THE LONG HARD LOOK WITH MIKE WILSON
NRL ROUND 18 PREVIEW
Wests Tigers v Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs
Allianz Stadium, 7:45pm (local).
TIGERS: Beau Ryan, Matt Utai, Blake Ayshford, Chris Lawrence, Lote Tuqiri, Curtis Sironen, Benji Marshall, Aaron Woods, Robbie Farah, Keith Galloway, Adam Blair, Liam Fulton, Chris Heighington. Interchange (from): Tom Humble, Ben Murdoch-Masila, Ray Cashmere, Matt Bell, Joel Reddy
BULLDOGS: Ben Barba Sam Perrett, Josh Morris, Krisnan Inu, Jonathan Wright, Josh Reynolds, Kris Keating, Aiden Tolman, Michael Ennis, Sam Kasiano, Frank Pritchard, Dene Halatau, Greg Eastwood. Interchange (from): James Graham, Dale Finucane, Corey Payne, David Stagg, Josh Jackson, Luke MacDougall
The Bulldogs have officially been established as competition heavy-weights after they were near flawless in beating ladder leaders the Melbourne Storm two weeks ago before their bye week.
This week they face the Wests Tigers who may be able to establish a message of their own if they can beat the second places Bulldogs in front of their home crowd.
The Tigers are also coming off the bye and will be fresh except for Robbie Farah who if he decides he is right to play, will be backing up from a stellar effort in Wednesday night’s State of Origin.
Bulldogs fullback Ben Barba will be the man to watch as he is in scintillating form at the moment and the way the game swings could quite possibly come down to whether or not the Tigers can effectively shut Barba down.
The Dogs have won 3 of the last 4 games against the Tigers and I’m tipping them on the back of their current 5 game winning streak against the Tigers’ two game losing streak to teams outside the Top 8 (Roosters and Knights).
Chance of winning: Bulldogs 63%, Tigers 36%, Draw 1%
Mike’s Tip: Bulldogs
Mike’s Suggested Bet: Bulldogs Head to Head @ $1.55 (Sportsbet)
Melbourne Storm v Canberra Raiders
AAMI Park, 5:30pm (local).
STORM: Gareth Widdop, Matt Duffie, Dane Nielsen, Justin O’Neill, Anthony Quinn, Maurice Blair, Cooper Cronk, Jesse Bromwich, Cameron Smith, Jason Ryles, Sika Manu, Ryan Hoffman, Todd Lowrie. Interchange (from): Ryan Hinchcliffe, Rory Kostjasyn, Bryan Norrie, Kevin Proctor, Siosaia Vave, Jaiman Lowe, Sisa Waqa
RAIDERS: Reece Robinson, Sandor Earl, Jarrod Croker, Blake Ferguson, Edrick Lee, Josh McCrone, Sam Williams, David Shillington, Travis Waddell, Dane Tilse, Josh Papalii, Joel Thompson, Shaun Fensom, Interchange (from): Matt McIlwrick, Joe Picker, Sam Mataora, Tom Learoyd-Lahrs, Mark Nicholls
The Canberra Raiders, in what is becoming somewhat of a tradition, put the Dragons to the sword at Canberra Stadium last week with a try in the dying minutes. Sorry Raiders fans but that’s where the good stuff ends. Despite their win, the method to it was slow and fairly simple and if applied against the wrong team, such as ladder leaders the Storm, could have some bad consequences. I’d expect a much closer game if it was played in the cold of Canberra but seeing as it’s in Melbourne, I’m contrarily expecting a decent sized margin in what could be a high scoring game.
The Raiders have only beaten the Storm once in matches played in Melbourne and have only ever beaten the Storm twice in 20 games. Coupled with the Raiders’ string of current injuries it’s easy for me to tip the Storm here.
Chance of winning: Storm 75%, Raiders 24%, Draw 1%
Mike’s Tip: Storm
Mike’s Suggested Bet: Half Time/Full Time – Storm/Storm @ $1.55 (Centrebet)
Gold Coast Titans v Warriors
Skilled Park, 7:30pm (local).
TITANS: William Zillman, Kevin Gordon, Jamal Idris, Beau Champion, David Mead, Aidan Sezer, Scott Prince, Luke Bailey, Matt Srama, Luke Douglas, Greg Bird, Mark Minichiello, Nate Myles. Interchange: Matt White, Brenton Lawrence, Ben Ridge, Luke O’Dwyer
WARRIORS: Kevin Locke, Bill Tupou, Ben Henry, Konrad Hurrell, Omar Slaimankhel, James Maloney, Shaun Johnson, Russell Packer, Nathan Friend, Ben Matulino, Feleti Mateo, Simon Mannering, Elijah Taylor. Interchange: Lewis Brown, Sione Lousi, Jacob Lillyman, Steve Rapira
The Titans have had a week off and will be raring to go after recently having found a dose of mid season form and racking up 4 wins from their past 6 games. This week they go up against a Warriors side that is coming off a win against a depleted Cowboys side, but were hardly convincing whilst collecting the win.
The Warriors have seemingly failed to fire like many expected (not this long hard looker!) and are rarely playing out a full 80 minutes in any given game. Their 2012 style of play has netted them 7 wins and sees them sit in 9th on the ladder and if they choose to play some lackadaisical footy this week then I think the Titans will be good enough to win and therefore represent some solid value in betting.
The Titans having the home ground advantage assists my choice even more and I’ll be going right for the Titans at the chosen line of +2.5.
