The 2021 NRL season picked up right where it left off last week with the Storm and the Panthers both recording impressive victories in front of their home fans.
Melbourne will look to remain unbeaten when they take on the Eels in another Thursday night thriller, while the Panthers look a great bet to improve to 2-0 when they face the Bulldogs on Saturday.
On Friday, we’ve got almost even money on offer when the Warriors and Knights meet in Gosford, right before the Titans and Broncos square off on the Gold Coast.
With plenty of value on offer, be sure to find out who we’re backing in our 2021 NRL Round 2 Preview!
Thursday, March, 18, 8:05pm, Bankwest Stadium
Round 2 opens with a rematch of last year’s Qualifying Final as both the Eels and the Storm look to remain unbeaten to start the season.
After rallying the troops at half-time last week, Eels coach Brad Arthur will be hoping for a much more thorough performance from his side after overcoming a 16-0 deficit against the Broncos in Round 1.
Anything short of a consistent 80-minutes of football will likely see Parramatta undone against a Storm outfit that put on a clinic in their 26-18 win over the Rabbitohs at home.
The game plan from Melbourne head coach Craig Bellamy this week should be relatively simple: force mistakes.
The Eels were their own worst enemies last week committing 15 errors against the Broncos, and while their second-half effort was exciting, it’s tough to read too much into a win over the reigning wooden-spooners.
Outside of a loss in Round 15 last year, the Storm have largely held Parramatta’s number.
Melbourne has won four of their last five meetings against the Eels, which includes a comfortable 12-point win in the finals last year.
If Parramatta starts slow, this one could get ugly in a hurry.
Tip: Back the Storm to Cover the Line (-6.5 Points) @ $2.00
New Zealand Warriors
Friday, March, 19, 6:00pm, Central Coast Stadium
This is easily the most interesting betting market of the entire round with even money on offer at time of publish.
The Knights have opened as -1 favourites following last week’s dominant victory over the Bulldogs, but it wouldn’t be surprising if the line swings back and forth throughout the week.
With Kalyn Ponga and Edrick Lee on the sidelines, Adam O’Brien’s men did extremely well to pile on the points in a second-half onslaught.
Unfortunately, Newcastle lost Kurt Mann and Bradman Best to injuries in the process, adding further intrigue as the Knights now prepare for an equally impressive Warriors side.
Last week’s 19-6 score-line against the Titans doesn’t even begin to do the Warriors justice.
The Warriors did well to capitalize on some costly Gold Coast turnovers, while they also looked very deadly in open space.
Winning back-to-back games has been a problem for New Zealand over the last few years, but it’s hard to ignore the fact the Kiwis beat Newcastle 36-6 when they last met.
This is a huge litmus test for the Warriors, but with the Knights still battered and bruised, they look up to the task.
Tip: Back the Warriors to Win @ $1.92
Gold Coast Titans
Friday, March, 19, 8:05pm, CBUS Super Stadium
The Broncos failed to come away with the chocolates in Round 1 against the Eels, but there was plenty to like about their first-half performance under new head coach Kevin Walters.
Brisbane took a 16-0 lead into the sheds at half-time before injuries and some costly mistakes got in the way.
The Titans, meanwhile, failed to fire against a dangerous looking Warriors side in a game Justin Holbrook would probably like to have back.
After a couple of sickening head knocks, there is some good news for the Broncos on the Xavier Coates and John Asiata front with both set to play after training earlier in the week.
Coates in particular looked extremely dangerous on the right-hand side of Brisbane’s attack, which does pose some match-up problems for the Titans after missing 25 tackles last week.
As far as betting goes, the Gold Coast are no doubt worth forgiving after coming off second-best last week to a side that many fancy to finish top four.
That said, the Broncos should take plenty of confidence away from their first-half performance against the Eels.
If Brisbane can stay healthy and put together two consistent halves, there’s a good chance this game turns out close.
Tip: Back the Broncos to Cover the Line (+6.5 Points) @ $1.90
Saturday, March, 20, 3:00pm, Bankwest Stadium
The Panthers made us forget all about last year’s Grand Final disappointment with a convincing 24-0 shutout over the Cowboys in Round 1.
Having now won 17 of their last 18 games, it’s no surprise to find Ivan Cleary’s men as firm double-digit favourites in betting as they prepare to face a Bulldogs side still rebuilding for the future.
To be fair, Canterbury held their own in the first 30 minutes last week before Newcastle’s attack finally got going in the wet and windy conditions.
While the Bulldogs should appreciate a firmer surface on Saturday night, unfortunately, this still shapes as a difficult assignment for new head coach Trent Barrett against a Panthers team that won 42-0 when these two sides last met.
Unlike in years past, the Dogs do have enough talent in the backline to challenge the Panthers, but it’s tough to see them matching Penrith on the scoreboard after showing next to nothing on attack last week.
Following a defensive masterclass against the Cowboys last week, the value lies in a low-scoring game from the Dogs.
Tip: Bulldogs Under 11.5 Total Points @ $1.98
Manly Sea Eagles
South Sydney Rabbitohs
Saturday, March, 20, 4:30pm, Brookvale Oval
The Sea Eagles and Rabbitohs are both looking to bounce-back this week after finishing on the receiving end of respective blowouts in Round 1.
Manly’s half-strength roster was exposed nice and early by the Roosters in their 46-4 defeat, a performance Des Hasler would probably like to forget after his side missed a whopping 39 tackles.
While they were far from disgraced, the Rabbitohs met their match in Melbourne as the Storm burst clear to pile on 12 points inside the opening ten minutes.
On the plus side, South Sydney did well to answer back by holding the Storm scoreless in the second half, an effort the Bunnies can certainly improve on.
Manly does get some reprieve this week with Kieran Foran set to return to the side, but after struggling to defend the Roosters aerial assault, it’s difficult to imagine the Sea Eagles turning things around in a hurry.
The last time these two sides met the Rabbitohs won 56-16, and as the line suggests, Manly fans might be in for another tough week.
Tip: Back the Rabbitohs to Cover the Line (-10.5 Points) @ $1.90
North Queensland Cowboys
St George-Illawarra Dragons
Saturday, March, 20, 7:35pm, Queensland Country Bank Stadium
The Cowboys find themselves as the firm favourites on Saturday despite the fact they failed to muster a single point in Round 1.
Last week’s 24-0 shutout against the Panthers was a harsh reality check for Cowboys fans that dared to dream, while the Dragons are also looking to bounce-back from a spirited loss to the Sharks.
Overtime was required to separate these two sides when they last met, and it wouldn’t be surprising if we’re treated to another close and high-scoring game.
Both teams spent over 30 minutes on defence last week, while we should see each side begin to gel a little more as the season wears on with new head coaches at the helm.
It also happens that the total has gone over in each of the Dragons’ last five games, so there’s plenty to suggest we might be in for another thriller.
