A Grand Final rematch headlines the NRL’s Easter weekend fixtures, but who will get the chocolates when the Storm host the Chooks on Friday night? Here’s The Wolf’s round six NRL tips.
|Sharks v Panthers|
Pointsbet Stadium, Thu 18/4, 7.50pm
|Sharks ($1.70)||Sharks 1-12 ($2.80)|
|Bulldogs v Rabbitohs|
ANZ Stadium, Fri 19/4, 4.05pm
|Bulldogs +8.5 ($1.90)||Rabbitohs 1-12 ($3)|
|Storm v Roosters|
AAMI Park, Fri 19/4, 7.55pm
|Melbourne ($1.90)||Either team under 6.5 points ($2.45)|
|Warriors v Cowboys|
Mt Smart Stadium, Sat 20/4, 5.30pm
|Warriors -7.5 ($1.90)||Warriors 11-20 ($4.50)|
|Dragons v Sea Eagles|
WIN Stadium, Sat 20/4, 7.35pm
|Total match points over 40.5 ($1.88)||Dragons 1-12 ($2.90)|
|Titans v Knights|
Cbus Super Stadium, Sun 21/4, 2pm
|Knights ($1.95)||Knights +1.5 / Over 40.5 ($3.95)|
|Raiders v Broncos|
GIO Stadium, Sun 21/4, 4.05pm
|Raiders -2 ($1.90)||Raiders 1-12 / Under 38.5 ($5.55)|
|Eels v Tigers|
Bankwest Stadium, Mon 22/4, 4.05pm
|Tigers ($1.96)||Tigers 1-12 ($3.05)|
Cronulla Sharks ($1.70) v Penrith Panthers ($2.15)
Sharks to continue recent dominance against Panthers
Two wins from five matches are not how the Sharks or Panthers wanted to start the season, with a loss for either side on Thursday night sure to put them under enormous pressure. A 10 minute blitz by the Roosters put the Sharks away in round six, with the reigning champs leading 30-0 before a late flurry for Cronulla. The Panthers played in a see-sawing match against the Titans a week ago, losing 30-24 to the then winless Gold Coast. Ivan Cleary has once again shuffled his pack after that loss, with Tim Grant making his first appearance for the club this season, relegating NSW big man Reagan Campbell-Gillard to the bench. There are injury clouds surrounding Andrew Fifita and Paul Gallen for the Sharks, but both have been named to start. The Sharks have a dominant recent record against the Panthers, winning their past six against the men from the foot of the mountains. Both sides are in the top four in the competition for errors made, so this could be a sloppy game, but The Wolf thinks the Sharks are too good to pass up at home and will end their losing streak at two matches.
- Sharks lead the competition in offloads with 13.8 per game whilst the Panthers only offload 6.4 times per game having them sit in 15th position.
- James Maloney missed 10 tackles last week against the Titans. He now sits 1st in that stat with 26 for the season.
- The Sharks are currently on a six game winning streak against the Panthers. They have won nine out of their last 10 encounters and the Panthers last win at Pointsbet Stadium was in Round 21 2012 with a 21 – 20 victory.
H2H: Sharks ($1.70)
Value: Sharks 1-12 ($2.80)
Value: Sharks 1-12 ($2.80)
Canterbury Bulldogs ($3.20) v South Sydney Rabbitohs ($1.35)
Souths to edge traditional Good Friday match
The now traditional Good Friday fixture between the Dogs and Bunnies will write another chapter on Friday when the two sides meet at ANZ Stadium. The Dogs are coming off a 40-4 drubbing by the Dragons, as they dropped their bundle in similar fashion to the opening two rounds. A game changing ball and all strip tackle midway through the first half by Ben Hunt turned momentum for the Dragons as they never looked back against a dispirited Canterbury side. The Dogs have made just one change for this one, with Sauaso Sue’s suspension meaning Danny Fualalo is named on the bench. The Rabbits trailed by 24-12 in the second half against the Warriors a week ago, but rallied late, with Cody Walker’s four tries, including a 78th minute match winner sealing an improbably 28-24 win. Souths’ past three games have been patchy, with a narrow win against Gold Coast, a loss to Manly and a win against the Warriors when they were far from their best. These Good Friday contests have generally been close, with the Dogs covering this starting line of 8.5 points in their past 6 matches on Good Friday, including three outright wins. The Wolf is going to give the blue and whites another chance, and while Souths should win, the Dogs and the points is the way to go.
- The Bulldogs have not won a second half all season.
- Adam Reynolds leads the competition in kick metres. He has kicked for a total of 2405 metres from 70 kicks (also 1st). On averaging making 34.4 metres per kick.
- Kerrod Holland continues his fine form in the art of offloading. He made two against the Dragons in round five taking his tally up to 18 for the season and continues to lead the pack in this stat.
H2H: Bulldogs +8.5 ($1.90)Value: Rabbitohs 1-12 ($3)
Melbourne Storm ($1.90) v Sydney Roosters ($1.90)
A field goal could decide this top of the table clash
A Grand Final rematch headlines round six when the Storm host the Roosters on Friday night. Both sides have picked up where they left off a season ago, with the Storm undefeated and the Roosters winning four on the trot. Melbourne’s 18-12 win against the Cowboys in round five was their fifth win from five starts, but Friday night’s match will be their sternest test of the season so far. The Roosters have blitzed the Broncos and Sharks in consecutive weeks, but will be wanting to stamp their premiership credentials with a win against their nearest rival. In team news, it’s just the one change for Melbourne as Suliasi Vunivalu returns on the wing replacing Sandor Earl. The premiers are strengthened with the return of Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, which shifts Zane Tetevano to lock. Hooker Jake Friend remains out, with Victor Radley the starting number nine. The 2018 Grand Final was surprisingly all one way traffic the Roosters way, but the clashes between the two sides prior to that have all been close. 1, 3 and 1 point margins decided their regular season matches in 2017 and 2018. In each of those matches, a field goal was kicked and The Wolf wouldn’t discount another one deciding this ripper round six match. Melbourne’s revenge factor is big in this one and at home, you’ll rarely get them at such a good price.
