The Raiders remain winless at 0-4 to start the season for the just the third time in the club’s history. In fact, this is the worst start to a season in 21 years, which takes us back to the Super League era. What’s concerning about their loss last week is the fact they did not touch the ball in the first half from the ninth minute until the 20th minute. Ricky Stuart called his men soft after their embarrassing loss to Manly. Ricky refused to blame their loss on the mentality of three close losses in the weeks prior. Bulldogs coach Dean Pay has said they are expecting a reaction from the Raiders this week.
The Bulldogs have one win from their first four matches for the second straight season. Keep an eye on Josh Morris who has started his season well with a try in each of his past three games. The Bulldogs lost their last visit to GIO Stadium but won the three previous encounters there. In 2017, the Bulldogs won the only match up, but it was a close affair with the game decided by six points. Aiden Tolman has been ruled out due to the ankle injury sustained against Souths.
Best Bet: Raiders 1-12 @ $3**
Value Bet: Josh Morris (First Try Scorer)
Southern Cross Group Stadium
The Sharks have struggled at home recently with just seven wins in their past 16 matches played there, however, they did get the job done at home over Melbourne last week without Matt Moylan or Josh Dugan. With both players named to return from injury, we think the Sharks will win. Interestingly, the opening scoring play in all four games for the Sharks this season has been a penalty goal for the Sharks.
The Roosters were stunned in their 30-6 point loss to the Warriors. The game saw the Roosters with only 38% possession and a completion rate of 57%. James Tedesco has been good defensively, but he doesn’t appear to have found his attacking groove since joining the Roosters. The head-to-head stats between these sides does not favour the Roosters. The Roosters won the last time these two teams met but prior to that had dropped six straight against the boys from the Shire. The only win the Roosters have seen during this period was at Shark Park last year, where the Roosters won by two points. Three of the past four matches between these sides has totalled more than 40 points, with two of those games totalling more than 50 points.
Best Bet: Cronulla to win @ $2.15*
Value Bet: Cronulla +2.5/Over 36.5*
Mt Smart Stadium
The Tigers did it in round 2, so can they upset the Storm again? The Tigers are sitting 4th on the ladder after their win in Round 4. The Tigers defence has been impressive this season, but their attack finally got going last week in scoring five tries against the Eels after only registering three in the opening three matches. Apart from their win in Round 2, the Tigers had lost the three previous matches against the Storm. Mt Smart stadium is a venue the Tigers haven’t played at since 2016, but they were victorious in that match. This venue is also not a problem for the Storm, having won their past two matches played there. Ivan Cleary’s men have been impressive so far and we think the Tigers will win again.
Melbourne Storm were kept tryless for just the eighth time last week in their loss to the Sharks. The game also saw Cameron Smith sin binned for the first time in his career. Last time these teams met, the Tigers caused the Storm to make 17 errors, something that has not happened since 2012. Suliasi Vunivalu has had a quiet start to his season, however, did score the last time these teams met a few weeks back.
Best Bet: Suliasi Vunivalu To Score
Value Bet: Tigers win 1-12 @ $4.25*
Mt Smart Stadium
Can the roll continue? Well, if you’re a New Zealand Warriors fan then you will fancy your chances against North Queensland when the teams meet at Mt Smart Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Although the Kiwis have a poor recent record against the Cowboys (four straight losses), this is a totally different Warriors outfit and on what we’ve seen so far we are tipping them to go 5-0.
The Warriors are unbeaten through their first four matches for the first time in club history and come into this having thrashed the premiership favourites, Sydney Roosters, at Allianz last week. Stephen Kearney’s men could be the real deal in 2018 as they’ve won three of their matches on the road – they only had one away win all last season!
Back to Mt Smart Stadium here we think the Warriors will prove too strong.
North Queensland were extremely disappointing last week in losing at home to a Penrith side without Nathan Cleary. Riding a three-game losing streak, the Cowboys have been beaten by an average margin of 13 points during that run. They are definitely not playing with the fluidity that you would normally see from a Johnathan Thurston-led side so we think they are vulnerable.
For those that enjoy having a punt on the First Try Scorer market then consider Cowboys centre Justin O’Neill, who enjoys playing against the Warriors and has four tries in his past three matches against them.
