THE LONG HARD LOOK WITH MIKE WILSON
NRL ROUND 8 PREVIEW
WEDNESDAY (Lest we forget….)
St George Illawarra Dragons v Sydney Roosters
Allianz Stadium, 4:00pm (local).
DRAGONS: Brett Morris, Daniel Vidot, Kyle Stanley, Matt Cooper, Jason Nightingale, Jamie Soward, Ben Hornby (c), Dan Hunt, Nathan Fien, Michael Weyman, Beau Scott, Ben Creagh, Dean Young. Interchange: Matt Prior, Jeremy Latimore, Trent Merrin, Jack De Belin, Josh Miller, Chase Stanley, Jake Marketo
ROOSTERS: Anthony Minichiello, Peni Tagive, Joseph ‘BJ’ Leilua, Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Sam Perrett, Braith Anasta (c), Mitchell Pearce, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Jake Friend, Martin Kennedy, Aidan Guerra, Mitchell Aubusson, Tinirau Arona. Interchange: Brad Takairangi, Lama Tasi, Mose Masoe, Jack Bosden
ANZAC DAY is upon us once again and as a proud country we celebrate this time of tradition by embracing the sports we love most.
The NRL’s tradition is to pit the Dragons against the Rooster each year and once again it looks as though we could be in for some solid competition. The energy amongst team individuals will be high as many players continue their campaigns to impress selectors into picking them for State of Origin duties for Game 1 at the end of May.
Rooster’s halfback and NSW incumbent Mitchell Pearce was solid in his recent City v Country outing but the selectors will be interested to see just how well he can steer the Roosters around the park after the team’s last outing resulted in a 50-12 drubbing at the hands of a merciless Cowboys side.
The Dragons are hot favourites to take out this match but nonetheless will need an improved attacking effort considering they have averaged just over 10 points per game in their last 3 outings.
Chance of winning: Dragons 58%, Roosters 41%, Draw 1%
Mike’s Tip: Dragons
Mike’s Suggested Bet: This should be a low scoring affair. Take the ‘Unders’ option in ‘Over/Under’ betting.
Melbourne Storm v New Zealand Warriors
AAMI Park, 7:00pm (local)
STORM: Billy Slater, Matt Duffie, Dane Nielsen, Will Chambers, Justin O’Neill, Gareth Widdop, Cooper Cronk, Jesse Bromwich, Cameron Smith, Bryan Norrie, Kevin Proctor, Ryan Hoffman, Todd Lowrie. Interchange (from): Ryan Hinchcliffe, Rory Kostjasyn, Siosaia Vave, Jason Ryles, Anthony Quinn
WARRIORS: Kevin Locke, Bill Tupou, Ben Henry, Krisnan Inu, Manu Vatuvei, James Maloney, Shaun Johnson, Sione Lousi, Nathan Friend, Ben Matulino, Feleti Mateo, Simon Mannering (c), Elijah Taylor. Interchange: Russell Packer, Ukuma Ta’Ai, Lewis Brown, Sam Rapira, Pita Godinet, Glen Fisiiahi
The New Zealand Warriors have definitely been the ‘bogey’ side of the Melbourne Storm for the last 5 years but I think they will be doing exceptionally well if they can make any sort of contest out of this match. They have been like little lost children when playing away from home this year and their only win on enemy territory was against the Eels which, let’s be frank, isn’t much to crow about. I feel that the Warriors are missing Jerome Ropati a bit more than they realise and his replacement, Krisnan Inu does nothing to endear himself to me.
If the Warriors are destined to be beaten today, I hope at least that they don’t capitulate and fight until the end otherwise the Storm will make sure that the score line will become embarrassing.
Storm to win, the question is, by how much?
Chance of winning: Storm 57%, Warriors 42%, Draw 1%
Mike’s Tip: Storm
Mike’s Suggested Bet: If you’re happy with the odds, you can grab the Storm to win at around $1.45 or take them to win by a converted try or more at around the $1.84 mark.
Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs v Manly Sea Eagles
ANZ Stadium, 7:35pm (local).
BULLDOGS: Ben Barba, Steve Turner, Josh Morris, Jono Wright, Bryson Goodwin, Josh Reynolds, Kris Keating, Aiden Tolman, Michael Ennis, Sam Kasiano, Frank Pritchard, Dene Halatau, David Stagg. Interchange (from): James Graham, Greg Eastwood, Corey Payne, Joel Romelo, Martin Taupau.
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, Glenn Stewart. Interchange (from): Joe Galuvao, Dean Whare, Nick Skinner, Vic Mauro, Daniel Harrison, Liam Foran
This is a match that has been eagerly anticipated since last year when Des Hasler coached the Sea Eagles to the 2011 premiership before promptly signing for the Canterbury Bulldogs for 2012. The champagne was still flowing when Hasler announced his decision to leave Manly which ultimately left many a Sea Eagles fan jaded. Current Manly coach and former teammate of Hasler’s, Geoff Toovey says there is absolutely no animosity between the two and that they still maintain a friendly relationship but I think many Manly fans feel a fair bit of hatred when the name ‘Hasler’ is mentioned.
