Thursday night footy appears to be the battle between David and Goliath with the ladder leaders up against the cellar dwellers. Before the break, Parramatta went down by 18 points to South Sydney, giving them their 12th loss of the season. Parramatta started the game off quickly going up 14-6, but then had 32 points piled on against them. Jarryd Hayne scored, giving him three tries in his two games since his return from injury. The Dragons remain unbeaten at home this season with their 24-point victory over the Sea Eagles. The win was also their 11th for the season, which is the most they have recorded to start a season since their premiership year in 2010. James Graham had a memorable game, scoring his first try for the Dragons.
The Head-to-Head stats between these sides are extremely one sided towards Parramatta with six straight victories over the Dragons. Despite this record and the possibility that Paul McGregor might rest his representative players, we can see this hoodoo coming to an end.
Games between these sides tend to be blowouts with the past three and four of the past five matches decided by double figure margins.
Best Bet: Dragons 13+ (margin) @ $2.35
Value Bet: Dragons 13+/Under 40.5 @$5 (Margin Total Double)
Mt Smart Stadium
The Warriors recorded just their second win in 13 matches in Townsville as they took down the Cowboys 23-16, keeping them in the top 4. The Warriors are now nine from nine this season when they are leading at halftime. Roger Tuivasa-Scheck was the standout for his side setting up two tries, scoring a try and running for 160 metres. The Sharks will look to bounce back from their four-point loss to the Broncos.
In big news during the week, Bulldogs prop Aaron Woods has made the switch to the Sharks and lines up for them against the Warriors. The Sharks have had the wood over the Warriors in recent times, winning the past three matches against them. They also don’t mind travelling across the ditch having won their past two and four of the past five matches played at Mt Smart Stadium. This season at Mt Smart, the Warriors have lost their past two matches and have won four of seven at the venue.
Whilst the Sharks have won the past three matches, encounters between these sides have been very tight affairs with four of the past five matches being decided by four points or less.
Best Bet: Warriors -1.5 (Line) @ $2.05
Value Bet: Cronulla 1-6 @$5.25 (Winning Margin)
It’s a highly anticipated Friday night clash at the Adelaide Oval.
An important clash for the Storm and Roosters, who are currently sitting fifth and sixth on the NRL Ladder, as they both look to remain in touch with the Top 4. The story of the night will be Cooper Cronk lining up against his former side, something he said would be weird.
The Roosters come into this clash off the back of their fourth straight win after a 32-6 point thrashing of the Panthers. The Roosters defence was outstanding and combined with their attack, looks like things might have started to finally click at Bondi. The Storm were impressive in their 18-point victory over the Knights. Josh Addo-Carr notched up his 12th career double with six of those coming this year. Melbourne won the last time these teams met and have been victorious on four of the past five occasions. That one defeat though came at Adelaide Oval last year by one point.
Suliasi Vunivalu has seven tries this season and coming in off a great try against the Knights. Last season, he scored in both games against the Roosters including the last clash at Adelaide Oval.
Bet: Roosters (h2h) @ $2.20
Value Bet: Suliasi Vunivalu to score 1+ Try (Player Performance)
Both sides will look to bounce back from big Round 15 losses.
The Panthers four-game winning streak ended abruptly with their 32-6 thrashing at the hands of the Roosters. A blow for the Panthers is Reagan Campbell-Gillard being out for six weeks due to the broken jaw he sustained from a heavy hit by Jared Waerea-Hargreaves. Manly went down by 24 points to the Dragons in a clash where they missed numerous opportunities.
The concerning stat for Manly is their inability to win away from Brookvale this season with losses in eight of their past 10 away matches.
Both sides feature players with question marks over them after representative round. Penrith have a strong record over Manly with wins in six of their past seven matchups, including a 12-point victory last time they met. This season, Panthers Stadium has been a venue of success for the home side with wins in all six clashes played there.
The past two and three of the past four games between these sides have been decided by double figure margins. For players of total points, the past two matches totalled 32 and 40 points.
Best Bet: Penrith 13+ (Margin) @ $2.10
Value Bet: Penrith 13+/ Under 43.5 points (Margin Total Double)
McDonald Jones Stadium
Newcastle won’t get a better chance to beat Canterbury than they will this weekend.
