Southern Cross Group Stadium
It is a mouth-watering local derby to kick start Round 2. The Dragons started their season off in great fashion with a 34-12 victory over the Broncos. New recruit, Ben Hunt stared for his new side. The Dragons look like they have finally found a genuine halfback in Hunt! James Graham lifted his team mates and set the tempo for the win. The Sharks struggled with their new look back line where Valentine Holmes appeared to struggle in his new position at fullback. The Sharks also lost rookie winger Sione Katoa, who on debut went down with a broken jaw. In 2017 they split honours at one game apiece. These games have also been tight contests with the winning margin in both games six or less points. The Dragons won this clash last time they met at Shark Park, and we think the Dragons will win again tonight. It’s going to be a good battle in the forwards.
Keep an eye on Jason Nightingale who has scored 11 tries in his past 11 games. Josh Dugan scored on debut for the Sharks and will be one to watch as he takes on his former side.
Best Bet: Dragons win $2.15
Value Bet: Jason Nightingale to score + Dragons to win @ $4.50
It’s always a fiery clash when these sides meet and with both searching for their first win of the season, expect another big game. The Roosters did not live up to the hype and preseason expectations after going down to the Tigers last weekend. The Roosters started the shortest priced favourites of rd1 and were made to look very ordinary. The Bulldogs showed plenty of signs of promise as they pushed Melbourne in the early stages of their match, but were outclassed in the end. We expect the Roosters to bounce back with a win here. At Allianz Stadium the Roosters are dominant, only dropping one game in the last 10 played there. Compared to the Bulldogs who have struggled there of late having lost the past two and four of the past five matches at Allianz. Whilst the Roosters have won the past two matches over the Bulldogs, they have been close affairs with each win decided by an average of just five points. For players of the Total Match Points, the past six games have topped 40 points, with four of those topping 50.
A boost for the Roosters will be the return of key playmaker Luke Keary who has been sidelined with a fractured jaw. It’s going to be interesting to see how Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Dylan Napa handle the Bulldogs new look front row pairing of Aaron Woods and David Klemmer.
Best Bet: Total match points over 43.5 @ $1.90
Value Bet: James Tedesco 1st Try Scorer @ $8
It’s a Friday night blockbuster with the Queensland Derby at Suncorp Stadium. The Broncos will look to bounce back from a poor performance against the Dragons. The Broncos made 13 errors and missed 34 tackles with their lack of defence. The Broncos halves pairing in Anthony Milford and Kodi Nikorima lacked firepower and were given a well-publicised spray by Wayne Bennett at training on Monday morning as a result. Another concern for the Broncos is the lack of fear of their forward pack and the fact they are now without a genuine halfback with the loss of Ben Hunt. The Cowboys got the win to celebrate Johnathan Thurston’s 300th game, whilst a bit rusty at times, ‘JT’ still managed to set up two tries. A question mark still remains on Michael Morgan’s fitness after he was sidelined with an abdominal injury in rd 1. It’s going to be a tough clash, but we think the Cowboys will be too strong for the Broncos.
Games between these two sides tend to go down to the wire with four of the past six clashes decided by one point, which includes the incredible 2015 Grand Final. Look for James Roberts who scored his 10th career double last week to cross the stripe again.
Best Bet: Cowboys 1-12 @ $2.80
Value Bet: James Roberts 1st Try scorer @ $11
Mt Smart Stadium
Both of these sides kicked off their 2018 campaign in surprising fashion. The Warriors looked fit, healthy, relaxed and controlled in their 12-point upset win over the Rabbitohs. A key signing for the Warriors was Blake Green. His composure helped complement Shaun Johnson’s game with the pair clicking instantly. Another standout was Isaac Luke who controlled the ruck and defensively looked like he was back to his best and will be key to the success of this Warriors side this season. The Titans came into Round 1 on a seven-game losing streak and a new coach, Garth Brennan. The Titans started off slowly but equalled their biggest ever comeback (18 points) to beat the Raiders. Ash Taylor was on fire, equalling his career high of four try assists. Whilst the Titans showed they won’t be giving up easily this season, they did miss 42 tackles – the most of any team in the opening round. The Warriors have the wood over the Titans only dropping one game in their past 14 clashes, which includes their 22 point victory in 2017. The total points in these matches have been over 40 points in five of the past six games including three reaching 50+ points.
