The following are previews with betting tips for Round 3 of the 2022 NRL season. Best bets for the round are also provided.
Dragons v Sharks
Thursday, March 24, 8:05pm AEDT
After a disjointed performance in round one, the Sharks responded in the best of ways against the Eels with an impressive two-point win in ominous signs for the Cronulla club’s rivals this season. They will face a Dragons outfit similarly impressive against the reigning premiers last week, falling only four points short in a tight contest.
For Cronulla, a head knock to Ronalda Mulitalo will see new signing Matt Ikuvalu come onto the wing as Siosifa Talakai replaces the suspended Teig Wilton in the second-row with Braydon Trindall joining the interchange. Meanwhile, the Dragons’ only changes will see Moses Mbye replace the injured Andrew McCullough at hooker with Jackson Ford and Jack Gosiewski coming onto the bench.
Cronulla will enter this match as favourites given their heroics last week against Parramatta. Highly rated coach Craig Fitzgibbon was absent from their round one loss due to covid but the return of the rookie mentor has had an instant impact on his squad. The Dragons are showing plenty of promise with their new-look roster but with so many new combinations to form – expect the Sharks to get the points.
Betting Tip: Dragons -1.5 @ $1.91 (Bet365)
Tigers v Warriors
Friday, March 25, 6:00pm AEDT
Wests’ produced an insipid performance against the Knights last week in ominous signs for what could be a difficult season ahead for coach Michael Maguire. The Warriors will be similarly frustrated after a narrow but disappointing loss to the Titans in their last game and the Kiwi club will be working desperately to avoid opening their season with three consecutive losses.
The Tigers will welcome the return of captain James Tamou at prop. Jacob Liddle and Luke Garner will join the starting side at hooker and the second-row respectively, while a suspension to Jackson Hastings will likely see Josh Madden or Tyrone Peachey shifted to five-eighth. For the Warriors, Kodi Nikorima will replace Ash Taylor at halfback in an otherwise unchanged squad.
After an impressive first-half performance against the Storm in round one, Wests’ form has dipped concerningly as the club battles to overcome more than a decade out of finals contention. They will face a Kiwi outfit who have lacked consistency in their halves pairing but expect the desperation of the New Zealanders to avoid starting their season with three consecutive losses to get them over the line.
Betting Tip: Warriors -2.5 @ $1.93 (Winnersbet)
Rabbitohs v Roosters
Friday, March 25, 8:05pm AEDT
Souths have recorded narrow losses in their opening games against Brisbane and the Storm and Jason Demitriou’s troops will face another massive test against their arch-rivals the Roosters. The tri-colours were dominant in an impressive win over Manly last week, showing significant improvement after much of their squad looked under-done heading into round one.
Souths will welcome Liam Knight onto their bench with Jaxson Paulo and Taane Milne swapping to wing and centre respectively in an otherwise unchanged squad. Meanwhile, the Roosters have named an unchanged squad as Angus Crichton and Nat Butcher swap between the second-row and bench.
The Roosters bounced back strongly after a poor showing in round one and a Keary-Walker halves combination is looking increasingly dangerous. Souths will be looking to emulate their rivals’ combinations and teamwork in the spine after Cody Walker and Damien Cook looked frustrated and well below their best last week. Souths still need to work hard to design a game-plan that gets the best out of their big-game players. Expect the Roosters to get the points.
Betting Tip: Roosters -3.5 @ $1.91 (Bet365)
Panthers v Knights
Saturday, March 26, 3:00pm AEDT
With dominant victories over the Roosters and Tigers, Newcastle are as yet unbeaten but face their biggest test of their season against the Penrith Panthers. The reigning premiers are also undefeated after a solid last-start victory over St George despite a number of injury concerns.
Newcastle will receive a massive double-boost with the return of Kalyn Ponga at fullback and Daniel Saifiti in the front-row in an otherwise unchanged squad. For the Panthers, an injury to Brian To’o will see Taylan May come onto the wing, while Nathan Cleary is also a chance of returning after the superstar halfback was included in the reserves.
The Knights have displayed some serious improvement in their opening matches, particularly impressive given the players they were missing. Coach Adam O’Brien will be eager to test his squad’s new form against the competition’s elite. Penrith are facing some adversity with injury but have proved time and again that they can thrive under those circumstances. This match could go either way but expect the big-game experience of the Panthers to get them over the line.
