The following are previews with betting tips for Round 5 of the 2017 NRL season.
Bulldogs v Broncos
Thu March 30, 8:05 pm, ANZ Stadium
The Brisbane Broncos will take on the Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs this Thursday night with both teams in very different positions to start the year. Facing each of 2016’s top four teams in their opening four games, the Broncos have established themselves as a premiership contender with wins over the Sharks and Raiders, while the Bulldogs are under pressure after a 36-0 drubbing by the Sea Eagles last week.
The Broncos will go into the match unchanged, while the Bulldogs will replace injured halfback Moses Mbye with Matt Frawley in their only change.
The Broncos should be heavy favourites for this game and rightly so with their performances over the opening rounds. Conversely, the Bulldogs have struggled this year with a lack of leadership and execution in their spine impacting the rest of the team heavily. Expect the Broncos’ spine to take control of the game with completion football, however if the Bulldogs’ forward rotation can return to their best, they will hope to keep the lighter Brisbane pack on the back-foot to limit the impact of the Broncos’ lethal backline. Expect the Broncos to come out on top.
Betting Tip: Broncos -8.0 @ $1.92 (Crownbet)
Roosters v Sea Eagles
Fri March 31, 6:00 pm, Allianz Stadium
The Manly Warringah Sea Eagles will take on the competition-leading Sydney Roosters this Friday night after both clubs look set to put a difficult period of poor form behind them. The Roosters are looking closer to the side that won three consecutive minor-premierships every week, while the Sea Eagles are resurgent after back-to-back drubbings of the Cowboys and Bulldogs.
Co-captain Jake Friend will return from injury in a massive boost for the Roosters while regular centre Blake Ferguson has been included on an extended bench. The Sea Eagles will go the match unchanged.
The Roosters will go into the match as heavy favourites on the back of their form over the opening rounds, but there could be some value in an up-and-coming Manly outfit led by a resurgent Daly Cherry-Evans. After falling out out-of-favour with representative selectors, the Manly Captain Cherry-Evans looks to be getting back to his damaging best. While the Sea Eagles are definitely a chance, the Roosters have a more complete side and should come away with the points.
Betting Tip: Total Match Points over 38.5 @ $1.90 (Topbetta)
Cowboys v Rabbitohs
Fri March 31, 8:05 pm, 1300Smiles Stadium
The North Queensland Cowboys will take on the South Sydney Rabbitohs this Friday night with the game looking set to go ahead in Townsville after cyclone Debbie cast doubt over the venue. The Cowboys have come through a difficult period of injuries well with key players returning to boost the Queensland club. The Rabbitohs will continue their mixed start to the season with Cowboys to be a major test for a team that has only won against the lowly Sea Eagles and Knights.
For the Cowboys, key players Lachlan Coote and Jason Taumalolo will return in a massive boost for the club. Braidon Burns will return on the wing for Manly, relegating Sitiveni Moceidreke to the bench.
The Cowboys will go into the match as heavy favourites, particularly with the return of Coote and Taumalolo. Unless the Rabbitohs can pull off a special performance, expect the Queenslanders to get the points.
Betting Tip: Cowboys -9.5 @ $1.90 (Crownbet)
Sharks v Knights
Sat April 1, 3:00 pm, Southern Cross Group Stadium
The Newcastle Knights will take on reigning premiers the Cronulla Sharks this Saturday afternoon after the Hunter Valley club’s rebuilding phase hit another speed-bump after a 40-nil drubbing at the hands of the Penrith Panthers last week. Their opposition in the Sharks have come through a reasonably difficult period well, and with two wins and losses they will be looking for a victory against the Knights to get their premiership defence back on track.
New Sharks recruit James Segeyaro’s involvement against the Eels last week was limited, and with rookie Jayden Brailey holding the starting hooker position, Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan looks set to acclimate Segeyaro back into the NRL slowly.
Valentine Holmes will return to fullback in an unchanged Sharks side, while Brendan Elliot will return at fullback for the Knights in the only change for the Newcastle club.
The Sharks will go into the match as heavy favourites, and after an inconsistent start to the season, Shane Flanagan will view this game as an opportunity for the Sharks to hone their game. Expect Cronulla to push for a polished performance, while the Knights will do everything they can to get their opposition rattled. Expect Cronulla to get the points.
