THE LONG HARD LOOK WITH MIKE WILSON
NRL ROUND 7 PREVIEW
St George Illawarra Dragons v Newcastle Knights
WIN Jubilee Oval, 7:35pm (local)
DRAGONS: Brett Morris, Daniel Vidot, Kyle Stanley, Matt Prior, Jason Nightingale, Jamie Soward, Ben Hornby, Dan Hunt, Mitch Rein, Michael Weyman, Beau Scott, Ben Creagh, Dean Young. Interchange: Nathan Fien, Jeremy Latimore, Trent Merrin, Jack De Belin
KNIGHTS: Darius Boyd, James McManus, Junior Sa’u, Timana Tahu, Akuila Uate, Jarrod Mullen, Tyrone Roberts, Kade Snowden, Danny Buderus (c), Richie Fa’aoso, Chris Houston, Zeb Taia, Neville Costigan. Interchange (from): Matt Hilder, Joel Edwards, Adam Cuthbertson, Alex McKinnon, Evarn Tuimavave
The Knights may have barely escaped with two points last week against the already labelled ‘cellar dwellars’ in the Parramatta Eels, but it was hardly what you would call an inspiring team performance. Individually however, halfback Jarrod Mullen put in a performance that had NSW selectors paying attention. We sat back and watched in Round 6 as Todd Carney and Jamie Soward went head to head in a bid to impress selectors for a spot in the NSW no. 6 jumper and in this clash Soward will go head to head with arguably his next biggest threat in Mullen. Along with the likes of Kade Snowden, Danny Buderus, Trent Merrin and Mick Weyman fighting it out in the front row for a potential NSW jumper; we are guaranteed to witness an intense battle here at WIN Jubilee Oval.
Let’s not forget that these two sides met in Round 1and that night we were treated to a Golden Point showdown. The Dragons however have appeared to show better, if only slight improvements compared to the Knights since round 1 and I’ll be behind them.
Chance of winning: Dragons 57%, Knights 42%, Draw 1%
Mike’s Tip: Dragons
Mike’s Suggested Bet: I’m expecting the Dragons to be better than their previous one-point win over the Knights. Dragons -4.0 @ $1.91 (Centrebet) looks pretty juicy.
Brisbane Broncos v Canberra Raiders
Suncorp Stadium, 7:35pm (local)
BRONCOS: Josh Hoffman, Gerard Beale, Jack Reed, Justin Hodges, Dale Copley, Corey Norman, Ben Hunt, Ben Hannant, Andrew McCullough, Petero Civoniceva, Alex Glenn, Sam Thaiday (c), Matt Gillett. Interchange: Kurt Baptiste, Josh McGuire, Corey Parker, Dunamis Lui
RAIDERS: Reece Robinson, Blake Ferguson, Jarrod Croker, Shaun Berrigan, Jack Wighton, Terry Campese (c), Josh McCrone, David Shillington, Glen Buttriss, Tom Learoyd-Lahrs, Joe Picker, Bronson Harrison, Josh Papalii. Interchange: Travis Waddell, Jarrad Kennedy, Sam Mataora, Dane Tilse
The action heads north to Brisbane as the Raiders look to secure a valuable away win which have seemed to allude them more often than not in the last 10 years. Now is the perfect time to strike with the Broncos having been weakened by injury and the judiciary. Halfback Peter Wallace is out with a groin injury and it looks like he will be replaced by Ben Hunt. Kurt Baptitse makes his way on to the bench for Hunt along with Dunamis Lui who will be replacing the suspended Ben Te’o. Despite all this potential adversity the bookies had instated the Broncos as favourites at the low price of $1.30 which has now lengthened to around $1.45.
The Raiders’ form has been up and down like a roller coaster; on their day they are hot but when they’re not, they’re really not.
If they decide to play their hot brand of footy they can easily grab the 2 points out from under the noses of a below strength Broncos’ outfit.
Chance of winning: Broncos 56%, Canberra 43%, Draw 1%
Mike’s Tip: Broncos
Mike’s Suggested Bet: The Broncos average win margin in 2012 is less than 10 points. Without halfback Peter Wallace generating points, take the Raiders +8.5 @ $1.72
Melbourne Storm v Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs
AAMI Park, 5:30pm (local)
STORM: Billy Slater, Matt Duffie, Dane Nielsen, Will Chambers, Justin O’Neill, Gareth Widdop, Cooper Cronk, Jesse Bromwich, Cameron Smith (c), Bryan Norrie, Kevin Proctor, Ryan Hoffman, Todd Lowrie. Interchange (from): Ryan Hinchcliffe, Rory Kostjasyn, Siosaia Vave, Jason Ryles, Anthony Quinn
BULLDOGS: Ben Barba, Steve Turner, Josh Morris, Jonathan Wright, Bryson Goodwin, Josh Reynolds, Kris Keating, Aiden Tolman, Michael Ennis, Sam Kasiano, Frank Pritchard, Dene Halatau, David Stagg. Interchange: James Graham, Greg Eastwood, Corey Payne, Joel Romelo
We’re only up to Round 7 of the competition and the Melbourne Storm, in an all too familiar scenario, are looking scarily invincible. Everyone knows that when the Storm are in form, they are even harder to defeat on their home turf. The Bulldogs have the unenviable task of doing so and are bringing their diminutive, yet electric fullback Ben Barba to take on the Prince of Melbourne, Billy Slater. I’d like to think that even those out there that aren’t Rugby League fans will tune into this match in anticipation of a mind blowing display of skill from the opposing fullbacks. Both are capable of scoring tries from anywhere on the field and it’s likely to happen at some stage with the pair scoring a combined 12 tries in the first 6 rounds!
