NRL Round 3 Previews and Betting Tips

The following are previews with betting tips for Round 3 of the 2021 NRL season.

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Panthers v Storm

Thursday, March 25, 8:05pm AEDT
Panthers Stadium


Round three will be kicked off with a blockbuster grand-final rematch between the Storm and Penrith. The Panthers have kicked off their season in fine form, with dominant victories against the Cowboys and Bulldogs – holding both teams scoreless. They will face a Melbourne outfit still searching for the right combinations in the wake of Cameron Smith’s retirement, with Suliasi Vunivalu and Tino Fa’asuamaleaui also having left the club.

With Api Koroisau set to miss an extended period with a broken wrist, Mitch Kenny has been named at hooker after playing 80 minutes against the Bulldogs last week. Meanwhile, Melbourne will welcome Aaron Pene and Nicho Hynes on the bench as Tom Eisenhuth shifts to the starting side to cover the suspended Felise Kaufusi. Both teams have also made some big last minute changes due to injury with superstars Nathan Cleary and Ryan Papenhyzen set to miss the clash for the Panthers and Storm respectively. Expect Nicho Hynes to shift to fullback for the Storm while Matt Burton will come into the halves for Penrith.
Expect the Panthers to come out with a point to prove after their crushing grand-final loss last year. The Storm produced a rare loss against Parramatta last week with the club clearly missing Smith’s game-management – particularly towards the end of the game. Expect a fast and physical Penrith outfit to challenge Melbourne’s normal supremacy over the ruck but they will have their own challenges on that front in the absence of Api Koroisau. This match could go either way but expect the Panthers to get revenge for their grand-final loss and start their season 0-3.

Betting Tip: Panthers H2H @ $1.91 (Bet365, Unibet)



Dragons v Sea Eagles

Friday, March 26, 6:00pm AEDT
WIN Stadium

Sea Eagles

After back-to-back losses and a mounting injury toll, Manly’s season looks to be in freefall and they will face a massive test against a resurgent Dragons outfit. New captain Ben Hunt had arguably his best game for the Dragons last week in an impressive victory over North Queensland as the maligned halfback looks to be thriving under the responsibility of the captaincy.

The Sea Eagles will be missing Andrew Davey after the second-rower sustained a season-ending knee injury, with an injury cloud still over utility Cade Cust due to concussion. Boom rookie Josh Schuster has been named to play in the second-row with Morgan Boyle also set to join the bench. St George have named an unchanged squad after their victory last week in some welcome continuity for Anthony Griffin’s men.
The prospect of Ben Hunt returning to career-best form is a massive boost for the ‘Red-V’ and the halfback could be a massive point of difference for St George if he can maintain it throughout the year. Expect Des Hasler to buy into the underdogs tag heading into this match but psychological tactics can only go so far with such an understrength squad. Dragons to get the points.

Betting Tip: Dragons -2.5 @ $1.91 (Bet365)



Rabbitohs v Roosters

Friday, March 26, 8:05pm AEDT
ANZ Stadium

Friday night will bring a blockbuster clash between fierce rivals in the Rabbitohs and Roosters in what shapes as a fascinating insight into two teams that are sure to be in the top-four by the end of the year. Despite a horrendous injury toll, the Roosters have posted consecutive wins to start the season with their massive 40-6 last-start victory over the Tigers proving once again what a dangerous outfit Trent Robinson has at his disposal. They will face a massive challenge against an in-form Rabbitohs squad who are desperate to capitalise on their improvement and prove their premiership credentials.
Josh Mansour will return on Souths’ wing in place of the concussed Jaxson Paulo in an otherwise unchanged squad. For the Roosters, Angus Crichton will return in the second-row in a huge boost, while Victor Radley will make his long-awaited return from a serious knee injury in a massive boon for Trent Robinson’s troops.
Souths’ massive 60-8 victory on the eve of the 2020 finals series will surely be a motivating factor for their opposition heading into this clash. Expect a fierce physical contest in what will be the Roosters biggest test so far this year after easy victories over Manly and the Tigers. While the ‘Chooks’ will enter this match as firm favourites, expect a full-strength Rabbitohs line-up to push the 18/19 premiers to the limit. This match could go either way but expect the in-form Rabbitohs to overcome an understrength Roosters outfit to get the win.

Betting Tip: Rabbitohs H2H @ $2.28 (Unibet)



Raiders v Warriors

Saturday, March 27, 3:00pm AEDT
GIO Stadium

The Warriors have shown enormous promise under new coach Nathan Brown and were impressive in defeat against a classy Newcastle outfit last week. Their opposition in the Raiders did just enough to hold-off a fast-finishing Sharks squad to post consecutive victories to start their 2021 season, but will need to be wary of a potent Warriors outfit who look like they have much improvement in their game.
Captain Jarrod Croker will return for the Raiders at centre at the expense of Sebastian Kris in an otherwise unchanged squad. Meanwhile, the Warriors will be missing halfback Chanel Harris-Tavita for three months in a massive blow with Sean O’Sullivan to come into the halves. Jack Murchie will also join the bench to cover the suspended Jamayne Taunoa-Brown in Nathan Brown’s only changes.
The Raiders will enter this match as firm favourites but after a poor last quarter which invited the Sharks back into the game last week, Ricky Stuart’s troops will need to be on their game against this resurgent Kiwi outfit. The Warriors may struggle in the absence of Harris-Tavita and expect Ricky Stuart’s troops to bring their A-game after a relatively poor performance against Cronulla last week. Raiders to get the win.

