By Warren Anscombe @WarrenAnscombe
Newcastle vs NZ
Newcastle will be looking to put a horror 2014 behind them when they host the Warriors on Saturday afternoon in the Hunter.
The Knight have a poor overall record against their counterparts from across the ditch, having won just 12 of the past 28 meetings.
They will be buoyed by their recent success at this ground, having won their past 5 games here to end 2014, whilst their opponents won just one of their past 5 clashes.
Newcastle usually start the season well, having won 4 of their past 6 Round 1 games at home and 10 of 16 overall.
The same cannot be said for the Warriors, who have won just once in their last 8 Round 1 away games and 4 of their past 15 overall.
Furthermore the Warriors have not won a Round 1 match since 2009, and not won a Round 1 away match since 1999.
Given these factors I quite like the Knights here. I think they will look to put last season’s dramas behind them in the best way possible and give new coach Rick Stone a dream start.
Verdict: Newcastle Win at $1.80 with
Gold Coast vs Wests Tigers
It’s been an awful pre-season for the Titans, as off field issues threaten to derail their season before it has even started, however they get the chance to let their football do the talking when they host the youthful Wests Tigers outfit.
The Titans have a good record against the Tigers having won 5 of the past 8 encounters with them at this ground.
Unfortunately the Titans recent form at home has been horrible, winning just once at home during the 2014 season.
The Tigers form away from home last year was not much better losing their last 5, whilst they have also lost 4 of their past 5 Round 1 away clashes.
Both these sides are difficult to get a handle on at the moment and for that reason I’m not overly keen to get involved in this match.
Given the Titans dramas of late, I would expect the Tigers to win but the price is short enough so happy to look on.
Verdict: Wests Tigers Win, but not keen to get involved so bet advised.
Nth Qld vs Roosters
In what is shaping as the game of the round, the Roosters travel north to face the always dangerous North Queensland Cowboys on Saturday night.
The Roosters enjoy an excellent record against the Queenslanders, having won 8 of the past 13 at this ground and 17 of the past 26 clashes overall.
The Cowboys are also notorious slow starters, having won just 1 of their past 6 Round 1 home games and just 5 of 15 overall.
Conversely the Roosters have won 6 of their past 7 opening away fixtures and 11/16 overall.
I expect both these sides to have very good seasons this year and push for Top 4 honours, so this may well be the entrée for what is to come later in the year.
Jake Friend is a big out for the Roosters which makes me wary of tipping them outright, although the return of Blake Ferguson certainly boosts what was an already potent backline.
I think this will be a quality game throughout with plenty of lead changes along the way, so I’ll stick with the Tri Bet in what shapes as an exciting encounter.
Verdict: Tri Bet Either Team Under 6.5 Points at $2.90 with