The following are previews with betting tips for Round 3 of the 2020 NRL season.
Broncos v Eels
Thursday, May 28, 7:50pm AEST
The resumption of the 2020 NRL season will start with a massive clash between the Broncos and Eels on Thursday night. Both clubs had an unbeaten start to the year and with a number of players having taken advantage of the competition’s hiatus to overcome injury concerns, this shapes as a high quality contest.
For the Eels, Marata Niukore will replace the suspended Nathan Brown as Ray Stone joins the interchange. Hooker Reed Mahoney has recovered from a broken foot and will take his place in the starting 13 in a massive boost for Parramatta. For Brisbane, Alex Glenn, Joe Ofahengaue and Matt Lodge will all return to the squad in a massive boost for the club’s forward rotation. Rookie Jamil Hopoate will retain his position in the second-row to cover for the injured David Fifita, while Brodie Croft and Corey Oates will also start the game having recovered from injuries sustained in round two.
Both clubs posted consecutive victories to start the season and boast an intimidating roster. Brisbane will be looking for redemption from their record 58-nil loss to the Eels last year and with several changes to their squad since that result, expect Paramatta to be wary of their northern rivals. This game could go either way but expect Brisbane to get themselves over the line playing at home.
Betting Tip: Broncos H2H @ $1.94 (Beteasy)
Cowboys v Titans
Friday, Mar 29, 6:00pm AEST
After starting season 2020 under new coach Justin Holbrook with consecutive defeats, pressure is mounting on the Titans’ playing group to produce a positive performance or face wholesale changes to their squad. They will face a North Queensland outfit who last posted a solid victory over Canterbury in round two as the 2015 premiers look to settle their inexperienced spine combinations.
An injury to captain Michael Morgan will give Jake Clifford the halfback jersey for North Queensland as Mitchell Dunn shifts to the second-row to cover the injured Gavin Cooper and Shane Wright joins the bench. For the Titans, the departure of centre Kallum Watkins and a long-term injury to AJ Brimson will mean Tyrone Roberts moves to fullback with Jamal Fogarty set to take over the halfback position. Boom forward Moeaki Fotuaika will return to the starting-side in a massive boost for the club with Nathan Peats, Kevin Proctor and Keegan Hipgrave also joining the starting 13 and Erin Clark and Shannon Boyd the new faces on the bench.
The Cowboys will enter this match as firm favourites but missing their captain and with a number of important players returning for the Titans, this match could be closer than the odds indicate. While both teams will take the field with inexperienced spine combinations, expect the cohesion across North Queensland’s 17 players to get them over the line.
Betting Tip: Cowboys -8.0 @ $1.90 (Sportsbet)
Roosters v Rabbitohs
Friday, Mar 29, 7:55pm AEST
Friday night will bring a massive rivalry match between the Roosters and South Sydney in a fascinating litmus test for each club’s premiership credentials. The Roosters lost both their opening matches against the Panthers and Manly in what could be concerning signs for the reigning premiers, while the Rabbitohs were defeated by Brisbane in round two in a quality contest.
The Rabbitohs will be without the suspended Cody Walker with Troy Dargan set to join the halves as cover. James Roberts’ absence will mean Campbell Graham shifts to centre with Alex Johnston joining the starting side on the wing. Bayley Sironen and Patrick Mago will also join the bench in an otherwise unchanged squad. For the Roosters, new recruit Josh Morris will join the squad alongside captain Boyd Cordner at centre and in the second-row respectively in a massive boost. Sitili Tupouniua and Nat Butcher will also join the interchange.
While the Roosters will enter this match as firm favourites, the length of the competition’s hiatus and volatility within the squad of both clubs makes the result difficult to predict. The absence of Cody Walker will place enormous pressure on Adam Reynolds and Damien Cook. With Josh Morris slotting into the centres and Boyd Cordner’s return, expect the Roosters to get over the line.
Betting Tip: Rabbitohs +8.0 @ $1.90 (Pointsbet)
Warriors v Dragons
Saturday, May 30, 3:00pm AEST
Already facing the prospect of playing away from home for an extended period, an injury depleted Warriors squad will face the winless Dragons on Saturday night with both teams desperate to post their first victory of season 2020.
New Zealand will be missing Chanel Harris-Tavita, David Fusitu’a, Adam Pompey and Adam Keighran with Peta Hiku, Gerard Beale, Kodi Nikorima and Patrick Herbert joining the back-line as cover. Lachlan Burr, Jamayne Taunoa-Brown and Isiah Papali’i will also join the forward rotation with Karl Lawnton and Agnatius Paasi on the interchange. Meanwhile, St George will sound the alarm for reinforcements with Cameron McInnes, Tariq Sims, Korbin Sims and Mikaele Ravalawa joining their side in a massive boost for the club.