The Bulldogs are battered, bruised, beaten and down on confidence as they head into this match with a 3-11 record. What’s worse, they’ve lost arguably their best player in Moses Mbye to the Tigers and representative prop Aaron Woods to the Sharks since their dismal loss to the Titans a fortnight ago.
Canterbury has won five straight against the Knights but come into this game as outsiders. They have just one win in the past two months of football and that was against the struggling Eels in Round 10.
Newcastle are a team on the way up and although they have a similar record to the Boys from Belmore over the past eight weeks, they have shown far more attacking flair and enthusiasm than their counterparts have.
With a host of new players coming into the side for Dean Pay and the fact they have just one win away from home all season, we are banking on Newcastle to get a valuable two points here.
For Margin players, the 1-12 option is the way to go as the average margin between the teams in their past seven clashes is 7.7 points.
Best Bet: Newcastle (Win) @ $1.52
Value Bet: Newcastle 1-12 / Kayln Ponga First Try Scorer (Margin/First Try Scorer double)
This is one of the hardest matches of the weekend to pick.
Brisbane haven’t been bad lately, winning three of four matches with their only loss being against Melbourne but they face a rejuvenated Canberra team that put 48 points on the Wests Tigers last week.
Playing the Raiders won’t worry Wayne Bennett’s side though as they are aiming for five straight wins over the Green Machine.
While Canberra are sitting just outside the top eight with a 6-8 record, Ricky Stuart’s side showed that with the return of Josh Hodgson that they can be back to their brilliant best by dismantling to the Tigers. With that game under his belt, Hodgson could play a big part here in getting another two points for the Raiders.
Their issue though is their terrible record at Suncorp Stadium. The venue has proven to be a bogey ground for them with just two wins there since 2004.
Despite that we think Canberra can cause the upset as outsiders and keep their finals hopes alive.
Best Bet: Canberra (Win) @ $2.40
Value Bet: Canberra 1-6 (Winning Margin)
Ivan Cleary’s side will be looking to bounce back in the best way possible – by getting two points in front of the Leichhardt faithful.
Wests Tigers were humiliated by Canberra at home (Campbelltown Stadium) last week and will be keen to right a few wrongs for themselves and their fans in this one.
After a bright start to the season, Wests Tigers have won two of their past nine and are sitting two wins outside the top eight. A big coup for the Tigers in the past fortnight though has been the acquisitions of Moses Mbye from the Bulldogs and the return of prodigal son, Robbie Farah.
With Farah and Mbye in the side to cover for the injured Benji Marshall and the struggling Josh Reynolds, who isn’t entirely over a hamstring complaint, the home side should prove too strong.
The Titans won’t be pushovers though and scored their first win outside of Queensland a fortnight ago when dominating the Bulldogs at Belmore. Surprisingly, Gold Coast has a good record at Leichhardt with two wins (2014, 2015) in their only three visits to the ground.
Looking for a try scorer? Have something on exciting Tigers youngster Esan Marsters to get the first four-pointer. He bagged a try in both matches against the Titans last season.
Best Bet: West Tigers (Win) @ $1.60
Value Bet: Esan Marsters (First try scorer)
Souths are aiming for eight straight wins for the first time since 1989 but could face an uphill battle against the struggling Cowboys after the representative round.
The Bunnies had a stack of players involved in rep duty last week including Greg Inglis and the three Burgess brothers and that may play a part in this match, however, unless they’re playing injured the six day turnaround actually suits them.
Such has been the form of the Rabbitohs that they are now into premiership favouritism with the majority of bookies now installing them at the top of the market ($5 @ bet365).
This game will be won in the forwards and if the Cowboys, headed by Jason Taumololo, can win the battle against Sam Burgess and co then they are a huge chance of causing the upset. Remember, just a matter of weeks ago, Souths needed a penalty on full time to overcome the Cowboys in North Queensland.
Truth be told though it is hard to back the Cowboys against any team at the moment, let alone one that is in form like Souths.
Best Bet: Souths (Win) @ $1.33
Value Bet: Alex Johnston (First Try Scorer)