Channel 9 commentator Andrew Voss said this week that one of the keys to beating the Bulldogs would be to shut down the amount of offloads they get away and I totally agree. Offloads and second phase plays have hurt Manly this year and that has been compounded by the fact that in some games they don’t produce many offloads of their own.
Manly have named key player Glen Stewart in the side and if he plays he could make all the difference.
Take out the Hasler v Toovey saga and this should be a great game on its own merits.
Chance of winning: Manly 49%, Bulldogs 49%, Draw 2%
Mike’s Tip: Manly
Mike’s Suggested Bet: You can get either team to win by 6.5 or under at around the $2.50 mark. For a bit of a novelty I’ll be having some dosh on Glen Stewart to nab man of the match on his return.
Brisbane Broncos v Gold Coast Titans
Suncorp Stadium, 7:35pm (local).
BRONCOS: Josh Hoffman, Gerard Beale, Jack Reed, Justin Hodges, Dale Copley, Corey Norman, Peter Wallace, Ben Hannant, Andrew McCullough, Petero Civoniceva, Alex Glenn, Sam Thaiday (c), Corey Parker. Interchange: Ben Hunt, Josh McGuire, Matt Gillett, Dunamis Lui
TITANS: William Zillman, Kevin Gordon, Jamal Idris, Dominique Peyroux, David Mead, Aidan Sezer, Scott Prince, Luke Bailey, Matt Srama, Luke Douglas, Greg Bird, Luke O’Dwyer, Nate Myles. Interchange (from): Matthew White, Michael Henderson, Mark Minichiello, Bodene Thompson, Phil Graham
The battle of south-east Queensland will be played out at the state’s spiritual home of Rugby League Suncorp Stadium.
Peter Wallace returns to the Bronco’s side which is a huge boost considering he has been playing some career best footy this year which has seen the Broncos sitting in second place on the ladder. The Broncos are on a 5 game winning streak at the moment and also a 5 game winning streak when it comes to playing the Titans.
The Titans showed some signs of great footy in Round 7 when they convincingly dispatched a heavily favoured Sea Eagles side. Aiden Sezer debuted for the club at 5/8th and was instrumental in the Titans 26-14 victory and will be the man everyone will be watching.
But, in front of a big home crowd I find it too hard to tip against the Broncos, but don’t expect them to have it all their own way.
Chance of winning: Broncos 57%, Titans 42%, Draw 1%
Mike’s Tip: Broncos
Mike’s Suggested Bet: In 6 of the 7 games that the Broncos have contested this year there has been a try scored in 8 minutes or less. You can get $1.72 on Centrebet that this will happen again.
South Sydney Rabbitohs v North Queensland Cowboys
ANZ Stadium, 7:30pm (local).
RABBITOHS: Greg Inglis, Andrew Everingham, Matt King, Dylan Farrell, Chris McQueen, John Sutton, Adam Reynolds, Scott Geddes, Issac Luke, Dave Tyrrell, Eddy Pettybourne, Dave Taylor, Michael Crocker. Interchange (from): Jason Clark, Ben Lowe, Neccrom Areaiiti, Josh Starling, Shaune Corrigan, Nathan Merritt.
COWBOYS: Matthew Bowen, Ashley Graham, Brent Tate, Antonio Winterstein, Kalifa Faifai Loa, Johnathan Thurston (c), Ray Thompson, Ashton Sims, Aaron Payne, James Tamou, Gavin Cooper, Tariq Sims, Dallas Johnson. Interchange: James Segeyaro, Glenn Hall, Ricky Thorby, Jason Taumalolo.
The Cowboys have racked up 4 wins from their last 6 games now and really appear to be hitting their straps. The Rabbitohs had given the impression they were doing likewise before copping a 44-22 beating in New Zealand at the hands of the Warriors in Round 7. The Rabbitohs will get a chance to redeem themselves on home soil making this a tough one to pick and the bookies agree having installed both teams at $1.90 early on in the betting.
South Sydney has won 6 of the last 7 matches against the Cowboys but the 2012 Cowboys line up for mine is a lot better than the team that has taken the field in the last 4 seasons and they have my backing in this one.
Chance of winning: Rabbitohs 49%, Cowboys 50%, Draw 1%
Mike’s Tip: Cowboys
Mike’s Suggested Bet: Take Matt Bowen to score a try at $1.75
Canberra Raiders v Cronulla Sharks
Canberra Stadium, 2:00pm (local).
