Sea Eagles v Roosters
Fri 27 Jun, 7:40pm, Brookvale Oval
Sea Eagles: 1. Brett Stewart 2. Jorge Taufua 3. Jamie Lyon 4. Steve Matai 5. Peta Hiku 6. Kieran Foran 7. Daly Cherry-Evans 8. Josh Starling 9. Matt Ballin 10. Brenton Lawrence 11. Jamie Buhrer 12. Justin Horo 13. Dunamis Lui
It’s the much anticipated Grand Final replay and we are blessed to have these teams meet for the second time so far this season in what should be a gripping contest based on recent results between these two sides.
The Sea Eagles and Roosters have met 5 times since the start of last year and the average winning margin has been less than 8 points. Two of those games had final score lines of 4-0 and 8-0 which is almost unheard of in the modern era.
And if the form of those games is to be taken into account, then home ground advantage will mean nothing with the Roosters beating the Sea Eagles in this corresponding match at Brookvale last year by 18 points to 12.
That game in 2013 if my memory serves me correctly was played with the Roosters on top of the ladder and this time around it’s Manly holding fort at the top of the ladder thanks to a tough style of footy that only a few sides are capable of playing.
To the Sea Eagles’ detriment second rower Anthony Watmough will serve the 2nd game of his four match suspension on the sidelines and Jamie Buhrer steps into the starting line up once more.
For the Roosters Boyd Cordner has been named on the bench but there is still some uncertainty as to whether or not he will partake in the game.
This is the toughest opposition the Roosters have had to contend with since their Rounds 4 and 5 clashes against the Sea Eagles and Bulldogs respectively; both of which they lost.
Since then the tri-colours have enjoyed a soft run of playing either teams outside the 8 or teams weakened by injury.
That’s not to take away from the fact that they are a serious contender for back to back premierships, but I think Manly will be too strong for a Roosters side that has played 9 matches against teams in the current top 8 for 5 losses and 4 wins, with 3 of those victories against weakened sides. Yes, Manly will be weakened by the loss of Anthony Watmough but they still have the grit of Kieran Foran and the class of Daly Cherry-Evans and Captain Jamie Lyon.
Best bet is the Sea Eagles to win and currently Bet365 is the place to shop as they have them at $1.91, better than any other current quotes.
Mike’s Tip: Sea Eagles
Mike’s Best Bet: Sea Eagles Head to Head @ $1.91 (Bet365)
Broncos v Sharks
Fri 27 Jun, 7:40pm, 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. Jake Granville 10. Ben Hannant 11. Alex Glenn 12. Corey Oates 13. Sam Thaiday
Things just got worse for the Sharks throughout the last week. They became the first ever team in the history of the NRL to lose three consecutive games without scoring a point.
Then their Captain Paul Gallen candidly accused his players of failing to put in 100% simply because they don’t think that interim Coach Peter Sharp is putting in 100%, all on national radio.
I’m not really interested in whether or not Gallen went about it the right way or not but his comments are pretty much spot on and it’s no wonder the Sharks are struggling to beat an egg.
Their 26-0 loss to the Sea Eagles last week could have been so much worse had it not been for the Manly side playing so much carefree footy.
This week they travel to Brisbane to face a Broncos side that, as I mentioned in the last few weeks, have become adept at playing hard for the whole 80 minutes of a match and have really ironed out a lot of problems in their game.
They surprised me last week with how well they took the fight to the Warriors across the ditch with a below strength side.
In all reality, the Sharks shouldn’t prove too much of a problem for the Broncos especially at Suncorp Stadium where the locals are pining for a QLD team to win a game but I can’t quite bring myself to back a line bet here.
The start is 12 points for the Sharks but after having their integrity questioned by their captain through the week, a few players might step right up and give that line a push.
Mike’s Tip: Broncos
Mike’s Best Bet: None
Mike’s Casual Bet: Broncos -12.0 @ $1.92 (Palmerbet)
Tigers v Raiders
Sat 28 Jun, 5:30pm, Campbelltown Stadium
Tigers: 1. James Tedesco 2. David Nofoaluma 3. Tim Simona 4. Chris Lawrence 5. Pat Richards 6. Braith Anasta 7. Luke Brooks 8. Aaron Woods 9. Robbie Farah 10. Keith Galloway 11. Curtis Sironen 12. Bodene Thompson 13. Adam Blair
My thoughts on Robbie Farah being vital to the Tigers’ success has been clear for the last few years so I hope he has finally returned home from celebrating the NSW Origin series win!
