The following are previews with betting tips for Round 7 of the 2018 NRL season.
Bulldogs v Roosters
Thu, Apr 19, 7:50pm
The Bulldogs made a strong statement last week with a powerful performance against North Queensland, but they will face a tough test against a Roosters outfit humbled in a disappointing last-start loss to South Sydney. Both teams have produced mixed results to start the season but will be eager to bank premiership points with the difficult State of Origin period looming closer.
Canterbury have named an unchanged squad for the clash, while the Roosters will shift Mitch Aubusson to the centres at the expense of Reece Robinson on the wing. Frank-Paul Nuuausala has also been named to return for the tri-colours on the bench.
The Roosters will enter the match as heavy favourites, despite their performance last week. The Chooks have shown glimpses of brilliance this year when stars James Tedesco, Cooper Cronk and Luke Keary are at their best, but their forwards have faced the majority of criticism for their lack of dominance. It is in the forwards that the ‘Dogs will try to take the game with a number of under-performing members of their pack standing up against the Cowboys. If the Roosters produce the same effort as last week it will be close match but expect Trent Robinson’s men to bounce back with a win.
Betting Tip: Roosters -5.5 @ $1.92 (Ladbrokes)
Warriors v Dragons
Fri, Apr 20, 6:00pm
A match fans and critics alike would have labelled a bludger in the pre-season, Friday night’s clash between the Warriors and Dragons shapes as a wonderful contest between two of the competition’s form squads. The Dragons continued their unbeaten run with a dominant win over the Sharks last week, while the Warriors looked to return somewhat to their 2017 form, displaying a concerning brittleness in defence.
The Dragons have unsurprisingly named an unchanged squad for the clash, with the continuity in their 17-man outfit proving a massive advantage. Meanwhile, the Warriors will bring in Alberte Vete on the bench as Bunty Afoa and Sam Lisone swap between the starting side and interchange.
Warriors’ coach Stephen Kearney instigated a massive cultural change over the Warriors’ off-season. Built primarily around discipline and execution and driven by new-signings such as Adam Blair, Blake Green and Tohu Harris – the Warriors will be eager to return to their new game-plan quickly with consistency a problem for the club in the past. The Dragons remain impressive across the park and while they will face a challenge over in New Zealand, expect the joint-venture club to extend their winning streak to seven games.
Betting Tip: Total Match Points Over 40.5 @ $1.91 (Ladbrokes)
Broncos v Storm
Fri, Apr 20, 7:50pm
The Broncos will host the Melbourne Storm at Suncorp Stadium with both outfits in the unlikely position of a 3-3 win/loss ratio to start the season. Both teams have displayed a lack of cohesion that has surprised fans but look to be returning to form with a recent change in the respective halves pairings boding well. Jack Bird was dynamic for Brisbane from five-eighth in their impressive win over the Warriors last week, while Ryley Jacks was solid in Melbourne’s massive 14-40 victory over the Knights.
Kodi Nikorima returns on the bench as Tom Opacic holds his place in the Broncos’ backline in an otherwise unchanged squad. The Storm will also make only one change, with Will Chambers returning from suspension in place of Young Tonumaipea.
The Storm enjoy a dominant record against Brisbane but are lacking the dominance they have boasted in previous seasons as they adjust to the departure of superstar Cooper Cronk. The Broncos have proven they are capable of challenging the competition’s best but remain inconsistent. Melbourne looked impressive last week and typically bring top-form against their Brisbane rivals. Tough one to pick but expect the Victorians to get the win in a tight contest.
Betting Tip: Storm Head to Head @ $1.65 (Sportsbet)
Rabbitohs v Raiders
Sat, Apr 21, 3:00pm
Both teams will enter this contest with a point to prove as they search for consistency after a mixed start to the year. The Raiders are gunning for their third consecutive victory and after enjoying solid wins over the Bulldogs and Eels, they will face a tough test against a Rabbitohs outfit who out-played the highly-rated Roosters in their last game.
The Raiders have named an unchanged 17 in a very good sign for their club, particularly as their spine recovers confidence after their poor start to the year. Souths will receive a massive boost with the return of Sam Burgess at lock in an otherwise unchanged squad.
While both clubs have enjoyed periods of dominance in the last five seasons, they have been caught out by the recent rule changes put in place by the NRL to bring fatigue back into the game. Each team has a game-plan that centres on forward dominance – driven primarily by their massive forward rotations. The Rabbitohs will enter the contest as favourites given their recent results and as their spine play themselves into form – expect the South Sydney club to get the win.