Betting Tip: Warriors +10.5 @ $2.00 (Bet365)



Broncos v Bulldogs

Saturday, March 27, 5:30pm AEDT
Suncorp Stadium

The Broncos suffered another humbling defeat at the hands of the Titans last week in another concerning defensive display from the Brisbane club. They will face a Canterbury outfit with form concerns of their own after consecutive losses to the Knights and Panthers with Trent Barrett’s troops taking some time to form effective combinations.
Surprisingly, Brisbane have named an unchanged squad heading into this clash. For the Bulldogs, Raymond Faitala-Mariner and Dallin Watene-Zelezniak will be absent due to injury and suspension respectively as Tuipulotu Kotoa and Joe Stimson set to join the squad on the wing and bench respectively as cover.
Brisbane will enter this match as favourites but should be wary of a Canterbury squad desperate to post a victory and avoid an 0-3 start to their year. The Broncos should be similarly motivated to avoid a winless start and will be hoping for some improvement after a poor display last week – particularly from the halves. Expect a brutal physical contest that should ultimately be decided by ball-control and possession as both these teams will struggle to defend their line if they hand the opposition the ball. Could go either way but expect the Bulldogs to get the points.

Betting Tip: Bulldogs H2H @ $2.24 (Playup)



Eels v Sharks

Saturday, March 27, 7:35pm AEDT
Bankwest Stadium

Parramatta notched a hugely important and confidence boosting victory in a narrow contest against the Storm last week and they will represent a huge challenge for a Cronulla squad who fell just short of Canberra in their last match with Chad Townsend missing two clutch kicks to lose the game by two points.
The Eels will be missing Ryan Matterson due to concussion, with Isaiah Papali’i set to join the starting side and Ray Stone coming onto the bench in an otherwise unchanged line-up. For the Sharks, Connor Tracey has been named at centre at the expense of Mawene Horioti with Teig Wilton set to join the bench in John Morris’ only changes.
After failing to win a single match against a top-eight side last season, the Sharks’ last start loss would have been a crushing blow. Despite the loss, the fact they pushed Canberra to the limit and only lost due to missed kicks should be a welcome confidence boost for an injury depleted Cronulla squad desperate to prove they can match the competition’s best. The Eels have looked dangerous so far this year but will be eager to establish high-standards of consistency from the outset. Cronulla certainly have the fire-power to win this match but expect the Eels to get the win.

Betting Tip: Eels -7.5 @ $1.90 (Sportsbet)



Knights v Tigers

Sunday, March 28, 4:05pm AEDT
McDonald Jones Stadium

Tigers’ coach Michael Maguire will be extremely disappointed with his squad’s performance last week in a woeful 40-6 loss to the Roosters. It reflects a concerning defensive trend for the joint-venture club that Maguire will be looking to arrest quickly. They will face an undefeated Knights squad who impressed in their last-start victory over a resurgent Warriors squad, as Adam O’Brien’s roster reshape looks to be paying dividends for the Hunter Valley club.
Wests’ centre Joey Leilua will pay the price for a poor defensive display last week after being dropped from the side with James Roberts returning from a shoulder injury to take his place. Zane Musgrove will return in the front-row, pushing Joe Ofahengaue to the bench in an otherwise unchanged team. For the Knights, Kurt Mann will return from injury to replace the suspended Phoenix Crossland at five-eight in Adam O’Brien’s only change.
Newcastle look to be establishing themselves as one of the NRL elite squads and both their coach and fans alike will be hoping for consistency throughout the year after they finished poorly against the Warriors last week, despite winning the game. For the Tigers, a completely new spine combination is clearly causing them some attacking issues they will need to resolve quickly if they hope to contest the 2021 finals series. Expect Wests’ troubles to continue with the Knights to get the win.

Betting Tip: Knights -9.5 @ $1.90 (Bluebet)



Cowboys v Titans

Sunday, March 28, 6:15pm AEDT
QCB Stadium

The Titans secured bragging rights over their ‘big-brother’ in the Brisbane Broncos last week in an impressive display that will give fans hope of a finals appearance for this year. They will face a struggling Cowboys outfit who have produced disappointing consecutive losses as the club struggles to adjust to new coach Todd Payten’s style of play.
The Gold Coast have been forced to make one change due to injury with Ash Taylor set to be replaced by Tanah Boyd at five-eight. For the Cowboys, suspended winger Kyle Feldt will be replaced by Murray Taulagi in an otherwise unchanged squad.
Despite consecutive losses, North Queensland have not hit the panic button and are sticking solid with their spine combinations. Expect the Titans to focus on dominating the ruck in the absence of Jason Taumalolo but the North Queenslanders will be looking to nail their own execution after putting themselves under enormous pressure through errors throughout their games so far this year. Titans to get the win.

Betting Tip: Titans -6.5 @ $1.90 (Bluebet)


Best Bets

Rabbitohs H2H @ $2.28 (Unibet)

Bulldogs H2H @ $2.24 (Playup)


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