The following are previews with betting tips for Round 5 of the 2018 NRL season.
Raiders v Bulldogs
Thu, Apr 5, 7:50pm
The fifth round of the 2018 NRL premiership starts with a game between two clubs who have had disappointing starts to their respective seasons. The Raiders played very poorly against Manly last week for their fourth consecutive loss to start the season. Poor individual performances from key players as well as a lack of cohesion in defence are hurting the Canberra club and they will face a Canterbury outfit similarly searching for the right mix after a controversial loss to the Rabbitohs last week gave them a 1-3 record to start the season.
The Bulldogs will welcome Kerrod Holland to the bench to cover the injured Aiden Tolman, while the Raiders have made the big call to drop former representative forward Josh Papalii as Liam Knight joins the interchange as cover.
The Bulldogs were unlucky last week after poor refereeing led to Canterbury captain Josh Jackson being caught out of position – ultimately leading to one of Souths’ tries. The ‘Dogs are still searching for winning combinations but have been reasonably competitive so far this season. Their opposition in the Raiders have produced some terrible form, particularly in the closing stages of the match. Coach Ricky Stuart has threatened to start dropping players if they do not improve but with many systemic issues at the Canberra club – expect the Bulldogs to get the points.
Betting Tip: Bulldogs Head to Head @ $2.20 (Bet365)
Sharks v Roosters
Fri, Apr 6, 6:00pm
The Roosters were ambushed by the Warriors last week in a 30-6 contest no one predicted and a concerning sign for the tri-colours’ faithful. They will face no easy test this week against a Cronulla outfit who proved they were not out of touch after producing a gritty win over Melbourne in round four.
Josh Dugan and Matt Moylan will make their return from injury at fullback and five-eighth respectively at the expense of Edrick Lee and Trent Hodkinson in a big boost for the Sharks. Despite the result last week against a weakened Warriors outfit, the Roosters have named an unchanged squad for the game.
Given the results of last round, the Sharks might be expected to head into the contest as favourites. The opposite is true with the Roosters labelled more likely. At top-form, the tri-colours certainly have a higher ceiling, but their performance last week indicates there are systemic issues at the club that will take time to resolve. Cronulla were fantastic in defence against the Storm last week – expect that trend to continue as the Sharks get the points.
Betting Tip: Sharks Head to Head @ $2.25 (Ladbrokes)
Dragons v Rabbitohs
Fri, Apr 6, 7:50pm
The Dragons are flying high (as Dragons do I assume?) following the perfect 4 and 0 start to the 2018 season and even after just one month of footy, they are announcing themselves as early competition contenders. The Rabbitohs are unable to boast the same electric start to the season but given that blue-chip halfback Adam Reynolds has been sidelined for 3 of the first 4 games, there is a minor sense of contentment amongst the fraternity with the fact that they have only won 2 games so far. But never fear Rabbitohs fans, your halfback saviour is here as Reynolds returns to the fray just in time for the Rabbitohs’ biggest test yet.
The bookies and punters alike have no doubts in their minds who the favourites are in this match with the Dragons opening at around $1.45 early in betting before firming rapidly to $1.35 despite Reynolds’ naming in the Rabbitohs lineup.
The support is certainly warranted and I for one can’t go past the Dragons as the match winners here. But as far as value is concerned, I’m opting for the Bunnies with that generous +10.0 start being offered with a few of the corporates. They may be showing their inexperience in patches whilst fading out of games in key moments, but the Rabbitohs are clearly learning from each and every mistake they make so far this year which appears to be an early hallmark of new coach Anthony Seibold.
Betting Tip: Rabbitohs +10.0 @ $1.92 (Crownbet)
Tigers v Storm
Sat, Apr 7, 3:00pm
The Storm were shocked by the Tigers in round two and this week they have an opportunity to re-establish their supremacy over the joint-venture club. Since that result, Wests have established themselves as one of the competition’s form teams – while Melbourne have been inconsistent as they look to adjust to the referees’ penalty onslaught.
The Tigers have named an unchanged squad for the clash, while the Storm will replace the suspended Will Chambers and Dale Finucane with Young Tonumaipea in the centres and Kenny Bromwich at lock.
After copping criticism for their lacklustre attack, the Tigers were impressive with the ball against the Eels last week. The Storm’s usual discipline and control have been brought into question as the new refereeing approach has seen captain Cameron Smith become the most penalised player in the competition. Expect another defensively focussed contest between two clubs with enormous potential. After a very disappointing loss to the Sharks last week, Craig Bellamy will have his troops highly motivated and focussed on execution – expect Melbourne to get the points.