Roster management has been an enormous challenge for the Warriors, particularly with the injuries to their middle-forwards with Leeson Ah Mau, Bunty Afoa, Jackson Frei and Jazz Tevaga missing from the squad. Expect the Warriors’ replacement players to take some time to find their rhythm with the class of the Dragons’ returning players – particularly their captain in Cameron McInnes – to get them over the line.
Betting Tip: Dragons -3.5 @ $1.91 (Beteasy)
Sharks v Tigers
Saturday, May 30, 5:30pm AEST
The 2020 season shapes as a difficult one for the Cronulla Sharks after star centre Bronson Xerri was suspended for allegations of using banned substances two days before the resumption of the competition. The embattled club will face a Tigers squad who have made improvements under coach Michael Maguire but will still be eager to make amends for a 42-24 loss to the Knights in round 2.
Josh Dugan will shift to the centres to cover the absent Xerri for Cronulla, while Briton Nikora returns in the second-row. For the Tigers, Adam Doueihi will shift to fullback as new signing Harry Grant makes his club debut at hooker. Oliver Clark, Billy Walters and Alex Seyfarth will also join the bench.
While Xerri is a huge loss for the Sharks, their off-season acquisition of Jesse Ramiem from Newcastle should temper the impact of his absence. The Tigers will field a re-shuffled squad that may struggle for cohesion. Expect the experience within this Sharks outfit to be the difference as Cronulla gets the win.
Betting Tip: Sharks -1.5 @ $1.85 (BlueBet)
Storm v Raiders
Saturday, May 30, 7:35pm AEST
Saturday night will provide a mouth-watering rematch of the game-one finals clash of 2019 between the Storm and Raiders as the Canberra club look to establish their premiership credentials early in the season. Both clubs posted consecutive victories to start the year and given the quality of their last contest, this match shapes as a fantastic insight into each team’s finals prospects.
Brandon Smith and Christian Welch will join the Storm’s bench in the only changes to their squad from round two. Meanwhile, the Raiders have named an unchanged squad after their round two victory in encouraging signs for the Canberra club.
Despite winning both opening matches, Canberra’s 2020 form has yet to be tested against high-quality opposition. With both teams having the advantage of continuity in their playing group, expect the big-game experience and cohesion of Melbourne to get them over the line in what shapes as a tight contest.
Betting Tip: Storm H2H @ $1.65 (BlueBet)
Panthers v Knights
Sunday, May 31, 4:05pm AEST
A revitalized Penrith outfit produced consecutive victories to start season 2020 but will face a Knights squad who similarly started the year undefeated under new coach Adam O’Brien. While it is clear both squads have the attacking nous to put on plenty of points – it will be the defensive cohesion of each team which ultimately decides this contest.
Matt Burton will replace the suspended Nathan Cleary in the halves for Penrith, while Kurt Capewell makes his injury return in the second-row in an otherwise unchanged squad. For the Knights, a suspension to superstar fullback Kalyn Ponga will mean Tex Hoy makes his NRL debut at fullback. Connor Watson has been named to play hooker to cover the injured Jayden Brailey as Sione Mata’utia and Chris Randall join the squad in the second-row and from the bench respectively.
Both teams will be missing key players in Nathan Cleary and Kalyn Ponga respectively. The Knights will also struggle in the hooker position with Andrew McCullough yet to be named to make his club debut. Expect the Panthers’ form in the opening rounds to continue off the back of the energy Apisai Koroisau has injected into their ruck. Panthers to get the points.
Betting Tip: Panthers -2.0 @ $1.91 (Beteasy)
Sea Eagles v Bulldogs
Sunday, May 31, 6:30pm AEST
After producing a scintillating field-goal victory over the reigning premiers in round two, Manly will take on a winless Bulldogs outfit on Sunday night. Despite failing to post a victory in their opening two matches, Canterbury looked to have continued their improvement under coach Dean Pay with a disciplined, defensively focused game-plan mired only by poor 5th tackle options.
The Sea Eagles will welcome Corey Waddell and Taniela Paseka on the bench in an otherwise unchanged squad. For the Bulldogs, Jack Cogger will join the halves while Sauaso Sue and Dean Britt join the squad at prop and in the second-row respectively. Ofa Ogden is also set to join the bench in an otherwise unchanged squad.
While Manly will enter this match as firm favourites, Canterbury have formed a habit of turning their games into sloppy, defensively focused affairs. Expect Manly to start the game fast in an attempt to set the tone of this match and the class within their spine and back-line should prove the difference. Manly to win.
Betting Tip: Sea Eagles -7.5 @ $1.90 (Sportsbet)
Dragons -3.5 @ $1.91 (Beteasy)