Tip: Over 43.5 Total Points @ $1.90
Sunday, March, 21, 4:05pm, Campbelltown Sports Stadium
The Tigers appear to be in for another tough Sunday after receiving a touch-up at the hands of the Raiders last week.
Michael Maguire’s side put up a strong fight in the first half, only to fall away in the final 40-minutes due to some sloppy tackling and a handful of errors.
Those same mistakes will cost the Tigers dearly this week against a Roosters outfit that showed its full class in a huge Round 1 win over Manly.
Trent Robinson’s side was humming from the get-go as James Tedesco’s miraculous second-minute try turned into a 46-4 onslaught.
Sydney will take to the field this week without Angus Crichton, who will serve a one-match ban for last week’s dangerous tackle, while the Tigers welcome back Adam Doueihi from his own suspension.
While there was a bit to like about the Tigers at times last week, it was clear Maguire’s side are still incapable of playing a full game from start to finish.
With the Roosters facing a big one in Round 3 against the Rabbitohs, they should be eager to make another statement here.
Tip: Back the Roosters to Cover the Line (-11.5 Points) @ $1.90
Sunday, March, 21, 6:15pm, Nestrata Jubilee Stadium
Both sides opened the season with a win, but there were a few nervous moments for supporters early on in the first half.
The Raiders eventually clicked into gear in the late stages to down the Tigers 30-12, but this does shape as a difficult stretch for Canberra with three of their next four games on the road.
Cronulla also survived a first half scare to kick away from the Dragons in their 32-18 win.
The Sharks weren’t pretty defensively, but much like last year, they do look a dangerous side with Josh Dugan and Ronaldo Mulitalo both finding the line.
The Raiders have won four straight over Cronulla, but the Sharks have been a steady underdog play covering in six of their last eight games against Canberra.
With captain Jarrod Croker potentially out, the Sharks look a worthwhile bet with some insurance.
Tip: Back the Sharks to Cover the Line (+6.5 Points) @ $1.90
Round 2 in the NRL will be unlike any other as all eight games kick off behind closed doors for the foreseeable future.
This presents a handful of challenges for bettors as the crowd can often play a crucial part in altering the momentum and the flow of the game.
On one hand, we may see higher scoring contests without the pressure of a crowd in attendance, but instead of banking on “what-ifs” we’ve chosen to treat all eight games as we normally would in our complete preview below.
North Queensland Cowboys
Thursday, March, 20, 8:05pm, ANZ Stadium
A chance to right their wrongs is up for grabs on Thursday night as the Cowboys and Bulldogs both hope to earn their first win of the season.
North Queensland had no trouble scoring points last week against the Broncos, but some sloppy tackling and ball handling issues ultimately cost the Cowboys a win in their new stadium.
Canterbury also came up short against the Eels mustering a measly two points. Considering the off-field distractions leading in, the Dogs did reasonably well to hold Parramatta to only eight points, but Dean Pay still has plenty left to address on attack moving forward.
The Cowboys are laying -2.5 here on the road at ANZ, highlighting how wary the bookies are of North Queensland’s 4-8 record away from home last year.
Fortunately, Paul Green is set to welcome Josh Maguire into the side following last seasons suspension, which should give the Cowboys more firepower up forward.
Neither of these teams were particularly impressive when it came to tackling last week, but in the Cowboys’ defence, that is to be expected of a relatively new-look side.
North Queensland holds a perfect 2-0 record as the line favourite on the road against the Dogs, so it’s worth backing the visitors to bounce back.
Tip: Back the Cowboys to Cover the Line (-2.5 Points) @ $1.90
St George-Illawarra Dragons
Friday 15 March, 6:00pm, Netstrata Jubilee Stadium
Two teams at the opposite ends of the spectrum meet on Friday in a game that could tell us all we need to know about both clubs.
Penrith were the surprise packets last week defeating the Roosters 20-14 at home, while the Dragons were largely underwhelming in their defeat to the Tigers at home.
Injuries are set to make this game interesting from a betting standpoint as the Dragons have added a few more names to their growing casualty ward.
Mikaele Ravalawa picked up a thigh strain last week, while Korbin Sims and Cameron McInnes are still a few weeks away from making their 2020 debut.
The Panthers are also sweating on Zane Tetevano after suffering a knee injury against the reigning premiers last week. If Penrith can ride the momentum like they did last week though, his absence shouldn’t be felt too much.
It stands to note that the Dragons haven’t beaten the Panthers since 2017, tying in with their sloppy 0-5 record as the home underdog last season.
St George failed to capitalize on their chances last week compared to a Penrith side that did quite the opposite. All in all, this points towards a Panthers blowout.
Tip: Back the Panthers to Cover the Line (-3.5 Points) @ $1.90
South Sydney Rabbitohs
Friday 15 March, 8:05pm, Suncorp Stadium
The marquee game of Round 2 comes on Friday night with the Broncos and Bunnies both looking to one-up each other on the ladder.
Brisbane’s gutsy win up north over the Cowboys last week sent a strong statement to the rest of the league, while Souths didn’t miss a beat in their four-point win over the Sharks at home.
It’s a shame Suncorp will be empty for this game between Wayne Bennett and his former club, which also makes betting a little tricky with even money on offer.
The Rabbitohs swept the Broncos last year with a pair of victories, but the back line is in for a real test against what is arguably the toughest forward pack in the competition.
Likewise, you do have to factor in Brisbane’s troubles at home in recent years, while the lack of a crowd could see either team fold if the going gets tough.
With so many factors at play, you’re best off paying attention to the trends here and backing this game to be high scoring. The bookies have set a 40-point Total for this game, which seems a little low considering the last six games between these two clubs have all gone Over.
Tip: Over 40.5 Total Points @ $1.90
New Zealand Warriors
Saturday 16 March, 3:00pm, Eden Park, Auckland
The Warriors will play the role of the home side on the Gold Coast as they welcome a Raiders team looking to pick up where they left off last week against the Titans.
Canberra put to rest any concerns of a Grand Final hangover winning 24-6 over the Gold Coast at home.
The Warriors, meanwhile, laid a goose egg against the Knights in Newcastle in a forgettable 20-0 shutout.
Stephen Kearney has the unenviable task of trying to keep his players’ mind on the game as they face the possibility of remaining in Australia for the unforeseeable future or even being excluded from the competition entirely.
Either way you look at it, there’s no doubting the Warriors will be distracted this week, which explains the double-digit line on offer for the Green Machine to win comfortably.
There’s no doubting the Warriors have the firepower to compete with a team like Canberra, but not on a foreign ground and with so much else going on in their minds.
With the Raiders looking like they have another gear to shift into, this one could get ugly.
Tip: Back the Raiders to Cover the Line (-11.5 Points) @ $1.90
Manly Sea Eagles
Saturday 16 March,5:30pm, Central Coast Stadium
As far as early season tests go, it doesn’t get much bigger than this.
