The following are previews with betting tips for Round 9 of the 2018 NRL season.
Broncos v Bulldogs
Thu, May 3, 7:50pm
The Bulldogs premiership campaign is quickly becoming a desperate endeavour after they surrendered a 10-point lead in a disappointing last-start loss to the Panthers. They will face another challenge against a Broncos outfit who look to be running themselves into form after a solid win over the in-form Rabbitohs last week.
Bulldogs’ coach Dean Pay has dropped veteran forward Greg Eastwood as Clay Priest joins the interchange in his club debut. The Broncos have pulled a surprise selection, naming hooker Andrew McCullough to return less than two weeks after he was ruled out with a four-six week elbow injury. McCullough will come into the side at hooker, but don’t be surprised if utility Todd Murphy takes his place before kick-off after he was included in the reserves.
The Broncos’ form will depend largely on their final squad. With McCullough set to return early, his injury could compromise Brisbane’s ruck with similar concerns over the inclusion of NRL rookie Todd Murphy. Despite this disruption, the Bulldogs have been struggling in attack and will need to improve vastly to trouble the Queenslander’s solid defensive form. There are a lot of variables to consider but expect Brisbane to get the win.
Betting Tip: Broncos -5.5 @ $1.88 (Unibet)
Knights v Rabbitohs
Fri, May 4, 6:00pm
Newcastle produced an encouraging win over Manly last week with stand-in pivot Jack Cogger performing admirably in the absence of Mitchell Pearce. The Novocastrians face a big test against a Rabbitohs outfit burning from their narrow last-start loss to the Broncos, with Anthony Siebold’s troops sure to enter the contest intent on dominating Newcastle’s smaller forward rotation.
With an injury to Richie Kennar, Souths have named Campbell Graham to join the side on the wing. Meanwhile, the Knights have named an unchanged squad following their win over the Sea Eagles.
Last week’s performance against Manly was a good sign for Newcastle after alarm bells were sounded with their halfback Mitchell Pearce set to watch from the side-lines for over two months. The Rabbitohs did not play poorly against Brisbane but the more mobile forward rotation of the Queenslander’s clearly gave them the advantage as fatigue become a factor in the late stages of the game. Newcastle will try to emulate this strategy, moving the massive Souths’ pack around the park. The Rabbitohs should focus on dominance in the ruck and will look to snatch the momentum in the contest from the outset. It could go either way but expect Souths’ size to work in their favour this week.
Betting Tip: Rabbitohs -4.5 @ $2.00 (Unibet)
Panthers v Cowboys
Fri, May 4, 7:50pm
The Cowboys’ form slump continued last week with a disappointing loss to the Raiders in Townsville. They will face tougher opposition against the Panthers this round after the Penrith club beat the Bulldogs despite a number of players sustaining injuries during the game. The 2017 grand-finalists will be turning to arithmetic to assess their finals chances after losing six of their opening eight games, while Penrith fans will be hoping the inevitable turnaround in form for the Queenslanders is deferred one more week.
Dylan Edwards has been ruled out for the season in a massive blow for Penrith as Tyrone Phillips joins the wing as cover. In more positive news, Peter Wallace returns at hooker at the expense of Wayde Egan. Despite their poor form, the Cowboys have named an unchanged squad for the clash.
Penrith will enter the contest as favourites but punters should be well aware – an end to the North Queenslanders’ form slump is inevitable. The Cowboys are struggling for confidence but could turn things around at any stage with a good performance. Penrith humbled their opposition in round four, so expect the Queenslanders to be highly motivated heading into the contest. It’s a tough one to call but expect a desperate performance from Paul Green’s troops to earn them a win.
Betting Tip: Cowboys H2H @ $2.02 (Palmerbet)
Raiders v Titans
Sat, May 5, 3:00pm
Both the Raiders and Titans have enormous potential but have produced inconsistent results so far in 2018. The Gold Coast will be desperate to avoid their fourth consecutive defeat after a solid performance in their field-goal loss to the Sharks last week. Their opposition in Canberra are starting to find form after winning two of their last three, but still have a long way to go.
A season ending injury to Morgan Boyle will see Ryan Simpkins return on the bench in the only change to the Titans’ squad. Meanwhile, Canberra have named an unchanged outfit after their last-start win over North Queensland.
The Raiders will enjoy their typically potent home-ground advantage as the club’s spine looks to be settling down. The Titans have no such luxury, with Bryce Cartwright retained in the unfamiliar five-eighth role. Canberra will enter the match as heavy favourites, but with both teams producing solid performances last week, do not be surprised if the Gold Coast produce an upset. Could go either way but expect the Raiders’ home-ground advantage to tip the balance in their favour.
