The NRL season got off to a cracking start last weekend and the big games continue in round two. The Wolf knows better than the over react based on one weekend of footy and expects some round one losers to bounce back in round two. Here are The Wolf’s tips for round two of the NRL season.
|Dragons v Rabbitohs|
Netstrata Jubilee Stadium , Thu 21/3, 7.50pm
|Dragons ($2.40)||Dragons +4 / Over 38.5 ($4.10)|
|Raiders v Storm|
GIO Stadium, Fri 22/3, 6pm
|Storm -4 ($1.90)||Storm 13+ ($3.15)|
|Broncos v Cowboys|
Suncorp Stadium, Fri 22/3, 7.55pm
|Broncos -4 ($1.90)||Broncos 1-12 ($2.85)|
|Sharks v Titans|
Shark Park, Sat 23/3, 3pm
|Titans +7.5 ($1.90)||Sharks 1-12 / Under 39.5 ($5.70)|
|Knights v Panthers|
McDonald Jones Stadium, Sat 23/3, 5.30pm
|Panthers ($2.05)||Nathan Cleary to score a try ($5)|
|Sea Eagles v Roosters|
Lottoland, Sat 23/3, 7.35pm
|Roosters -8.5 ($1.90)||Roosters 13+ ($2.25)|
|Bulldogs v Eels|
ANZ Stadium, Sun 24/3, 4.05pm
|Eels ($1.70)||Eels / Under 36.5 ($3.35)|
|Tigers v Warriors|
Campbelltown Stadium, Sun 24/3, 6.10pm
|Tigers ($1.82)||Tigers 13+ ($4)|
St. George Illawarra Dragons ($2.40) v South Sydney Rabbitohs ($1.57)
Dragons to spring the surprise at home
Souths got one over their old rivals the Roosters in round one and face another familiar foe in the Dragons to kick off round two action. Despite taking an early lead, the Dragons were second best against the Cowboys losing 24-12 in Townsville last Saturday. Souths used a dominant second half to overturn a 12-10 half time deficit and win 26-16. Tyson Frizell misses for the Dragons after suffering a ruptured testicle last weekend, while the Bunnies will go in unchanged. These two sides played out a classic semi-final last season, with Adam Reynolds slotting two field goals in the final three minutes to clinch a 13-12 win for the Bunnies. The Saints won’t want to fall to 0-2 to start the season and will benefit from being back at Kogarah, where they are 2-1 against Souths this decade, in a rare meeting between the two sides at the venue. The Wolf reckons that a big red and white home crowd and a let down factor for Souths after beating the competition favourites points to an upset Dragons victory to start the round.
- Dragons have won seven from their last ten games at Netstrata Jubliee Stadium.
- The Rabbitohs were down at half time against the Roosters but then scored three unanswered tries to turn a two-point deficit into a 14-point lead.
- The Souths faithful will hope Adam Reynolds’ form continues. Against the Roosters, he kicked for 533 metres, had three try assists, one line break assist, 54 possessions and six points.
H2H: Dragons ($2.40)Value: Dragons +4 / Over 38.5 ($4.10)
Canberra Raiders ($2.40) v Melbourne Storm ($1.57)
Melbourne to slip past Canberra in the nation’s capital
Two sides who picked up wins in round one clash on Friday night when the Raiders host the Storm. The big surprise in team selection is Kiwi international Jordan Rapana being named on the wing for Canberra after having surgery in November for a dislocated shoulder he suffered while played for New Zealand against England last year. The Raiders initially announced that he would be expected to return between rounds 11 and 14 when the injury occurred, so to have the services of a player who has scored 54 tries in the past three seasons will certainly be welcomed by the Green Machine. Not that the Raiders needed him last weekend, as they cruised past the Titans in rainy conditions 21-0. The Storm started on fire against Brisbane, racing out to a 14-0 lead before a couple of costly errors drew the visitors back into the game. Melbourne proved too strong in the end, winning 22-12 and continuing an epic first round winning streak that dates back to 2000. The Wolf has noted that Canberra has lost its past four matches against Melbourne and that streak should continue against a Storm mob that look to be picking up where they left off a season ago.
- Storm hold a healthy advantage over the Raiders in the nation’s capital. The Storm have a handy 13 wins to seven losses at GIO Stadium.
- Round 23, 2016 was the last time the Raiders beat the Storm. 22 – 8 at GIO Stadium.
