NRL Round 8 Previews and Tips


Dragons v Roosters

Fri 25 Apr, 4:00pm, Allianz Stadium

Dragons: 1.Josh Dugan 2. Brett Morris 3. Nathan Green 4. Gerard Beale 5. Jason Nightingale 6. Gareth Widdop 7. Michael Witt 8. Jack Stockwell 9. Mitch Rein 10. Dan Hunt 11. Joel Thompson 12. Ben Creagh 13. Trent Merrin
Interchange: 14. Bronson Harrison 15. Tyson Frizell 16. Mike Cooper 17. Leeson Ah Mau 18. Jack De Belin
Roosters: 1.Anthony Minichiello 2. Daniel Tupou 3. Michael Jennings 4. Shaun Kenny-Dowall 5. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck 6. James Maloney 7. Mitchell Pearce 8. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves 9. Jake Friend 10. Sam Moa 11. Boyd Cordner 12. Sonny Bill Williams 13. Aidan Guerra
Interchange: 14. Frank-Paul Nuuausala 15. Mitchell Aubusson 16. Isaac Liu 17. Dylan Napa 18. Daniel Mortimer


ANZAC Day kicks off with the traditional matchup between the Dragons and Roosters in a special edition of Friday afternoon footy.

The bookies have posted the Roosters as favourites of around $1.40, only 7c more than their price in this same game last year. It’s interesting when you consider the Dragons are playing much better than they did at this time last year thanks to the added help of Gareth Widdop and Josh Dugan, whereas the Roosters are notably down on form from 12 months ago.

Key man Josh Dugan has had three games back from injury and has improved in each from the previous week. He knows he is in the running for the NSW fullback jersey come State of Origin time and you can expect him to hit peak form in what can be considered a big event match.

The Roosters’ aforementioned drop in form as we know is due to a lack of punch in creative attack, but the Sharks may have just played them back into a bit of form last Saturday.

It was a fast paced game against the Sharks that had the players gasping for air come full time and the tough effort may have a slight negative impact on the Roosters backing up this week.
If you’re in tipping comps I’d even be pretty keen to tip the Dragons here.

Betting action in this match will have us backing the Dragons with the start. Get on early while +7.5 is available at $1.88 or higher. +7.5 seems quite hefty, especially when you consider that the Roosters haven’t won a game by more than 6 points this year, except for when they faced a pathetic Eels outfit back in Round 2.


Mike’s Tip: Dragons

Mike’s Best Bet: Dragons +7.5 @ $1.88 (



Storm v Warriors

Fri 25 Apr, 6:00pm, AAMI Park

Storm: 1.Billy Slater 2. Sisa Waqa 3. Mahe Fonua 4. Justin O’Neill 5. Young Tonumaipea 6. Ben Hampton 7. Cooper Cronk 8. Jesse Bromwich 9. Cameron Smith 10. Bryan Norrie 11. Kevin Proctor 12. Ryan Hoffman 13. Ryan Hinchcliffe
Interchange: 14. Kenny Bromwich 15. Tohu Harris 16. Mitch Garbutt 17. George Rose 18. Dayne Weston 19. Tim Glasby
Warriors: 1. Sam Tomkins 2. David Fusitua 3. Dane Nielsen 4. Ngani Laumape 5. Manu Vatuvei 6. Chad Townsend 7. Shaun Johnson 8. Sam Rapira 9. Nathan Friend 10. Jacob Lillyman 11. Jayson Bukuya 12. Simon Mannering 13. Sebastine Ikahihifo
Interchange: 14. Ben Henry 15. Suaia Matagi 16. Siliva Havili 17. Feleti Mateo


The second of the usual ANZAC Day match ups takes place between the Storm and the Warriors. Both sides are struggling to find their best form at the moment and have been defensively unsound throughout the year.

The Storm may have been harshly done by in the previous round’s match against the Raiders but they will no doubt be the first to admit that they simply let in too many points which got them to that vulnerable position in the first place.

I really though after the fifteen minutes against the Dragons in Round 6 that the Storm had found themselves once more and were ready to continue the extra efforts for the remainder of the season. But alas, they once again conceded a plethora of points despite scoring plenty themselves and for the third week in a row the final score was a high, close one.

