NRL Round 2 Previews and Tips
Bulldogs v Eels
Fri 13 Mar, 7:35pm, ANZ Stadium
Friday night’s clash between the Parramatta Eels and Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs looks set to be a challenge for both sides in their search for consistency. The Bulldogs will be kicking themselves after a miraculous comeback in the last 10 minutes saw them lose 24-18 to the Panthers, and Des Hasler has surely worked out the kinks from his usually disciplined side on the training paddock this week.
Conversely, the a red hot Eels outfit will be hoping for more of the same as they look to add another big name scalp to their 42-12 defeat of Manly last Friday night. Apart from suspended Parramatta backrower Junior Paulo, Brad Arthur will field the same team as last week, while Des Hasler will bring in Moses Mbye for the suspended five-eighth Josh Reynolds.
It’s a tough one to call given the Eels dominance over Manly and the fact that the Bulldogs seemingly found their mojo in the last quarter against the Panthers. Expect a much improved Bulldogs outfit this week, and an Eels squad hoping to keep their momentum going. Although the Eels were very good against the Sea Eagles, clubs traditionally play quite poorly after posting a big win. Expect a well-coached Bulldogs outfit to be firing and keen to make amends to last week’s disappointing loss.
Ben’s Tips: Bulldogs 1-12 @ $3.29 (Pinnacle Sports)
Sharks v Broncos
Fri 13 Mar, 8:35pm, Remondis Stadium
This Friday’s match between the Brisbane Broncos and Cronulla Sharks looks set to become venomous as Benny Barba hopes to prove Wayne Bennett’s decision to sack him was a mistake. Similarly, the Broncos squad will be out for blood after the Sharks handed the Broncos their most embarrassing defeat in 2014: the Sharks put on 24 unanswered points in the last quarter to win the game 24-22 in a miraculous come from behind victory, much the Broncos’ embarrassment.
After a similarly embarrassing display against the Rabbitohs last week, which saw the Brisbane club lose 36-6, Bennett has wielded the axe. The Broncos will name a completely new interchange rotation as Test and Origin stalwart Sam Thaiday is demoted to the bench, to be replaced by Matt Gillett. An injury to Mitchell Dodds, the suspension of James Gavet and a poor showing from Broncos’ utility Aaron Whitchurch will see exciting under 20s duo Jo Ofahengaue and Kodi Nikorima make their debuts.
The Sharks have named an unchanged squad after their disappointing 24-20 loss to the Raiders last week. Benny Barba will be feeling the heat as Sharks fans have already begun to call for his head after a woeful display against the Raiders last week.
After their capitulation to the Rabbitohs last week, Wayne Bennett has seemingly taken the right steps in adjusting his playing roster. Cronulla are in an equally worrisome position after a disappointing showing against the Raiders last week. Expect a more disciplined Broncos squad to take the field on Friday night, and if given equal possession, Brisbane should come away with the win.
Ben’s Tips: Total match points over 38.5 @ $1.91 (Ladbrokes)
Cowboys v Knights
Sat 14 Mar, 9:00pm, 1300Smiles Stadium
Cowboys Coach Paul Green will be hoping for a fresh start this Saturday night against the Knights after his team’s 28-4 defeat to the Roosters last week. The Cowboys looked nowhere near as dangerous as many predicted as they began their 2015 campaign with their trademark sluggish start.
New Knights coach Rick Stone will be happy with his team’s strong performance against the Warriors last week as the Newcastle club surprised many in their first game after the departure of Wayne Bennett. Kurt Gidley’s return from injury at fullback relegates Kangaroo Sione Mata’utia to an extended bench, while exciting Cowboys youngster Kelepi Tanginoa takes the place of Glenn Hall on the Cowboys interchange.
While the Knights are showing promising signs after the departure of Wayne Bennett, expect a Cowboys outfit eager to make up for their round 1 capitulation last week. The Knights may not make it easy for them, but the Cowboys should walk away with the points.
Ben’s Tips: Total match points under 40.5 @ $1.90 (Centrebet)
Panthers v Titans
Sat 14 Mar, 4:30pm, Carrington Park Bathurst
Despite the Cocaine controversy at the Titans, spirits at the Gold Coast should be sky high after having secured the biggest signing in the club’s history in Daly Cherry-Evans. With an equally bright future, the Panthers will be looking to crash the Titans’ party as the club again faces the difficult prospect of playing with several first graders omitted from their side.
Panthers Coach Ivan Cleary will be hoping for more of the same after the Panthers put on a strong show against the ‘Dogs last week, while new Titans Coach Neil Henry should be encouraged with his squad’s gritty – albeit heartbreaking – 19-18 loss to the Tigers last week.