RAIDERS: Reece Robinson, Blake Ferguson, Jarrod Croker, Shaun Berrigan, Jack Wighton, Josh Mccrone, Sam Williams, David Shillington (c), Glen Buttriss, Tom Learoyd-Lahrs, Josh Papalii, Bronson Harrison, Shaun Fensom. Interchange (from): Matt Mcilwrick, Joel Thompson, Sam Mataora, Dane Tilse, Joe Picker
SHARKS: Matthew Wright, Stewart Mills, Ben Pomeroy, Colin Best, John Williams, Todd Carney, Jeff Robson, Bryce Gibbs, Isaac De Gois, Ben Ross, Jeremy Smith, Jayson Bukuya, Paul Gallen. Interchange (from): Andrew Fifita, Wade Graham, John Morris, Sam Tagataese, Mark Taufua
Any team that has to travel to Canberra to play the Raiders should always be thankful when they get a day game as opposed to a freezing cold night game. It’s the Shark’s turn to head to the nation’s capital to take on the green machine and what better time to play the Raiders than when they are without arguably their best player Terry Campese. 21 year old Sam Williams will be brought back into the Raider’s side to replace Campese. Williams made his NRL debut against the Sharks in Round 1 last year because of a Campese injury and the critics were rather impressed with how the then Under 20’s halfback handled himself under pressure.
The Sharks are on a 5 game winning streak and have been playing some 1st class rugby league. 5/8th Todd Carney has been playing like a man trying to impress NSW selectors and it’s paying off for the Sharks who are looking like great value this week against a Canberra side without Campese and Dugan.
Chance of winning: Raiders 45%, Sharks 54%, Draw 1%
Mike’s Tip: Sharks
Mike’s Suggested Bet: The Sharks look like great value and Sporingbet are currently (as of 2:30pm 26/04/12) the only online bookies that have the Raiders as favourites and are offering us $1.95 on the Sharks. Keep an eye on Betfair because despite the Sharks being favourites amongst traders, their price has been fluctuating and at one stage reached $1.96
Parramatta Eels v Wests Tigers (Update*)
Parramatta Stadium, 3:00pm (local).
EELS: Jarryd Hayne, Ken Sio, Cheyse Blair, Willie Tonga, Luke Burt, Ben Roberts, Chris Sandow, Tim Mannah, Matthew Keating, Mitchell Allgood, Nathan Hindmarsh (C), Joseph Paulo, Reni Maitua. Interchange: Casey McGuire, Fuifui Moimoi, Justin Poore, Matt Ryan
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 (from): Blake Ayshford, Ben Murdoch-Masila, Matt Groat, Ray Cashmere
The Tigers finally notched up a win that they were so desperate for when they knocked the Panthers off by 30 points to nil. Without trying to put a dampener on the occasion, the Panthers were not what you would have called ‘quality opposition’.
Hooker Robbie Farah is still in the mix for an Origin jersey and a good performance here will be paramount not only to his chances of getting a Blue’s jersey, but also the chances of his team doing away with the struggling Eels.
The Eels appear to be in a bit of trouble losing their last two games after it was thought that they may have turned the corner after beating the Sea Eagles in emphatic fashion in round 5.
Luke Burt has returned to the side after playing for Wentworthville in the NSW cup and will add some much needed experience to the lineup.
*Chris Sandow has been dropped for this match to NSW Cup and will likely be replaced by Casey Maguire.
Chance of winning: Eels 45%, Tigers 54%, Draw 1%
Mike’s Tip: Tigers
Mike’s Suggested Bet: None
Newcastle Knights v Penrith Panthers
Hunter Stadium, 7:00pm (local).
KNIGHTS: Darius Boyd, James McManus, Wes Naiqama, Timana Tahu, Akuila Uate, Jarrod Mullen, Kurt Gidley, Kade Snowden, Danny Buderus, Evarn Tuimavave, Chris Houston, Zeb Taia, Neville Costigan. Interchange: Matt Hilder, Joel Edwards, Willie Mason, Alex McKinnon
PANTHERS: Lachlan Coote, David Simmons, Michael Jennings, Geoff Daniela, Brad Tighe, Blake Austin, Luke Walsh, Sam Mckendry, Travis Burns, Dayne Weston, Cameron Ciraldo, Danny Galea, Luke Lewis. Interchange: Ryan Simpkins, Chris Armit, Clint Newton, Matt Robinson
The Knights are short in betting this week thanks to the return of club stalwart Kurt Gidley from injury. But the man on everybody’s lips is one Willie Mason. Mason has made a well publicised return to the NRL for the first time in 2 years and everyone is waiting to see what the 32 year old has to offer Newcastle, and the NRL competition.
Both teams are desperate to find some form in this match. The Knights haven’t strung together consecutive wins this year and the Panthers are staring down the barrel of a 4th straight loss. Another statistic worth noting is that in their last 3 games the Panther have conceded 75 points and only scored 14. Based on that and Newcastle having the home ground advantage, it’s impossible for me to tip the Panthers.
Chance of winning: Knights 55%, Panthers 44%, Draw 1%
Mike’s Tip: Knights
Mike’s Suggested Bet: This should be a low scoring game and i’ll be taking the ‘Unders’ option in ‘Over/Under’ betting.
(Team lists sourced from nrl.com.au)