Playing at Campbelltown though, this may have been a game the Tigers could have won without Farah against a Raiders side struggling to rebuild their season.
The Tigers are $1.26 favourites to take down the Raiders at home and the recent record between these teams suggests they will do just that having won 9 of the last 10 meetings.
I was almost tempted to take the Tigers at the 11.5 line but I think that’s another game the bookies have assessed accurately.
Canberra Coach Ricky Stuart made some more head scratching decisions last week when his side met the Bulldogs, including the real clanger of starting arguably the team’s best player, Anthony Milford off the bench and not injecting him into the game until the second half. The Bulldogs were hardly at their best and one must wonder if the Raiders could have won with the added help of Milford.
I can’t quite see where the Raiders can win this match against the Tigers pack of forwards that are brimming with confidence who are so well drilled at advancing the team up the field with Robbie Farah at the helm.
Plus with the Tigers recently dropping out of the top 8 they will be extra determined to win and stay in touch with the top sides or risk being overtaken by the Warriors and dropping to 10th.
Mike’s Tip: Tigers
Mike’s Best Bet: None
Mike’s Casual Bet: Tigers -11.5 @ $1.97 (Pinnacle)
Cowboys v Rabbitohs
Sat 28 Jun, 7:30pm, Townsville Stadium
Cowboys: 1. Michael Morgan 2. Curtis Rona 3. Matthew Wright 4. Kane Linnett 5. Antonio Winterstein 6. Robert Lui 7. Johnathan Thurston 8. Scott Bolton 9. Rory Kostjasyn 10. James Tamou 11. Ethan Lowe 12. Jason Taumalolo 13. Tariq Sims
This could be the game that breaks the Cowboys season as another loss could see them finish the round 3 wins away from the top 8.
It is likely the Cowboys will need 6 more wins this season if they are to be any hope of making the finals and for a team that hasn’t won an away game all year, playing 5 games on the road with only 9 matches remaining in their season could be all but a death sentence.
So can they stand up against the Rabbitohs? Well they could with a bit of application. The same application I was expecting from them last week against the lowly Newcastle Knights who they failed to best, chalking up yet another away loss. After that particular loss, I’m pretty much ready to give up on the Cowboys.
This game won’t be made any easier for the Cowboys with Matt Scott missing once more and this week Ray Thompson joins him, Tate and Cooper on the sidelines and will be replaced by the underperforming Robert Lui.
The Rabbitohs are right on track at making another serious assault on the finals series and it’s possible that the Bunnies could find themselves on top of the ladder at the end of this round.
Dylan Walker is still missing from the side indefinitely with a broken thumb but otherwise it’s all systems go for the red and green machine looking to further cement their position in the top 8 which is still vital given that there is only 4 points between 1st and 9th.
Expect the Rabbitohs forwards, made up of three Burgess brothers, two QLD representatives and a Kiwi international, to make the most of confronting the Cowboys’ depleted pack by literally trying to run over them.
Johnathan Thurston as great a player as he is, has struggled with his defence of late and if the Bunnies’ forwards get a whiff of a weakness in his defensive game then they will no doubt run at him.
The Cowboys will no doubt grow that extra leg in defence whilst playing at home which is why I’m happy to avoid the line bet and simply take the Rabbitohs at the head to head quote.
Mike’s Tip: Rabbitohs
Mike’s Best Bet: Rabbitohs Head to Head @ $1.55 (Pinnacle)
Warriors v Panthers
Sun 29 Jun, 2:00pm, Mt Smart Stadium
Warriors: 1. Sam Tomkins 2. David Fusitu’a 3. Konrad Hurrell 4. Dane Nielsen 5. Manu Vatuvei 6. Chad Townsend 7. Shaun Johnson 8. Jacob Lillyman 9. Nathan Friend 10. Sam Rapira 11. Jayson Bukuya 12. Simon Mannering 13. Sebastine Ikahihifo
Another match at their genuine home ground in Mt Smart stadium automatically means the Warriors are going to be a force to be reckoned with and it won’t phase them at all that they are coming up against the Panthers who are placed second on the premiership ladder.
This is the Warriors’ big chance to get within striking distance of the top 8, and perhaps even into it if results go their way this round.
Infiltrating the top 8 would be a considerable achievement given the start of the season the Warriors had when all looked hopeless before new Coach Andrew McFadden stepped up to the helm and guided his players to victories with an improved bench rotation strategy which has seen vital player get more minutes of play at crucial times in matches.