The only takeaway from the Roosters’ 20-14 loss to the Panthers last week was that they took their foot off the gas when it mattered most.
Manly, on the other hand, were simply their own worst enemy against the Storm as a combination of handling errors and missed tackles got in the way of what could have been a brilliant start to the season.
Given the expectations surrounding both clubs, each team deserves a mulligan after two unlucky performances.
But now the question becomes: who will earn their first win of the season?
The Roosters have enjoyed the better part of this match up in recent years winning three games in a row over Manly.
That said, the +5.5 about the Sea Eagles represents enormous value when you factor in the circumstances of the round and their 6-3 record as the line underdog away from home last year.
It’s easy to forget that Manly held the Storm scoreless in the first half last week in wet conditions, so now it’s up to Des Hasler to build on that performance against a Roosters team that looked a little vulnerable in the dying stages themselves.
Tip: Back Manly to Cover the Line (+5.5 Points) @ $1.90
Saturday 16 March, 7:35pm, Netstrata Jubilee Stadium
This growing rivalry has typically been one of the toughest games to predict over the last five years and we should be in for another classic based on last week’s performances.
Cronulla failed to get the job done against the Bunnies, but the Sharks can take plenty away from their miraculous second half fight back with only one errant forward pass preventing them from extra time.
Speaking of the second half, Craig Bellamy has to be happy with how his side responded out of the sheds against Manly to go on and win 18-4 at Brookvale.
The Sharks do have a couple of injuries concerns to note here with Bronson Xerri and Josh Dugan likely out for at least another week. Winger Ronaldo Mulitalo also picked up a head knock against Souths and will be evaluated later in the week.
Betting against Melbourne in the first four weeks of the year is always a risky play, but back-to-back games on the road is a tough ask for a team that played two completely different halves last week.
On one hand, you could look at Cronulla’s outs and wonder how they’ll fend off the Storm for a full 80-minutes, but keep in mind, this is a fixture they always get up for.
If you throw in the Sharks’ perfect 2-0 record as the line underdog at home against Melbourne, the +5.5 here is some nice insurance to have.
Tip: Back the Sharks to Cover the Line (+5.5 Points) @ $1.90
Sunday 17 March,4:05pm, Leichhardt Oval
The Knights finished last season 4-8 on the road, but they still look massively over the odds here against a Tigers team that is being a little overvalued in the market.
Newcastle shutout the Warriors in style last week at home by dominating possession and also keeping the penalties to a minimum.
Wests were also big winners against the Dragons, but it remains to be seen how they respond to a quiet Leichardt Oval that is usually buzzing with noise at this time of year.
On the injury front, the Tigers were dealt a bit of a blow last week with Luke Brooks ruled out for at least a month due to a calf injury. The return of Moses Mbye, meanwhile, still looks a week or so away.
The Knights made it through Round 1 relatively free from injury, so they do look the value play of the round – especially with a 2-1 record as the away underdog at the line against the Tigers.
Considering you’re getting the same price head-to-head as you are against the spread, it’s worth taking the +1.5 insurance here.
Tip: Back the Knights to Cover the Line (+1.5 Points) @ $1.90
Gold Coast Titans
Sunday 17 March,6:15pm, CBUS Super Stadium
Justin Holbrook will attempt to extract the positives from last weeks blowout loss to the Raiders ahead of this week’s home opener on the Gold Coast.
The Titans realistically could have lost by much more, but the they did show some signs of life in the second half to hold the Raiders to only one try.
Speaking of one try, that’s all the Eels managed against the Bulldogs last week in their narrow 8-2 victory.
A win is a win, but it was a less than convincing performance from a team that many feel should be in the top four conversation this year.
The good news is the Eels have won three games in a row over the Titans and were also 3-1 as the away favourites at the line last year. It’s tough to know whether the Eels failed to fire or the Bulldogs are better than we’re giving them credit for, but with an injury free side, take Parramatta to pull off the big win.
Tip: Back the Eels to Cover the Line (-6.5 Points) @ $1.90
A handful of upsets in Round 1 has added plenty of intrigue to the start of the 2019 NRL season.
We now set our sights on Round 2, headlined by three prime time blockbusters kicking off on Thursday night between the Dragons and the Rabbitohs. The Storm also take a trip to Canberra, a venue that’s caused Melbourne plenty of problems in recent years.
The first QLD Derby takes center stage on Friday night, followed by Sunday twilight thriller between the Tigers and the Warriors. As always, we’ve previewed all you need to know, and our complete 2019 NRL Round 2 Preview can be found below.
St George-Illawarra Dragons
South Sydney Rabbitohs
Thursday 21 March, 7:50pm, Jubilee Stadium
St. George 18 - South Sydney 34
The Dragons and the Rabbitohs find themselves at opposite ends of the spectrum ahead of Round 2. The Rabbitohs pulled off an unthinkable upset over a well-rested Roosters side last week to spoil Sydney’s premiership party, while the Dragons were dominated in just about every statistical category during their 12-point loss to the Cowboys in North Queensland.
Fast forward a week, and you’ll find the Bunnies favoured handsomely on Thursday night. Souths won both games against the Dragons last year, although their narrow 13-12 win in September leaves the door open for what could be another thriller.
The Dragons finished last season 6-6 on the road, and already this year the struggles away from home are evident. St. George’s biggest problem last week was errors, and if they can’t clean up their act, they’ll pay the full price this week against a Rabbitohs side that dominated possession against the Roosters.
For the Bunnies, it’s all about sucking the life out. Even last year, Souths were great at forcing set after set to tire out the opposing defence, and considering the Cowboys managed to score two tries within 10-minutes twice last week, don’t be surprised if St. George are run off their feet again.
[matchmodule matchid="75708652" no="1"]
Tip: Back South Sydney To Win 1-12 @ $2.90
Friday 22 March, 6:00pm, GIO Stadium
Two sides coming off convincing wins. Friday night blockbuster, anyone?
Canberra made short work of the Titans on a rain-soaked Gold Coast track last week, heading home 21-0 winners thanks to a dominant attacking performance.
The Storm had their hands full with the Broncos last week, for all of five minutes. Melbourne pounced on Brisbane in the opening half to lead 10-0 at the break, leaving the Bromwich brothers to do the rest in the second half.
So how do these two contenders stack up this week?
The Storm have won four-straight over the Raiders, including last year’s 44-10 beatdown at home. It’s worth nothing Melbourne haven’t traveled to Canberra since 2017 though, and after last week’s success, expect the Green Machine to be fired up for this clash.
Canberra might look a little over the odds to some, but beware, this could be a trap game. The Raiders are 3-6 as the away underdog straight-up against the Storm, but a much tidier 3-2 as the underdog against the line.
Overall, Canberra’s defence could keep this close. Their line play was superb last week, and the battle between Cameron Smith and Josh Hodgson should provide fireworks. The likes of Cameron Munster and elusive Josh Addo-Carr should see Melbourne over the line narrowly, however.