Betting Tip: Tigers +7.5 @ $1.92 (Crownbet)
Warriors v Cowboys
Sat, Apr 7, 5:30pm
The Warriors stunned critics and fans alike with a massive 30-6 win over a highly rated Roosters outfit while missing key players in a composed performance that is a credit to the success of new coach Stephen Kearney. Their opposition in the Cowboys have had a disappointing start to their year, with their round four performance against the Panthers their third consecutive loss.
For the Cowboys, Corey Jensen will join the interchange as Scott Bolton shifts to the starting side to cover the injured Jordan McLean. The Warriors will welcome stars Shaun Johnson and Simon Mannering back at halfback and on the bench respectively with Same Lisone also joining the interchange.
Despite both teams’ recent form the Warriors will only enter the contest as narrow favourites. Expect a response from the Cowboys after an uncompetitive performance last week, but the Queenslanders face an uphill battle against an in-form New Zealand outfit boosted by a home-ground advantage. If the Queenslanders’ play to their potential they certainly stand a chance but there is work to be done before they reach top form. Warriors to get the win.
Betting Tip: Warriors v Cowboys Total Match Points Over 39.5 @ $1.88 (William Hill)
Knights v Broncos
Sat, Apr 7, 7:30pm
After a poor performance against the Titans last week, the Broncos will take on Newcastle at their home-ground after the Knights’ encouraging start to the season has been tempered by consecutive losses against the highly-rated Roosters and Dragons. Both teams have produced disappointing recent results and will be looking to bounce back with a disciplined, balanced performance.
The Knights were dealt a huge blow with new-recruit Tautau Moga out with a season-ending knee injury. Ken Sio will join the Novacastrian back-line as cover in an otherwise unchanged outfit. The Broncos will welcome back Corey Oates on the wing with Tevita Pangai Jnr also a chance to return from injury after he was named in the reserves.
With both teams’ recent form, there is no clear favourite heading into the contest. Brisbane have played with an uncharacteristic lack of discipline after errors and penalties made them uncompetitive last week. The Knights may need to shore up their edge defence with the Broncos sure to target the out-of-position Nathan Ross. It will be a tough one to pick but expect Brisbane to get the points in a close contest.
Betting Tip: Broncos Head to Head @ $1.93 (Bet365)
Titans v Sea Eagles
Sun, Apr 8, 2:00pm
Both clubs taking the field surged back into form last week with the Gold Coast dominating their ‘big-brother’ in the Broncos and Manly bouncing back from a poor round three showing against Souths with a dominant win over the Raiders last week. Each team will be highly motivated to continue their good form but face a staunch opponent for this match.
The Titans are unchanged after the success of captain Ryan James’ shift to the front-row last week. The Sea Eagles will welcome back Dylan Walker in the centres from injury in a reshuffled back-line to cover the injured Tom Trbojevic. Frank Winterstein and Jack Gosiewski will also join the Manly squad to cover the injured Curtis Sironen and Kelepi Tanginoa.
If both clubs manage to continue their round four form it will be a scintillating contest. The Titans woeful early-season results will see their opposition enter the contest as favourites, but don’t expect the Queensland club to lay down after re-discovering their mojo last week. It’s a tough one to pick but expect the Titans’ forwards to prove the difference after displaying wonderful form against Brisbane – particularly against a Manly outfit without Tom Trbojevic.
Betting Tip: Titans Head to Head @ $2.25 (Crownbet)
Eels v Panthers
Sun, Apr 8, 4:10pm
Both clubs started the season with vastly different expectations, with Parramatta considered top-four certainties and the Panthers’ finals chances written-off. These predictions have been reversed, with the highly rated Eels yet to win a match, and the Panthers winning three from four in an encouraging start to the season.
Despite their poor results, the Eels were improved last week as Brad Arthur has named an unchanged squad. The Panthers have similarly named an unchanged outfit after a dominant win over the Cowboys.
Penrith will enter the contest as heavy favourites after an impressive performance last week, particularly without star halfback Nathan Cleary. New recruit James Maloney is proving an extremely valuable buy in his ability to execute a controlled game-plan. The Eels have struggled for cohesion this year but will enter the contest with confidence after a solid performance against the highly rated Tigers last week. It will be closer than the bookies predict but expect Penrith to get the win.
Betting Tip: Either Team to win by 10 or less @ $1.83 (Sportsbet)
Bulldogs Head to Head @ $2.20 (Bet365)
Warriors v Cowboys Total Match Points Over 39.5 @ $1.88 (William Hill)
Titans Head to Head @ $2.25 (Crownbet)