While the Titans are displaying encouraging signs in the face of adversity, expect a Panthers squad pushing for the top four to run rampant. Ivan Cleary knows the importance of for and against in this competition, so he’ll be looking for a big score to put the Panthers on top. Neil Henry and the men from the Gold Coast could prove stubborn against the Panthers, though given the controversy surrounding the club, there’s won’t be a mountain of pressure to perform.
Ben’s Tips: Panthers -12.5 @ $1.95 (Pinnacle Sports)
Sea Eagles v Storm
Sat 14 Mar, 7:00pm, Brookvale Oval
The 2015 chapter of the Sea Eagles rivalry with the Storm looks set to go off with a bang as both traditionally dominant teams look toward uncertain futures. A bombshell has been dropped at Manly this week, as star halves duo Daly Cherry Evans and Kieran Foran both announced they will depart the Sea Eagles on multi-million dollar deals with the Titans and Eels respectively for the 2016 season. The Sea Eagles’ current shortage of Prop forwards will pale in comparison to the fallout of losing the best halves combination in the NRL both in the same year.
Conversely, with an ageing roster, Melbourne have given their fans hope with a strong forward performance against the Dragons last week led by young guns Jesse Bromwich, Tohu Harris and Dale Finucane. Despite ‘The big three’ entering the twilight years of their careers, Craig Bellamy looks set to prove the critics wrong as the Storm look dangerous as ever.
After an encouraging, albeit sloppy performance last week, Craig Bellamy will be hoping for a big improvement against Manly. It’s difficult to predict how Manly will perform after so many years of success in the face of adversity, but this time they may have reached their limit.
Ben’s Tips: Storm -3.5 @ $1.95 (Pinnacle Sports)
Rabbitohs v Roosters
Sun 15 Mar, 4:00pm, ANZ Stadium
This weekend’s blockbuster clash between the Rabbitohs and Roosters – usually taking pride of place in the NRL as the season opener – looks sure to set ANZ Stadium alight as both teams come off massive victories in Round 1. With each club naming unchanged sides after mauling the Broncos and Cowboys, both coaches will be confident of their chances as they hope to establish their dominance over their Sydney rival.
The Rabbitohs proved that there’s no lack of hunger in their squad as they added the Broncos’ scalp last week to their Charity Shield, World Cup and Auckland Nines trophies won in the off-season. It will be a battle of the halves on Sunday afternoon as premiership-winning duo Luke Keary and Adam Reynolds look to take on firing former NSW halves James Maloney and Mitchell Pearce. Blues’ Origin Coach Laurie Daley will be looking on in interest as all four are in the running for Origin football in 2015.
This one is proving very difficult to pick, as both side’s come off dominant displays last week. Expect a low scoring slug fest as both forward packs look to dominate their opposition.
Ben’s Tips: Roosters Head to Head @ $2.18 (Pinnacle Sports)
Raiders v Warriors
Sun 15 Mar, 6:30pm, GIO Stadium
After a disappointing start to their 2015 season, Warriors Coach Andrew McFadden will be scratching his head over how to get his squad to perform. There were promising signs for the Warriors in the off-season, with many members performing well in the Four Nations tournament and a number of exciting new signings set to give the club a new air of professionalism.
Conversely, the Raiders surprised everyone with their performance against the Sharks last week, with promising performances from recruits Iosia Soliola, Blake Austin and Frank-Paul Nuuausala. Coming into this year with a new look spine, many tipped the Raiders for the Wooden Spoon in 2015, but new Coach Ricky Stuart has other ideas as he looks to be getting the best out of his squad.
As the Warriors often take time to warm up and find form, expect a solid Canberra outfit to put in another good performance. With the Canberra spine clicking well, Warriors Coach Andrew McFadden will be hoping the return of Sam Tomkins can inspire a return to form for Golden Boot winner Shaun Johnson after a poor showing by the star halfback last week.
Ben’s Tips: Raiders head to head @ $2.16 (Betfair)
Tigers v Dragons
Mon 16 Mar, 7:00pm, Campbelltown Stadium
The Tigers surprised many last week after their young squad put in a gritty performance against a desperate Titans outfit, while the Dragons will be disappointed in their showing last week against the Storm as a number of big name players underperformed.
New Dragons Coach Paul McGregor undoubtedly breathed a sigh of relief last week as star fullback Josh Dugan was cleared of a serious ankle injury, while new Tigers Coach Jason Taylor will be looking for the further development of his young squad.
While the Dragons played poorly last week, their opposition in the Melbourne Storm proved to be a tough task in round 1, while the Tigers won by the skin of their teeth after a Pat Richards field goal against a rag-tag Titans squad. Expect Paul McGregor to get a good performance out of the Dragons this week as they should prove to be too much to handle for an inexperienced Tigers squad.
Ben’s Tips: Dragons Head to Head @ $2.70 (Pinnacle Sports)