Betting Tip: Total Match Points Under 39.5 @ $1.90 (Sportsbet)
Storm v Eels
Saturday, March 26, 5:30pm AEDT
Despite a number of injury concerns, Melbourne have opened their season with consecutive victories over the Tigers and Souths with the Victorian club showing few signs their dynasty is coming to an end. They will face a big test against Parramatta, who will be burning from a narrow last-start loss to an improved Cronulla outfit with Brad Arthur’s troops eager to prove they are a genuine premiership threat.
Melbourne will be missing Harry Grant and Tyran Wishart due to covid protocols in a huge blow to their hooking depth. Brandon Smith could make an early return from a broken-hand after he was included in the reserves, with Jayden Nikorima another potential option at dummy-half. For the Eels, Nathan Brown will join the starting side at lock, pushing Oregon Kaufusi to the bench. Wiremu Greig will also join the pine in an otherwise unchanged squad.
Despite their shortage of hookers, Melbourne will enter this contest as firm favourites. Parramatta have shown signs of good form throughout the season but also some defensive fragility that they will be keen to rectify this week. Parramatta certainly have the cattle to win this match but expect the Victorians to come away with the win.
Betting Tip: Storm -4.5 @ $1.98 (Unibet)
Raiders v Titans
Saturday, March 26, 7:35pm AEDT
Canberra struggled to compete with a vastly improved Cowboys outfit and with news veteran hooker Josh Hodgson will miss the rest of the season alongside other injury concerns, the Raiders are facing a difficult start to their season. They will face a Titans outfit who last produced a narrow win over the Warriors with the Gold Coast outfit still far from their best.
Brad Schneider will return in a welcome boost to the Raiders’ spine, relegating Matt Frawley to the bench. Canberra’s back three will also receive a massive injection with the return of Nick Cotric and Jordan Rapana from injury and suspension respectively. Meanwhile, the Titans have named an unchanged squad in promising signs for the club.
Despite a poor display against North Queensland last week, the return of Nick Cotric and Jordan Rapana will be a welcome injection of experience for this Raiders squad struggling with consistency after so many forced changes. The Titans still look to be building combinations between their all-rookie spine – expect the big-game experience in this Raiders squad to get them over the line.
Betting Tip: Raiders -2.5 @ $1.95 (Playup)
Broncos v Cowboys
Sunday, March 27, 4:05pm AEDT
Brisbane produced a gritty win over an improved Canterbury Bulldogs outfit in encouraging signs for the club after a number of lean years. They will face their arch-rivals in North Queensland after the Cowboy’s impressed in a dominant win over Canberra in their last match. With both teams looking to have returned to better form, expect a fiery Queensland derby as both clubs strive to prove their premiership credentials.
Brisbane have the luxury of naming an unchanged squad this week in positive signs for coach Kevin Walters. For the Cowboys, a season-ending knee injury to Mitch Dunn will see Reuben Cotter join the bench with Jamayne Taunoa-Brown also a chance of making a return from injury after he was included in the reserves.
After an undefeated start to the season, Brisbane will enter this match as favourites. The influence of veteran halfback Adam Reynolds on this young Brisbane squad looked significant last week – and while North Queensland will undoubtedly compete to the last minute, expect the composure of Reynolds to prove the difference if this match goes down to the wire. Broncos to get the points in a narrow contest.
Betting Tip: Cowboys +6.0 @ $1.95 (Playup)
Sea Eagles v Bulldogs
Sunday, March 27, 6:15pm AEDT
Manly’s goal to prove themselves against the competition’s best has failed so far this year with consecutive losses to Penrith and the Roosters. Des Hasler’s outfit will face his old club, with Canterbury showing significant improvement despite a narrow loss to Brisbane last week. Trent Barrett may also take this match personally against his former club and with the injection of so much class into his team expect the Bulldogs to be fired up for this contest.
Both teams have named unchanged line-ups heading into this clash, although Canterbury are likely to deploy wrecking-ball Tevita Pangai Junior in the middle despite naming him in the second-row.
Despite their winless start to the year, Manly will enter this contest as firm favourites but they will be facing a very different Canterbury outfit from seasons past. Matt Burton’s superb kicking game has given the Bulldogs polish to their fifth-tackle options and Paul Vaughan and Pangai Jr have improved the club’s ruck dominance enormously. Manly are certainly capable of winning this match if they produced an improved performance against less-dominant opposition – but expect Canterbury to get the points.
Betting Tip: Bulldogs +10.5 @ $1.90 (Bluebet)
Panthers v Knights Total Match Points Under 39.5 @ $1.90 (Sportsbet)
Cowboys +6.0 @ $1.95 (Playup)