NRL Round 2: Saturday Match Previews & Betting Tips

Round 2 is underway and in what is set to be an action-packed Saturday, we see the Sharks v Titans, Knights v Panthers and Manly v Roosters.

James Baxter
 | 
Tue, 19 Mar, 12:00 AM

Cronulla Sharks v Gold Coast Titans – Shark Park - 3:00PM

Cronulla was disappointing in their 14-8 loss to Newcastle. Their attack looks disjointed, with Shaun Johnson struggling to combine with Matt Moylan in particular. The Sharkies’ only try came from a contentious penalty try verdict, meaning they’re yet to physically score a try in 2019 and will be looking to take their frustrations out on the Titans. New coach John Morris has kept the faith by not making any selection changes. Shaun Johnson struggled to influence the game last week but in his Warriors career enjoyed success against the Titans – winning six of his last seven matches against the Gold Coast, kicking 14/18 along the way.

Gold Coast meanwhile had a disastrous season opener. Not only did they lose 21-0 at home but they suffered playmaker injury blows. Ash Taylor was a late withdrawal due to a quad injury, meaning AJ Brimson was promoted to halfback from his original interchange role. If this wasn’t disruption enough, Tyrone Roberts then limped off in the opening minutes, meaning Tyrone Peachey was pushed from the centres to five-eighth. Losing both your starting halves is hard enough for Premiership contenders, let alone a young side looking for confidence. If the Titans want to record their first win for 2019 they’ll need to do it with their forwards – each starting forward has representative experience and will need to improve on their efforts against Canberra.

 

Key stats: In their last five head-to-head matches these sides are split 2-2-1. The Titans though hold no fear of Shark Park – they’ve won three of their last four matches there.

 

Tip: Sharks

Best bet: Cronulla to score most converted tries ($1.64* – Sportsbet)

Value bet: Gold Coast +7.5 ($1.96* – Unibet)

Newcastle Knights v Penrith Panthers – McDonald Jones Stadium – 5:30pm

Newcastle was gutsy in their victory over the Sharks – David Klemmer already looks a signing of the year candidate, with the NSW star leading a stacked forward pack to eventually trample over the Sharks’ big men. With all the pre-season hype focused on Knights. His experience and long kicking game were crucial in wearing down Cronulla’s backs, and he’ll be eyeing off similar results against a Panthers back three (Dylan Edwards, Josh Mansour, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak) who each missed parts of last season.

2019 started like 2018 for Penrith – down 14-0 and having to rely on a late comeback. This time though the Panthers fell short, and they’ll know they can’t afford to keep giving teams headstarts. James Tamou went close to man of the match on a beaten side – an impressive effort from a prop. He’ll need more support from his colleagues though – Newcastle’s forwards are on the rise.

 

Key stat: In the Knights’ last five matches, they’ve scored the first try in four.

 

Tip: Knights

Best bet: Knights first to 10 points ($1.76* – Sportsbet)

Value bet: Knights try first scoring play ($2.50* – Unibet)

Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles v Sydney Roosters – Lottoland – 7:35PM

Manly desperately missed injured fullback Tom Trbojevic in their limp 21-8 loss to Wests. The Sea Eagles looked directionless in attack as the Tigers blitzed Daly Cherry-Evans, knowing the Australian halfback was almost the sole playmaker in the Eagles’ attack. Trent Hodkinson was an interchange utility- Titans recruit Kane Elgey got the five-eighth nod- and made his feelings known this week he’s not thrilled at this selection by coach Des Hasler, which has since seen Hodkinson dropped from the 17 altogether. With doubts already forming over Manly, potential in-fighting and at long odds this week…it’s almost like a textbook Des Hasler siege mentality masterclass.

The Roosters collapsed in the second half in their 26-16 loss to South Sydney. Although they had a slim halftime lead, a poor completion rate and unforced penalties caught up with the Tricolours as Souths played the soggy SCG conditions perfectly. The Roosters will be smarting after the round one loss and while they’ll be wary of a Manly resurgence, they’ll also know they need to make an 80-minute statement against a side being backed as a contender to finish with the league’s most losses ($6.50* – Sportsbet).

 

Key stat: In the Trent Robinson era, the Roosters have lost 5 out of their 7 round one matches. And from these five losses, they’ve gone on to win round two 4 times with an average winning margin of 19 points.

 

Tip: Roosters

Best bet: Roosters/Roosters HT/FT double ($1.77* – Bet365)

Value bet: Roosters 13+ ($2.25* – BetEasy)

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