NRL Round 3 Previews and Tips

NRL Round 3 Previews and Tips

Broncos v Cowboys

Fri 20 Mar, 8:35pm, Suncorp Stadium

The highly anticipated Queensland derby clash between traditional rivals the North Queensland Cowboys and Brisbane Broncos is shaping to be an extremely interesting insight into the form of both teams. After posting disappointing consecutive home-ground losses to start the season, Cowboys’ coach Paul Green has named Lachlan Coote at fullback for his first game since the end of 2013.

Wayne Bennett has shown faith in his squad, making no changes after their ugly win over the Sharks last week. With both clubs’ only posting three tries in the opening two games of the season, Wayne Bennett will be looking at his halves combination of Anthony Milford and Ben Hunt to find their mojo, while Paul Green will be hoping Michael Morgan’s move to five-eighth will be the secret ingredient to bring out the best in Origin and Test superstar Jonathan Thurston.


Touted as title favourites before season 2015, the Cowboys have once made their notoriously slow start to the NRL season with consecutive losses. Conversely, the Broncos managed to bounce back – albeit with little class – against the Sharks last week. Given the Cowboys’ lethal halves combination and superstar forward pack, expect them to return to their winning ways against the Broncos in another ugly, low scoring affair.

Ben’s Tips: Total match points under 39.5 @ $1.90 (Unibet)



Sea Eagles v Bulldogs

Fri 20 Mar, 7:35pm, Brookvale Oval

Friday’s clash between fierce rivals the Manly Sea Eagles and the Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs is shaping to be a blockbuster as both squads returned to form in style with a victory last week after disappointing showings in round one.

Coach Des Hasler has named an unchanged squad in the aftermath of his Bulldogs dominant performance over the Eels, while under-pressure Manly coach Geoff Toovey has made the bold move to name ball playing backrower Feleti Mateo at five-eighth, likely to combat the Bulldogs’ monster forward pack.


While the Sea Eagles were heroic in their victory against Melbourne last week, questions still remain over the strength of their forward pack. With 2014 stalwarts Josh Starling and Brenton Lawrence missing, Manly’s engine room can only run on courage for so long. The back-against-the-wall mentality that Toovey has so carefully cultivated shouldn’t be enough to overcome the Bulldogs’ forward pack. With Brett Morris revelling in his new fullback role, expect the ‘Dogs to be firing.

Ben’s Tips: Total match points under 39.5 @ $1.90 (Unibet)



Raiders v Dragons

Sat 21 Mar, 5:30pm, GIO Stadium

The St George Illawarra Dragons take on the Canberra Raiders this Saturday after becoming the lowest scoring team in the opening two rounds of the NRL competition in over a decade. And with injuries to star fullback Josh Dugan and Captain Ben Creagh Dragons coach Paul McGregor will be hoping his side can find some spark against an exciting Raiders outfit.

The Raiders look to have a new energy as Ricky Stuart continues his first year coaching the Canberra club. An Injury to rookie fullback Jack Wighton has caused a backline shuffle as Jordan Rapana moves into the custodian role and Edrick Lee moves to the wing.


The Dragons have failed to impress in their two outings so far in 2015 with disappointing efforts against the Storm and Tigers and with two major cogs in their team in Josh Dugan and Ben Creagh out injured, don’t expect them to blow the Raiders out of the park. The Raiders entered 2015 with a new spine and a new energy, and will look to continue proving their critics wrong with a win over the Dragons.

Ben’s Tips: Raiders -3.5 @ $1.92 (bet365)



Storm v Sharks

Sat 21 Mar, 7:30pm, AAMI Park

After their narrow loss to the Sea Eagles last week, the Storm will take on the Sharks this Saturday night. Storm coach Craig Bellamy has named an unchanged squad to the one that went down against Manly last week as the Storm continue to prove their critics wrong after strong displays in the opening two rounds.

The Sharks will be hoping for their first win of the 2015 season as star recruit Ben Barba again failed to perform against the Broncos last week. With Sam Tagatese returning to the Front Row, Sharks’ coach Shane Flanagan has named injured Origin star Luke Lewis on an extended bench.


