THE LONG HARD LOOK WITH MIKE WILSON
Panthers v Rabbitohs
Fri 11 Apr, 7:40pm, Centrebet Stadium
Panthers: Matt Moylan, Dallin Watene Zelezniak, Dean Whare, Jamal Idris, Josh Mansour, Jamie Soward, Peter Wallace, Sam McKendry, Kevin Kingston, Tim Grant, Sika Manu, Elijah Taylor, Adam Docker. Interchange: James Segeyaro, Jeremy Latimore, Lewis Brown, Nigel Plum, Isaah Yeo
After his team hit a sudden slump in Rounds 3 and 4, Rabbitohs coach Michael Maguire broke the emergency glass and pulled out his 2013 line up and the results were instantaneous in Round 5.
Once the refreshed line up was in place, the Rabbitohs took the field and resorted to the same game plan that saw them steamroll the Roosters in Round 1 and have seemingly put their premiership campaign back on track.
In a huge first half effort, the Rabbitohs left their opponents with no answers and the accomplishment was made more impressive by the fact that they were running into a decent head wind.
For this week, Coach Maguire has named an unchanged starting 13 from last week with an extended bench and it’s a proven recipe for success. Stand in hooker Apisai Koroisau will be better for the two runs and has shown an enthusiasm that may have been missing from Isaac Luke’s game in the first few weeks. If anything, Koroisau needs to settle down a bit and take a few deep breaths.
The Panthers also notched up a win last week when they were confronted by a Canberra Raiders side that had them playing right down to the wire in wet conditions. They showed plenty of fight to hold out Canberra by 6 points but there is the possibility they could be suffering a bit of a hangover this week after such a close game on heavy ground.
I’m once again keen on the Rabbitohs at the head to head quote now that they have got their groove back.
$1.75 is currently available on Pinnacle (2:00pm, 9th Apr.) and I suggest you snap that up while it’s available.
Mike’s Tip: Rabbitohs
Mike’s Best Bet: Rabbitohs Head to Head @ $1.75 (Pinnacle)
Titans v Broncos
Fri 11 Apr, 7:40pm, Robina Stadium
Titans: David Mead, Kevin Gordon, Maurice Blair, Brad Takairangi, Anthony Don, Aidan Sezer, Albert Kelly, Luke Douglas, Beau Falloon, Nate Myles (c), Greg Bird (c), David Taylor, Ashley Harrison. Interchange: Matthew White, Luke Bailey, Mark Minichiello, Paul Carter
This match is a local derby that has only been contested for the last seven years but it is one that grows in tribalism with each passing year.
Who would have thought that by the time this game rolled around that the Titans and Broncos would be sitting 1st and 3rd on the ladder respectively?
I would have choked on my weet-bix if you had told me the Titans would be on the top of the ladder after 5 rounds just based on their Rounds 1 and 2 matches.
The Titans most certainly played their best game of the year against the Storm last week, even though it was still a bit iffy, and now they need to prove they can do it consistently. There will be no shame in losing to the Broncos in this match as long as they play with conviction, and do so for the full 80 minutes.
Playing out the full 80 minutes of games is something the Broncos have done exceedingly well in 2014 and like the Titans, they appear to be over achieving in the eyes of the general public (outside of QLD of course.)
The loss to the Eels last week can be considered a hiccup but a few deficiencies were exposed on the edges and Josh Hoffman still struggles a bit to find his feet in the number 6 jersey.
If you’re looking for a bet in this game I don’t have any best bets to offer thanks to the enigma that is the Titans. It would take a braver soul than me to bet at the present time on any game that involves the Gold Coast whose stats barely reflect their number one position on the premiership ladder.
If however, you’re going to have a wager regardless, the Broncos 1-12 looks to be the juiciest option as they look to bounce back strongly from the previous week.
Mike’s Tip: Broncos
Mike’s Best Bet: None
Casual Bet: Broncos 1-12 looks the juice for those interested in punting. Tread warily!