[matchmodule matchid="75706652" no="2"]
Tip: Back the Raiders to Cover the Line (+4.5 Points)
North Queensland Cowboys
Friday 22 March, 7:55pm, Suncorp Stadium
The Broncos enter their first of two QLD derby’s following a loss to the Storm last week. There’s plenty of learning curves ahead for new coach Anthony Seibold, but it appears the same old problem is plaguing Brisbane for the second season in a row.
After falling behind by 10-points, Brisbane once again got off to a slow start. It falls not only on Seibold, but also Kodi Nikorima, as the Broncos looked completely disorganized during various stages of the first half last week.
For the Cowboys, things were much more composed. Even after falling behind early, North Queensland didn’t panic as Jason Taumalolo went to work in the early goings. Paul Green’s side saw equal effort from Coen Hess on the defensive side, all of which leaves the Cowboys looking a little over the odds this week as they head to Suncorp.
Last season North Queensland nearly got the better of the Broncos on the road. Once again, the Broncos fell behind early, scraping home by four-points in a 24-20 win. Fast forward five months, the Cowboys then got one-up on Brisbane in North Queensland, winning by the same margin.
As the away underdog, the Cowboys finished 2-5 last year, while Brisbane’s struggles at home were evident in their 4-5 record against the line. Considering four of the last five meetings between these two have been decided by six-points or less, the line looks to be the play.
[matchmodule matchid="75706785" no="3"]
Tip: Back the Cowboys to Cover the Line (+4.5 Points) @ $1.85
Gold Coast Titans
Saturday March 23, 3:00pm, Shark Park
It’s only fitting that these two sides meet following their Round 1 disappointments.
In what turned out to be a stalemate between the Sharks and the Knights, Cronulla allowed a crucial last minute try to Edrick Lee in Newcastle, going on to lose 14-8.
Things were much more dour for the Titans, mind you. Gold Coast failed to even crack the scoreboard in their 21-0 loss to the Raiders at home, and considering the Titans won just four of their 12-games on the road last season, it’s not surprising to see them listed as the underdog.
On the flip side, the last time the Titans traveled to Shark Park they won 16-12 way back in 2017. Cronilla have won only two of their last five games against Gold Coast, including last year’s narrow 10-9 victory.
This game will likely be just as close. The Sharks finished 7-2 as the home favourite last year, while the Titans went 4-7 as the away underdog. Take the Sharks and their stingy defence in another nail-biter.
[matchmodule matchid="75706921" no="4"]
Tip: Back the Sharks To Win 1-12 @ $2.63
Saturday March 23, 5:30pm, McDonald Jones Stadium
It’s only a small sample size, but you have to like what we saw from the Knights last week.
Newcastle toughed out a hard-fought win over the Sharks at home, one that has Nathan Brown’s side heading in as the favourite against the Panthers on Saturday. That was hardly the biggest upset of the round though, as Penrith, who are still caught up in off-field problems, looked lost against the Eels in a 20-12 loss.
The Panthers are typically slow starters, but they’ll need to find some spark on the road this week. Their first half efforts left a lot to be desired against Parramatta, but if they can win the forward battle and silence Mitchell Pearce, Penrith can easily turn their fortunes around.
Being favoured at home is unfamiliar territory for the Knights in recent memory – they are just 2-1 as the home favourite over the last 12-months. Last week’s win was huge, but was it the Sharks’ inability to score, or Newcastle’s attack that got the job done?
Either way, the Panthers hold a strong 2-1 record as the line underdog against Newcastle, which looks to be the safest play this week.
[matchmodule matchid="75707412" no="5"]
Tip: Back the Panthers to Cover the Line (+2.5 Points)
Manly Sea Eagles
Saturday March 23, 7:35pm, Brookvale Oval
What can we take away from the Roosters loss to Souths last week?
Sydney were dominated in the possession count, while they also looked flat on defence missing 27 tackles and committing 15 errors. In sum, it was a very uninspiring performance after a very strong preseason. But surely the Roosters are worthy of a mulligan, right?
There’s probably only one word to sum up Manly’s blowout loss to the Tigers last week: flat. The Sea Eagles were held scoreless right up until the 79th minute, a performance that left little to the imagination aside from Addin Fonua-Blake’s impressive numbers.
With all that in mind, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to learn the Roosters have dominated this match up recently. Sydney piled on 56-points against Manly last year, making it hard to back against their 6-2 record as the away favourite last year.
[matchmodule matchid="75707710" no="6"]
Tip: Back the Roosters To Cover the Line (-8.5 Points) @ $1.90
Sunday March 24, 4:05pm, ANZ Stadium
Last year’s cellar dwellers find themselves at opposite ends of the ladder after Round 1.
As expected, the Bulldogs were no match for the Warriors in Auckland last week, falling by 34-points. The Eels, on the other hand, were perhaps the most encouraging side to emerge from the opening round, storming home to defeat the Panthers 20-12 on the road.
Recent meetings between these two haven’t exactly been exciting. The Eels have won four of their last five games against Canterbury, but it’s worth keeping in mind the pair split their two-game series one win apiece last season.
The Eels find themselves as favorites on the road this week, a rare circumstance for last year’s wooden spooners. Parramatta finished 0-2 at the short price on the road last year, but it’s not like the Dogs’ 4-5 record as the home underdog is anymore convincing.
It’s tough to back a winner straight-up, or at the line for that matter. That said, there might be some value in the Total Match Points market. The Total has gone Over 30-points just once in the last five meetings between the Eels and the Dogs.
[matchmodule matchid="75708103" no="7"]
Tip: Under 37.5 Total Match Points @ $1.88
New Zealand Warriors
Sunday March 24, 6:10pm, Campbelltown Stadium
The NRL might have saved the best ‘till last.
The Warriors and the Tigers won in convincing fashion last week, setting up what could be a fiery clash between two sides that know how to score.
Despite last week’s large scoreline, try not to get too carried away with expectations just yet. The Tigers made short work of a lethargic Manly side, but there’s still plenty of areas to work on for coach Michael Maguire.
The same also goes for the Warriors, who have become dependent on Blake Green. The 32-year-old will have his hands full this week with the Tigers’ attack, and in particular Benji Marshall, who played a big role in the win over Manly.
As the odds suggest, it’s tough to separate these two. New Zealand finished 8-4 on the road last year, while the Tigers won only seven of their 12 games at home. Wests were also 4-3 as the home favourite, while the Warriors were a much more impressive 4-2 as the away underdog.
There’s still plenty to work on for the Warriors, but if Green can back up his impressive performance last week, it might be a harsh reality check for Wests in front of their home faithful.
[matchmodule matchid="75708267" no="8"]
Tip: Back the Warriors To Win @ $2.00
It was a thrilling weekend of action for the opening round of the NRL season and round two is set to be just as exciting.
