THE LONG HARD LOOK WITH MIKE WILSON
Sea Eagles v Rabbitohs
Fri 14 Mar, 7:40pm, Bluetongue Stadium
Sea Eagles: Peta Hiku, Cheyse Blair, Jamie Lyon (c), Steve Matai, David Williams, Kieran Foran, Daly Cherry-Evans, Josh Starling, Matt Ballin, Brenton Lawrence, Anthony Watmough, Justin Horo, Glenn Stewart. Interchange: James Hasson, Dunamis Lui, Jamie Buhrer, Jason King, Jesse Sene-Lefao
The NRL makes its now regular early season visit to the Central Coast and Blue Tongue Stadium for the clash between two of last year’s qualifying finalists.
The Sea Eagles and Rabbitohs showed contrasting strains of form in round 1; The Sea Eagles were let down at the back end of their game when the forwards couldn’t muster up the endurance to roll forward whereas the Rabbitohs used the ‘bump and roll’ tactic all night long against the Roosters.
It’s the bench players that will have a large bearing on this match, particularly when it comes to helping their sides keep petrol in the tanks for the final 20 minutes of the game. This is where Manly came undone to an extent last week but it proved to be majorly beneficial to the Bunnies who ran in 20 points in the last half an hour of their round 1 clash thanks to having plenty of energy left at the back end of the game.
I’ve got the Rabbitohs rated $1.45 chances to beat the Sea Eagles and at the time of publishing this (11am AET 12/03/14) the Rabbitohs are available in head to head betting @ $1.54 with Pinnacle Sports.
I’ve grabbed my piece of that action already and I suggest you do as well.
I’m not interested in line betting against Manly as they are no doubt a quality side, but if it comes down to a close finish, the Rabbitohs have the advantage in the goal kicking stakes.
NOTE: For those punters who like to bet $100 or less per bet, you might like to take up Sportingbet’s offer where whichever side you bet on qualifies for a cash refund if your side scores 12 points but loses the match. The Rabbitohs H2H odds are shorter at $1.48 but you may feel this option suits you better.
Mike’s Tip: Rabbitohs
Mike’s Best Bet: http://www.aussportstipping.com/picks/mike_wilson/215/nrl/sea_eagles_vs_rabbitohs/
Broncos v Cowboys
Fri 14 Mar, 8:40pm, Suncorp Stadium
Broncos: Ben Barba, Daniel Vidot, Jack Reed, Dale Copley, Lachlan Maranta, Josh Hoffman, Ben Hunt, Josh McGuire, Andrew McCullough, Corey Parker (c), Alex Glenn , Sam Thaiday, Matt Gillett. Interchange: Ben Hannant, Martin Kennedy, Todd Lowrie, Jarrod Wallace, David Hala
The QLD derby takes place at the old Lang Park with both the Broncos and Cowboys coming into the local square off with round 1 wins in their pockets.
The Broncos upset the Bulldogs in Sydney last Friday with a gutsy display of stonewall defence that kept their opposition to just 12 points. The Bulldogs were certainly seen to be charging at the Broncos’ line several times throughout the 2nd half but lacked creativity, particularly on the last tackle. The Broncos kept them out nonetheless but will no doubt face a tougher offensive opponent this time around that will be lead by none other than Johnathan Thurston.
The Cowboys were extremely slow out of the blocks on Saturday night against the Raiders but once they found second gear it resulted in 28 points obtained with attacking flair, and the concession of just 6 more points which made plenty stand up and take notice.
To match the two sides based on Round 1 performances would suggest that the Cowboys have the better skill set to outscore the Broncos but one must take into account the potential for the Broncos halves to improve after being thrown together for the first time last week under NRL conditions. Not to mention that when the Broncos play at Suncorp it makes them about a try better off than in away games. These points bring the Broncos right back to the Cowboys in the overall assessment although I still have them slightly behind.
For tipping, I’m taking the Cowboys but I won’t be throwing up a best bet HOWEVER, for those interested, I would recommend using Sportingbet’s offer of a cash refund up to $100 if you back the Cowboys, and they score 12 points but lose the match. The Cowboys definitely have 12 points in them, even if it rains.