The Warriors, in round 7, played their second game under caretaker coach Andrew McFadden and also for the second time put in a stronger than expected performance.

After narrowly going down to the Bulldogs who have since established themselves as one of the top sides, the Warriors took on the Dragons in Sydney and lost by ten points and were hurt by the loss of strike forward Ben Matulino. Unfortunately for Warriors’ fans, Matulino still has one more week of his suspension to serve and his omission will hurt the side’s chances once more.


Mike’s Tip: Storm

Mike’s Best Bet: Total match points OVER 42.5 @ $1.90 (Sportsbet)



Broncos v Rabbitohs

Fri 25 Apr, 8:00pm, Suncorp Stadium

Broncos: 1. Ben Barba 2. Daniel Vidot 3. Jack Reed 4. Justin Hodges 5. Dale Copley 6. Josh Hoffman 7. Ben Hunt 8. Josh McGuire 9. Andrew McCullough 10. Martin Kennedy 11. Alex Glenn 12. Corey Parker 13. Matt Gillett
Interchange: 14. Ben Hannant 15. Corey Oates 16. Jarrod Wallace 17. Jake Granville 18. Todd Lowrie
Rabbitohs: 1.Greg Inglis 2. Nathan Merritt 3. Dylan Walker 4. Kirisome Auva’va 5. Bryson Goodwin 6. John Sutton 7. Adam Reynolds 8. George Burgess 9. Apisai Koroisau 10. Dave Tyrell 11. Kyle Turner 12. Ben Te’o 13. Sam Burgess
Interchange: 14. Cameron McInnes 15. Jason Clarke 16. Chris McQueen 17. Luke Burgess 18. Joel Reddy 19. Ben Lowe 20. Joe Picker


Anzac Day footy wraps up in Brisbane where we will bear witness to the Broncos facing their biggest test of the 2014 season so far; the Rabbitohs.

The Broncos have risen above expectations so far this year and showed their ruthlessness last Friday when they decimated the Knights in a cutting display brought on by their Round 6 loss.

The Broncos will embrace a return to Suncorp Stadium but won’t be getting any favours as they take on the Rabbitohs who have found the form they lost in rounds 2 and 3.

Last Friday gave us the Rabbitohs v Bulldogs match up that turned out to be one of the best games of 2014 and despite the Rabbitohs’ one point loss, they will no doubt be proud of the effort. They had to contend with the loss of players to suspension and their bench during the game was depleted by injuries, however the Bunnies fought hard and lost gallantly by a point.

George Burgess and Ben Te’o return to the side and that will provide the Bunnies with a major boost up the middle and will hand the Rabbitohs the edge in this game.

It may have only been round 3, but back then the Broncos were not able to hold on against a tough Roosters outfit and I think they are going to find it even tougher here against the Bunnies.

To best bets and yes, we are backing the Rabbitohs. Of course it’s a Broncos home game but the Rabbitohs will be desperate not to lose two games in a row heading into the 2nd third of the season and I expect they are going to keep their efforts at the high level they have been at for the last three weeks straight.

Get in early on the Rabbitohs -1.5 @ $1.94 on Pinnacle.


Mike’s Tip: Rabbitohs

Mike’s Best Bet: Rabbitohs -1.5 @ $1.94 (Pinnacle)



Sharks v Panthers

Sat 26 Apr, 3:00pm, Remondis Stadium

Sharks:1. Michael Gordon 2. Sosaia Feki 3. Blake Ayshford 4. Ricky Leutele 5. Jonathan Wright 6. Todd Carney 7. Jeff Robson 8. Andrew Fifita 9. John Morris 10. Bryce Gibbs 11. Chris Heighington 12. Wade Graham 13. Paul Gallen
Interchange: 14. Isaac De Gois 15. Tinirau Arona 16. Sam Tagataese 17. Siosaia Vave 20. Beau Ryan
Panthers: 1. Matt Moylan 2. David Simmons 3. Dean Whare 4. Jamal Idris 5. Josh Mansour 6. Jamie Soward 7. Peter Wallace 8. Tim Grant 9. Kevin Kingston 10. Brent Kite 11. Sika Manu 12. Elijah Taylor 13. Adam Docker
Interchange: 14. James Segeyaro 15. Jeremy Latimore 16. Tyrone Peachey 17. Nigel Plum 18. Matt Robinson


The Sharks still sit alone at the bottom of the NRL ladder even after their gallant effort against the Roosters last Saturday. The return of Paul Gallen to the side clearly gave the rest of the troops a much needed boost and to put 18 points on the scoreboard against the 3rd ranked defensive club in the comp certainly shows they Sharks are determined to move forward and arrest their downward slide.