Best Bet: Warriors (Win) @ $2**
Value Bet: Justin O’Neill First Try Scorer
McDonald Jones Stadium
Recent statistics suggest the Knights won’t be beating the Broncos this weekend, however, we’re prepared to go against the historians. Brisbane has won 10 and drawn one of the past 12 clashes between the sides and are riding a six-game winning streak over their rivals.
Newcastle were beaten 30-12 heading into this one by the Dragons while the Broncos were shocking in a 26-14 defeat against the Titans, who ironically, had been smashed by the Dragons a week earlier.
The Knights will be without Tautau Moga for the rest of the season after he did his ACL while Connor Watson is still on the sidelines. Despite the mounting injury toll, Nathan Brown’s men are worth a few dollars in front of their home fans.
Interestingly, both sides are 2-2 for the season with each sides losses being by double figure margins.
Our money is with the Knights as they look a tad better than the Broncos at the moment. With the every week that passes it looks as though the latter will be regretting the departure of Ben Hunt with Kodi Nikorima and Anthony Milford failing to inspire any sort of fear in the opposition so far in 2018.
Best Bet: Newcastle (Win) @ $1.90*
Value Bet: Newcastle 13+ (Margin) @ $4.25*
Marley Brown Oval
Gold Coast are one of our more confident bets of the weekend and what’s more, they’re a bit of value as slight outsiders!
The Titans are $2.20 @ TAB to go back-to-back for the first time since Round 19 last year and will be full of confidence after upsetting the Brisbane Broncos 26-14 at Suncorp Stadium last week. Manly had a strong win over the Raiders (32-16) at home but have lost three big names for this one – Curtis Sironen, Tom Trbojevic and Kelepi Tanginoa.
While Manly has a strong head-to-head record against the Gold Coast with four wins from their past five clashes, it is the away form of the Sea Eagles which will be of concern to punters and to coach Trent Barrett. The Northern Beaches outfit has lost eight of their past nine away games dating back to last season.
Making the Titans an even better bet is the fact that their two losses in 2018 have been against the two unbeaten teams of the competition – the Dragons and Warriors.
Best Bet: Gold Coast to win @ $2.20*
Value Bet: Phillip Sami (First Try Scorer)
Its desperation time already for Parramatta who are 0-4 heading into this encounter. The Eels have the worst attack (9.5ppg) and defence (30.5ppg) in the competition while they have dropped three of their past four clashes against the Panthers. In fact, Parramatta has lost six straight games going into the backend of 2017.
It is likely they will be without Jarryd Hayne once more and their 30-20 defeat against the Tigers on Monday won’t have done them any favours at training during the week. One of the most damning statistics to come out of the match was their 32 missed tackles – the highest of any team in Round 4.
The only thing going in Parramatta’s favour is their neighbour’s apparent phobia of playing at ANZ Stadium. Penrith has won just three times in their past 16 visits to Homebush and only once since 2014.
Penrith will be without Nathan Cleary again but that didn’t seem to bother them last week when James Maloney guided them to a brilliant 33-14 win over the North Queensland Cowboys in Townsville.
Looking for some value? Waqa Blake is one to follow in Try Scorer markets after he bagged a double in the Panthers opening round win over Parramatta a month ago. Blake has since crossed the line in two games since and definitely appears to be a scoring outlet for the Penrith at this point of the campaign.
Best Bet: Parramatta to win @ $2.35*
Value Bet: Waqa Blake (First Try Scorer)
The Dragons remain undefeated to start their season 4-0 for the first time, making them, along with the Warriors, the two sides to remain undefeated in 2018. Will this be the week that the Dragons receive their first loss? Recent history would suggest it is, as the Dragons have lost six straight matches and only have one win from 12 games against South Sydney. On a positive note the Dragons love playing in front of their home crowd with only two losses in the past 13 games played at Jubilee Oval. The Dragons attack has been on fire having scored 20 or more points in each game this season. Nene Macdonald had a big game last week with two tries, four tackle busts and ran for 165 metres. We are expecting another big game from him.
Souths notched up their second win of the season when they scored two tries in the final six minutes against the Bulldogs. A boost for Souths is the return of back playmaker, Adam Reynolds. The past two games between these sides has totalled 50 or more points, but the five games before that were all under 40 points.
Best Bet: Dragons/Over 41.5 points @ $2.45*
Value Bet: Nene Macdonald To Score/Dragons Win*