The NRL returns on Friday night after last week’s representative fixtures, with Brisbane hosting the injury ravaged Penrith Panthers.
Brisbane hold the superior advantage here having won 10 of the past 13 clashes at this ground, and will be boosted by the return of fullback Darius Boyd for this clash.
The last 3 matches here have recorded less than 35pts and with a winning margin of 1-12 on all those occasions, there is form to suggest this may be closer than the current market reflects.
The Broncos have won their past 3 games at home, whilst the Panthers have struggled on the road losing their past 3, so I’ll go with the home side to make it 4 in a row and continue their good start to the season.
The Sharks will be looking to continue their good record against the Warriors when they clash at Remondis Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The Sharks have won 10 of the past 13 here against the Warriors, including the last 3 straight.
They have also won 5 of the past 7 contests at all venues, and with NZ having won just once away from home this season, the Sharks will be confident of adding to this record.
Games between these two are generally low scoring with 5 of the past 8 here recording less than 40pts, so with a host of players backing up from Representative Duties, this is the angle we’ll play in what appears a tricky encounter to call.
Verdict: Total Match Points Under 40.5 at $1.90 with
North Qld vs Bulldogs
The Bulldogs play their first match of the season outside Sydney, when they travel to Far North Queensland to face the high flying Cowboys.
This venue has been kind to the Bulldogs in recent times, having won 9 of the past 12 clashes here against the Cowboys, including the past 3 straight.
These two generally play close hard fought matches, with the past 5 encounters here having a winning margin of 1-12pts.
In fact 10 of the past 12 encounters between these sides at all venues has resulted in a winning margin of 1-12pts, so it would be no surprise to see a repeat of this come Saturday night.
If you can find a market somewhere with either team to win by 1-12pts that looks a safe bet, otherwise we’ll go for a bit of extra value with the Tri Bet.
Verdict: Either Team to win by 1-12pts, or Tri Bet Either Team to win by 6pts or Less at $3.25 with
Manly vs Newcastle
Manly return home to Brookvale Oval on Sunday afternoon, when they do battle with the struggling Newcastle Knights.
Both these sides languish near the foot of the table and will be desperate to string a few wins together in order to get their season back on track.
Manly have a terrific record against the Knights, having won 7 of the past 8 matches against them at this ground.
The Sea Eagles have also won 10 of their past 11 home games against Newcastle, having won 8 straight and covering the Line on 7 of those occasions.
10 of the past 11 encounters have also seen a winning margin of 13pts or more, so don’t be surprised if a blowout was to occur.
Manly have been dealt a blow with the loss of five-eighth Kieran Foran, whilst Newcastle are sweating on the fitness of playmaker Jarrod Mullen who appears to be a week by week proposition these days.
With these injury concerns this game is harder to pick than a broken nose, so a small lean to a low scoring game especially if Mullen is declared a non-starter.
Verdict: Total Match Points Under 41.5 at $1.91 with
Parramatta vs Melbourne
Parramatta will be keen to turn around a poor last start performance when they host the Melbourne Storm at Parramatta Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
The Eels have enjoyed a fair degree of success here recently, having won 7 of the past 12 clashes against Melbourne at this ground, including 4 of the past 5.
9 of the past 12 encounters has seen a winning margin of 1-12pts, and with the last 4 games tallying 40pts or less, we could be in for another close tussle for most of the way.
Parramatta were very poor defensively in the 2nd half against the Gold Coast, and no doubt coach Brad Arthur would have had them on the tackling bags all week, so we’ll bank on their defence holding up this week and tip this to be a low scoring game.
Verdict: Total Match Points Under 43.5 at $1.91 with
Souths vs St George
Souths round out this week’s fixtures, when they host equal competition leaders St George at ANZ Stadium on Monday night.
The Dragons have been a revelation in recent weeks, with their defence propelling them up the table, whilst the Rabbitohs have struggled in the wake of a raft of injuries and will be keen to make amends in this one.
Despite having won 8 of the past 23 clashes overall, Souths enjoy the better recent record having won 4 of the past 5 encounters with the Dragons at all venues.
4 of those games have also tallied Under 40pts, so with Souths struggling for rhythm and St George’s defence holding firm, there’s every chance a repeat performance could be on the cards here.
There’s a few injury rumours circulating around this game, so come Monday the make-up of both sides could be drastically different which makes things tough to call.
That being said I keep expecting the Dragons to fall over and thus far they have failed to do so, however I think this is the game where they come unstuck, so I’ll tip Souths to bounce back although not with a great deal of confidence.