territory, but the local advantage hasn’t helped in two losses earlier this season to the Tigers and Dragons. While the Sharks will have to overcome enduring a tumultuous week off-field with coach John Morris getting the boot, they have won their past two against the Knights. The Knights however will be bolstered by three big names returning – Bradman Best, Kurt Mann and Jacob Saifiti. The Sharks welcome back Briton Nikora – a handy addition to the back row. While the Sharks are performing admirably against top echelon sides (despite struggling to record victories), they are hugely competitive against sides outside of the top eight. It does bodes well for a Sharks victory here, who will likely have some confidence after last week’s strong first half against the Roosters. However, the uncertainty of the coaching dilemma during the week has me leaning towards staying out of this one.
No suggested bet
Melbourne Storm v Sydney Roosters
A blockbuster Friday night clash with both sides coming off successive strong wins. Melbourne have won two of these past two encounters – the last in convincing fashion 24-6. They come into this clash unchanged, while the Roosters are aided by the return of Ben Marschke and Lindsay Collins. AAMI Park has been a graveyard for the Roosters, winning only one of their past four at the venue. The Storm should win this but are poison odds against a Roosters side which can’t yet be fully written off.
No suggested bet
Manly Sea Eagles v Gold Coast Titans
Interesting clash. The Sea Eagles will have renewed confidence after notching their first win of the season last week beating the Warriors and will be further assisted with the return of star fullback Tom Trbojevic. The Titans made a mess of the Knights last week and will be hoping to keep the ball rolling against a Sea Eagles side they have beaten in four of their past five encounters. The return of Trbojevic will not likely be enough to bring down a Titans side looking to keep momentum up.
Suggested bet – 1.5u Titans -6 at $1.85
South Sydney Rabbitohs v Wests Tigers
The Rabbitohs are absolutely flying with four wins in a row and host a Tigers outfit which allowed the Cowboys to notch their first win of the season last week. The Rabbits haven’t given up a single point in their past two clashes, albeit against the lowly Broncos and Dogs. They also get the addition of Cody Walker returning which spells trouble for a Tigers side already ranked 13 in the competition for defence. The Rabbits should have way too much firepower for a very medicore Tigers side.
Suggested bet – 1.5u Rabbitohs -18.5 at $1.85
Canberra Raiders v Parramatta Eels
Another blockbuster – and potentially even more exciting than the Storm v Roosters clash earlier this round. The Eels come off their first loss of the season, going down to the Dragons last week, while Canberra went down to the flying Penrith outfit. The Raiders will miss fullback Charnze Nicholl-Klokstad who continues to seemingly be underrated despite his work ethic around the park. Interestingly, the Raiders have kept the Eels tryless at this venue in the past two clashes between these two sides (also part of a 10-game winning streak here against Parramatta). The Eels will likely welcome back second-rower Ryan Matterson, but will miss Dylan Brown through suspension. Canberra should win this one, but without CNK I have some reservations, so will tread warily.
No suggested bet
St George Illawarra Dragons v New Zealand Warriors
The surprise packet Dragons are amidst a four-game winning streak but come up against a streaky Warriors which has proven capable of matching it with any side when on song. However, the Warriors have lost their past two – and will be scathing after last week’s unexpected loss to the Sea Eagles. The Warriors have won their past four against the Dragons and get some key inclusions with Peta Hiku and Bunty Afoa. While the Dragons are a resurgent side, their run won’t last forever and they are getting into short odds simply off the back of their winning streak.
Suggested bet – 1.5u Warriors win at $2.75
North Queensland Cowboys v Canterbury Bulldogs
Two lowly sides battle it out here, with the Bulldogs remaining winless and the Cowboys overcoming the Tigers last weekend to notch win number one for the season. The Cowboys welcome back skipper Jason Taumalolo and Justin O’Neill, while the Dogs lose Josh Jackson. Home ground advantage should also count for something for the Cowboys. Perhaps they are starting to gel after last week’s win against the Tigers.
Suggested bet – 1.5u Cowboys win at $1.50