The Storm, Eels, Tigers and Bunnies remain undefeated after two rounds of the 2019 NRL season and are all a chance of making it 3-0 this week. On the flip side, it will be time to panic for the competition’s four winless sides if they can’t grab a win in round three. Here are The Wolf’s tips for round three of the NRL season.
|Broncos v Dragons|
Suncorp Stadium, Thu 28/3, 8.05pm
|Broncos -8 ($1.90)||Broncos 13+ / Over 36.5 ($4.05)|
|Raiders v Knights|
GIO Stadium, Fri 29/3, 6pm
|Raiders -3.5 ($1.90)||Raiders 1-12 / Over 38.5 ($5.10)|
|Eels v Roosters|
ANZ Stadium, Fri 29/3, 8.05pm
|Parramatta +7.5 ($1.90)||Either team under 6.5 points ($2.95)|
|Sea Eagles v Warriors|
Christchurch Stadium, Sat 30/3, 3pm
|Sea Eagles ($2.35)||Sea Eagles 1-12 (3.50)|
|Cowboys v Sharks|
1300SMILES Stadium, Sat 30/3, 5.30pm
|Cowboys ($1.95)||Cowboys 1-12 ($3.15)|
|Panthers v Storm|
Carrington Park, Sat 30/3, 7.35pm
|Storm 1-12 ($2.85)||Storm 1-12 / Under 37.5 ($5.65)|
|Tigers v Bulldogs|
Campbelltown Stadium, Sun 31/3, 4.05pm
|Tigers -7.5 ($1.90)||Tigers 13+ ($2.50)|
|Rabbitohs v Titans|
ANZ Stadium, Sun 31/3, 6.10pm
|Rabbitohs -12.5 ($1.90)||Rabbitohs 13+ / Under 44.5 ($3.95)|
Brisbane Broncos ($1.36) v St George Illawarra Dragons ($3.10)
Broncos to belt out of form Dragons
It will be time to panic for the Dragons if they can’t find a way to overturn a poor record at Suncorp Stadium and beat the Broncos on Thursday night. St George fell away badly last weekend after going into half-time with the lead, leaking 28 straight points to lose 34-16 against the Bunnies. The Dragons strength in recent time has been their forward depth, but that has been put under the microscope this season with injuries and suspensions hurting them. Veteran Korbin Sims is in line to make his debut for the Red V off the bench against his former club in this one. Brisbane played some scintillating footy in their 29-10 drubbing of the Cowboys last Friday, with coach Anthony Seibold opting to retain the same team for this match. The Wolf knows the Broncos were belted in last year’s elimination final by 30 points against the Dragons and they’ll want revenge for that loss. St George has conceded a run of 5 tries in each of its first two games this season, falling away badly in the middle of matches. They could be in for a disastrous night if Brisbane are in the mood.
- The Dragons have only won one game out of their last ten at Suncorp Stadium. It was last season’s Elimination Final where they won 48-18.
- Corey Oates leads the league in line breaks with four.
- The last time the Dragons lost their first three games was in 2013.
H2H: Broncos -8 ($1.90)Value: Broncos 13+ / Over 36.5 ($4.05)
Canberra Raiders ($1.65) v Newcastle Knights ($2.25)
Home ground advantage should prove enough for the Raiders
Canberra and Newcastle have played out some interesting clashes in recent times and the two sides meet for the first time in more than a season on Friday night. Last time they played was in round 2 last season, where the Knights upset the Raiders 30-28 in the capital. Matches between the two clubs have been incredibly high scoring, with the past eight fixtures averaging more than 56 points. Curiously, the Knights have won on their past two visits to Canberra, despite their poor record in recent seasons. Both teams are coming off last start losses, with the Raiders losing to the Storm and the Knights falling to the Panthers. The Raiders lose Joe Tapine to a broken thumb, with Englishman Ryan Sutton elevated to the starting team. Newcastle will go into this one unchanged. There is plenty to like about the Knights so far this season, but The Wolf is backing the Raiders to get home in another typically high scoring affair. Look for Jordan Rapana to find his way onto the scoresheet after his first outing of the season last weekend.
- The Raiders hold a healthy 18 wins to six against the Knights at GIO Stadium.
- Both clubs have lost the opening 20 minutes of each of their games.
- Josh Hodgson leads the competition in missed tackles with 12.