Keeping in mind it was Paul Gallen’s first game back from a syndesmosis injury, he still managed just under 150 run metres and one would have to think he is going to be capable of furthering that number with a run under his belt.

One of Gallen’s biggest tasks for this week will be to make sure the rest of his players don’t try and overdo it after last week’s effort. The players managed to keep their error and penalty counts very low against the Roosters and that’s one of the reasons they stayed in the game until the death. It would be easy for them to come out with all guns blazing this week and forget to nail down the basics in a bid to make up for last week’s loss.

The Panthers are coming off a strong victory against the Titans where they managed to be the better of two grinders and come away with a 14-12 victory in game that saw only 2 points scored in the second half.

The Panthers still have plenty of room for improvement however and one of the areas they could probably benefit in is backing up their initial contact runners. The Panthers forwards, including Jamal Idris, are more than capable of getting an offload away but not much seems to grow from their second phase plays.

So who do we tip here? I’m going to say the Sharks…just. They will be hungry for a win, especially in front of the Remondis crowd and I think this is definitely one of those games where the home crowd could prove to be the difference.


Mike’s Tip: Sharks

Mike’s Best Bet: None

Mike’s Casual Bet: Tri Bet – Either Team Under 6.5 points @ $2.75 (Sportingbet)



Cowboys v Eels

Sat 26 Apr, 5:30pm, Townsville Stadium

Cowboys: 1. Michael Morgan 2. Matthew Wright 3. Brent Tate 4. Kane Linnett 5. Curtis Rona 6. Johnathan Thurston 7. Ray Thompson 8. Matthew Scott 9. Rory Kostjasyn 10. James Tamou 11. Gavin Cooper 12. Jason Taumalolo 13. Tariq Sims
Interchange: 14. Anthony Mitchell 15. Joel Riethmuller 16. Ashton Sims 17. Scott Bolton 18. Glenn Hall 20. Ethan Lowe
Eels: 1. Jarryd Hayne 2. Semi Radradra 3. Will Hopoate 4. Willie Tonga 5. Ken Sio 6. Corey Norman 7. Chris Sandow 8. Tim Mannah 9. Nathan Peats 10. Fuifui Moimoi 11. Pauli Pauli 12. Manu Ma’u 13. Joseph Paulo
Interchange: 14. Darcy Lussick 15. Mitch Allgood 16. David Gower 17. Peni Terepo


Oh how much the Cowboys must be seething after they were pretty much robbed of a win last week after the Sea Eagles were allowed a try off what looked to be a certain obstruction. They now return home to Townsville to host the Eels who themselves lost a game because of an obstruction ruling, although theirs looked much more justified.

Despite the loss, the Cowboys would no doubt take plenty of positives out of being able to take the Sea Eagles down to the wire. One positive in my books is that Coach Paul Green has finally decided to drop dead weight Robert Lui from the side and he will be replaced by Ray Thompson while Rory Kostjaysyn moves into the starting line up, replaced by Anthony Mitchell on the bench. Mitchell is a great inclusion into the side as he possesses plenty of energy, enthusiasm and confidence. He just needs to keep his mouth shut and focus on his job rather than trying to captain the team.

The Eels style play last week could be described as a bit of a ‘catch 22’ situation; their free moving attacking structures enabled them to put points on the board, but unfortunately it gave the Tigers 12 points as well thanks to two intercepts off the back of some carefree play.

Joseph Paulo was a bit of a weak link and he will want to improve remarkably this week or he could be the next player to find himself dropped.

I’m tipping the Cowboys here but I don’t have much interest in betting, at least not with any confidence. If you however, are keen for a punt, I’d probably just stick with a Cowboys 1-12 victory provided they can keep Jarryd Hayne under wraps.