Mike’s Tip: Cowboys
Mike’s Casual Bet: Cowboys Head to Head @ $1.75 (Sportingbet)
Mike’s Best Bet: None
Warriors v Dragons
Sat 15 Mar, 3:00pm, Eden Park
Warriors: Sam Tomkins, Glen Fisiiahi, Dane Nielsen, Jerome Ropati, Manu Vatuvei, Chad Townsend, Shaun Johnson, Sam Rapira, Nathan Friend, Ben Matulino, Jayson Bukuya, Simon Mannering, John Palavi. Interchange: Jacob Lillyman, Suaia Matagi, Ben Henry, Feleti Mateo, Sione Lousi
Across the Tasman we go for the first time in the 2014 season and the first visitors to New Zealand will be the Ben Creagh led Dragons.
The Warriors fans would have expected their boys to return home after round one with two competition points in their back pocket, but instead had to watch on helplessly as they were taught a lesson by the Eels to the tune of 20 points.
The Warriors racked up 47 missed tackles for the game, which by no means was the worst performance from a side in round one. But the misses came at expensive times nonetheless and defensive structures would have been focused on very heavily by Coach Matt Elliott at training this week.
The Dragon’s round one fortune was the opposite to that of the Warriors; racking up a 20 point win over the Wests Tigers after getting off to a slow start. Gareth Widdop played his 5/8th role beautifully and silenced any doubters who thought he may struggle playing away from Melbourne and in particular, Smith, Cronk and Slater. He will have his work cut out for him this week, getting the side powering along on foreign soil where so many opponents manage to come unstuck.
The Dragon’s forwards will have to front up big time in this game if the Dragons are to have any chance of winning. They face a Warriors forward pack that has plenty of sizeable lads on the bench and ball skills as well.
I’m sure the Warriors will have used video sessions to focus on giving their opposition less piggy backs up the field on the back of weak penalties and shoring up their defence on the flanks.
It’s Warriors to win in front of the home crowd at Eden park and open their 2014 account.
Mike’s Tip: Warriors
Mike’s Casual Bet: Warriors @ $1.34 (Pinnacle Sports) could be a good addition to your multis.
Mike’s Best Bet: None
Storm v Panthers
Sat 15 Mar, 5:30pm, AAMI Park
Storm: Billy Slater, Sisa Waqa, Will Chambers, Mahe Fonua, Young Tonumaipea, Ben Hampton, Cooper Cronk, Jesse Bromwich, Cameron Smith (c), Bryan Norrie, Kevin Proctor, Ryan Hoffman, Ryan Hinchcliffe. Interchange: Kenny Bromwich, Tohu Harris, Jordan McLean, George Rose, Ben Roberts
The Storm return to AAMI Park to celebrate Billy Slater’s 250th NRL game and it goes without saying the rest of the team want to partake in a celebration of their own on the back of a home town victory. Celebrations of a different kind began earlier in the week for the Storm when Captain and future hall-of-famer Cam Smith signed on with the club for another 4 years.
Confidence levels will be soaring amongst the squad thanks to the side’s exciting come-from-behind, golden point win against the Sea Eagles at Brookvale Oval on Saturday night.
The emphatic win was shadowed by the reality that the Storm were left in Manly’s wake during the first half of the match and getting out of the blocks in a more rapid fashion would have been Coach Craig Bellamy’s foremost request at training this week.
The Panthers played a similar type of game against the Knights last week where they found themselves in a tough little arm wrestle before being able to break away in the second half and wrap up a 30-8 win. Whilst the margin was large, the Knights had to go most of the game without their hooker Kurt Gidley and in hot, fast track conditions it gave the Panthers a huge advantage.
That’s not to take anything away from players such as Plum, Taylor and Mansour who all put in gut busting performances.
One worrying statistic was the Panther’s 59 missed tackles; the second most by any club in round one. If they miss even close to that amount of tackles this time, the Storm, with halfback Cooper Cronk back in the side, will no doubt punish them.
But one must not forget that it was the Panthers who knocked off the Storm last year 12-10 when they were enourmous underdogs and Coach Ivan Cleary will certainly be reminding his troops just what they are capable of.
Regardless, I’ll be taking the Storm on their home ground in front of what will be a raucous Melbournian crowd cheering on Billy Slater in his 250th match.
Mike’s Tip: Storm
Mike’s Casual Bet: Storm H2H @ $1.33 (Sportsbet) could be a good addition to your multis.