H2H: Raiders -3.5 ($1.90)Value: Raiders 1-12 / Over 38.5 ($5.10)
Parramatta Eels ($2.95) v Sydney Roosters ($1.40)
Eels to test Chooks
The 2018 wooden spooners looked to have turned a corner if their first two games are any indication after picking up wins against rivals Penrith and Canterbury. They will face their sternest test of the season on Friday night when they host the premiership favourites, the Sydney Roosters. The Chooks welcome back Cooper Cronk and Jake Friend who both missed last week through injury. Their experience and talent wasn’t missed though as the Tricolours raced out to a 26-0 lead in wet conditions to beat Manly 26-18. The Eels trailed by 10 points early against the Dogs but rattled off five tries in 20 minutes to win by 20 points. Former NSW representative Michael Jennings is back from suspension for the Eels, with Matt Ikuvalu the third Roosters change after Brett Morris’ knee injury last weekend. The Wolf knows that Parra will be full of confidence, but their recent record against the Chooks away from Parramatta Stadium is uninspiring. They lost their only match at ANZ Stadium a year ago 44-10. This is a different Eels side though and they should cover the points start based on their early season showings. This one will be decided late and could go either way.
- The Roosters have lost the second half in the first two rounds by a combined 34–8.
- Blake Ferguson has played the Roosters seven times scoring five tries with two try assists.
- The last time the Eels won their first three games of the season was in 1993.
H2H: Parramatta +7.5 ($1.90)Value: Either team under 6.5 points ($2.95)
Manly Sea Eagles ($2.35) v New Zealand Warriors ($1.60)
Eagles to soar to first win of 2019
Manly takes on New Zealand in Christchurch for the second time after a 34-14 loss at the venue a season ago. The Sea Eagles and Warriors both had losses in round two, with Manly outclassed by the Roosters and the Warriors fading in the second half in a big loss against the Wests Tigers. Manly fans will be delighted to see Tom Trbojevic return at full back in his first game of the season, with prop Addin Fonua-Blake joining him in the starting side after missing round two through suspension. The Warriors will be unchanged for this match after committing 14 errors and 8 penalties last Sunday night in a sloppy performance. This will be the third time New Zealand has played in Christchurch and they are 1-1 at the venue. The Sea Eagles have owned the Warriors in recent times, winning 7 of their past 8 clashes against the Kiwis. Manly will grow a leg with Tom Trbojevic back in the side and The Wolf thinks they can catch the Warriors out in what is sure to be an emotional match on Saturday afternoon.
- The Sea Eagles hold a big advantage over the Warriors with 23 wins to nine. But their only game at AMI Stadium, Christchurch was a win to the Warriors 34-14.
- Roger Tuivasa-Sheck is continuing his 2018 form with an average of 19 runs for 160 run metres per game.
- 2009 was the last time the Sea Eagles lost their first three games of the season.
H2H: Sea Eagles ($2.35)Value: Sea Eagles 1-12 (3.50)
North Queensland Cowboys ($1.95) v Cronulla Sharks ($1.85)
Cowboys to return to winners list with narrow win
North Queensland has not mucked around at the selection table, with a host of backline changes after a 29-10 hammering by the Broncos last weekend. Coach Paul Green has shifted Te Marie Martin to full back and inserted Jake Clifford into the six jersey, with both starting centres from a week ago dropped in favour of Jordan Kahu and Ben Hampton. The biggest change of all for the Cows comes in the forwards, with gun prop Jason Taumalolo to miss 6-10 weeks with an MCL injury. It is a cruel blow for the Cowboys who will miss his go forward and big carries. Cronulla defended well against Gold Coast at Shark Park last Saturday in a game where the Titans had 56 per cent possession but lacked the flair to put points on the board. They will be challenged by an imposing Cowboys pack and motivated side playing on their home deck. The Wolf thinks the Cowboys can bounce back from a last start loss and get the two points on Saturday. Cronulla’s win last weekend was unremarkable and with a bit of luck, the Titans would have scored three tries if not for some strong Sharks goal line defence. The last 8 contests between the two have been decided by 12 points or less so that’s the way we’re going in this one.
- The Sharks have 12 wins to 11 losses against the Cowboys at 1300Smiles Stadium.
- The Cowboys are conceding twice as many points as the Sharks. The Cowboys have conceded 41 points compared to 20 for the Sharks.
- Jason Taumalolo’s absence will be felt. In Round One he ran for 315 metres and the Cowboys ran for 1,610 metres. Last week due to his knee injury, he ran for only 46 metres and the Cowboys only ran for 1,371 metres.