Betting Tip: Total Match Points Over 43.5 @ $1.91 (Bet365)
Raiders v Eels
Sat April 1, 5:30 pm, GIO Stadium
The Canberra Raiders will host the Parramatta Eels this Saturday evening in a match between two clubs with enormous potential but inconsistent results so far in 2017. The Raiders have won just one of their opening games – although their losses have come against the heavyweights Sharks, Cowboys and Broncos – while the Eels have been inconsistent with two wins and losses.
David Taylor will join the bench to replace the suspended Elliot Whitehead for the Raiders, while Tepai Moeroa will also return for the Eels at the expense of David Gower in the only changes for both clubs.
Both teams taking the field have an enormous ceiling but have been plagued with inconsistency in recent times. At their best, both are premiership contenders, but the Raiders are certainly the more developed of the two squads. Ricky Stuart’s men will be hurting after they were their own worst enemy against the Broncos, and expect the Canberra outfit to bounce back with a win over the Eels at home.
Betting Tip: Eels +7.5 @ $1.91 (William Hill)
Storm v Panthers
Sat April 1, 7:30 pm, AAMI Park
The Melbourne Storm will host the Penrith Panthers this Saturday night in a massive clash between two highly rated outfits. The Storm sit equal first on the ladder having won all their games this year, while their opposition have recovered well from a terrible round one loss that fans will be justified in calling a lapse in concentration after big wins over the Knights and Tigers and a narrow loss to the competition leading Roosters.
The Storm will welcome back Jordan McLean in the front-row, while the Panthers will go into the match unchanged from last week.
Melbourne should go into the match as heavy favourites, particularly with their home-ground advantage in the Victorian capital. Despite their unbeaten run, the Storm have been patchy in their last few games against the Broncos and Tigers – coming from behind to win both games. While they are by no means out of form, Melbourne’s playing-structures have been impacted by the return of Billy Slater and injury to Cameron Munster, which could result in a poorly executed game-plan. However, unless the Storm play particularly poorly or the Panthers produce a performance that puts Melbourne off their game – expect the Victorians to get the win.
Betting Tip: Total Match Points Over 35.5 @ $1.90 (Palmerbet)
Warriors v Titans
Sun April 2, 2:00 pm, Mt Smart Stadium
The New Zealand Warriors will host the Gold Coast Titans this Sunday afternoon in a match between two struggling teams desperate to get their season back on track. Both teams are in the middle of a rebuilding process, but are still very much under-achieving given the talent in their rosters.
Kieran Foran has again been named to make his club debut for the Warriors after he was a late scratching last week due to a hamstring injury. Nathaniel Roache will also replace Bunty Afoa on the bench for the Kiwis. For the Titans, new recruit Chris Grevsmuhl will make his club debut from the bench to cover the injured Agnatius Paasi.
While both teams are struggling, the Warriors will go into the match as favourites, likely due to their home-ground advantage – usually a potent factor for the New Zealand club. The Warriors have been struggling for discipline but expect the pressure to perform at their home-ground to spur them to a win. Warriors to get the points in a high-scoring affair.
Betting Tip: Total Match Points Over 42.5 @ $2.00 (Bet365)
Tigers v Dragons
Sun April 2, 4:00 pm, ANZ Stadium
The Wests Tigers will play the St George Illawarra Dragons this Sunday afternoon with both clubs entering the 2017 season under enormous pressure to perform. Former Tigers’ mentor Jason Taylor succumbed to that pressure before round four, while the Dragons have surprised critics with wonderful performances from their new recruits spurring them to three wins in four games.
Jamal Idris will start at centre for the Tigers as Jack Littlejohn replaces the injured Luke Brooks in the halves. The Dragons will remain unchanged from last week.
Much of the criticism of the Dragons in recent years has revolved around their forward pack, but the St George forward rotation is quickly proving to be among the most underrated in the competition off the back of Paul Vaughan, Jack de Belin and Tyson Frizell. The Tigers showed they have spirit with their performance against the Storm last week, but expect the Dragons to get the points.
Betting Tip: Total Match Points Under 38.5 @ $1.88 (Ladbrokes)
Warriors v Titans Total Match Points Over 42.5 @ $2.00 (Bet365)