Rabbitohs v Broncos
Thu 14 Aug, 7:45PM, ANZ Stadium
Rabbitohs: 1. Greg Inglis 2. Alex Johnston 3. Dylan Walker 4. Kirisome Auva’a 5. Lote Tuqiri 6. Luke Keary 7. Adam Reynolds 8. Thomas Burgess 9. Issac Luke 10. David Tyrrell 11. Kyle Turner 12. Ben Te’o 13. Sam Burgess
The Broncos capitalised on an out of sorts Bulldogs side last week to earn an emphatic win which kept their season well and truly alive.
The victory ended a three game losing streak which sees them one win out of the top 8 in 10th behind five other teams and notably with a far better points differential than the 7th, 8th and 9th placed sides which is no doubt going to play a part in deciding the makeup of the top 8 at the end of Round 26.
Halfback Ben Hunt once again provided the ‘X’ Factor and continues to over achieve in the eyes of the pre-season doubters.
Hunt’s presence of mind and clinical decision making is what stands the Broncos above the teams below them on the ladder but he is still in desperate need of some backup from a capable five-eighth. The closest person to that at the moment is Justin Hodges is a chance to return from a hamstring injury this week.
Even on certain occasions the Broncos are better served when Hunt plays much wider in the left hand side of attacking formations where the team tends to lack penetration other than what is afforded to them by the forwards executing stock standard power plays.
The glaring fact is that the Broncos struggle against top 8 sides when playing away from home and if my stats serve me correctly they haven’t had a victory in this department since Round 1 when they defeated the Bulldogs by 6 points.
So get on the Rabbitohs, but not to cover the line. The Broncos may struggle against the tops sides when on the road but are no slouches at keeping games close and covering lines.
Mike’s Tip: Rabbitohs
Mike’s Best Bet: Rabbitohs Head to Head @ $1.38 (Centrebet)
Eels v Bulldogs
Fri 15 Aug, 7:45PM, ANZ Stadium
Eels: 1. Jarryd Hayne 2. Semi Radradra 3. William Hopoate 4. Ryan Morgan 5. Vai Toutai 6. Corey Norman 7. Chris Sandow 8. Tim Mannah 9. Isaac De Gois 10. Fuifui Moimoi 11. Kenny Edwards 12. Tepai Moeroa 13. Joseph Paulo
Can you believe that just three weeks ago the Bulldogs were sitting pretty on 26 competition points whilst the Eels seemed light years behind them on 20 points?
Since then the Bulldogs have not won a game and the Eels have won all three putting them just one position lower than the Bulldogs on for and against.
Things got worse for the Bulldogs through the week with their five-eighth Josh Reynolds copping a three week suspension.
Moses Mbye has been named to replace Reynolds and he and halfback Trent Hodkinson will have the hopes of the Bulldogs fans firmly on their shoulders as they look to stop the rot and avoid a fourth straight loss that may see them drop out of the top 8.
The Eels are neither here nor there this season. They put on some great performances at home but still struggle on the road and it’s fair to say a lot of their wins in general rely heavily on fullback Jarryd Hayne.
Hayne is no doubt a class act and opponents can’t simply target him in order to shut him down, but the Bulldogs umbrella style of defence may unwittingly prevent Hayne’s talent manifesting in line breaks up the middle of the field.
Most of the Bulldogs’ defensive woes in 2014 have come on the flanks whereas Hayne likes to lurk behind the play around the middle of the field and on the edges which is where the Canterbury defence is generally quite solid. If the Eels are aware of this then Coach Brad Arthur may be best served by playing Hayne much wider, almost like a second five-eighth.
I’m just, just leaning towards the Bulldogs in this one but the odds of $1.91 for both sides don’t surprise me at all and are pretty much what I expected.
Best to stay out of this one in the betting department, but if you’re going to have a bet anyway, look to the Bulldogs.
Mike’s Tip: Bulldogs
Mike’s Best Bet: None
Mike’s Casual Bet: Bulldogs Head to Head @ $1.98 (Pinnacle Sports)
Storm v Sharks
Sat 16 Aug, 5:30PM, AAMI Park
Storm: 1. Billy Slater 2. Sisa Waqa 3. Will Chambers 4. Mahe Fonua 5. Marika Koroibete 6. Ben Roberts 7. Cooper Cronk 8. Jesse Bromwich 9. Cameron Smith 10. Bryan Norrie 11. Kevin Proctor 12. Ryan Hoffman 13. Ryan Hinchcliffe
Some of the Storm players will probably still wake up on game day wondering if they actually lost to the Knights last week or if it was all a bad dream.
