The following are previews with betting tips for Round 5 of the 2021 NRL season.
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Rabbitohs v Broncos
Thursday, April 8, 7:50pm AEST
The Broncos were humbled in a poor 40-6 loss to the Storm in their last outing in a disappointing result for the club – particularly after their morale boosting victory over Canterbury in round three. Their opposition in Souths also played the Bulldogs last week and were dominant in victory as the Rabbitohs look for their fourth consecutive win.
Herbie Farnworth and Patrick Carrigan will be missing for the Broncos due to injury and suspension respectively. Richie Kennar will come into the centres, while John Asiata joins the interchange with Tevita Pangai shifting to lock. For Souths, Cody Walker and Keaon Kolomatangi will both be missing to suspension in a big blow. Benji Marshall and Jacob Host have been drafted into the starting side at five-eighth and second-row respectively as Dean Hawkins also joins the bench.
Souths will enter this contest as firm favourites, despite the absence of Walker and Kolomatangi. Brisbane will be looking to arrest a concerning trend of defensive lapses that have seen an enormous number of tries scored against them in very short periods so far this year. With Brisbane still looking a long way from producing consistent 80-minute performances – expect South Sydney to get the points.
Betting Tip: Broncos +21.5 @ $1.91 (Bet365)
Warriors v Sea Eagles
Friday, April 9, 6:00pm AEST
Central Coast Stadium
After an extremely positive start to the year, coach Nathan Brown faces the toughest period of his Warriors tenure yet with a mounting injury toll on the back of a disappointing loss to the Roosters last week. The Kiwis will face a struggling Manly outfit who were demolished in a 46-6 loss to the Panthers in their last game in concerning signs for the Sea Eagles.
The Warriors have been hit with an injury crisis with Addin Fonua-Blake, Bunty Afoa and Bayley Sironen all unavailable. Josh Curran, Kane Evans and Tom Ale will join the bench as Leeson Ah Mau and Jack Murchie shift to the starting side. For Manly, an injury to Moses Suli will see Morgan Harper join the side at centre with Jack Gosiewski also replacing the injured Morgan Boyle in the second-row.
While the Kiwis will enter this match as firm favourites, the loss of Fonua-Blake, Afoa and Sironen will hurt their potency in the middle enormously. The Warriors’ success this year has been built off a dominance through the middle, and while Manly have been far from impressive in that regard, expect Des Hasler’s troops to focus on controlling the ruck if they are to win the game. Despite their absent players, expect the class within this Warriors outfit to prove the difference.
Betting Tip: Warriors -7.5 @ $1.95 (Bluebet)
Panthers v Raiders
Friday, April 9, 7:55pm AEST
Friday night will bring a massive blockbuster clash between the Panthers and Raiders in what could be a sneak-preview of a grand-final match up. Penrith are undefeated so far this year with their last-start 46-6 victory over a lowly Sea Eagles outfit only reinforcing their status as the competition’s best. The Raiders’ only loss came in unprecedented circumstances in round three after the Canberra club were reduced to one man on the bench, but Ricky Stuart’s troops bounced back in style against a highly-rated Titans last week.
Penrith have unsurprisingly named an unchanged line-up heading into this game, while the Raiders will welcome Joe Tapine’s return at lock in a big boost to their middle-rotation in an otherwise unchanged squad.
Penrith will enter this match as firm favourites, but will need to be wary of a Raiders squad who have done little wrong throughout the opening four games. This is undoubtedly the biggest test of Canberra’s premiership credentials but expect Ricky Stuart’s troops to be primed for their best. The titanic clash between two of the best forward-rotations in the competition will likely decide this contest and while the Raiders certainly have the firepower to win, expect the Panthers to get the points.
Betting Tip: Panthers -7.5 @ $1.84 (Winnersbet)
Titans v Knights
Saturday, April 10, 3:00pm AEST
Cbus Super Stadium
The Titans faced a major test against the Raiders last week and have much to improve on after the disappointing loss, albeit with a severe shortage in their play-making depth. Their opposition were plagued by similar issues last week in a disappointing loss to St George as Newcastle desperately scramble to avoid their third consecutive loss.
Jamal Fogarty was named by the Titans despite failing to finish last week’s game in encouraging signs. Brian Kelly will also return from a hand injury at centre, pushing Phillip Sami to the wing to replace the injured Anthony Don. Meanwhile, Newcastle are facing their own injury crisis with Mitchell Pearce suffering another pectoral injury that will see him miss an extended period in a massive blow to the Knights. Kurt Mann also suffered a head-knock so coach Adam O’Brien will field a new halves combination of Connor Watson and Blake Green. Kalyn Ponga will also return at fullback in a welcome boost with Chris Randall, Pasami Saulo and Brodie Jones joining the bench.
Given Newcastle’s injury woes and the Titans form, the Gold Coast will enter this match as firm favourites. If the Queensland club’s spine can finish the match expect them to get the win as Newcastle look to build combinations between the three new members of their spine.