The action is headlined by a genuine Friday Night Blockbuster between the Brisbane Broncos and the North Queensland Cowboys – there has been no greater rivalry in the NRL over the past five years.
We have analysed every game set to take place this weekend and our complete 2018 NRL Round 2 tips can be found below.
St George Illawarra Dragons
Thursday 15 March, 8:05pm, Southern Cross Group Stadium
The St George Illawarra Dragons were one of the most impressive sides in the opening round of the NRL season, but it is the Cronulla Sharks that will start this clash as favourites.
Cronulla were a touch disappointing in their season opener against the North Queensland Cowboys – the score may have gotten close in the end, but the Sharks were never really in the contest.
Winning at home was a big issue for the Sharks last season and they won only five of their 11 games as home favourites, while they were an awful 1-10 against the line in this scenario.
Ben Hunt could not have made a better start to his time with the Dragons and they were nothing short of dominant against the Brisbane Broncos in round 1.
Winning away from home was not an issue for the Dragons last season and they won four of their eight games as away underdogs for a clear profit, while they were 6-1-1 against the line in this scenario.
The Dragons beat the Sharks at Southern Cross Group Stadium last season and there is no reason that they can’t do the same on Thursday night.
[matchmodule matchid="50269674" no="1"]
Back St George Illawarra Dragons To Win @ $2.10
Friday 16 March, 6:00pm, Allianz Stadium
The Sydney Roosters suffered a shock loss at the hands of the Wests Tigers last weekend, but they will still start this clash with the Canterbury Bulldogs as dominant favourites.
The Roosters new-look backline simply didn’t click in their season opener and the likes of Cooper Cronk and James Tedesco were unable to make an impact.
Sydney have won 15 of their past 20 games as favourites for a profit, but they are a very poor 6-14 against the line in this scenario.
The Bulldogs were no match for the Melbourne Storm in round 1, but there were definitely some positive signs in their defeat and they didn’t play as badly as the final scoreline suggests.
They did lost to the Roosters twice last season, but both games were very close affairs and they were a profitable play against the line as underdogs last season.
This game will likely be much closer than the current betting market suggests and the Bulldogs are a good bet to cover the line with a healthy start.
[matchmodule matchid="50272266" no="2"]
Back Canterbury Bulldogs To Beat The Line (+9.5 Points)
North Queensland Cowboys
Friday 16 March, 8:05pm, Suncorp Stadium
Games between these two teams just continue to be outstanding contests and we could be in for another classic at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night.
The North Queensland Cowboys will start this clash as clear favourites and this is one of the shortest prices that they have ever been against the Brisbane Broncos.
North Queensland were a touch scrappy in the second half against the Cronulla Sharks in their season opener and they didn’t put the game away like they should have, but their forward pack looks extremely fit and could prove very tough for the Broncos to handle.
The Cowboys won all four of their games as away favourites last season and they covered the line in each of those wins.
Brisbane were right up there with the biggest disappointments of the opening round of the season and this could get ugly if they replicate the performance they produced against the St George Illawarra Dragons.
The Broncos had so many issues against the Dragons it is tough to know where to start – the halves went missing, their kicking game was awful, Darius Boyd is clearly lacking fitness and their forwards were soundly beaten.
Brisbane have won only one of their past seven games as underdogs and they have lost four of their past six games against the Cowboys.
It is impossible to back the Broncos off last weekend’s effort and the Cowboys can record a comfortable win.
[matchmodule matchid="50273324" no="3"]
Back North Queensland Cowboys To Beat The Line (-4.5 Points)
New Zealand Warriors
Gold Coast Titans
Saturday 17 March, 3:05pm, Mt Smart Stadium
The New Zealand Warriors were one of the biggest surprise packages of round one and they will start this clash with the Gold Coast Titans as clear favourites.
New recruit Blake Green clearly had a calming effect at the Warriors and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck finally showed what he is capable of with his best performance in Warriors colours.
It is always tough to back the Warriors with any real confidence, but they have won 11 of their past 12 games against the Titans for a big profit.
The Titans showed plenty of character to come from 18-0 down to beat the Canberra Raiders last weekend and they are sure to take plenty of confidence from that performance.
There is still a big question mark over their defence and they can’t afford to give up 28 points every week.
Gold Coast won only two of their ten games as away underdogs last season and they were a middling 5-5 against the line in this scenario.
The Warriors deserve to go into this clash as favourites, but it is tough to have any faith in a side that has burnt punters so badly over the years.
[matchmodule matchid="50286644" no="4"]
South Sydney Rabbitohs
Saturday 17 March, 5:35pm, Panthers Stadium
The Penrith Panthers will go into this clash with the South Sydney Rabbitohs as clear favourites.
Penrith were slow out of the gates against the Parramatta Eels, but they were able to finish over the top of their rivals and they played some excellent rugby league in the second half.
They continue to be tough to beat at Panthers Stadium and they have won eight of their past 11 games as home favourites, while beating the line in each of these wins.
It was hard not to be disappointed with the performance that South Sydney produced in the opening round of the season and they were simply out-enthused by the New Zealand Warriors outfit.
South Sydney have won only two of their past seven games as away underdogs – although they have won their past two games against the Panthers.
The market that does appeal in this clash is the Under in total points betting.
The Under has saluted in eight of the past 12 games played at Pepper Stadium as well as seven of the last 11 fixtures played by South Sydney on the road.
[matchmodule matchid="50284331" no="5"]
Back Under 42.5 Points
Saturday 17 March, 7:35pm, AAMI Park
The Melbourne Storm are the shortest-priced favourites in the NRL this weekend.
The start of the post-Cooper Cronk era could hardly have gotten off to a better start for the Storm and they were outstanding against the Canterbury Bulldogs in their season opener – Cameron Munster was particularly impressive filling in for Billy Slater at full-back.
Melbourne have not lost a game since they were beaten by the Parramatta Eels during the State Of Origin period last year and they have won their past three games against the Tigers.
They have won 11 of their past 13 games as home favourites and it is just about impossible to bet against them.
The Wests Tigers stunned the NRL with their round one upset win over the Sydney Roosters and the question is whether they can replicate that performance – they recorded back-to-back wins only once last season.
Wests have won three of their past 11 games as away underdogs, but they are an impressive 7-1-3 against the line in that scenario.
This is a game that Melbourne really should win, but the line of 14.5 points does seem excessive and I am happy to stay out from a betting standpoint.
[matchmodule matchid="50275392" no="6"]
Manly Sea Eagles
Sunday 18 March, 4:10pm, Brookvale Oval
Both these teams were beaten in disappointing fashion last weekend.
It is the Manly Eagles that will go into this clash as favourites following their dramatic golden point loss at the hands of the Newcastle Knights last weekend, but their record against the Eels does not inspire confidence – Parramatta have won the past six games played between the two sides.