Chance of winning: Titans 55%, Warriors 44%, Draw 1%
Mike’s Tip: Titans
Mike’s Suggested Bet: Titans +2.5 @ $1.93 (Centrebet)
South Sydney Rabbitohs v Newcastle Knights
ANZ Stadium, 2:00pm (local).
RABBITOHS: Greg Inglis, Nathan Merritt, Andrew Everingham, Dylan Farrell, Justin Hunt, JohnSutton, Adam Reynolds, Luke Burgess, Issac Luke, Sam Burgess, Chris McQueen,Dave Taylor, Michael Croker. Interchange (from): Jason Clark, Dave Tyrrell, BenLowe, Nathan Peats, George Burgess, Shaune Corrigan
KNIGHTS: Darius Boyd, James McManus, Dane Gagai, Timana Tahu, Akuila Uate, Jarrod Mullen, Tyrone Roberts, Zeb Taia, Danny Buderus, Willie Mason, Chris Houston, Joel Edwards, Neville Costigan. Interchange (from): Chris Adams, Zane Tetevano, Adam Cuthbertson, Alex McKinnon, Kyle O’Donnell
David Taylor was the name on everybody’s lips after he pulled out a brilliant performance against the Panthers last week following his axing from the QLD State of Origin side. This week Taylor and the rest of the Rabbitohs will be rejoined by QLD hero Greg Inglis as they continue their quest for a top four position on the ladder. In their way are the Newcastle Knights who have won their last two games which is the first time this year they have won consecutive matches.
Despite their two recent wins, the Knights have to face the fact that they are still quite some way from playing a brand of footy that would see them make the finals and have a lot of improving to do. Whilst Souths have their own amount of improving to do, I wouldn’t want to be up against them in a team trying to find its own feet.
Souths are at very short odds here so the value bet will have to come from somewhere else and 13+ looks to be the way to go.
Chance of winning: Rabbitohs 61%, Knights 38%, Draw 1%
Mike’s Tip: Rabbitohs
Mike’s Suggested Bet: Souths 13+ @ $2.15 (Sportsbet)
Manly Sea Eagles v Parramatta Eels
Brookvale Oval, 3:00pm (local).
SEA EAGLES: Brett Stewart, Jorge Taufua, 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, Joe Galuvao, Darcy Lussick, George Rose, Vic Mauro, Daniel Harrison, Dean Whare
EELS: Jarryd Hayne, Luke Burt, Cheyse Blair, Ryan Morgan, Ken Sio, Luke Kelly, Chris Sandow, Tim Mannah, Matt Keating, Justin Poore, Nathan Hindmarsh, Matthew Ryan, Ben Smith. Interchange (from): Joseph Paulo, Fuifui Moimoi, Mitchell Allgood, Reni Maitua, Willie Tonga
The two old foes from the 80’s match up in a classic edition of Sunday afternoon footy.
Manly are slowly but surely improving from game to game whilst the Eels continue to flounder at the bottom of the table. It would be easy for me to write about how well the Sea Eagles are doing in 2012 compared to how poorly the Eels are travelling, but one must keep in mind that the Eels did actually beat Manly fairly convincingly by 29-20 back in Round 5 this year.
But alas, unless a severe virus or some other miracle sees Manly lose half of its team, Ill have to tip them to dispose of the Eels in front of their home crowd.
The Sea Eagle’s State of Origin stars are returning to the fray which includes Brett Stewart who has an impressive try scoring record when playing at Brookvale oval.
Chance of winning: Sea Eagles 70%, Eels 29%, Draw 1%
Mike’s Tip: Sea Eagles
Mike’s Suggested Bet: Brett Stewart to score a try @ $1.80 (Sportsbet)
Cronulla Sharks v Sydney Roosters
Toyota Stadium, 7:00pm (local).
SHARKS: Matthew Wright, Isaac Gordon, Ben Pomeroy, Colin Best, Nathan Stapleton, Todd Carney, Jeff Robson, Bryce Gibbs, Isaac De Gois, Ben Ross, Wade Graham, Jayson Bukuya, Paul Gallen. Interchange (from): Andrew Fifita, Tyson Frizell, John Morris, Mark Taufua, Jon Green, Anthony Tupou
ROOSTERS: Anthony Minichiello, Joseph ‘BJ’ Leilua, Mitchell Aubusson, Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Tautau Moga, Braith Anasta, Mitchell Pearce, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Jake Friend, Martin Kennedy, Aidan Guerra, Boyd Cordner, Frank Paul Nuuausala. Interchange: Daniel Mortimer, Tinirau Arona, Lama Tasi, Mose Masoe
It’s a big opportunity being presented to the Sharks after the Melbourne Storm stumbled to a 40-12 loss against the unfancied Raiders on Saturday night. If the Sharks can win this one against the Roosters they will be sitting just 2 points away from the top of the ladder; a position that only few would have predicted pre-season.
The Roosters could be facing a make or break game here as they are now 2 wins behind the top 8 with 9 rounds left in the season. A win here revives their premiership campaign and could provide them with the much needed confidence they have been missing throughout the season.
With Carney and Gallen back on board for the Sharks I don’t fancy the Roosters a hell of a lot and will be happy to take the Sharks at the head to head odds.
Chance of winning: Sharks 56%, Roosters 43%, Draw 1%
Mike’s Tip: Sharks
Mike’s Suggested Bet: Sharks Head to Head @ $1.52 (Sportingbet)