Warriors v Manly Sea Eagles
Eden Park, 2:00pm NZ Time.
WARRIORS: Kevin Locke, Bill Tupou, Konrad Hurrell, Jerome Ropati, Manu Vatuvei, James Maloney, Shaun Johnson, Russell Packer, Nathan Friend, Ben Matulino, Feleti Mateo, Simon Mannering (c), Elijah Taylor. Interchange (from): Lewis Brown, Sione Lousi, Ben Henry, Ukuma Ta’ai, Glen Fisiiahi, Krisnan Inu, Alehana Mara.
SEA EAGLES: Brett Stewart, Michael Oldfield, Jamie Lyon, Steve Matai, David Williams, Kieran Foran, Daly Cherry-Evans, Jason King, Matt Ballin, Brent Kite, Anthony Watmough, Tony Williams, Glenn Stewart. Interchange (from): Jamie Buhrer, Vic Mauro, Darcy Lussick, George Rose, Jorge Taufua
It’s Round 1 yet the NRL have decided to give us the Grand Final replay immediately and I for one can’t wait. Many are tipping the Warriors to roll the Sea Eagles in this one but I can see the Manly side overcoming the disadvantage of playing an away game to pinch the 2 points here. I find it funny how a lot of people backed the Dragons on Friday night on the basis that just because Wayne Bennett isn’t the coach anymore, doesn’t mean the Wayne Bennett magic had left them. To me, it’s the same case here with the Sea Eagles. The team is about 90% the same as it was last year and it’s unlikely that the side will have suddenly forgot everything that Des Hasler has taught them in the last 9 years at the club.
Chance of winning: Warriors 46%, Sea Eagles 53%, Draw 1%
Mike’s Tip: Sea Eagles
Mike’s Best Bet: $53 on the Sea Eagles +4.5 @ $1.74 (Sportsbet)
Wests Tigers v Cronulla Sharks
Leichhardt Oval, 2:00pm
TIGERS: James Tedesco, Beau Ryan, Blake Ayshford, Chris Lawrence, Matt Utai, Benji Marshall, Tim Moltzen, Aaron Woods, Robbie Farah (c), Keith Galloway, Adam Blair, Gareth Ellis, Chris Heighington. Interchange: Liam Fulton, Matt Groat, Matt Bell, Tom Humble,
SHARKS: Nathan Gardner, Stewart Mills, Ben Pomeroy, Colin Best, Matthew Wright, Wade Graham, Todd Carney, Bryce Gibbs, Isaac De Gois, Ben Ross, Jeremy Smith, Anthony Tupou, Paul Gallen (c). Reserves (from): Andrew Fifita, Sam Tagataese, John Morris, Mark Taufua, Jayson Bukuya, Jon Green
THEY HAVE BEEN TOUTED AS THIS YEAR’S FAVOURITES by bookmakers and fans alike. And for those involved with the Tigers in any way, shape or form will know that there is no better way to kick off a premiership campaign than with a Sunday afternoon game at the beloved Leichhardt Oval.
The Tigers begin with a change in the halves yet again and Coach Tim Sheens has opted for a combo that has brought them some success in the past and that is the partnership of Benji Marshall (5/8th) and Tim Moltzen (Halfback). Personally, I’m surprised Sheens never stayed with this combo having tried it in 2010 and producing some victories with it. If Marshall and Moltzen can reproduce some of that same magic then the Tigers will be tough to beat today.
The Sharks have their own change in the halves thanks to the signing of Todd Carney. It looks like Carney will play halfback and Wade Graham will move to 5/8th. I’ve always been an advocate of Carney playing in the number 7 jersey and the move will be the basis of the Shark’s run into the top 8 whilst Captain Paul Gallen will control the forwards.
Two solid looking teams meet today and I’m expecting a close one here with the Tigers to just scrape home in a Leichhardt special.
Chance of winning: Tigers 56%, Bulldogs 43%, Draw 1%
Mike’s Tip: Tigers
Mike’s Best Bet: None
Starting Bank: $2000, Current Bank $2000
(Team lists sourced from nrl.com.au)