Penrith Panthers v Newcastle Knights
Penrith have won their past 12 games at this venue and are yet to taste defeat in 2021. While they only just limped past the improved Broncos last week, it may be the wake-up call they needed. The Knights come off landing win number two for the season beating the Sharks in a close one, relishing the return of Kalyn Ponga. If you take away the 54-10 drubbing two clashes ago, the Knights have a solid recent record against the Panthers. Penrith will also need to do reshuffling with loss of suspended Paul Momirovski, but Dylan Edwards and Api Koroisau are likely inclusions. Hymel Hunt on the sidelines for the Knights is a blow. This a difficult clash to assess, but I’m not sure we’ll see a blowout.
Suggested bet – 1u +16.5 Knights at $1.95
Gold Coast Titans v South Sydney Rabbitohs
The Titans were absolutely woeful last week against Manly and coach Justin Holbrook will be filthy. Essentially we’re betting on whether or not there is a response to such a low performance. They return home and come up against the Rabbitohs who only just snuck past the Tigers and are now without Latrell Mitchell. The Rabbits have won the past four encounters with the Titans, but the Gold Coast gets Anthony Don and likely Phillip Sami back in the side. When on song, the Titans have the firepower to break open sides (top three for line breaks and run metres). Another tough match to find a bet, but you have to side with the hot-and-cold Titans reversing last week’s result.
Suggested bets – 1u Titans win at $2.80 & 1u Titans +6.5 at $1.85
Parramatta Eels v Brisbane Broncos
A few key inclusions for both sides with Dylan Brown back for Parramatta and Brisbane getting Herbie Farnsworth, but this should be another victory for the Eels. Reed Mahoney and Mitch Moses are really hitting his straps for the Eels and should have too many tricks for the Broncos. The Eels are starting to find the consistency they have been searching for in past seasons and were impressive rolling the Raiders last week. They have big outside backs and speed in their forwards – a serious combination. The Eels have been going up to Darwin for many years now, winning five from six. They should further improve on that stat here. However, if you can trust Broncos can reproduce the performance they showed last week against the Panthers then the Eels might be made to work for it. The Broncos have also lost their past 12 away from home.
Suggested bet – 1u Eels -12.5 at $1.90
Cronulla Sharks v Canterbury Bulldogs
No real surprise the Dogs are long odds as they look for win number one of the season. Jack Hetherington out is another blow to their chances, however, Luke Thompson, Dylan Napa and possibly Lachlan Lewis returning are positives. The Sharks are rocky both on and off the field but Shaun Johnson returning adds some stability. While this looms as a danger game for the Sharks, it all depends how they respond to successive late-game defeats in recent weeks to the Roosters and Knights. Has the off-field noise strengthened or weakened their resolve? The Sharks have won six of their past seven against the Bulldogs, but I’m happy to let this game go through to the keeper.
No suggested bet
North Queensland Cowboys v Canberra Raiders
Canberra has a plethora of outs as they look to find some form and consistency with coach Ricky Stuart putting the entire squad on notice. Despite losses to better opposition in recent weeks, he’s rung in the changes, as well as making some forced changes through injury. Stuart will be looking a response – and the trip north to take on the Cowboys offers the opportunity for an improved performance. The weather could play a part here, with plenty of rain all week and more forecast gameday. They key here will be the Raiders leaky defence and how it stands up in likely soggy conditions. The Cowboys will take some confidence from last week’s win and expect they can keep things tight here at home.
Suggested bet – 1u Cowboys +9.5 at $1.90
Wests Tigers v Manly Sea Eagles
Tommy Turbo made a ripping return for Manly at Mudgee – and he was the difference in reversing the club’s woeful start to the season. The Tigers come off the crazy finish where they fell agonisingly short against the high-flying Rabbitohs. Will the glean of Tommy returning be taken off here? If it is, then the Tigers are a huge chance if they continue last week’s effort. I think the market has factored in too much of Manly’s one-off strong performance last week against what was an embarrassing Gold Coast effort.
Suggested bet – 1.5u Tigers +5.5 at $1.90
Sydney Roosters v St George Illawarra Dragons
This traditional Anzac Day fixture looms as a ripping clash. The Dragons come off a loss but have shown great resilience and cohesion in the early part of the season. While the Roosters looked sharp early on last week before Melbourne’s Harry Grant took control of the match. They will get the services of the competition’s leading try-scorer Brett Morris and Sam Verrills is back in the hooker role. The Roosters have won their past five against the Dragons, but the improvement of St George must be factored in as we approach this clash. While the Roosters were creditable for much of last week’s loss to the Storm they still have problems with their completion rates and too many missed tackles.
Suggested bet – 1.5u Dragons +6 at $2
Melbourne Storm v New Zealand Warriors
We’ve been able to land the Warriors as outsiders a couple of times this season, but they come into this clash with Melbourne decimated by injury. The Storm have their own injury worries with star Ryan Papenhuyzen sidelined. He is arguably the most influential player in the competition but Harry Grant’s performance last week when the side beat the roosters showed he is capable of stepping up to lead the side. I like the Warriors as a side but Melbourne have toppled them at their past five meetings. However, the last time they played out this Anzac Day fixture it was an agonisingly close loss (13-12). Tough betting match so we’ll stay out.
No suggested bet