- The Storm were the only team to have two players run over 200 metres in Round 1. Jahrome Hughes ran for 227 metres and Curtis Scott ran for 209 metres.
H2H: Storm -4 ($1.90)Value: Storm 13+ ($3.15)
Brisbane Broncos ($1.57) v North Queensland Cowboys ($2.40)
Broncos to continue strong home form against Cows
In recent seasons, Brisbane and North Queensland have played some absolute pearlers against one against one another, including the unforgettable 2015 Grand Final. They lock horns again on Friday night, as the Broncos hunt their first win of the season. Brisbane lose Matt Lodge to suspension, but replace him with the more than capable Tevita Pangai Jnr. Teenage second rower David Fifita also comes into the run on side for the first time this season. Cowboys coach Paul Green named an unchanged 17 from that which toppled St George 24-12 last weekend. In their last 10 games played, the Cows have a 6-4 win-loss advantage against Brisbane, but they have lost 6 of their past 7 games at Suncorp Stadium against the Broncos. The Wolf thinks that dire record in Brisbane will continue for the boys from up north on Friday night and fancies the Broncos halves to put in a strong shift after going missing a week ago.
- In their last ten meetings, the biggest winning margin has been 11 points.
- On average over the last ten meetings, the winning margin is 4.3 points, with four of those games having a winning margin of one.
- Jason Taumalolo broke his personal best in Round One running 315 metres against the Dragons. His previous best was 284 metres in Round 1, 2017 against the Raiders.
H2H: Broncos -4 ($1.90)Value: Broncos 1-12 ($2.85)
Cronulla Sharks ($1.38) v Gold Coast Titans ($2.95)
Titans to keep it close against the Sharks
It was a horror start to the season for the Titans as they were blanked 21-0 at home against the Raiders. They lost halfback Ash Taylor just before the match to a quad injury and Tyrone Roberts went off early in the first half with an Achilles problem. Neither will suit up at Shark Park for this Saturday afternoon game, in which the loser will fall to 0-2. Cronulla will rue a number of missed chances against Newcastle last Friday night, losing to an Edrick Lee intercept a couple of minutes from full time to fall 14-8. Josh Dugan threw in an ordinary performance for Cronulla as he struggled to connect with new halfback Shaun Johnson. The Titans have a great recent record record at Shark Park, winning three of their past four in the Shire. In their only match last season, the Sharks snared a one point win at the death. The Wolf can see this match being a lot closer than the odds suggest and the Titans should bounce back from an unsettling round one performance. The Sharks’ 13 round one errors in perfect conditions are glaring, but they will be too good at home, although the Titans will cover the handy start.
- Shaun Johnson has taken over kicking duties for the Sharks. On the weekend he kicked ten times for 419 metres. Chad Townsend only kicked three times for 72 metres.
- The last game at Shark Park between these two sides was Round 8, 2017 with the Titans getting up 16 to 12.
- The last ten meetings see the Sharks with five wins, Titans four wins and one draw. Three of the Titans wins have been at Shark Park.
H2H: Titans +7.5 ($1.90)Value: Sharks 1-12 / Under 39.5 ($5.70)
Newcastle Knights ($1.73) v Penrith Panthers ($2.05)
Panthers to prove doubters wrong and bounce back from round one defeat
Newcastle got their season rolling with a gritty 14-8 win against the Sharks at home last round and have a rare second home game in a row as they host Penrith on Saturday afternoon. Herman Ese’ese comes into Nathan Brown’s side to replace the injured Daniel Saifiti in Newcastle’s only change. Penrith coach Ivan Cleary has shuffled his lineup, bringing New South Wales front rower into the starting side after playing him from the bench in a surprise last start 20-12 loss to Parramatta . The Panthers have racked up some big scores on Newcastle in recent years, scoring 20 or more points in five of their last six outings. They have also won three in a row in the Hunter, dating back to 2016. The Wolf finds it perplexing that the Knights are favourites on the back of one performance against a woeful Sharks outfit a week ago. Many had Penrith for their top four, including The Wolf, and the boys from the foot of the mountains will bounce back this weekend and offer great value as underdogs in this one.
- The Panthers hold a slim 12-11 advantage against the Knights at McDonald Jones Stadium.
- The last ten games between these two sides is equally split with five wins each.
- David Klemmer’s impact for the Knights has been immediate. Last week he ran for 195 metres, made 29 tackles and had three offloads.
