NRL Round 2: Sunday Match Previews & Betting Tips
The under-siege Canterbury Bulldogs host the buoyant Parramatta Eels in a battle of the west as the Warriors and Tigers fight it out to remain unbeaten.
Canterbury Bulldogs v Parramatta Eels – ANZ Stadium - 4:05PM
The Doggies’ round one 40-6 loss to the Warriors made for painful viewing for their fans. They were outplayed in every aspect. Halves Kieran Foran and Lachlan Lewis looked lost behind a beaten forward pack, and their desperation to conjure up any attacking spark meant rushed final tackle plays. Even the reliable Will Hopoate made errors at fullback, capping off a season opener to forget for Dean Pay’s men. Their coach, however, is maintaining the faith – naming an unchanged squad. You’d think the Parramatta derby represents the current squad’s final chance of showing something before changes will be made.
Parramatta showed grit in their 20-12 win over fellow western rivals Penrith. The Eels surged to a 14-0 lead- much like they did against Penrith in round one last year- but showed spirit in withstanding a frantic Penrith comeback. Don’t underestimate how important this win was for Parra – their side is filled with inexperienced talent, and the victory will do wonders for their confidence. It could be argued Parra never recovered from their round one collapse in 2018, but 2019 is already giving the Eels faithful reason for hope. Blake Ferguson went close several times for opening his Parramatta account and will fancy his chances this week. The Eels will need to overcome lock Nathan Brown’s absence however, their forward enforcer’s pectoral injury is a massive blow.
Key stat: The Eels are always confident against the Doggies, they’ve won five of the last six head-to-head, but each win has not surpassed 20 points scored.
Best bet: Eels -2.5 ($1.90* – Sportsbet)
Value bet: Eels winning margin 11-20 ($5.50* – BetEasy)
Wests Tigers v New Zealand Warriors – Campbelltown Stadium – 6:10PM
There was so much debate on whether Benji Marshall would hold off Josh Reynolds for the Tigers’ five-eighth position, it overlooked the fact Robbie Farah got the hooker nod ahead of Jacob Liddle. And Farah repaid coach Michael Maguire’s faith in spades with a dominant performance against Manly, the 35-year-old rolling back the years with a two-try effort. The Tigers are strong starters – look at last year when they beat eventual Premiers the Roosters in round one followed by another win over eventual Runners-Up Melbourne. The Tigers roster has been built nicely – they missed Moses Mbye at fullback but now have the depth to cover key losses. Corey Thompson was the replacement fullback but is a natural winger and was the Tigers’ leading 2018 try scorer, so Mbye’s potential return will bring better balance to the Tigers attack.
For anyone anticipating a slow start to the post-Shaun Johnson Warriors era, those fears were blown away with a rampant 40-6 win over the Bulldogs. Make no mistake – this was as complete a round one performance as coach Steve Kearney could have dreamed of. Blake Green ran the show at halfback, the veteran playmaker receiving more possessions than any other NRL half in round one. Green was afforded this time by his dominant forward pack. Tohu Harris and Adam Blair led by example, allowing Isaac Luke and Jazz Tevaga to cause carnage out of dummy-half. With Roger Tuivasa-Sheck playing freely as a secondary playmaker and five-eighth Adam Keighran looking at ease in his NRL debut, the Warriors have shown the NRL their blueprint, and the Tigers will have their hands full come Sunday night.
Key Stats: The Tigers have won four of their last five head-to-heads with the Warriors, with their last loss to the Warriors at Campbelltown in 2007. Star Warriors centre Solomone Kata has four tries in his last four matches against the Tigers and will fancy his chances of adding to that tally after a double last week.
Best bet: Tigers -1.5 ($1.90* – Unibet)
Value bet: Solomone Kata anytime try scorer ($2.75* – BetEasy)