When they realise the nightmare is a reality, they’ll be extra determined to win this encounter against the Sharks to avoid the wrath of Coach Craig Bellamy.
Could you imagine being on the end of Craig Bellamy’s spray if the Storm went down to the 16th placed Sharks in front of their home ground with a top 8 spot on the line?
A major factor working in the Storm’s favour is Sharks’ prop Andrew Fifita’s injury which has him out for the remainder of the season.
Fifita was instrumental in the Sharks’ improved performance last week and without him they could end up on the wrong end of a flogging.
These two sides have met four times at AAMI Park and the Storm have won every time and it’s likely to be five times once the full time siren sounds. The big question is; how much will the Storm win by?
I can’t say exactly but I believe it will be more than the 18.5 line on offer and with Pinnacle Sports offering $1.96 for -20.0, that’s enough of a sweetener to get on and risk a refund if the Storm win by exactly 20 points.
Mike’s Tip: Storm
Mike’s Best Bet: Storm -20.0 @ $1.96 (Pinnacle Sports)
Tigers v Roosters
Sat 16 Aug, 7:30PM, Leichhardt Oval
Tigers: 1. Mitchell Moses 2. Kurtis Rowe 3. Tim Simona 4. Bodene Thompson 5. Keith Lulia 6. Curtis Sironen 7. Blake Austin 8. Aaron Woods 9. Robbie Farah 10. Keith Galloway 11. Adam Blair 12. Dene Halatau 13. Sauaso Sue
The following preview is based on the premise that Luke Brooks will take the field for the Tigers. Brooks is 50/50 at this stage and I stress THAT I WILL NOT BE BACKINGTHE TIGERS WITH THE LINE IF BROOKS DOES NOT PLAY.
So please, leave betting until kickoff when we will know if Brooks will take the field.
If he doesn’t, I would advise staying out of this one.
Straight into the stats for this one as I look to highlight the reason I think the under siege Tigers will go close to the Roosters provided Luke Brooks plays for the Tigers.
The Roosters have only won 3 of their last 6 games and are hardly convincing at the moment, at least in my eyes.
In those 6 games they weren’t able to defeat the Knights or the Sharks and only managed to defeat the Titans and Dragons by 8 points.
Clearly they are a lesser side while Sonny Bill Williams sits on the sideline with a broken thumb but that’s obvious given the calibre of the player.
The Tigers got belted by 58 points last week but I don’t expect them to produce a performance similar to that, especially if Brooks returns to take control from the inside out.
+12.5 is available for the Tigers and one converted try on top of that means the Roosters have to score 4 times in order to win.
I stress again, wait until we find out of Luke Brooks is playing before having a bet.
Mike’s Tip: Roosters
Mike’s Best Bet: READ CAREFULLY: Tigers +12.5 @ $1.93 (Bet365)
Dragons v Raiders
Sat 16 Aug, 5:30PM, GIO Stadium
Raiders: 1. Jordan Rapana 2. Bill Tupou 3. Jarrod Croker 4. Jack Wighton 5. Edrick Lee 6. Anthony Milford 7. Josh McCrone 8. Shannon Boyd 9. Glen Buttriss 10. Brett White 11. Josh Papalii 12. Jarrad Kennedy 13. Matt McIlwrick
We won’t be able to get through this preview without mentioning the supposed ‘hoodoo’ that hovers over these teams each time they meet in Canberra.
The Dragons have been unable to win a game in the nation’s capital since the year 2000 when Coach Paul McGregor was still playing for the club.
Even in the 17 games played at all venues since 2002 the Dragons have only managed one win.
To the present and the Raiders almost held on for a win over the Eels last week but couldn’t quite hang in for the full 80 minutes and unfortunately left Darwin with their losing streak increased to four.
To avoid a fifth straight loss, the Raiders must best a Dragons team that are coming off a loss of their own.
It was against the Panthers last week where the Dragons fell short despite, in my opinion, showing enough to prove they were good enough to win had they dialled up their combinations in a more professional manner and been prepared to grind with the Panthers.
When the Dragons slipped behind the Penrith side on the scoreboard they unnecessarily resorted to a desperate style of footy rather than sticking to the combinations they had worked so hard on at training.
If Ben Creagh and his troops have learned from their lack of discipline, they should prove to be one, maybe two converted tries better than the Raiders and ultimately put an end to the hoodoo.
Too much inconsistency surrounds these sides for me to have a bet on either and I’d prefer to sit this one out.