One Warriors player I’ve taken a keen interest in recently, and will be watching closely again, is Suaia Matagi. Matagi has started a few games and played others off the bench. His impact when taking the field late in the first half is explosive and he really knows how to target weary opposition players and keep them honest with his hard hole running. It was only a few rounds ago when Matagi was running straight through George Burgess How often do you hear of players running through George Burgess?
I’ve mentioned earlier in the season that I think the Panthers are living on borrowed time and I think this will be the game that finds them out and one worthy of a best bet.
I rate the Warriors a $1.50 chance and I am more than a little happy to see odds of $1.63 available for them. That price is gradually firming so be sure to get on asap.
Mike’s Tip: Warriors
Mike’s Best Bet: Warriors Head to Head @ $1.63 (Pinnacle)
Eels v Knights
Sun 29 Jun, 3:00pm, Pirtek Stadium
Eels: 1. Jarryd Hayne 2. Semi Radradra 3. Ryan Morgan 4. Willie Tonga 5. Vai Toutai 6. Corey Norman 7. Chris Sandow 8. Tim Mannah 9. Isaac De Gois 10. Junior Paulo 11. Ken Edwards 12. Pauli Pauli 13. Joseph Paulo
It was back in round 10 I wrote in my Eels v Dragons preview:
“Another home game against another ordinary team presents itself to the Eels” and that is the case once more this week.
Rounds 9 and 10 saw the Eels take on the lowly placed Sharks and Dragons respectively and I posted the Parramatta side as best bet opportunities both times. I was shy in taking them to cover the line both times even though they managed to win by margins of 18 and 36 points.
I have them rated as $1.40 favourites for this match but I don’t really want to touch the line bet and I will once again approach the betting action with caution, particularly knowing that this time around the Eels will be without hooker Nathan Peats.
The last placed Knights were desperately looking for a confidence boost and got it by beating the Cowboys last week and scoring 36 points in the process. That was however a home game for the Novocastrians and to travel to Pirtek Stadium has not seen any visiting side go home with a win this year.
If a team is to break that trend this year I think it’s unlikely to be the Knights.
Jarryd Hayne has obviously been playing out of skin for the Eels and NSW but he did put out a somewhat flat performance last week against the Storm and will no doubt want to make amends for that little hiccup in his season. Especially now that his opposing fullback will be Kurt Gidley who was placed back in this preferred position by Coach Wayne Bennett last week and ultimately played one of his best games all year.
So in summary, it’s the Eels to win with the $1.55 quote available on Pinnacle representing good value over my $1.40 assessment and we will be playing it safe by avoiding the line.
Mike’s Tip: Eels
Mike’s Best Bet: Eels Head to Head @ $1.55 (Pinnacle)
Dragons v Storm
Mon 30 Jun, 7:00pm, WIN Stadium
Dragons: 1. Adam Quinlan 2. Charly Runciman 3. Josh Dugan 4. Gerard Beale 5. Jason Nightingale 6. Gareth Widdop 7. Benji Marshall 8. Ben Creagh 9. Mitch Rein 10. Mike Cooper 11. Leeson Ah Mau 12. Joel Thompson 13. Jack de Belin
Round 16 of the NRL wraps up with a trip to Wollongong where the Dragons will look to revive their season with a win over the Storm.
If the Dragons can score 2 competition points in front of their home crowd they would move to within one win of the Storm on the ladder and more importantly one win from the top 8.
The Storm will be chasing a revival of their own and a victory could see them move as high as 6th on the ladder which would be a massive boost for the team who many had written off following injuries to key players sustained during State of Origin game one.
Recent history is on the Storm’s side having won 4 of the last 5 encounters with the Dragons and their win against the Eels last week which saw them score 40+ points showed us signs of the Melbourne Storm of old and it may have been a turning point for them this season.
Many media sources are reminding us that when these two sides met in Round 6, the Storm infamously snatched the win off a play that began after the final siren. Personally I can’t see this providing the Dragons with any extra motivation as some are suggesting, but each to their own I guess…
I won’t be recommending any best bets to finish off the round. I feel fairly confident of the Storm winning especially with Dragons forward Trent Merrin not being named in the side but the form of both these sides is somewhat patchy and I’d prefer to keep my money away from such situations.
Mike’s Tip: Storm
Mike’s Best Bet: None
Mike’s Casual Bet: Storm/Storm Halftime/FullTime @ $2.00 (Bet365)