H2H: Cowboys ($1.95)Value: Cowboys 1-12 ($3.15)
Penrith Panthers ($2.40) v Melbourne Storm ($1.57)
Storm to surge in unfamiliar surrounds
The Storm will be hoping to continue their strong start to the season when they visit Bathurst for the first time to play the Panthers. This will be Penrith’s sixth game at the Carrington Park, where they have a 3-2 record. Melbourne is unchanged for this one and after a 12 point win against Canberra last round. Penrith lose Isaah Yeo to concussion, with Reagan Campbell-Gillard promoted to the starting side. Josh Mansour returns on the wing after being scratched for last week’s two-point win against Newcastle with a shoulder injury. The recent head to head matches between the two teams is not happy reading for Panthers fans, who will note their club has lost 6 of its past 7 to Melbourne. They did secure a rare victory in Melbourne last season when the Storm were without Billy Slater and Cameron Munster, running out 22-16 winners. The Wolf is finding it hard not to back the Storm, particularly with their recent dominance against the Panthers. James Maloney played one of his best defensive games against the Knights a week ago and will need to be on song again on Friday night because Craig Bellamy will direct plenty of traffic at him. All but one of the matches at Bathurst has been decided by six points or less and it would be surprising if this one was a blowout.
- The Storm have a 76%-win percentage against the Panthers (25 wins and eight loses). This is the first meeting at Bathurst for these two sides.
- James Maloney has conceded the most penalties with five and has missed 11 tackles (competition’s second highest).
- The Storm have run 1,650 metres which leads the way for the competition. The Panthers have run 1,295 metres which ranks them 15th.
H2H: Storm 1-12 ($2.85)Value: Storm 1-12 / Under 37.5 ($5.65)
Wests Tigers ($1.43) v Canterbury Bulldogs ($2.80)
Tigers to heap misery on Dogs
Canterbury coach Dean Pay stuck with the same starting 17 that were clobbered by New Zealand in round one and it didn’t work as his charges were touched up by the Eels last Sunday. The coach has responded with a raft of changes for this match, dropping Christian Chrichton, Marcelo Montoya, Sauaso Sue and Raymond Faitala-Mariner. It’s the complete opposite for the Wests Tigers who are unchanged, with Josh Reynolds still on the outer despite a stellar performance in reserve grade. It’s a rare meeting at Campbelltown for the two sides, who last met at the venue in 2011 with the Dogs winning 16-6. Canterbury has been a turnstile in defence and it’s hard to know how they are going to overturn conceding an average of 38 points across two games this season. The Tigers on the other hand have given up just 12 points in total against attack-minded sides in Manly and New Zealand. The Wolf can’t see anything other than a Wests Tigers win in this one and until the Dogs show some grit they’ll be faded.
- The Bulldogs have never been beaten by the Wests Tigers at Campbelltown Stadium. Five games for five wins.
- Even with the Bulldogs current form, Will Hopoate is second in the competition for run metres with 400 metres.
- The last time the Bulldogs were 0-3 was in 1971.
H2H: Tigers -7.5 ($1.90)Value: Tigers 13+ ($2.50)
South Sydney Rabbitohs ($1.21) v Gold Coast Titans ($4.40)
Bunnies to hop to third win on the trot
Souths brushed off a poor first half against the Dragons to leave Kogarah with a 34-18 win last Thursday night. They will benefit from a lengthy break before this Sunday night match against the winless Gold Coast Titans. Attack has been a huge problem for Garth Brennan’s side, with the Titans scoring just six points in two matches. They are short on attacking options and have played too narrow in the opening rounds to give their wingers and centres a chance to score consistently. They will go into this match unchanged and their fortunes hinge on their forwards, with Jai Arrow carrying for nearly 300 metres against the Sharks in a stellar performance. The Wolf notes that the Bunnies have been electric in the second half of game this campaign, winning the second stanza 44-12 across two games so far. If Souths are in the mood, they should give the Titans a hiding in back to back road games and it’s hard to mount a case for a side that has been the league’s worst in attack this season.
- The Rabbitohs have been behind at half time in both games this season but have come back and won both games.
- The Rabbitohs have scored 11 tries this season compared to only one for the Titans.
- Last week, Jai Arrow ran for a career high 291 metres from 28 runs. This is the second most metres ran this season in a single game.
H2H: Rabbitohs -12.5 ($1.90)Value: Rabbitohs 13+ / Under 44.5 ($3.95)