Take out Slater and Barba and you’re left with a well oiled Storm side matching up with a Bulldogs team that maybe are starting to doubt themselves in certain areas. I’m backing the Storm but if the Bulldogs can finish the game within 10 points or better then there will be plenty of positives to take out of it.
Chance of winning: Storm 62%, Bulldogs 37%, Draw 1%
Mike’s Tip: Storm
Mike’s Suggested Bet: You can get around $2.00 for Ben Barba to score a try. A seemingly decent bet as Barba will be the ‘go to’ man as the Bulldogs will want to utilise their biggest attacking weapon against the best side in the comp.
Sydney Roosters v North Queensland Cowboys *UPDATED*
TIO Stadium, 7:00pm (local)
ROOSTERS: Anthony Minichiello, Justin Carney, Joseph ‘BJ’ Leilua, Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Sam Perrett, Braith Anasta, Mitchell Pearce, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Jake Friend, Martin Kennedy, Boyd Cordner, Mitchell Aubusson, Tinirau Arona. Interchange (from): Aidan Guerra, Lama Tasi, Brad Takairangi, Anthony Mitchell, Daniel Mortimer, Jack Bosden
COWBOYS: Matthew Bowen, Ashley Graham, Brent Tate, Antonio Winterstein, Kalifa Faifai Loa, Johnathan Thurston, Ray Thompson, Ashton Sims, Aaron Payne, James Tamou, Gavin Cooper, Glenn Hall, Dallas Johnson. Interchange (from): James Segeyaro, Scott Bolton, Ricky Thorby, Tariq Sims, Mosese Pangai
The NRL circus heads to Darwin with the Roosters taking on the Cowboys in what will most likely be some seriously humid conditions. The Cowboys have shown us a certain standard so far this year but last week they were really off their game, possibly capitulating in the second half.
The Roosters beat the Titans last week but were far from perfect themselves. I’m sure the focus of the teams efforts at training this week will be for the Roosters to work harder at playing out the full 80 minutes, a potentially sapping task in the Darwin heat.
The heat will prove to be an advantage for the Nth Qld.
Chance of winning: Roosters 49%, Cowboys 49%, Draw 1%
Mike’s Tip: Cowboys
Mike’s Suggested Bet: Take the ‘Overs’ option in Under/Over betting.
Manly Sea Eagles v Gold Coast Titans
Brookvale Oval, 7:30pm (local)
SEA EAGLES: Brett Stewart, Jorge Taufua, Jamie Lyon (c), Steve Matai, David Williams, Kieran Foran, Daly Cherry-Evans, Jason King (c), Matt Ballin, Brent Kite, Anthony Watmough, Jamie Buhrer, Vic Mauro. Interchange (from): Nick Skinner, Joe Galuvao, Darcy Lussick, Dean Whare, Daniel Harrison
TITANS: William Zillman, Kevin Gordon, Jamal Idris, Beau Champion, David Mead, Aidan Sezer, Scott Prince, Luke Bailey, Matt Srama, Luke Douglas, Nate Myles, Luke O’Dwyer, Ashley Harrison. Interchange (from): Matthew White, Michael Henderson, Mark Minichiello, Bodene Thompson, Jordan Rankin
The Sea Eagles celebrated their return to Brookvale Oval last week with an emphatic win over the Panthers to the tune of 30 points to nil. Manly are always hard to beat at ‘The Fortress’ and if the Titans don’t lift their game then they are destined to be the next team to find it out the hard way. The Titans had every opportunity to make a run at victory against the Roosters last week but small lapses in concentration cost them big time.
Manly have named Brett Stewart and Kieran Foran to return and with these two crucial game breaking players back in the side the Sea Eagles will be even harder to beat on their beloved home ground.
Chance of winning: Manly 57%, Titans 42%, Draw 1%
Mike’s Tip: Manly
Mike’s Suggested Bet: Manly should be too strong and a victory by 13+ will be the way to go if you are prepared to take the skinny odds of about $1.90.
Warriors v South Sydney Rabbitohs
Mt Smart Stadium, 2:00pm (local).
