NRL Round 2: Friday Night Previews & Betting Tips
Could there be a Friday night upset on the cards? The Raiders will need to defy recent history to pull off a win against the Storm and the pressure's on Brisbane as they face the Cowboys in a Queensland Derby.
Canberra Raiders v Melbourne Storm – GIO Stadium - 6:00PM
Canberra was quietly one of round one’s most impressive sides. In a make-or-break year for their coach Ricky Stuart, their revamped squad handled the Titans with ease in a 21-0 shutout away in challenging conditions. Englishman John Bateman was a workhorse, leading the way with tackles, hit-ups and metres gained – an impressive NRL debut. Jack Wighton looked a different five-eighth compared to his last stint in the number six jersey, while even the absence of Jordan Rapana didn’t stop the Raiders’ right edge attack, NRL newcomer Bailey Simonsson getting a try on the wing with his debut. For a team built to attack, their strong defence would have thrilled Stuart, and it’s this effort which will be needed if they’re to upset the Storm. Rapana’s surprise return will be a further boost to Raider morale.
There were some concerns about Melbourne’s attacking prowess entering round one after only scoring two tries in their trials, but these doubts proved unfounded with the Storm’s defence already showing why they’ve set the bar in recent years. The Storm’s defence beat the Brisbane Broncos into submission, with an early Jahrome Hughes try taking the pressure off young halfback Brodie Croft and instead allowing Melbourne to methodically dictate the game’s pace. Melbourne is strong starters – 2001 was the last time they lost in round one.
Key Stats: There’s a worrying pattern emerging for Canberra – not only have they lost four straight to the Storm but each defeat has gotten heavier.
Melbourne 14 Canberra 12
Canberra 14 Melbourne 20
Melbourne 32 Canberra 6
Melbourne 44 Canberra 10.
Felise Kaufusi has been first try scorer both times in these sides’ last two matches.
Best bet: Melbourne to win either half ($1.20* – Sportsbet)
Value bet: Felise Kaufusi first try scorer ($23* – Sportsbet)
Brisbane Broncos v North Queensland Cowboys – Suncorp Stadium - 7:55PM
It was a false start to the Anthony Seibold era at Brisbane. A trip to Melbourne is always a challenge, and the Broncos won’t be the only ones coming away with little to show from facing the Storm on their turf. The Broncos tried hard but never recovered from the Storm’s hot start. James Roberts leaving after six minutes with a back injury stifled the Broncos attack and meant the Storm could afford to increase their pressure on Bronco halves Anthony Milford and Kodi Nikorima. A Queensland derby might be the tonic needed for the Broncos to get 2019 officially on track.
While the Broncos struggled, the Cowboys flexed their muscle in a convincing 24-12 win against St George-Illawarra. Jason Taumalolo had a game for the ages, the unstoppable forward leader racking up an astonishing 300 running metres. No Johnathan Thurston was no worries for the Cowboys – Michael Morgan is a readymade replacement and with possibly the game’s strongest pack depth, North Queensland will look to smash their way through Brisbane in front of a loud Suncorp Stadium crowd.
Key stats: In their last ten matches, the winning margin has always been 1-12. The Cowboys have a slight edge in this time with a 6-4 overall record, however, the Broncos have been dominant at home, winning three of their last four matches against the Cowboys at Suncorp.
The Broncos have won the first half in four of their last five matches against the Cowboys.
Kodi Nikorima has scored in each of the last three games at Suncorp, and also scored against the Cowboys at Suncorp in 2018.
Best bet: Brisbane to win first half ($1.83* – TopBetta)
Value bet: Brisbane 1-12 ($3.00* – Sportsbet)