The following are previews with betting tips for Round 2 of the 2019 NRL season.
Dragons v Rabbitohs
Thu, Mar 21, 7.50pm
St George struggled to contain a rampant North Queensland forward rotation last week and the joint-venture club will face another powerful forward rotation in South Sydney after the Bunnies started life after Anthony Seibold in style with a dominant victory over the reigning premiers in round one.
In a massive blow, the Dragons’ stand-in lock and Blues’ representative Tyson Frizell faces a lengthy stint on the sidelines with coach Paul McGregor also missing Korbin Sims and Jack De Belin due to suspension. Blake Lawrie has been drafted into lock as cover with Josh Kerr set to join the bench. Meanwhile, the Rabbitohs will swap Corey Allan with Kyle Turner on the interchange in an otherwise unchanged squad.
Fatigue has become a massive element in the game with the referees directed by the NRL to let the game ‘flow’. Expect the Dragons to struggle with the power of Souths’ middle-rotation, with Paul McGregor sure to plan an expansive style-of-play to tire out their bigger opposition. The Rabbitohs were very impressive last week and expect them to go two for two to open their season against a St George outfit light in the middle.
Betting Tip: Rabbitohs -4.5 @ $1.91 (Bet365)
Raiders v Storm
Fri, Mar 22, 6.00pm
The Melbourne Storm juggernaut showed no signs of slowing down last week without Billy Slater as rookie Jahrome Hughes slotted seamlessly into fullback in an impressive win over the Broncos. The Victorian club executed their game-plan flawlessly but should be on high-alert against a Raiders outfit who held the Titans scoreless in an impressive round-one display. Josh Hodgson missed a large chunk of the last season but the English hooker is already making an enormous difference to the execution of Ricky Stuart’s outfit.
Both teams have only named one change, as Jordan Rapana is set to return on the wing in a massive boost for the Raiders, while the Storm will replace the injured Tom Eisenhuth with Patrick Kaufusi on the bench.
Melbourne should head into the match as favourites but they will face a more consistent Raiders outfit with the quality players in their spine to match the Storm’s precise kicking game. Canberra are sure to prove a handful but the Storm’s ability to force their opposition to start sets off their own line – alongside their discipline – should see them get the points.
Betting Tip: Storm -4.0 @ $1.90 (Sportsbet)
Broncos v Cowboys
Fri, Mar 22, 7.55pm
After a disrupted off-season including the sacking of star recruit Ben Barba, the Townsville floods and the retirement of immortal-in-waiting Johnathan Thurston, the Cowboys could have been forgiven for producing a lacklustre round-one performance. Instead, fans were given a taste of the future with a powerful win over the Dragons led by a rampant Jason Taumalolo. Their opposition in the Broncos went down to the Storm last week and now missing Matt Lodge and Payne Haas to suspension, Brisbane’s middle rotation may struggle to compete with the Cowboys’ big-men.
Shaun Fensom will join the Broncos’ bench as Tevita Pangai Jr shifts to the starting side. David Fifita and Jaydn Su’a will also swap between the starting side and bench in an otherwise unchanged squad. North Queensland have named the same team as last week, with Josh McGuire to come off the bench as Gavin Cooper starts in the second-row.
Brisbane’s halves failed to control the game last week with a hit and miss kicking game leaving them at a significant field-position disadvantage. The Cowboys will look to capitalise on the class of halfback and newly crowned captain Michael Morgan to dominate field-position with Paul Green’s forwards sure to win the contest in the ruck. Hard to see Brisbane getting the win in this one.
Betting Tip: Cowboys Head to Head @ $2.40 (Unibet)
Sharks v Titans
Sat, Mar 23, 3.00pm
Both the Sharks and Titans produced lacklustre performances in round one and will be keen to bounce back after disappointing results. The Gold Coast faced a play-making shortage with star halfback Ashley Taylor a late scratching from the match and five-eighth Tyrone Roberts going down with an injury in the first quarter. Meanwhile, Cronulla were trumped by a resurgent Knights squad with star signing Shaun Johnson having a limited impact in his club debut.
Ryley Jacks will join the Titans’ starting squad at halfback to cover Tyrone Roberts as Anthony Don comes onto the wing, relegating Phillip Sami to the bench. The Sharks have named an unchanged squad for the clash.
