South Sydney Rabbitohs v Melbourne Storm
Both teams come into this off sustained winning form, but one side’s streak will be coming to an end in this Thursday night blockbuster. While the Rabbits will enjoy home ground advantage, they will be without key players Adam Reynolds, Cameron Murray, Jaxson Paulo and Campbell Graham – all forced out with injury. It means big changes for their backline. In contrast, Melbourne welcomes back George Jennings and Nelson Asofa-Solomona. Melbourne have a strangehold over the Rabbitohs in recent years, including a 26-18 win in round one this season. This dominance should continue, especially with South Sydney battling a significant injury toll.
Suggested bet – 1.5u Storm win at $1.34
Penrith Panthers v Cronulla Sharks
The Sharks showed plenty of promise early on this season, but haven’t handled off-field noise in recent weeks to lose their past four. It’s hard to see them snapping that losing streak against the high-flying Panthers. A plus for the Sharks is welcoming back Jesse Ramien, while the Panthers likely go into this unchanged if Kurt Capewell can prove his fitness. Despite a creditable overall record against the Panthers, the Sharks have been thrashed in their past two clashes. While I think the Panthers should win easily, they haven’t always completely put sides away in recent week. Instead they only do what’s needed to get the points. Despite this, I’m happy to have bet on the Panthers to cover the line as the Sharks lack try-scoring firepower which should assist in Penrith putting a gap in this one.
Suggested bet – 0.5u Panthers -18 at $1.90
Parramatta Eels v Sydney Roosters
The injury concerns continue to pile up for the Roosters with Brett Morris, Lindsay Collins and Sam Verrills now also on the sidelines. Despite such a lengthy injury toll, on paper this Sydney side still seems highly capable of mixing it with the top sides. They have been masking the personnel losses really well in recent weeks, but one would think it’ll be a tough ask for that to continue against a 7-1 Eels. But a plus for the Roosters is they have a strong record against the Eels. In fact, they haven’t won this clash in almost five years, scoring no more than 18 points and twice conceding more than 40 during what is a four-match losing streak. While many believe the Eels won’t get a better chance against a depleted Roosters side, the price for the Roosters is too large to resist. Let’s hope they can continue defying their wretched injury toll.
Suggested bet – 1u Roosters win at $2.50
Canberra Raiders v Newcastle Knights
Both sides come into this important clash off losses at home which took their records to 3-5. The pressure is particularly building on the under-performing Raiders with more off-field drama during the week. Both sides are likely to welcome back a raft of important players and it’s hard to give either team an edge in that department. Newcastle has a slight edge over the Raiders in recent clashes and arguably come into this off facing tougher opponents. The query is how the Knights respond to scoring only 10 points in their past two losses, but the Raiders’ flimsy defence offers an opportunity to pile on some points. However, if the Raiders can tidy up a few crucial areas, they showed enough in the first half of last week’s loss to the Rabbits to suggest they might just have enough class to get over the line here.
Suggested bet – 1.5u Raiders win at $1.48
Wests Tigers v Gold Coast Titans
The Tigers finally scored a much-deserved win when they upset the Dragons last week. They now face the Titans who have lost four of their past five, including a humiliating loss to the Broncos last round. It’s difficult to understand how the Titans are such short-priced favourites. They have all the talent in the world and are electric when on song, but they simply can’t be a betting prospect at that price due to their inconsistency. The Titans have won six of their past eight games against the Tigers and are aided by Tino Fa’asuamaleaui’s return, but I’m happy to stay right out of this game as a betting proposition.
No suggested bet
North Queensland Cowboys v Brisbane Broncos
Another really interesting clash with these two sides sitting near the bottom ladder, but showing minor glimpses of improvement. The Broncos pulled off a remarkable comeback to beat the Titans last week, while the Cowboys stormed home to almost snatch victory from the Warriors. The Cowboys have been forced to make a couple of changes but get Jake Clifford and Javid Bowen back. The Broncos go in unchanged and will be banking on the cohesion of halves pairing Tyson Gamble and Anthony Milford continuing to click. I think this is a toss of the coin match, so must have something on the Broncos at the price.
Suggested bet – 1u Broncos win at $2.40
Manly Sea Eagles v New Zealand Warriors
The Sea Eagles had their winning run halted with a reality check from Penrith. It will be interesting to see how they respond against the Warriors. Ironically, it was the nail-biting victory over the Warriors in round five which kick-started Manly’s winning run. Now they meet again, with Manly thrashing Wests Tigers and the Titans in between the admirable loss to Penrith. As for the Warriors, they continue to be plagued by inconsistency but have proven to be a side up to pushing for the top eight. An interesting stat is that the Warriors have won all four daytime games this season. This is another game I think is a 50-50 clash, so must side with the Warriors at the price.
Suggested bet – 1u Warriors win at $2.70
St George Illawarra Dragons v Canterbury Bulldogs
The Dragons have fallen in a hole after their solid start to the season and now stare down four straight losses if they succumb to a Bulldogs side which has shown in recent weeks they are capable of being competitive even against sides. The Bulldogs have also won seven of their past nine games at this venue and are also starting to play a more disciplined brand of footy recent weeks. I’m not so sure it’s enough for them to cause an upset, but I think they’ll be competitive.
Suggested bet – 0.5u Bulldogs +9.5 at $1.85