Manly won six of their eight games as home favourites last season, but they were a poor 3-5 against the line in that scenario.
Parramatta were excellent in the opening stages of their round 1 clash against the Penrith Panthers, but the way they gave up the game in the second half was very disappointing.
The Eels were able to win three of their seven games as away underdogs last season for a profit and they were 4-3 against the line in that situation.
The market has overreacted to the round 1 performance of the Eels and they can score their first win of the season over the Sea Eagles this weekend.
[matchmodule matchid="50284546" no="7"]
Back Parramatta Eels To Win @ $2.05
Sunday 18 March, 6:30pm, GIO Stadium
The Canberra Raiders capitulated last weekend against the Gold Coast Titans, but they will still go into this clash as clear favourites.
Canberra looked like they had the game won in the first 20 minutes when they raced out to a 18-0 lead and a big win was on the cards, but they ran out of steam badly in the second half and threw away what looked like a guaranteed two points.
The Raiders were a losing betting play across just about every metric last season and they won only six of their ten games as home favourites for a loss.
The new recruits stood up for the Newcastle Knights in a big win during their win over the Manly Sea Eagles – Kalyn Ponga was particularly impressive – and that win is sure to give them plenty of confidence.
What the Knights will need to improve if they are going to be a genuine force this season is their record on the road – they have won only one of their past 11 games as underdogs and they are 5-6 against the line in this situation.
This is a game that the market looks to have just about right and I am happy to stay out from a betting perspective.
[matchmodule matchid="50290340" no="8"]
There is no greater rivalry in modern rugby league than that between the Brisbane Broncos and North Queensland Cowboys and they will square-off again at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night in one of the NRL Round 2 highlights.
Manly and South Sydney are both looking to bounce back after poor seasons in 2016 and their meeting on Saturday afternoon will be extremely interesting before the Canberra Raiders host the Cronulla Sharks in a repeat of last year’s preliminary final.
The round concludes on Sunday night when St George Illawarra Dragons take on the Parramatta Eels and you can find out thoughts on every single game below.
Thursday 9 March, 8:05pm, Allianz Stadium
Sydney Roosters 28 - Canterbury Bulldogs 24
The Sydney Roosters could hardly have made a more impressive start to the 2017 NRL season and they will go into this clash with the Canterbury Bulldogs as clear favourites.
The Roosters were ruthless in their opening round against the Gold Coast Titans and showed why many experts believe they will be the big improvers this season.
Home favourtism was the position in which the Sydney Roosters thrived last season and they won all three of their games in this scenario, while they were 3-0 against the line for a tidy profit.
Canterbury were arguably one of the biggest disappointments of the opening round of the competition.
They had plenty of chances to beat the Melbourne Storm in conditions that did suit their game, but both their kicking game and their attacking plays inside their own 20 metres were nothing short of disgraceful.
The Bulldogs are clearly a side that is short of confidence at the moment and this is another touch clash for them.
Canterbury struggled badly as underdogs last season and they won just one of their five games as away underdogs, while they had the same record against the line.
The Roosters should prove far too good for their rivals and they can cover the line of 6.5 points.
[matchmodule matchid=" 29438507" no="1"]
Back Sydney To Beat The Line (-6.5 Points)
New Zealand Warriors
Friday 10 March, 6:00pm, Mt Smart Stadium
New Zealand Warriors 10 - Melbourne Storm 26
The New Zealand Warriors and Melbourne Storm head into this clash on the back of round 1 wins, but it is fair to say that both were lucky to come away with the victory.
New Zealand were the shortest-priced favourites of the weekend in the opening round of the competition and they made very tough work of their clash with the Newcastle Knights.
There is no doubt that the Warriors will improve from that performance, but they are going to have to if they are any chance against the Storm on Friday night.
The Warriors will go into this clash as underdogs and they did win two of their three games as home underdogs last season, while they were 2-1 against the line.
Melbourne showed their usual toughness to come away with a round 1 win over the Canterbury Bulldogs, but they will be look to improve the lack of discipline and handling errors that allowed the Bulldogs back into the game.
Winning away from home was not an issue for the Storm last season and they have won nine of their past ten games as away favourites as well as four of their past five games in New Zealand.
The market definitely appears to have inflated the chances of the Warriors and the Storm are once again excellent value to come away with the win.
[matchmodule matchid=" 29440683" no="2"]
Back Melbourne To Beat The Line (-2.5 Points)
North Queensland Cowboys
Friday 10 March, 8:05pm, Suncorp Stadium
Brisbane Broncos 20 - North Queensland Cowboys 21
This is easily the highlight of the round and we are set for another thriller between these two rivals.
It should really come as no surprise that the market can not split these two teams.
The Brisbane Broncos do have the home ground advantage and they come into this clash off the back of a solid victory over the Cronulla Sharks.
Anthony Milford was simply outstanding in that clash and the Broncos require another big game from their star five-eight if they are going to come away with the win.
Brisbane won 10 of their 13 games at Suncorp Stadium last season and they have won seven of their past ten games against the Cowboys at the home of rugby league.
North Queensland started their season with a victory over the Canberra Raiders, but it wasn’t without the usual drama that has become part and parcel everytime that the Cowboys are in action
The Raiders looked to have secured victory with a Jordan Rapana try in golden-try, but it was called back due to a forward price and Johnathan Thurston and Gavin Cooper were able to take advantage of their second chance.
One area in which the Cowboys did struggle last season was winning away from home and they were only able to win four of their 14 games on the road last season – including their thrilling golden point loss at the hands of the Broncos.
Home-ground advantage has proven key in games between these two teams and the fact that the game is being played at Suncorp Stadium does give the Broncos the minor edge in what should be a very tight game of football.
[matchmodule matchid="29440915" no="3"]
Back Brisbane To Win @ $1.90
Gold Coast Titans
Saturday 11 March, 3:00pm, McDonald Jones Stadium
Newcastle Knights 34 - Gold Coast Titans 26
Not a great deal was expected of the Newcastle Knights heading into the 2017 NRL season, but there was a fair bit to like about their opening run effort against the New Zealand Warriors and their is some optimism heading into this clash.
It is still tough to get a bit carried away if you are a Knights fan.
They have only won one of their past 12 games as home underdogs and they are 4-8 against the line in this scenario.
It should be noted that the Knights did make a fair start to the season in 2016 before they quickly fell away.
Gold Coast started the season with a poor performance against the Sydney Roosters and there is a great deal of speculation that Jarryd Hayne is already unhappy on the glitter strip.
That was not evident on the field last Saturday night – Hayne was arguably their best player – but it is not ideal heading into the season.
The Gold Coast were actually a reliable betting option as away favourites last season – they won three of their four games in this scenario and had the same record against the line.
The market has overreacted to the round 1 performance of both sides and the Titans should be able to claim a comfortable win.