It is difficult to judge both teams on their round one performance. The Titans were held scoreless by the Raiders but missing both first-choice halves – Garth Brennan’s troops could be forgiven for a lack of attacking potency. Cronulla also struggled with the ball in an error riddled performance, but the Shire club is sure to improve as the season goes on with key players still to acclimate to their new spine-positions. Could go either way but expect Riley Jacks to steady the ship for a Gold Coast win.
Betting Tip: Titans +8.0 @ $1.90 (Beteasy)
Knights v Panthers
Sat, Mar 23, 5.30pm
The hype over the Panthers’ pre-season burst unceremoniously against a resurgent Eels last week, while a new-look Knights outfit produced a classy round-one victory over Cronulla. Both these teams entered the season with vastly different expectations, but it is the Knights who will have the Panthers looking over their shoulders after seven club debutants took the field to form the most cohesive Newcastle outfit seen for years.
Panthers’ coach Ivan Cleary will hope the return of rake Sione Katoa will inject some energy into his squad with Frank Winterstein also included on the bench. The Knights have named only one change as Herman Ese’ese joins the bench to cover the injured Daniel Saifiti.
Their round-one performance has given the Knights the unfamiliar favourites tag as the addition of Tim Glasby and David Klemmer has Newcastle’s middle rotation looking very solid. Penrith will be eager to make amends for their round one loss but expect a confident Knights outfit to stretch-out and embrace a high-performance culture for their second win of the season.
Betting Tip: Knights -2.0 @ $1.90 (Sportsbet)
Sea Eagles v Roosters
Sat, Mar 23, 7.35pm
Manly have a huge task ahead of them this week against the reigning premiers, who were trounced by South Sydney in a disappointing round-one result for Trent Robinson’s troops. The Roosters will be sure to aim up this week against a sloppy Manly outfit whose last-week loss to the Tigers spells ominous signs for their season ahead.
The Roosters have named an unchanged squad for the clash, while Toafofoa Sipley shifts to the Sea Eagles’ starting front-row in place of the suspended Addin Fonua-Blake with Corey Waddell and Manase Fainu set to join the interchange.
On both recent form and reputation, the Chooks will go into this match as heavy favourites. Des Hasler will be hoping for much more from his squad despite difficult playing conditions last week, but Manly will need to play near-perfect football to get a win over the Roosters. Expect the Chooks to come away with the points.
Betting Tip: Roosters -10.0 @ $1.90 (Beteasy)
Bulldogs v Eels
Sun, Mar 24, 4.05pm
Canterbury will be looking to forget their woeful round-one result against the Warriors but face a tough test in a new-look Eels outfit who blew the highly rated Panthers off the park in a dominant performance last week. After taking out another wooden-spoon last year, Parramatta are under enormous pressure to perform and coach Brad Arthur will be pushing his troops to return to the tough, physical style of football that saw them make the top four in the 2017 season.
Canterbury have named an unchanged squad for this game despite their 40-6 loss last week, while the Eels will miss Michael Jennings to suspension and Will Smith and Nathan Brown to injury. Junior Paulo, Josh Hoffman and Jaeman Salmon will join the team in the front-row, centres and interchange respectively.
The Eels will head into the match as firm favourites despite their missing players after a number of key players showing a surprising level of maturity in their round-one performance. Canterbury coach Dean Pay will be hoping for exactly that from his squad after the result last week belied their low-errors and high completion-rate. Expect new-recruit Junior Paulo to have a big impact with the Eels to get the win.
Betting Tip: Eels -2.0 @ $1.91 (Bet365)
Tigers v Warriors
Sun, Mar 24, 6.10pm
Life under new coach Michael Maguire started well for the Tigers with club legends Benji Marshall and Robbie Farah winding back the clock in a vintage display. Wests now face a Warriors outfit who demolished the Bulldogs in round one, but the Kiwis shouldn’t expect to break their opponent’s defensive line quite as easily against a well-drilled Tigers outfit.
The Warriors will welcome Isaiah Papali’i on the bench to replace Blake Ayshford, while the Tigers have named an unchanged squad.
Star Warriors five-eighth Blake Green had the ball on a string last week in encouraging signs after the departure of Shaun Johnson. Expect the Tigers to target the NRL veteran in an effort to stifle his influence on the game as Wests look to match the Warriors’ class in their fifth-tackle options. This one could go either way but expect the Kiwis to go two-for-two to start the season and come away with the win.
Betting Tip: Warriors Head to Head @ $2.10 (Topbetta)
Cowboys Head to Head @ $2.40 (Unibet)