Betting Tip: Total Match Points Over 44.5 @ $1.90 (William Hill)
Warriors v Tigers
Sat, May 5, 5:30pm
The Warriors bandwagon has stalled somewhat in recent weeks after disappointing losses to Brisbane and Melbourne. While they produced a very impressive win over the Dragons in round seven, the Kiwis will be eager to return to the winners’ circle after a massive 50-10 defeat last week. Their opposition in the Tigers have also seen a dip in their momentum with narrow losses to the Knights and Eels in their last two outings.
The Kiwis have named star trio Tohu Harris, Solomone Kata and Shaun Johnson to return in a massive boost for their club. James Gavet will join the bench in addition to Karl Lawton, who will make his club debut to cover the injured Jazz Tevaga. The Tigers have named Elijah Taylor to return at lock with Alex Twal also joining the interchange in an otherwise unchanged squad.
The Warriors will enter the contest as favourites and expect a big performance from the Kiwis as they look to bounce back from a 40-point loss last week. Despite some disappointing recent results, the New Zealand outfit have responded well after losing but the Tigers will be equally eager to avoid three consecutive losses themselves. It’s a tough one to call but expect the Warriors’ returning stars to boost them to victory.
Betting Tip: Tigers +5.5 @ $1.93 (Bet365)
Sharks v Eels
Sat, May 5, 7:30pm
After impressive victories over Manly and the Tigers, a resurgent Eels outfit face a big test against a Sharks’ squad searching for their third consecutive win. Cronulla have been inconsistent this year but could be returning to form with a gritty field-goal win over the Titans last round.
Sosaia Feki will join the Sharks’ wing as Valentine Holmes shifts to fullback to cover the injured Josh Dugan. Wade Graham is also set to return in the second-row in an otherwise unchanged squad. The Eels will welcome Tepai Moeroa back into their second-row to replace the injured Tony Williams after the giant back-rower was ruled out for the season with an ACL injury.
The Sharks will enter the contest as heavy favourites but with both typically high-achieving clubs desperate to turn their season around, it could go either way. A form reversal was always inevitable for the Eels with the talent within their roster and if halves Corey Norman and Mitchell Moses play to their potential, they should dominate a Cronulla outfit struggling to settle their spine. Expect the Eels to go one more for their third consecutive win.
Betting Tip: Eels Head to Head @ $2.22 (Bet365)
Dragons v Storm
Sun, May 6, 2:00pm
The mantle for the best team in the competition is up for grabs this Sunday night as the red-hot Dragons take on a dangerous looking Storm outfit. Despite an inconsistent start to the year, Melbourne flexed their muscles with a massive 50-10 win over a highly rated Warriors outfit last week, while the Dragons also impressed in a dominant performance against the Roosters.
The Dragons only change comes with Reece Robson included on the bench to make his NRL debut. The Storm will welcome back boom-winger Suliasi Vunivalu and NSW hopeful Dale Finucane on the wing and at lock respectively. Curtis Scott has also been named despite suffering an ankle injury last week.
Both teams boast strike across the park with superb forward rotations, in-form spine combinations and strike within their back-line. The competition-leading Dragons are the new kids on the block but expect Melbourne to give their opposition the respect they deserve with St George only losing one match this year. This one could go either way but expect the big-game experience within Storm’s 17 to prove the difference in what could be a sneak preview for several State of Origin hopefuls.
Betting Tip: Total Match Points Over 38.5 @ $1.91 (Ladbrokes)
Roosters v Sea Eagles
Sun, May 6, 4:10pm
An under-achieving Roosters outfit will face NRL battlers the Sea Eagles after the tri-colours produced a disappointing performance against the Dragons last week. Soundly beaten on the night, the typically high-achieving Roosters outfit will enter the contest hungry to re-establish themselves as competition heavyweights. Their opposition in Manly are struggling with only two wins from eight games with no end in sight to the off-field controversy plaguing the club.
The tri-colours have named an unchanged squad for the clash, while Manly will miss Lachlan Croker after the five-eighth suffered a season ending injury last week in a massive blow to the club. Dylan Walker will shift to the halves with Moses Suli named to make his club debut at centre. Frank Winterstein will also join the interchange for the Sea Eagles.
The Roosters will enter the match as heavy favourites with the poor form of their opposition. Trent Robinson will not be happy with his squad’s form, so expect an intense performance from the Chooks’. Manly have a number of exciting players but are struggling for cohesion with so many off-field distractions. Roosters to get the points.
Betting Tip: Roosters -10.5 @ $1.92 (Crownbet)
Cowboys H2H @ $2.02 (Palmerbet)
Eels Head to Head @ $2.22 (Bet365)