Raiders v Knights
Sat 12 Apr, 3:00pm, GIO Stadium
Raiders: Anthony Milford, Reece Robinson, Jarrod Croker, Matt Allwood, Bill Tupou, Jack Wighton, Terry Campese (C), David Shillington, Glen Buttriss, Brett White, Josh Papalii, Jarrad Kennedy, Shaun Fensom. Interchange: Josh McCrone, Paul Vaughan, Dane Tilse, Shannon Boyd
It’s 13th v 15th as the Raiders return to GIO Stadium to host a Newcastle side that will be pretty desperate to double their win count to two.
The Raiders were so close to beating the Panthers last Saturday, yet so far. Their 12 – 6 loss looked respectable on paper but they struggled to build pressure and capitalise with points. It was however a wet game which is where the Raiders forward pack has traditionally struggled.
Conditions for this match look set to be a tad greasy with the Canberra weather forecast showing predictions of rain on the two days prior to the game. Miserable condition like this favour the Raiders as other teams feel like fish out of water when travelling so far to play in Antarctic like conditions, although the sun could dry things up considerably before the 3pm kick off. So make sure you monitor conditions in Canberra if you’re going to have a bet.
In Townsville last Monday, the Knights were pretty ordinary against the Cowboys, once again proving their disdain for away games. Things don’t get easier for Wayne Bennett’s troops as they board the bus to Canberra, and going on recent history, they’re in for a tough game.
It will be interesting to see if the 28-2 loss will knock some sense into them following the Monday night display where the Knights took the word ‘basic’ to a new level. Perhaps they were a bit worn out from what was an emotionally charged round 4 were the Knights played for Alex McKinnon and trounced the Sharks 30-0.
For betting on this match I was tempted to get on the Raiders but I still have justifiable doubts over their consistency. It was only a few weeks ago when they lost by 12 points to the Titans despite completing a whopping 91% of their sets.
So based on inconsistency, I won’t bet. Add to that the punters have crunched the Raiders odds down to $1.75 (Bookmaker) and NRL.com has reported money coming for the Raiders 15-1 compared to Knights bets.
Mike’s Tip: Raiders
Mike’s Best Bet: None
Casual Bet: Raiders Head to Head @ $1.75 (Bookmaker)
Eels v Roosters
Sat 12 Apr, 5:30pm, Pirtek Stadium
Eels: Jarryd Hayne (c), Semi Radradra, Will Hopoate, Willie Tonga, Ken Sio, Corey Norman, Chris Sandow, Tim Mannah (c), Nathan Peats, Fuifui Moimoi, Kenny Edwards, Manu Ma’u, Joseph Paulo. Interchange: Peni Terepo, Mitch Allgood, David Gower, Pauli Pauli
The Eels return to Pirtek stadium looking to make it three wins in a row following another impressive victory, this time against the Broncos.
Standing in their way are the reigning premiers the Roosters, who if you remember, already did away with the Eels in Round 2 by the whopping score 56-4. In that particular game the Eels were without hooker Nathan Peats who has proven to be a big difference so far this year. Not to mention it was an away game for the Eels who are proving once again to be at least a converted try better when playing at home.
This doesn’t mean I necessarily think the Eels are going to win. On the contrary, I’ll be tipping the Roosters but the boys from Bondi are going to have to come up with some primo attacking manoeuvres to get across the Eel’s line.
Surely the Roosters won’t be expecting another easy kill having the seen the Eels play hard from wire to wire against the Broncos last week and only conceding 18 missed tackles in the process.
Roosters’ five/eighth James Maloney has come under the spotlight in recent days and will be trying his guts out to prove to selectors that he is the right man to wear the NSW number 6 jersey.
A lot of early money came for the Roosters at the early quote of $1.55 and the best available price now (10/4/14) is $1.48 which doesn’t interest me at all for a side that fought out such a hard slog last week in wet weather and now has an away game. Just look at what happened to Manly under the same circumstances last week as they were flogged by the Tigers.
If I was going to back the Eels it would have been at the line if it was +8.5 or more, but at the moment it’s only +6.5 so I’ll be steering clear of this game completely.