H2H: Panthers ($2.05)Value: Nathan Cleary to score a try ($5)
Manly Sea Eagles ($3.20) v Sydney Roosters ($1.33)
Roosters to run riot
The competition favourites got a rude awakening at the SCG last Friday night as the Bunnies got a hold of them in the second half to win by 10 points. Chooks coach Trent Robinson has avoided making changes to his starting 17 despite the loss. Sea Eagles coach Des Hasler returns to coach his first game at Lottoland in his second stint with the Northern Beaches club after a 20-8 first up loss to Wests. The Sea Eagles conceded nearly 26 points per game a year ago, the most in the NRL, and their defence looks just as leaky this season. Their back five lack explosiveness, particularly without New South Wales representative Tom Trbojevic. The Roosters rattled off 56 points against Manly at Lottoland a season ago and The Wolf thinks they could put on a big score again, particularly in they get a fast start. The Roosters won’t muck around and will win by double digits.
- Last season both sides lost in Round 1 then rebounded brilliantly in Round 2. The Roosters won 30-12 against the Bulldogs and the Sea Eagles thumped the Eels 54-0.
- The Sea Eagles conceded 20 unanswered points (the most by any team) in the second half last week against the Wests Tigers before a very late try to Jorge Taufua.
- Tackling machine Jake Friend amassed a massive 62 tackles against the Rabbitohs with just 4 missed tackles.
H2H: Roosters -8.5 ($1.90)Value: Roosters 13+ ($2.25)
Canterbury Bulldogs ($2.10) v Parramatta Eels ($1.70)
Eels to continue Dogs’ miserable start to the season
The Dogs were the biggest letdown of the opening round as they were flogged 40-6 by New Zealand across the ditch. Parramatta produced the biggest upset of the round, toppling Penrith 20-12 on Sunday, giving their fans reason for optimism after finishing the 2018 season with the spoon. Despite a horror show in Auckland, Dogs coach Dean Pay has sensationally made no changes for this Sunday afternoon clash. The Eels have been forced into three changes, with Michael Jennings out suspended, Nathan Brown suffering a pec injury and Will Smith a broken arm. Parra has won five of its past six games against the Dogs, including their most recent meeting in round 19 last season. Canterbury look brittle in attack and even worse in defence if last week is anything to go by. Their attack mustered less than three tries a game last season and that won’t get it done in the NRL. The Wolf thinks the Eels are a great bet and until the Dogs show some bite, they’ll be a team to fade.
- The Bulldogs lost every 20-minute block last week (0-20 (4-0), 20-40 (18-0), 40-60 (10-6), 60-80 (8-0)). The only team to do so.
- Aidan Tolman was the only Bulldogs forward to run over the magical 100 metre mark with 148 metres from 14 runs against the Warriors.
- Brad Takairangi from the Eels offloaded six times last week. The most of any player in Round 1.
H2H: Eels ($1.70)Value: Eels / Under 36.5 ($3.35)
Wests Tigers ($1.82) v New Zealand Warriors ($1.95)
Two and zip for the Tigers
The Warriors got their 25th anniversary season off to a perfect start as they hammered the Dogs 40-6 at home. It was also a winning start to the season for the Tigers, who put aside a scrappy first half to get the better of Manly 20-6. The Warriors get stronger this week as Isaiah Papali’i returns to the bench after a club suspension in round one in their only change. The Tigers make no changes to their 17, although Moses Mbye and Josh Reynolds are in the reserves. It’s hard to tell whether the Warriors are the real deal this season or if they just crushed a very poor opponent last week. Both sides will be on the fringe of the eight and wins in games like this will be vital to their finals chances. The Wolf has often thought the Warriors are a risky proposition on the road, unless they’re big underdogs. They have lost all three of their matches at Campbelltown since 2010 and given up 50 points in two of those fixtures. The Tigers will be chomping at the bit to start the season 2-0 and showed plenty of promise in the wet in round one for The Wolf to back them again in round two.
- The last game between these two sides at Campbelltown was Round 1, 2016 in a high scoring affair with the Tigers winning 34 – 26.
- Robbie Farah turned back the clock last week – 141 possessions, eight runs for 53 metres, 44 tackles and two tries. The last time he scored more than a single try in a match was Round 26, 2011 against the Sharks where he scored three.
- The Warriors outside backs (fullback, two wingers and two centres) had a field day against the Bulldogs last week. All five players ran for over 100 metres with Ken Maumalo (201 metres) and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (184 metres) leading the way.
H2H: Tigers ($1.82)Value: Tigers 13+ ($4)