Betting Tip: Raiders +4.5 @ $1.91 (Unibet)
Tigers v Knights
Sat, Apr 21, 5:30pm
The Tigers came up with a vintage display against Manly last week in a performance that saw club-legend Benji Marshall produce an attacking masterclass and the young Luke Brooks show form that has him being discussed as a NSW halfback possibility. Their opposition in the Knights will be burning after a disappointing 40-14 loss to the Storm last week but will face another massive test against a red-hot Wests outfit.
Jack Cogger will join the Newcastle halves at the expense of Brock Lamb as Mitch Barnett also returns from suspension. Star Tigers recruit Josh Reynolds was dealt a cruel blow after making his club debut last round, only to be ruled out with a shoulder injury. Pita Godinet and Elijah Taylor will return to the side on the bench and lock respectively in an otherwise unchanged squad.
The Tigers will enter the contest as heavy favourites given their recent form. While the Knights will not lie down to their opposition, expect Wests’ defensive resolve and the form of their halves to prove the difference.
Betting Tip: Tigers -5.5 @ $1.91 (Sportsbet)
Cowboys v Titans
Sat, Apr 21, 7:30pm
Both the Cowboys and Titans are under enormous pressure to perform in Saturday night’s Queensland-derby after producing disappointing recent results. The Gold Coast looked to have returned to form after consecutive wins against the Broncos and Manly, but a 35-12 loss to the Panthers last week will have them searching for answers once again. The Cowboys were similarly poor against the Bulldogs in their last game as they look to avoid their sixth consecutive loss.
Tyronne Roberts-Davis will join the Titans’ wing to cover the injured Dale Copley as captain Ryan James returns from suspension at prop and Keegan Hipgrave joins the interchange. The Cowboys have named an unchanged squad for the clash despite their last-start loss.
With each team struggling for form and cohesion, both coaches will have their troops focusing on basic structures as they look to return to their damaging best. This one could go either way, but expect the class of the Cowboys’ spine to prove the difference with the North Queenslanders to get the points.
Betting Tip: Cowboys -6.5 @ $1.93 (Bet365)
Eels v Sea Eagles
Sun, Apr 22, 2:00pm
Two struggling clubs will face off on Sunday afternoon in a desperate bid to ward-off persistent controversy with a win. Parramatta’s troubles remain exclusively on the field as the club are winless in 2018 after a disappointing loss to the Raiders. While Manly have shown glimpses of fantastic form this year, the restrictions placed on their salary cap were only exacerbated by the revelation that Jackson Hastings has fallen-out with the playing group and will not be considered for first-grade this year.
Manly have been forced to name an unchanged squad as injuries leave them short of troops, while the Eels will welcome back Jarryd Hayne on the wing at the expense of Bevan French. Will Smith and David Gower will return on the interchange as Brad Takairangi also joins the centres.
Formerly considered pre-season finals certainties, it is difficult to predict when Parramatta will turn their form around. Their squad is certainly capable of matching the competition’s best but their recent performances indicate top-form is a long way off. Manly have not fared much better in recent times after a dreadful loss to the Tigers in their last game as they are similarly short on confidence. It is a tough one to pick with both sides’ unpredictable form but expect the Eels to earn their first win of the season.
Betting Tip: Eels Head to Head @ $2.40 (Bet365)
Sharks v Panthers
Sun, Apr 22, 4:10pm
The Sharks produced a dreadful result in their 40-20 loss to the Dragons last round but will face yet another massive challenge this week in a red-hot Panthers outfit who have started the year in top-form. Penrith produced a dominant display over the Titans last week as they look for their fourth consecutive win but expect a response from Shane Flanagan’s troops, who have been humbled by consecutive losses.
Cronulla are potentially facing an injury crisis with Paul Gallen and Wade Graham ruled and an injury cloud over stalwarts Andrew Fifita and Luke Lewis. Jesse Ramien will return in the centres with Scott Sorensen and James Segeyaro joining the bench. For the Panthers, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak will return on the wing to cover the injured Josh Mansour in an otherwise unchanged squad.
Given the Sharks’ injury toll and recent form, it is difficult to tip against the Panthers. Expect the Penrith club to notch their fourth consecutive win as James Maloney comes back to haunt his old club.
Betting Tip: Panthers -6.5 @ $1.98 (Unibet)
Warriors v Dragons Total Match Points Over 40.5 @ $1.91 (Ladbrokes)
Eels Head to Head @ $2.40 (Bet365)