Mike’s Tip: Dragons
Mike’s Best Bet: None
Mike’s Casual Bet: Total match points over 44.5 @ $1.91 (Bet365)
Knights v Warriors
Sun 17 Aug, 2:00PM, Hunter Stadium
Knights: 1. Kurt Gidley 2. Chanel Mata’utia 3. Dane Gagai 4. Joseph Leilua 5. Akuila Uate 6. Jarrod Mullen 7. Tyrone Roberts 8. Kade Snowden 9. Adam Clydsdale 10. Willie Mason 11. Beau Scott 12. Robbie Rochow 13. Jeremy Smith
The New Zealand Warriors will go a long way towards securing a finals berth if they can walk off Hunter Stadium after 80 minutes with two competition points in their back pocket.
But if they are to pull off that required win then they will want to play much better than what they did against the Sharks last week when they only just managed to scrape through with a win off the back of a sloppy performance.
Konrad Hurrell has remained in Auckland and obviously won’t be taking any part in the match which sees Ben Henry move into the centres and he’ll no doubt be wreaking havoc on the Knights’ edge defenders.
You all have probably heard by now of the Knights’ amazing after the siren win against the Storm last week which will have them convinced they can beat anyone on their day when they apply themselves, and also apply discipline to their game.
There’s no doubting the Knights have become a better team in the latter half of the season than their 14th place on the ladder suggests although their improvements are in vein as they can no longer make the finals.
With nothing but pride to play for, I still think the Knights’ will still give the Warriors a push and with a very high chance of rain playing a part, the wet conditions will keep the Knights close throughout the contest.
The rain is also likely to keep the scoring to a minimum and I would suggest getting on the ‘under’ option before the line of 38.5 in the total points scored market drops any further.
Mike’s Tip: Warriors
Mike’s Best Bet: Total match points ‘Under’ 38.5 @ $1.91 (Bet365)
Titans v Sea Eagles
Sun 17 Aug, 3:00PM, Robina Stadium
Titans: 1. William Zillman 2. Kevin Gordon 3. James Roberts 4. Brad Takairangi 5. Anthony Don 6. Aidan Sezer 7. Daniel Mortimer 8. Luke Bailey 9. Beau Falloon 10. Luke Douglas 11. Mark Minichiello 12. Nate Myles 13. Greg Bird
Rain is also expected for the second of the Sunday footy clashes but I can’t in all honesty say that it will help the Titans get close to the Sea Eagles.
Manly are coming off a loss against the white hot Rabbitohs but in my preview of that game last week I wrote that I expected it to happen as the Sea Eagles players looked very tired after a tough couple of weeks.
Having now had a 9 day break since their last match, the Manly players will no doubt be rejuvenated and ready to go once more as they prepare to play finals footy in the coming weeks for the 10th straight season.
The Titans are playing their first game with Neil Henry as coach after the club decided it was time to let John Cartwright go due to the club failing to make yet another finals series for the 4th straight year.
I have to tip the Sea Eagles in this match but with the line a hefty 10.5 in a wet weather match, I’ll be steering well clear of that one in the betting department.
The head to head odds on Manly are also a bit to my disliking so I’ll be staying right out of this one.
Mike’s Tip: Sea Eagles
Mike’s Best Bet:
Mike’s Casual Bet: Sea Eagles 1-12 @ $3.00 (Bet365)
Panthers v Cowboys
Mon 18 Aug, 7:00PM, Centrebet Stadium
Panthers: 1. Matt Moylan 2. Josh Mansour 3. Dean Whare 4. Jamal Idris 5. David Simmons 6. Will Smith 7. Jamie Soward 8. Nigel Plum 9. James Segeyaro 10. Sam McKendry 11. Sika Manu 12. Isaah Yeo 13. Adam Docker
The Panthers keep plugging away against the tide of public opinion that they are the premiership pretenders by hanging on to their top four spot on the ladder.
They have certainly had a very soft run and enjoyed utilising their home ground advantage when playing at Sportingbet Stadium.
Their opponents the Cowboys have struggled all year when playing on the road having won just two games with one of those being against the 16th placed Sharks which isn’t much to crow about.
They are currently on a four game winning streak but it has been against teams outside the top 8 except for the Bulldogs and one must ask if it has lulled the Cowboys into a false sense of security.
In the Cowboys’ favour, depending how you like to look at it, is their recent history against the Panthers which shows them winning the last four matchups, although three of them were played in North Queensland.
Of the last three matches played between these sides in Penrith, the Panthers have won two.
I certainly think it has and certainly like that the Panthers are outsiders in this game despite their extensive injury list.
I don’t find the line necessary here and will be getting on the Panthers head to head. Get on early whilst the hefty $2.11 is still available at Pinnacle Sports.
Mike’s Tip: Panthers
Mike’s Best Bet: Panthers Head to Head $2.11 (Pinnacle Sports)