Mike’s Best Bet: None
Roosters v Eels
Sat 15 Mar, 7:30pm, Allianz Stadium
Roosters: Anthony Minichiello, Daniel Tupou, Michael Jennings, Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, James Maloney, Mitchell Pearce, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Jake Friend, Sam Moa, Boyd Cordner, Mitchell Aubusson, Frank Paul Nuuausala. Interchange: Daniel Mortimer, Aidan Guerra, Remi Casty, Kane Evans, Dylan Napa, Sio Siua Taukeiaho
Shell shocked. That’s the best description I can come up with for the way the Roosters felt after getting steam rolled by the Rabbitohs last week in their round 1, season opener.
They managed just a single try for the whole game, against the run of play and were nowhere to be seen in the second half.
How the premiers bounce back this week will be interesting. Will they hit back with a vengeance and crush the Eels into the ground? Only time will tell but any Roosters’ fan would no doubt have confidence their boys can make amends for their 20 point loss.
The Roosters’ run at redemption will have to be made without Sonny Bill Williams who copped a 3 week suspension last week which now sees Mitch Aubusson slot into the starting 13 and Frenchman Remy Casty moving onto the bench to make his NRL debut. Casty is well aware that European imports that have come to the NRL in years before him have set a high standard and he should be fun to watch as he tries to make his mark in Australia.
There are no doubts that the Eels are going to have to work harder than they have in recent years if they are going to keep up with the Roosters.
The Eels wingers, Radradra and Toutai aren’t simply going to be invited over the try line like the Warriors seemed to do last week. The Roosters will need to keep a close eye on these two nonetheless as they did rack up 6 tries between themselves out of the 7 scored by Parramatta.
No harm will be done to the Roosters by keeping particular watch on second rower Manu Ma’u either. Ma’u clocked up an impressive 179 metres in his NRL debut and clearly has some talent for the Eels to resign him after just one appearance.
It’s hard to tip against the Roosters who look set to bounce back from last week’s disappointment, but it’s not really a game I would want to be going all out for in the betting stakes. The Roosters head to head odds look like a good option for beefing up your multibets.
Mike’s Tip: Roosters
Mike’s Casual Bet: Roosters H2H @ $1.29 (Bookmaker.com.au) should be a good addition to your multis.
Mike’s Best Bet: None
Titans v Tigers
Sun 16 Mar, 3:00pm, Robina Stadium
Titans: William Zillman, Kevin Gordon, Brad Tighe, Maurice Blair, David Mead, Aidan Sezer, Albert Kelly, Luke Douglas, Beau Falloon, Nate Myles, Greg Bird, Dave Taylor, Ashley Harrison. Interchange: Matt White, Luke Bailey, Mark Minichiello, Paul Carter, Ryan James
The Titans may have won in round one but I’m very hesitant to say they played well. Their 18 – 12 victory over a depleted Sharks line-up was hardly inspiring and the lack of creativity shown by the Titans inside their opposition 20 metre zone wasn’t anything to write home about.
Today they get the chance to try it all again back on the Gold Coast against a Wests Tigers outfit still licking their wounds after last week’s trouncing at the hands of the Dragons.
The Tigers shocked many when they ran out to an early lead before nodding off completely and conceding 44 points to lose by 20.
Tackling was the obvious weakness of the Tigers and by full-time they had missed 66 tackles which equated to the 44 points conceded. Young Luke Brooks, the Tiger’s halfback who had been hyped up by Tigers fans throughout the off season, notched up 13 missed tackles on his own and there’s no doubt the Titans would be aware of this and will be set to send plenty of heavy traffic his way in attack.
Conditions are set to be hot and dry and as a result we will probably see a high scoring match, but before you rush off and attack the ‘over/under’ betting, be warned the bookies have become a lot wiser to this type of bet and I wouldn’t be surprised if the line gets set at around 48.5 with some bookmakers.
The Titans are obvious favourites to win at home but bookies have them posted at around the $1.28 mark which hardly excites me into betting. Instead I would just recommend leaving this game alone as it will probably be fraught with unpredictability. If you must bet then I would recommend, as with two previous games this round, just taking the $1.28 as part of your multi if you have one going.
I’ll just be observing to see whether the Titans have fixed their attacking structures and how the Tigers fare defending their goal line against the powerful Titans forward pack.
Mike’s Tip: Titans
Mike’s Casual Bet: Add Titans H2H @ $1.28 (Bookmaker.com.au) to any multibets you may have running. But keep in mind these are two teams with poor from coming into the round and I think betting money would be better spent on a lottery ticket.