The Sharks are yet to make an impact in the 2015 season after an ill-disciplined performance against the Broncos last week, while the Storm have surprised many this year as critics have raised questions over their aging roster. Expect a slick Storm outfit to out-class a desperate Sharks squad.

Ben’s Tips: Storm -9.5 @ $1.92 (Ladbrokes)



Warriors v Eels

Sat 21 Mar, 3:00pm, Mt Smart Stadium

Saturday afternoon will bring an exciting contest between the Parramatta Eels and the New Zealand Warriors as both clubs have endured turbulent starts to season 2015. Eels’ coach Brad Arthur has named a new left edge centre-wing combination after injuries to Beau Champion and excitement machine Semi Radradra last week, while Warriors’ coach Andrew McFadden named an unchanged squad after their defeat of the Raiders in the previous round.

Despite their heavy loss to the Bulldogs last week – the severity of which can be attributed to their horrendous injury toll in the game – the Eels will come into round three confident as Chris Sandow and Anthony Watmough overcome injuries to be named in the squad, while the Warriors look set to continue to improve.


The Eels have displayed tremendous courage across the first two rounds and their capitulation to the Bulldogs last week can be excused to an extent due to the injuries four players picked up. While the Warriors are coming off a victory and the Eels head to New Zealand after a heavy loss, expect a proud Parramatta outfit to walk away with the points.

Ben’s Tips: Warriors -7.5 @ $1.95 (Pinnacle Sports)



Rabbitohs v Tigers

Sun 22 Mar, 4:00pm, ANZ Stadium

Defending Premiers the South Sydney Rabbitohs will look to continue their winning streak against the Tigers this Sunday. Having not lost a football game since round 26 last year, many have said that the Rabbitohs have forgotten how to lose. Despite being named, former Souths’ Captain John Sutton will not participate after playing the bulk of the second half of the Rabbitohs’ victory against the Roosters last week with a broken jaw.

The Tigers named an unchanged squad to the one that dominated the Dragons last week as new coach Jason Taylor will expect more brilliance from star fullback James Tedesco


While the Tigers’ young squad is an exciting prospect for 2015, expect the Rabbitohs to temper the expectations on the developing Tigers outfit with a dominant display. John Sutton’s absence may affect the defending Premiers, but they have the depth to cover his loss.

Ben’s Tips: Souths -12.0 @ $1.98 (Pinnacle Sports)



Titans v Knights

Sun 22 Mar, 6:30pm, Cbus Super Stadium

Titans’ coach Neil Henry will be breathing a sigh of relief after suspended Titans trio Beau Falloon, Greg Bird and Dave Taylor were cleared to return by the Gold Coast club’s board last week in time for their clash with the Newcastle Knights this Sunday night. The return of the suspended Titans players will add starch and experience to the Titans pack as they look for their first win of the season.

The Knights’ gritty comeback-victories over the Warriors and Cowboys have surprised many as the club looks set for success after the departure of Wayne Bennett. Incumbent Kangaroo Sione Mata’utia looks set to miss out as Tyler Randell’s return relegates him to 18th man.


The Titans were unlucky against the Panthers last week, with a number of crucial mistakes by the referee knocking them out of the game. Expect a hungry Titans squad bolstered by their returning stars to be out for blood as they look for their first win of the season.

Ben’s Tips: Titans Head to Head @ $1.25 (



Roosters v Panthers

Mon 23 Mar, 7:00pm, Allianz Stadium

Finals favourites the Sydney Roosters will take on the Penrith Panthers after their loss to South Sydney last week. Having named an unchanged side, Trent Robinson will be disappointed in his team’s inability to establish themselves as the dominant side in the competition. Panthers’ coach Ivan Cleary will be looking for more out of his squad as a number of referee decisions covered their slow start against the Titans last week. Incumbent Kangaroo Josh Mansour returns for the Panthers on the wing, while Isaac John replaced injured five-eighth Jamie Soward.


This game is shaping as a difficult one to call as both clubs look to be in fine form. The Roosters will be gutted they missed out on the reigning Premiers’ scalp last week, and will look to 2014 Semi-Finalists the Panthers to restore their lost pride. The Panthers will be hoping for more of the same after a dominant attacking display against the Titans, though injuries may hold them back.

Ben’s Tips: Roosters Head to Head @ $1.45 (Ladbrokes)



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