[matchmodule matchid=" 29441173" no="4"]
Back Gold Coast To Beat The Line (-5.5 Points)
Manly Sea Eagles
South Sydney Rabbitohs
Saturday 11 March, 5:30pm, Brookvale Oval
Manly Sea Eagles 18 - South Sydney Rabbitohs 38
This is a crucial game for both these sides that are coming off disappointing round one losses.
Manly will go into this clash as clear favourites, but it is tough to have any faith in the side following their lacklustre effort against the Parramatta Eels.
This is a side that simply lacks quality right across the park and the final margin really should have been a lot more than it was.
The Sea Eagles have won their past three games as home favourites, but it is impossible to get them as short as their current price.
South Sydney went into their opening round clash with the Wests Tigers as clear favourites and it was a double disaster – not only did they lose, but they also Greg Inglis for the season.
The Rabbitohs are absolutely directionless without Adam Reynolds and that was definitely the case against the Tigers.
South Sydney did win three of their seven games as away underdogs last season for a clear profit and they do look value, but I am not willing to back them without Reynolds in the side.
Neither of these teams can be trusted from a betting perspective and I am more than happy to stay out of this clash.
[matchmodule matchid=" 29441807" no="5"]
Saturday 11 March, 7:30pm, GIO Stadium
Canberra Raiders 16 - Cronulla Sharks 42
The Canberra Raiders and Cronulla Sharks did battle in an epic during the 2017 NRL Finals Series and this will be one of the most interesting games of the round.
It is fair to say that the Raiders were unlucky not to come away with the win against the North Queensland Cowboys last weekend and they will start this clash as favourites.
The Raiders were able to turn GIO Stadium into a fortress last season and they won nine of 11 games as home favourites, but they were only 5-6 against the line in this scenario.
Cronulla were not disgraced against the Brisbane Broncos in round 1, but they clearly missed Valentine Holmes and they have elected to rest their star full-back for another weekend.
The Sharks did win three of their five games as away underdogs last season and the away team has actually been successful in seven of the past eight games played between these two sides.
This should be another fairly close encounter and I am happy to back the Sharks with a start of 4.5 points.
[matchmodule matchid=" 29442268" no="6"]
Back Cronulla To Beat The Line (+4.5 Points)
Sunday 12 March, 4:00pm, Campbelltown Stadium
Wests Tigers 2 - Penrith Panthers 36
The Penrith Panthers were one of the biggest disappointments in the opening round of the NRL season, but they will still go into this clash with the Wests Tigers as clear favourites.
The Panthers simply didn’t turn up against the St George Illawarra Dragons on Saturday afternoon and it really is tough to know what to take out of a performance that bad.
There is no doubt that they are a much better side than that performance suggests and it will be interesting to see how they bounce back this weekend.
Penrith were not particularly impressive away from home last season and they won just three of their six games as away favourites for a clear loss, but they were 7-3 on the back of a loss.
Wests showed just what they are capable of with an excellent round 1 performance against South Sydney, but consistency has long been an issue for the Tigers.
They were 4-7 on the back of a win last season and the likes of Mitchell Moses are prone to following up a strong performance with a stinker.
The Tigers did win four of their ten games as home underdogs and they did win two of their four games at Campbelltown Stadium last season for a minor profit.
This is a game that the market looks to have got just about right and I am happy to stay out from a betting standpoint.
[matchmodule matchid=" 29442421" no="7"]
St George Dragons
Sunday 12 March, 6:30pm, WIN Stadium
St George Illawarra Dragons 16 - Parramatta Eels 34
Both the St George Illawarra Dragons and the Parramatta Eels impressed in the opening round of the season and it is the Parramatta Eels that will go into this clash as clear favourites.
Parramatta were nothing short of outstanding against Manly and with a touch more execution inside their attacking 20 they could have put a massive score on their rivals.
There is plenty to suggest that the Eels will be able to make it two wins on the trot to start the season.
They have won their past four games against the Dragons and they won all five of their games as home favourites last season for a clear profit.
There was no bigger surprise in NRL round 1 than the performance of the Dragons.
What has been one of the most pedestrian attacking sides in the competition for the last couple of seasons put on an absolute clinic against the Penrith Panthers.
Whether they can replicate that performance is the big question mark and the Dragons were only able to win back-to-back games on four occasions last season.
The Eels are a team that simply has more upside than the Dragons and they are genuine value at their current price of $1.80.
[matchmodule matchid=" 29442698" no="8"]
Back Parramatta To Win @ $1.80
Round 2 of the 2016 NRL season begins with what is normally a hard-fought clash between the Penrith Panthers and the Canterbury Bulldogs before the Brisbane Broncos take on the New Zealand Warriors in their first of many Friday night games this season.
The game of the round is between local rivals Cronulla and St George Illawarra on Sunday afternoon.
Both sides played finals football in 2015 and will be keen to get their season off to a strong start with a win over their biggest rivals.
Thursday 10 March, 7:05pm, Pepper Stadium
Penrith Panthers 16 - Canterbury Bulldogs 18
The Penrith Panthers curse has continued into 2016 and they will go into this game without hooker James Segeyaro after he broke his arm in their opening round clash with the Canberra Raiders.
The Panthers were not horrible against the Raiders and there were some promising signs, but they face a sterner test against the Canterbury Bulldogs.
I expected big things from the Canterbury Bulldogs and I thought they would get the job done against Manly in round one, but the emphatic nature of their victory was extremely impressive and they continue to be a profitable betting side.
The Bulldogs should be able to get the job done here and they are 12-4 as favourites in the past 12 months, but their is not a great deal of value at their current quotes and they are a poor 1-4 as away favourites against the line.
The one betting play that stands out here is the under – games involving the Panthers have finished under the points total on 14 occasions in the last 12 months, while the under has always been a profitable betting play in Bulldogs games.
[matchmodule matchid="15569346" no="1"]
Recommended Bets: Back The Bulldogs To Win @ $1.60 and Under (39.5 points)
New Zealand Warriors
Friday 11 March, 7:05pm, Suncorp Stadium
Brisbane Broncos 25 - New Zealand Warriors 10
The Brisbane Broncos were their usual consistent selves in the opening round of the season against the Parramatta Eels and they got our opening bet of the season without any problems.
They loss Jordan Kahu due to injury, but Alex Glenn is a more than capable replacement and they have plenty of depth in their forward ranks.
The pressure is already on Andrew McFadden in a massive way after the New Zealand Warriors produced a putrid first-half effort against the Wests Tigers last weekend.
The Warriors played much better in the second half and got themselves back into the game, but their poor start is a sign of a bad attitude and that is something that needs to be fixed if they are going to develop into genuine premiership contenders.
The Broncos have been one of the best betting teams in the NRL in the past 12 months and they have an outstanding 19-8 record against the line, while they are 7-4 as home favourites.
In contrast, the New Zealand Warriors are 4-7 against the line as underdogs and they have won just two of their 11 games as underdogs.