Mike’s Tip: Cowboys

Mike’s Best Bet: None

Mike’s Casual Bet: Cowboys 1-12 @ $3.10 (Sportingbet)



Bulldogs v Knights

Sat 26 Apr, 7:30pm, ANZ Stadium

Bulldogs: 1. Sam Perrett 2. Corey Thompson 3. Josh Morris 4. Tim Lafai 5. Mitch Brown 6. Josh Reynolds 7. Trent Hodkinson 8. Aidan Tolman 9. Michael Ennis 10. James Graham 11. Josh Jackson 12. Tony Williams 13. Dale Finucane
Interchange: 14. Greg Eastwood 17. David Klemmer 22. Tim Browne 24. Sam Kasiano 19. Moses Mbye 20. Pat O’Hanlon
Knights: 1. Darius Boyd 2. James McManus 3. Dane Gagai 4. Joseph Leilua 5. Jake Mamo 6. Jarrod Mullen 7. Tyrone Roberts 8. Kade Snowden 9. Kurt Gidley 10. Zane Tetevano 11. Beau Scott 12. Chris Houston 13. Jeremy Smith
Interchange: 14. Adam Clydsdale 15. Korbin Sims 17. Adam Cuthbertson 18. Robbie Rochow


I’m not really sure what to say about the Knights. They have been so disappointing this year and last week’s capitulation against the Broncos pretty much summed things up. It’s almost hard to believe that this is a Wayne Bennett coached side we are talking about.

In round 6 the Knights put in a fantastic effort to knock off the Raiders in Canberra but came out and played lifeless footy against the Broncos and once again left fans scratching their head.

Sitting now in 14th position, the Knights will be hungry for a win so as not to let the teams in the top 8 get too far away from them.

Standing in their way though, is the current number one side the Bulldogs, who have fought their way doggedly to the top of the table after 7 rounds with a game based on solid defense. In fact, the Bulldogs have only conceded 94 points all season and are the only team under 100 in that department.

The Bulldogs have been very impressive and have already established themselves as serious premiership contenders in 2014. Five eighth Josh Reynolds continues to play out of his skin and the forwards are chiming in perfectly for the full 80 minutes. I would however still like to see more from Tony Williams. I know I’m starting to sound like a broken record on the issue of Tony but boy is he frustrating to watch as he stands around gathering moss.

The Bulldogs, and I doubt they will, had better not take the Knights lightly. The two sides faced off three times in 2013 and the Knights won them all.

To the betting department and whilst it seems likely the Bulldogs will beat an inconsistent Knights, one just can’t be certain if the Novocastrians will decide to apply themselves and ultimately take this one down to the wire. This rules out line betting.

But if there is one thing we have learned it’s that Bulldogs goal kicker Trent Hodkinson can do just that: Kick goals, and he is doing so at a strike rate of 93% (26/28).

The Knights’ goal kickers, Roberts and Gidley are kicking at a combined success rate of just 68% With Roberts the better, but still just at 75%

Let’s back Hodkinson in.


Mike’s Tip: Bulldogs

Mike’s Best Bet: Team to convert the most tries: Bulldogs @ $1.65 (Centrebet)



Sea Eagles v Raiders

Sun 27 Apr, 2:00pm, Brookvale Oval

Sea Eagles: 1. Brett Stewart 2. Jorge Taufua 3. Peta Hiku 4. Steve Matai 5. David Williams 6. Jamie Lyon 7. Daly Cherry-Evans 8. Josh Starling 9. Matt Ballin 10. Brenton Lawrence 11. Anthony Watmough 12. Justin Horo 13. Glenn Stewart
Interchange: 14. James Hasson 15. Dunamis Lui 16. Jamie Buhrer 17. Jason King 18. Jesse Sene-Lefao
Raiders: 1. Anthony Milford 2. Reece Robinson 3. Jarrod Croker 4. Matthew Allwood 5. Bill Tupou 6. Jack Wighton 7. Terry Campese 8. David Shillington 9. Glen Buttriss 10. Brett White 11. Josh Papalii 12. Joel Edwards 13. Shaun Fensom
Interchange: 14. Josh McCrone 15. Paul Vaughan 16. Dane Tilse 17. Shannon Boyd 18. Jake Foster

I’m not sure what it is about the Raiders playing at Manly’s home ground in Brookvale but the Sea Eagles never really put big scores on them. In the last five match ups between these two sides at Brookvale, the Sea Eagles have won four and the margins have been 6, 6, 20 and 6 points. The 20 point loss was early in the 2011 season when the side was without Terry Campese and had lost its way.