Mike’s Tip: Roosters
Mike’s Best Bet: None
Casual Bet: No bet for me, but if you’re looking for some fun try the Tri-bet: Either side to win under 6.5 points @$3.20 (Palmerbet)
Tigers v Cowboys
Sat 12 Apr, 7:30pm, Campbelltown Stadium
Tigers: Kurtis Rowe, David Nofoaluma, Tim Simona, Chris Lawrence, Pat Richards, Blake Austin, Luke Brooks, Aaron Woods, Robbie Farah, Keith Galloway, Liam Fulton, Bodene Thompson, Adam Blair. Interchange: Martin Taupau, Ava Seumanufagai, James Gavet, Sitaleki Akauola, Keith Lulia
Upon making the return to the so called spiritual home of the Balmain Rugby League, the Wests Tigers once again surprised viewers with a clinical display against the highly fancied Sea Eagles. This week, the joint venture hosts a game at Campbelltown stadium, the former home of the Western Suburbs Magpies to take on the Cowboys.
The win last week once again reminded all in sundry last week that the Tigers are not going to be easy beats this year. It was a victory claimed in the wettest of wet conditions as the old school setup of Leichhardt doesn’t drain water very well, but the Tigers kept their handling errors to a minimum and kept their attacking play right up the middle.
As a result the players were only forced to make 207 tackles for the entire game, the least from any team in round 5 and 37 less than the next closest side. This will mean the Tigers are still feeling relatively fresh following the light work load, but it should also be noted that the Cowboys were only forced to execute 258 tackles of their own after facing a lacklustre Knights team on Monday.
The Cowboys have proven to be the mirror enigma to the Titans this year. Where the Titans have poor stats but have found their way to the top of the table, the Cowboys have notched up some generally good stats but have only just obtained their 2nd win of the year.
Handling errors are one thing to suffer from, but the Cowboys were letting opposition teams inflict maximum punishment off the back of turnovers which proved costly as they lost their rounds 2,3 and 4 matches by 4,4 and 1 points respectively. The Cowboys actually have the 3rd best points differential in the competition with 23, trailing only the Bulldogs and the Roosters.
It’s certainly a tough game to pick with the Tigers having proven their worth in the early part of the season but I’m going to lean towards the Cowboys who look to have turned the corner after last week’s win. No best bets here.
Mike’s Tip: Cowboys
Mike’s Best Bet: None
Casual Bet: If you’re going to have a bet anyway, just back whichever team you’re tipping head to head :
Tigers H2H @ $2.20 (Pinnacle)
Cowboys @ $1.82 (Sportsbet)
Warriors v Bulldogs
Sun 13 Apr, 2:00pm, Eden Park
Warriors: Sam Tomkins, Ngani Laumape, Dane Nielsen, Konrad Hurrell, Manu Vatuvei, Thomas Leuluai, Shaun Johnson, Sam Rapira, Nathan Friend, Ben Matulino, Jayson Bukuya, Simon Mannering, Sebastine Ikahihifo. Interchange: Jacob Lillyman, Suaia Matagi, Dominique Peyroux, Charlie Gubb, Siliva Havili, David Bhana
We all know by now that Matt Elliot was relieved of his position as head coach at the Warriors and Andrew McFadden has stepped into the role in the meantime.
Now some people will try and tell you that pretty much every time a new coach arrives at a team mid-season that the side will go on to record a win in the first week out. I don’t buy it and that sort of furphy has no bearing on my thoughts about this game.
Chad Townsend and Feleti Mateo have found themselves dropped from the side following the Warrior’s 37-6 loss to the Sharks last week and Thomas Leuluai finds his way into the 5/8th jumper.
There would have to be some improvement coming from the Warriors camp this week, after all, they can’t play any worse than in Round 5.
It’s a home game for the Warriors but once again it’s been moved to Eden Park. NRL.com reports: “Canterbury have played the Warriors at New Zealand venues away from Mt Smart on five occasions, winning four and drawing one. Heading to Eden Park then will hold little fear for Michael Ennis and company.”
The Bulldogs have turned some flat, early season form around by snatching two clutch wins in two weeks, defeating the Storm and the Roosters. I have doubts as to whether the Warriors’ current attacking structures contain the necessary nous required to penetrate the Bulldogs’ improved defence.
5/8th Josh Reynolds has continued to play out of his skin and has been capitalising on the platform being laid by his forwards and will once again stand up and be counted towards another Bulldogs victory.