The Broncos should prove too strong for their rivals here and it could get ugly if the Warriors don’t do something about their attitude.
[matchmodule matchid="15569352" no="2"]
Recommended Bets: Back The Broncos To Beat The Line (-9.5 points)
Saturday 12 March, 2:00pm, GIO Stadium
Canberra Raiders 21 - Sydney Roosters 20
The Canberra Raiders have been fairly poor starters in recent seasons, but they produced a professional performance to beat the Panthers in round one.
They loss Aidan Sezer in the progress and the Gold Coast Titans recruit is a loss although there is plenty of hype surrounding his replacement Lachlan Croker – who is the nephew of Raiders great Jason Croker.
The Sydney Roosters’ off-season from hell caught up to them against South Sydney in round one and they were absolutely played off the park in the first half.
That performance may say more about the Rabbitohs than the Roosters and you don’t want to overreact after one performance.
The Raiders start this game as narrow underdogs and that is a position in which they have struggled with from a betting perspective – they did not win a single game as home underdogs last season and their record against the line at home was 1-2.
In contrast, the Roosters have been 13-10 against the line as favourites in the past 12 months and that record does not change a great deal when they play away from home.
I believe that their has been an overreaction to the round 1 performances of both teams and I am confident that the Roosters can return to winning form at good odds this weekend.
[matchmodule matchid="15569353" no="3"]
Recommended Bets: Back The Roosters To Win @ $1.80
South Sydney Rabbitohs
Saturday 12 March, 4:30pm, ANZ Stadium
South Sydney Rabbitohs 48 - Newcastle Knights 6
The South Sydney Rabbitohs were easily the most impressive team in the opening round of the season and their NRL Premiership odds shortened significantly following their dominant win over their rivals.
The victory did not come without a price and they are set to be without both John Sutton and Adam Reynolds for an extended period.
I predicted that the Newcastle Knights would be false favourites against the Gold Coast Titans last weekend and that was exactly the case.
The Knights were out enthused by the Titans, which is really not something that you want to see from a young team that is playing for a new coach for the first time.
The Rabbitohs were a very poor betting team in 2015 and they were 6-11 against the line as favourites, but their record did improve in front of their home fans at ANZ Stadium.
The Knights were not any better than their rivals and they are 6-8 against the line as underdogs in the past 12 months, while they have won just three of their past 13 games as underdogs.
Their growing injury list is a concern, but if the Rabbitohs are able to replicate their round 1 performance they will easily be able to cover the line of 10.5 points.
[matchmodule matchid="15569358" no="4"]
Recommended Bets: Back The Rabbitohs To Beat The Line (+10.5)
North Queensland Cowboys
Saturday 12 March, 6:30pm, Pirtek Stadium
Parramatta Eels 20 - North Queensland Cowboys 16
The Parramatta Eels were no match for the Brisbane Broncos last weekend, but they had genuine excuses as they left their organisation following the neck injury to Corey Norman.
Norman is not expected to miss any action and in a big boost for the Eels, star recruit Kieran Foran is set to make his debut for his new club this weekend.
The North Queensland Cowboys started their premiership defense with a victory over the Cronulla Sharks, but it was not without a scare and they went to sleep for a good half an hour.
In saying that, the Cowboys showed their amazing ability to find a way to win football games and they had the softest pre-season of any team in the entire NRL.
This is expected to be a new Eels side in 2016, but they have been a very poor betting team for a number of seasons and they are 8-11 against the line as underdogs in recent season, while that record is even worse in front of their home fans at Pirtek Stadium.
The Cowboys have a surprisingly poor record as favourites against the line in the past 12 months and they are just 8-12, but that record does improve to 4-3 as home favourites and they have won ten out of their past 15 games away from home.
I still think that it will be a few weeks before we really see the best of the Eels and I expect the Cowboys to grind out a narrow victory.
[matchmodule matchid="15569367" no="5"]
Recommended Bets: Back The Cowboys To Win @ $1.60
St George Dragons
Sunday 13 March, 3:00pm, Shark Park
Cronulla Sharks 30 - St George Illawarra Dragons 2
There were promising signs for both the Cronulla Sharks and the St George Illawarra Dragons last weekend, but neither side was able to come away with the win.
The Sharks bounced back from a slow start to really test the Cowboys in Townsville, while the Dragons gave the Melbourne Storm a hell of scare.
There is always plenty of feeling between these two teams and you can often throw the form guide out the window when it comes to these sort of Derbies, but their are a number of stats that still come into consideration.
The Sharks have generally been a good betting side in the past 12 months and they are 16-9 against the line in the past 12 months, but that record does not stack up as favourites and they are just 5-5.
The Dragons are basically neutral when it comes to the line away from home, but the stat that does standout is their record in total points betting markets.
The Under has saluted in 11 of the past 14 Dragons home games and with a defensively minded team like the Dragons, the under is always a profitable betting play.
[matchmodule matchid="15569370" no="6"]
Recommended Bets: Back The Under (39.5 points)
Gold Coast Titans
Sunday 13 March, 5:30pm, AAMI Park
Melbourne Storm 34 - Gold Coast Titans 16
The Melbourne Storm continued their excellent round one record with a victory over the St George Illawarra Dragons, but they suffered a few scares and were not overly impressive.
Not a great deal is expected of the Gold Coast Titans in 2016, but they just their supporters a reason to be optimistic with their convincing round 1 victory over the Newcastle Knights – a result that we predicted last wee.
The Storm are the shortest priced favourites of the week and it is very easy to see why, but their is very little value at their current quote.
The Cameron Smith-led side were 6-4 against the line as home favourites last season, while the Titans were 5-7 as underdogs away from home and suffered a big defeat at the hands of the Storm last season.
The stats say that we should back the Storm to beat the line, but the line of 16.5 points is extremely large for this stage of the season and I am happy to sit out of this game from a betting perspective.
[matchmodule matchid="15569376" no="7"]
Recommended Bet: No Bet
Manly Sea Eagles
Monday 14 March, 6:00pm, Leichhardt Oval
Wests Tigers 36 - Manly Sea Eagles 22
The West Tigers shrugged off a controversial off-season to start their season with an upset win over the New Zealand Warriors and they are sure to take plenty of confidence into this game.
There was plenty of late money for the Manly Sea Eagles – despite the withdrawal of Brett Stewart – but they were played off the park by the Canterbury Bulldogs in a very poor NRL coaching debut by Trent Barrett.
The Tigers are typically an inconsistent betting outside and they are 10-14 against the line in the past 12 months, but their record as home underdogs is a strong 4-2.
Manly have been nothing short of dreadful against the line in the same time period and they are a particularly poor 4-8 as favourites.
It is tough to trust the Tigers following the first-up win, but I am happy to throw my support behind them with a start of 5.5 points.
[matchmodule matchid="15569384" no="8"]
Recommended Bet: Back The Tigers To Beat The Line (+5.5)