Best Bet: Warriors to win @ $1.37
Value Bet: Warriors 1-12 (Margin) @ $3
Souths have the stats on the board to get the job done against Penrith this Saturday. After losing as favourites last week against the Warriors, Souths represent some value here as they take on a Panthers side they’ve beaten in seven of their past nine clashes. Making the case even stronger for the bunnies is the fact they enjoy playing at Pepper Stadium where they have taken the points in four of their past six visits. The case against them, however, is strong with Adam Reynolds out injured.
Penrith overcame a slow start against Parramatta last week in registering 24 straight points to win 24-14. They appeared to get better as the game got on and definitely have the advantage of playing a second consecutive home game while Souths had to go to Perth last week.
Big Sam Burgess is our value play for this match. The Englishman has scored four tries in his past three games against the mountain men including a double in their rd 16 clash back in 2016. While it may be a stretch to expect him to score the first try, we suggest backing him in the To Score A Try market.
Best Bet: Penrith to win @ $1.37
Value Bet: Sam Burgess To Score A Try @ $4.50
The Storm look to be the lock of the weekend. Melbourne are riding an 11-game winning streak in the NRL dating back to rd 20 last year and made it six matches in their past seven in the competition where they have racked up 30 points or more when beating Canterbury 36-18 last week. The Wests Tigers scored the biggest upset of the opening round, beating premiership favourites the Sydney Roosters 10-8 in a dour struggle, however, this looks a bigger test than that. Traditionally the merged entity has given the Storm a hard time. They have lost their last three matchups, however, only by an average margin of 6.66 points.
If you want some value then the first try scorer market is the way to go. Josh Addo-Carr is our pick after the flyer picked up a double last week. The former Tiger has also scored in his only game against his former club.
Best Bet: Melbourne Storm 7-12 (Winning Margin) @ $5.50
Value Bet: Josh Addo-Carr (First Try Scorer) @ $6
We are giving Parramatta another go this week after they blew a 14-nil lead in rd 1 against the Panthers. The Eels have won six straight against the Sea Eagles dating back to rd 24 2014 and three in a row at Lottoland. Of their three straight wins on the Northern Beaches, Parramatta have managed to score at least 20 points on each of those occasions.
Both Parramatta and Manly are coming off defeats last week but the latter may lift with the home ground advantage. After a wretched run at Lottoland (Brookvale), Manly finished 2017 with five straight wins at the venue. Look to Bevan French to open the scoring as the flyer has scored in both games he has played against the Sea Eagles.
Best Bet: Parramatta to win @ $2.10
Value Bet: Bevan French (Parramatta) First Try Scorer @ $10
The stats tell us this could be a close contest. Although Canberra has won two of the past four matchups, Newcastle did score an upset win in rd 10 in 2017 and also forced a draw in one of two matches in 2016 – the year the Raiders went to the Preliminary Final. The Knights will be full of confidence after beating Manly last week and with Mitchell Pearce calling the shots in the halves, the Novocastrians are a big chance to remain unbeaten. The one issue for them is that they only won one away match last season.
Canberra blew an 18-nil after 12 minutes to lose to the Gold Coast and will be keen to erase that from the memory this week. Although they won four of their last six games of 2017, only one of those was against a finals opponent (Sharks) while four of their last six home matches resulted in losses.
Go for a Newcastle upset at the odds.
Best Bet: Newcastle to win @ $2.30
Value Bet: Newcastle 1-12 (Margin) @ $3.60