A best bet comes up here and it’s simply the Bulldogs to win. They are on a roll and their momentum will be tough to stop, especially by a side that has absolutely zero momentum at the moment and are battling a confidence crisis.
Mike’s Tip: Bulldogs
Mike’s Best Bet: Bulldogs H2H @ $1.82 (Sportsbet)
Sea Eagles v Sharks
Sun 13 Apr, 3:00pm, Brookvale Oval
Sea Eagles: Brett Stewart, Peta Hiku, Jamie Lyon, 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 Sea Eagles had their wings clipped comprehensively last week after walking onto Leichhardt Oval without any conviction.
I thought the Tigers would make it an arm wrestle with a Sea Eagles side that had been involved in close games in all their rounds 1-4 games and I knew those big efforts were going to catch up with them. I did not however, foresee that the Sea Eagles would have been pretty much out of the game after 20 minutes!
This week they take on the Sharks at Brookvale Oval in a battle that is nowadays dubbed ‘The Battle of the Beaches.’
I get the feeling some of the hangover from the first 4 rounds is still going to be affecting the Sea Eagles this week too and that we will see a tighter than expected contest.
Other factors pointing towards a tight contest include the Sharks now that Jeff Robson has returned to the number 7 jersey and he will no doubt be better for last week’s run
The current forecast weather conditions are for chances of rain and the Brookvale Oval grass tends to be quite long anyway so for low scoring matches, just add water.
Now let’s put all those factors into our magic computer* and see what best bets come out.
Sea Eagles hangover + Sharks with Jeff Robson = Sharks with a big points start of 12.0 (Sportsbet)
Long Brookvale Oval grass + predicted showers = Total match points under 40.5 (Sportsbet)
Good luck in your punting!
*Magic computer does not exist
Mike’s Tip: Sea Eagles
Mike’s Best Bets:
Sharks +12.0 @ $1.92 (Sportsbet)
Total match points ‘Under’ 40.5 (Sportsbet)
Storm v Dragons
Mon 14 Apr, 7:00pm, AAMI Park
Storm: Billy Slater, Sisa Waqa, Will Chambers, Justin O’Neill, Young Tonumaipea, Ben Hampton, Cooper Cronk, Jesse Bromwich, Cameron Smith (c), Bryan Norrie, Kevin Proctor, Ryan Hoffman, Ryan Hinchcliffe. Interchange: Kenny Bromwich, Tohu Harris, Mitch Garbutt, Tim Glasby
Storm Coach Craig Bellamy had one message for his players following last week’s loss to the Titans; Perform or you’ll be dropped.
It’s an appropriate message for a side that we know are good enough to beat the Titans but suffered too many lapses during the 80 minutes that kept their opponents one step ahead of them the whole way. There were no excuses and they only got out what they put in.
And just like that, the Storm’s 3 wins from the first 3 rounds is now 3 wins from 5 rounds and they are in jeopardy of tumbling out of the top 8.
The Dragons are the team charged with executing that tumble, but face one of their own if they are to lose this encounter.
The Dragons similarly won their first 3 matches before losing the next 2 and it might be time for them to harness the ‘razzle dazzle’ stuff and get back to some attacking basics.
In those first 3 rounds, the Dragons showed huge capabilities in regards to setting up attacking raids in the outer corridors of the field. Then in round 4 it looked as if it had gone to the playmaker’s heads a bit as they were attempting chip kicks from centre field and neglecting the basic goal of gaining field position. As a result they suffered a 16 point loss to the Broncos who put 36 on them.
In fairness they were virtually penalised out of the Round 5 game against the Rabbitohs, but I really doubt that the Dragons would have troubled the scorers too much in that one.
Now they have a chance to roll one of the more fancied sides and completed sets and kick metres will go a long way to achieving that goal.
I won’t be betting here. The 2014 competition has thrown up a myriad of upsets and trying to pick what certain sides will do on a Monday night is a whole different kettle of fish. I’m happy to sit this one out and begin looking ahead to Round 7.
Mike’s Tip: Storm
Mike’s Best Bet: None
Casual Bet: If you’re keen to have one last bet this round then a good long shot chance might be for Gareth Widdop to kick more conversions than Cameron Smith on Centrebet.