WARRIORS: Kevin Locke, Bill Tupou, Ben Henry, Jerome Ropati, Manu Vatuvei, James Maloney, Shaun Johnson, Sione Lousi, Nathan Friend, Ben Matulino, Feleti Mateo, Simon Mannering (c), Elijah Taylor. Interchange (from): Russell Packer, Ukuma Ta’Ai, Konrad Hurrell, Sam Rapira, Lewis Brown, John Palavi
RABBITOHS: Greg Inglis, Andrew Everingham, Matt King, Shaune Corrigan, Dylan Farrell, John Sutton, Adam Reynolds, Scott Geddes, Issac Luke, Dave Tyrrell, Eddy Pettybourne, Dave Taylor, Michael Crocker. Interchange (from): Ben Lowe, Chris McQueen, Jason Clark, Neccrom Areaiiti, Justin Hunt
Many had high hopes for the Warriors in 2012 but so far they have failed to live up to the hype. They took on an under strength Raiders side last week and were thoroughly smashed. The week before that it was an 18 point beating at the hands of the Roosters.
South Sydney’s last two performances have been at the other end of the spectrum with two good victories over the Bulldogs and the Tigers. Despite the glaring story being told by the form line of the last fortnight, I firmly believe that the home ground advantage and the backing of the home crowd will lift the Warriors to victory. The Warriors have beaten Souths in the last two match ups held at Mt. Smart Stadium and 3 of the last 4 overall.
Chance of winning: Warriors 51%, Rabbitohs 48%, Draw 1%
Mike’s Tip: Warriors
Mike’s Suggested Bet: I’m not hugely confident on the margin in this one but if I was betting I’d be taking the Warriors 1-12 @ around the $3 mark.
Cronulla Sharks v Parramatta Eels
Toyota Stadium, 2:00pm (local).
SHARKS: Matthew Wright, Stewart Mills, Ben Pomeroy, Colin Best, John Williams, Todd Carney, Jeff Robson, Bryce Gibbs, John Morris, Ben Ross, Jeremy Smith, Jayson Bukuya, Paul Gallen. Interchange (from): Andrew Fifita, Wade Graham, Jon Green, Sam Tagataese, Mark Taufua
EELS: Jarryd Hayne, Ken Sio, Esi Tonga, Willie Tonga, Cheyse Blair, Ben Roberts, Chris Sandow, Tim Mannah, Matthew Keating, Mitchell Allgood, Nathan Hindmarsh (c), Taniela Lasalo, Reni Maitua. Interchange: Casey McGuire, Fuifui Moimoi, Justin Poore, Joseph Paulo
Who can argue with the Shark’s recent run of results? The boys from Cronulla have racked up 4 wins on the trot and have barely put a foot wrong along the way. Their defence has been as solid as a rock and is clearly the reason that the Sharks have had such a great start to the season They have conceded only 77 points in 6 games, the best defensive score in the competition.
This week it’s Parramatta’s task to try and put points on the board against the Sharks but it might prove difficult considering the Eels have only scored 73 points in 6 rounds.
As long as the Sharks don’t let complacency creep into their game, they will be too strong for the Eels in front of a big home crowd.
Chance of winning: Sharks 61%, Eels 38%, Draw 1%
Mike’s Tip: Sharks
Mike’s Suggested Bet: I’m taking the Sharks to cover the line of -6.0 @ $1.91
Penrith Panthers v Wests Tigers
Centrebet Stadium, 3:00pm (local).
PANTHERS: Lachlan Coote, Etu Uaisele, Michael Jennings, Brad Tighe, David Simmons, Travis Burns, Luke Walsh, Sam Mckendry, Kevin Kingston, Dayne Weston, Cameron Ciraldo, Clint Newton, Luke Lewis (c). Interchange (from): Danny Galea, Mitch Achurch, Blake Austin, Ryan Simpkins, Matt Robinson
TIGERS: Tim Moltzen, Beau Ryan, Joel Reddy, Chris Lawrence, Lote Tuqiri, Benji Marshall, Tom Humble, Aaron Woods, Robbie Farah, Keith Galloway, Adam Blair, Liam Fulton, Matt Bell. Interchange: Blake Ayshford, Ben Murdoch-Masila, Ray Cashmere, Junior Moors
Ball handling and back to basics footy will be what the Panthers are aiming for this week after they did themselves no favours against Manly last week which saw their poor footy turn into a 30-0 shellacking. It’s crucial they get it right today because they are up against the Tigers who are extremely motivated to win having only won one game in the first 6 rounds.
That motivation is part of the reason I’ll be taking the Tigers this week. Despite losing, the Tigers have shown a lot of improvement in their last two games and I think this time, it will be their week.
Chance of winning: Tigers 55%, Panthers 44%, Draw 1%
Mike’s Tip: Tigers
Mike’s Suggested Bet: The Tigers have firmed to $1.55 with most bookies and it looks like pretty good value to me.
(Team lists sourced from nrl.com.au)