This time the Raiders head into the clash off the back of a victory over the Melbourne Storm which will do volumes for their confidence and knowing that Manly are without strike five-eighth Keiran Foran will have them ready to pounce.

Once again Jamie Lyon moves into the centres to replace Foran but the reshuffle has tended not to hurt them too much in the past.

Manly have had a tendency over the past 6 odd years to play down to their opposition when facing inferior teams but they can’t afford to do that here against a Raiders side that is very good at completing sets. The Raiders are number one in the comp for most completed sets (221) and highest set completion percentage (77%)
Set completion should be a priority for the Sea Eagles after they only managed to complete a dour 61% of their sets last week and probably weren’t deserving of their victory. (All bad video ref decisions aside).

Too many unpredictable factors surround this game and if you want to bet you’ll be doing so without me. Manly’s odds are simply no value although they are likely to win. Perhaps try Manly 1-12 if you’re interested in a Sunday punt.


Mike’s Tip: Sea Eagles

Mike’s Best Bet: None

Mike’s Casual Bet: Sea Eagles 1-12 @ $3.10 (Sportingbet)



Tigers v Titans

Sun 27 Apr, 3:00pm, Leichhardt Oval

Tigers: 1. Kurtis Rowe 2. David Nofoaluma 3. Tim Simona 4. Chris Lawrence 5. Pat Richards 6. Braith Anasta 7. Luke Brooks 8. Aaron Woods 9. Joel Luani 10. Keith Galloway 11. Liam Fulton 12. Bodene Thompson 13. Adam Blair
Interchange: 14. Martin Taupau 15. Ava Seumanufagai 16. Blake Austin 17.  Sitaleki Akauola
Titans: 1. David Mead 2. Kevin Gordon 3. Maurice Blair 4. Brad Takairangi 5. Anthony Don 6. Aidan Sezer 7. Albert Kelly 8. Luke Douglas 9. Beau Falloon 10. Nate Myles 11. Greg Bird 12. Dave Taylor 13. Ashley Harrison
Interchange: 14. Mark Ioane 15. Ryan James 16. Mark Minichiello 17. Paul Carter 18. William Zillman


The Wests Tigers continue to defy expectations in 2014 and are sitting deservedly in 2nd position on the ladder. Most tipped them to finish outside the top 8 but so far the Tigers players would be laughing at those predictions. Then last week they were expected to lose against the Eels without captain Robbie Farah but applied themselves in a gritty performance to once again buck a trend.

The Titans have been on a similar path this year and they currently sit 4th on the same amount of points as the Tigers. If results go a certain way this round, the winner of this match could be sitting in 1st place at the end of the round.

These two sides met in round two and on that day the Tigers were absolutely ruthless as they pummelled the Titans into the ground with the final score line ending up 42-12. Rookie Tigers half Luke Brooks led the way that day and has continued to live up to the pre season hype that surrounded him to this day. Even his defence has improved and his overall game is having a positive effect on the rest of the side.

I think we’ve seen in the last few weeks how much the Titans rely on a good kicking game as they struggle to break defensive lines. If the Tigers focus on pressuring Sezer and Kelly’s kicking games, those efforts will go a long way to halting the Titans completely.

History shows a 50% success rate for these two sides in the 12 games they have played against each other, and only one of those has been at Leichhardt Oval where the Tigers were the eventual winners.

Leichhardt Oval holds such an advantage for the Wests Tigers which is one of the main factors contributing to my tipping of them.

The money has come strong for the Tigers and I’ve certainly been one of those involved and I suggest you get on the Tigers head to head; they are tough to beat in Sunday footy at Leichhardt as the Sea Eagles found out a few weeks ago.


Mike’s Tip: Tigers

Mike’s Best Bet: Tigers Head to Head @ $1.87 (Pinnacle)



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