Mike’s Best Bet: None
Knights v Raiders
Sun 16 Mar, 6:30pm, Hunter Stadium
Knights: Kurt Gidley (c), James McManus, Dane Gagai, Joey Leilua, Aku Uate, Michael Dobson, Tyrone Roberts, Kade Snowden, Travis Waddell, Willie Mason, Beau Scott, Robbie Rochow, Jeremy Smith. Interchange: Alex McKinnon, Chris Houston, David Fa’alogo, Adam Cuthbertson, Matt Minto, Jake Mamo
A fair chunk of luck went against the Knights in their round 1 clash against the Panthers which left them sitting at the bottom of the ladder after losing by 22 points.
First half injuries to Darius Boyd and Kurt Gidley hurt the Knights, just as any team would suffer when losing their fullback and the first choice hooker to injury. The match was played on a fast Penrith track in hot conditions and the Knights’ injury toll left them struggling in the second half.
This week, Darius Boyd will remain on the sidelines with his hamstring on ice but Kurt Gidley returns and has been named as Boyd’s replacement at fullback with Travis Waddell to come off the bench and replace Gidley.
Halfback Tyrone Roberts was hurt late in the game but has been named to take his place on the field but it might pay to keep an eye on whether Coach Wayne Bennett opts to leave him out of the side at the last minute.
The Raiders are coming off a defeat as well after they were downed 28-22 in Nth Qld last week. The Raiders had shot out to a 16 point lead in less than 30 minutes however the wave of excitement that swept across the Canberra fans quickly dissipated when the Cowboys came back to eventually win by 6.
The signs were no doubt promising for the Raiders but it’s up to the players to build on it by maintaining their focus and not falling asleep either side of half time.
Again for this round, this is not a game I want to wager on. The Knights have formed a new combination to their spine which will have obvious question marks over it but they do hold a significant advantage when playing at home. Especially against a Raiders side that struggles when on the road.
So no bets for me, but if you must have a bet, perhaps the Knights 1-12 option is the best go, but personally I don’t see any value here.
Mike’s Tip: Knights
Mike’s Casual Bet: Knights 1-12 @ $3.00 (Sportingbet)
Mike’s Best Bet: None
Bulldogs v Sharks
Mon 17 Mar, 7:00pm, ANZ Stadium
Bulldogs: Sam Perrett, Mitch Brown, Josh Morris, Chase Stanley, Corey Thompson, Josh Reynolds, Trent Hodkinson, Aiden Tolman, Michael Ennis, James Graham, Frank Pritchard, Tony Williams, Dale Finucane. Interchange: Josh Jackson, Pat O’Hanlon, Tim Browne, David Klemmer
Sharks fans get another dose of Monday night footy, this time against the Bulldogs with both sides looking to open their 2014 account.
The Sharks suffered a major blow last week when Paul Gallen was forced to leave the field in the first half with a leg injury that has left him on the sidelines for up to 6 weeks. On a more positive note in the injury department, five eighth Todd Carney returns to the fray from a hamstring injury and he will no doubt inject some creativity into the Shark’s attacking raids. That creativity was nonexistent for them in their 18-12 loss to the Titans last week but with an injury riddled line up, they can be excused for that one. Expect them to be a lot more potent on the fringes this time around.
The Bulldogs were also 18 -12 losers in their opener to the 2014 season and like the Sharks their lack of creativity in their opposition 20 was a glaring weakness. But unlike the Sharks, they had no excuses and the halves really need to lift their act when attacking the defensive line instead of leaving it to Michael Ennis to try and barge over from dummy half over and over.
Sam Perrett was moved into the fullback role last week and with that game under his belt, he has probably gotten rid of any nerves he may have had playing out of position and is hopefully now ready to get a bit more involved in the attacking line like the good, modern day fullbacks do.
In betting, this is another game that doesn’t grab me in a big way; you have the Sharks on one hand from which we didn’t get to see any real indication of their genuine form in round 1 and the Bulldogs have yet to give us any idea if they have sorted out their attacking combos or not. I’ll happily tip the Bulldogs in any tipping comps but I have no desire to risk a wager on the $1.30 on offer for them to down the Sharks
Mike’s Tip: Bulldogs
Mike’s Best Bet: None
Mike’s Casual Bet: Bulldogs 1-12 @ $3.00 (Centrebet)