NRL Rd 1 Talking Points

Cowboys on a rampage, Warriors make a statement, Manly already in trouble and beware of the Brits comprise our Rd 1 NRL talking points

James Baxter
Mon, 18 Mar, 12:00 AM

COWBOYS ON A RAMPAGE

The biggest question of the Cowboys in 2019 was always going to be “how will they cope without JT?” And in their convincing round one 24-12 victory over St George-Illawarra, the Cowboys emphatically answered that question with “simple – we’ll unleash our other JT.” Johnathan Thurston would have had an almighty grin on his face watching from the grandstand as Jason Taumalolo delivered a performance for the ages.

The monster Tongan star bulldozed his way through the Dragons defence for fun, racking up over 300 running metres. The Cowboys couldn’t have been more impressive in brushing aside the Dragons. With their all-star pack showing its muscle already, BetEasy has the Cowboys at $3.40 to finish in the top four.

Up next – it’s one of the most anticipated matches of the year, as the Cowboys ($2.40 – Sportsbet) head to Suncorp Stadium to renew their rivalry with the Brisbane Broncos ($1.57 – Sportsbet)

WARRIORS MAKE A STATEMENT

The New Zealanders made light work of a disappointing Canterbury Bulldogs side, their 40-6 demolition almost flattering the Doggies. The Warriors gameplan was simple -they outmuscled Canterbury through the middle, with the deft dummy-half work of Nathaniel Roache and Jazz Tevaga creating time for Blake Green to run the show – the Warriors’ halfback easily having the most possessions of any half in round one at 72.

Combine this with the brilliance of Roger Tuivasa-Sheck chiming in from the back and the finishing from backs like Solomone Kata and Ken Maumalo, and it could well be argued the Warriors were the most impressive side in the opening round. If you’re hopping on the Warriors bandwagon, you can get $2.50 with BetEasy for the Warriors to make the top 8.

Up next – The Warriors ($2 – Sportsbet) will take their momentum against another side who impressed in round one – the Wests Tigers ($1.82 – Sportsbet). Their Sunday night clash will be a beauty at Leichhardt.

SEA EAGLES ALREADY IN TROUBLE

Manly looked pedestrian in their attack against the Wests Tigers – Jorge Taufua’s try in the final seconds being Manly’s only try of a 20-8 defeat. Daly Cherry-Evans was neutralised by an aggressive Tigers defensive line, and the Sea Eagles desperately will be hoping injured Tom Trbojevic makes a quick return as Brendan Elliot was exposed at fullback. $6.50 with Sportsbet to finish with 2019’s least wins offers value, especially considering who’s next for Manly.

Up next – the good news in round two is Manly ($3.10 – Sportsbet) will be at their Lottoland home for the first time in 2019. The bad news is they’re hosting the Sydney Roosters ($1.36 – Sportsbet) who will be stinging from a flat loss to South Sydney and will be eyeing off the Sea Eagles as an opportunity to get back on track.

BEWARE THE BRITS

It’s no secret the Canberra Raiders have eyed off the UK as a source of recruitment value – Josh Hodgson and Elliott Whitehead have already established themselves as quality signings in the nation’s capital. And based on Sunday night’s comprehensive 21-0 shutout of the Gold Coast Titans, Ricky Stuart may have struck British gold again in lock John Bateman. It was the Englishman’s NRL debut but he looked like he’s spent his whole career in the NRL. Bateman topped the Raiders’ tackles, hit ups and metres gained counts – not a bad way to announce yourself!

The Raiders looked slick in trying conditions, even compensating for the injured Jordan Rapana. The Raiders are a darkhorse for the finals – and if they keep performing like they did against the Titans, you won’t be getting value like $2.10 from TAB for Canberra to make the finals for much longer.

Up next – the Raiders will be underdogs ($2.42) at home against the Melbourne Storm ($1.55) but you get the feeling this is just the way Ricky Stuart wants it.

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