Betting Tip: Total Match Points Over 41.5 @ $1.91 (Bet365)
Bulldogs v Storm
Saturday, April 10, 5:30pm AEST
While Melbourne have not yet reached the form that saw them win the 2020 premiership, the Victorian club sent a stern warning to the competition with a dominant 40-6 victory over Brisbane last week. They will now face a struggling Canterbury team who are yet to win a game after a woeful 38-0 loss to Souths last week.
Felise Kaufusi will return from suspension for the Storm in a welcome boost with Harry Grant and Brenko Lee also a chance to return after they were included in the reserves. Meanwhile, Bulldogs coach Trent Barret has made a number of changes with Dallin Watene-Zelezniak and Jake Averillo returning at fullback and five-eighth respectively. Josh Jackson and Luke Thompson will also return to Canterbury’s middle-rotation in a huge boost.
Canterbury would need to conjure up a Herculean performance to topple the Storm, but the return of Thompson and Jackson should improve their play through the middle of the field enormously. Coach Trent Barrett is still tinkering with his back-line with Corey Allan and Nick Cotric shifting between centre and wing and while the Bulldogs still search for a winning combination expect the Storm to get the win.
Betting Tip: Storm -27.5 @ $1.95 (Bluebet)
Roosters v Sharks
Saturday, April 10, 7:35pm AEST
The Roosters proved they are no spent force without Luke Keary with an emphatic victory over the Warriors last week as the club continues to deal with a torrid injury toll. Their opposition in the Sharks notched an impressive 38-point win over North Queensland in their last match but still face question marks over their ability to compete with the competition’s best. This match will be a huge test for the Sharks and a win would go a long way towards earning rookie coach John Morris a new contract.
The Roosters injury toll worsens as the club has suffered a massive blow with veteran and premiership winning hooker Jake Friend announcing his immediate retirement due to concussion. The Roosters have named an unchanged squad but could yet be forced to cover Sitili Tupouniua, who needs to pass concussion protocols to play. Meanwhile, Cronulla will welcome centre Jesse Ramien back in an otherwise unchanged squad.
Boom rookie Sam Walker made a fair splash in his NRL debut last week and looks to be a handy replacement in the halves for the injured Luke Keary. Cronulla look to have improved over the off-season in both attack and defence and their last loss to one of the competition’s top-teams came in unprecedented circumstances that saw them finish the game without any bench players against the Eels in round three. Cronulla will need to summon a massive performance to topple the Roosters. Expect an intense performance from Trent Robinson’s troops as the club honours the departing Jake Friend. Chooks to get the win.
Betting Tip: Roosters -8.0 @ $1.90 (Playup)
Tigers v Cowboys
Sunday, April 11, 4:05pm AEST
After a difficult start to the year, Wests have produced some improved performances of late, most recently in a narrow loss to the Eels in a result that should ease pressure on Michael Maguire’s troops. They will face a struggling Cowboys squad who have yet to win a single game in the aftermath of the club’s woeful 38-point loss to the Sharks.
Michael Chee-Kam will join Wests’ interchange with Moses Mbye shifting to centre at the expense of Asu Kepaoa in an otherwise unchanged squad. For the Cowboys, Jason Taumalolo will return at lock in an enormous boost alongside Kyle Feldt on the wing in Todd Payten’s only changes.
With captain Michael Morgan facing a possible medical retirement, the situation looks dire in North Queensland with a roster rebuild looking likely. Expect the Tigers to capitalise on their opposition’s problems with coach Michael Maguire desperate to instil some consistency in his troops with consecutive wins. Jason Taumalolo’s return will undoubtedly improve North Queensland but their problems go deeper than one player. Tigers to get the points.
Betting Tip: Tigers -9.5 @ $1.90 (Unibet)
Eels v Dragons
Sunday, April 11, 6:15pm AEST
St George have been the surprise packet for the 2021 season so far with new coach Anthony Griffin bringing a physicality and defensive resolve that drove the club to their impressive victory over the Knights last week. They will face a massive test against an undefeated Parramatta outfit who were classy enough to stave-off a late comeback from the Tigers in their last match.
St George will welcome Jack Bird back into the centres from suspension in an otherwise unchanged squad. For the Eels, Ryan Matterson has been named to return from a head-knock in the second-row – pushing Isaiah Papali’i to the bench. Bryce Cartwright will also make his club debut for Parramatta from the interchange.
The Dragons’ form resurgence has come off the back of a newfound physicality, one that will face a huge test against a very powerful Eels forward rotation. While St George are capable of putting themselves into the position of winning that contest, expect the class and form of this Parramatta spine to prove the difference.
Betting Tip: Total Match Points Under 42.5 @ $1.90 (Sportsbet)
Titans v Knights: Total Match Points Over 41.5 @ $1.91 (Bet365))