- This will be Cooper Cronk’s first game against the Storm at AAMI Park.
- All the Roosters wins this year have come from them leading at half time.
- The Roosters last win at AAMI Park was in 2014. Round 13 with a 32 – 12 victory.
H2H: Melbourne ($1.90)Value: Either team under 6.5 points ($2.45)
New Zealand Warriors ($1.40) v North Queensland Cowboys ($2.95)
Cows miserable start set to continue
New Zealand found their mojo on the road last weekend, but even that wasn’t enough for them to snag two competition points as they floundered late in a 28-24 loss to the Bunnies on the Sunshine Coast. North Queensland is another side struggling for form, both at home and on the road. Their lone win of the season came in round one, with four losses following. They will be hoping to stop the rot on Saturday when they travel across the ditch to play the Warriors. Scott Bolton is back from his NRL imposed ban for the Cowboys in a boost to their forwards. The backs are where the Cows have struggled though as Nene Macdonald will miss significant time with an ankle injury. Veteran Justin O’Neill replaces him in the backline. Blake Green was a late omission against Souths, but he’s back for the Kiwi side this weekend in a big boost to their undermanned playmaking stocks. The Warriors beat the Cows in both matches last season, including a rare win in Townsville. Just five games into the season and the Cowboys rank last in tackle busts, with the Warriors near the top of the pecking order with 141, behind only the Dragons with 146. Their attacking flair should be too much for North Queensland to overcome. They have covered the starting handicap against teams of a similar calibre both times this season in Auckland and The Wolf thinks they’ll cruise to an easy home win.
- Twice this season the Cowboys have led at half time and lost.
- The Warriors lead the competition in line breaks with five per game.
- The Cowboys sit low on ladder for Runs and Run Metres. 155 runs per game making them 15th in the competition whilst making 1340.6 metres per game which has them sitting in 14th
H2H: Warriors -7.5 ($1.90)Value: Warriors 11-20 ($4.50)
St George Illawarra Dragons ($1.45) v Manly Sea Eagles ($2.75)
Dragons to win a high-scorer in the ‘Gong.
The Dragons and Sea Eagles have both enjoyed a resurgence after losing their first two matches of the season to put together early season winning streaks. They are on the line when the two clash in Wollongong on Saturday night, with the Dragons a short price to make it four wins in a row. Despite being without Tom Trbojevic, Manly started on fire against the Knights last round, leading 18-0 in quick time and winning 26-18. The Dragons blew away the Dogs in a dominant 40-4 win, suffocating their opponents and holding on to the ball like they hadn’t all season, completing at 85 per cent. Both teams are unchanged for this fixture, which has seen plenty of points in recent times. The Dragons have won three of the past four against Manly, including the last three by 24+. The Wolf thinks the night time conditions at the seaside WIN Stadium will mean a much tighter match, with both sides capable of putting up a score. The over or the Dragons to win narrowly are the two plays to consider. The over/under is set at 40.5, which has saluted in three of the past four between these two, the lone loss being by 0.5 in round 15 last season.
- Twice the Dragons have been down at half time and won.
- The last time the Sea Eagles won in Wollongong was Round 5, 2003 with a 38 – 12 victory.
- The Dragons lead the competition in Tackle Breaks with 30.6 per game.
H2H: Total match points over 40.5 ($1.88)Value: Dragons 1-12 ($2.90)
Gold Coast Titans ($1.85) v Newcastle Knights ($1.95)
Knights to find their spark against injury hit Titans
Gold Coast is on the board this season, holding on for a 30-24 win against the Panthers last Friday night. They now have back-to-back home games and host Newcastle on Sunday afternoon. The Knights are on a four game losing streak and struggling at home, so perhaps a road trip will galvanise the squad in what is presenting as a must-win if they want to stay in touch with the top 8. The big team news for the Titans is that AJ Brimson and Jarrod Wallace will miss through injury and suspension respectively, while Ash Taylor is named but in doubt after coming off in the first half against the Panthers. Injury has forced one change for Nathan Brown’s Knights, who aren’t getting enough out of their forward pack, with halves Mitchell Pearce and Mason Lino also underperforming. The Wolf thinks this is the week the Knights have to stand up and show something. Their attack has been stale and one-dimensional and this game is one where they’ll have an opportunity to put up some points. The Titans have one of the worst attacks and defences in the competition, with the Knights attack struggling at just over 13 points a game through five matches. They should see a sharp rise in that number on Sunday in sunny conditions up north, so its the Knights’ to lose.
- The Knights haven’t lost a game in their last 20 minute period (60 – 80 min).
- The Titans and Knights are four wins each at CBUS Super Stadium.
- The Knights sit on the bottom of the ladder with a miserly 6.2 offloads per game. Generating very little second phase play.
H2H: Knights ($1.95)Value: Knights +1.5 / Over 40.5 ($3.95)
Canberra Raiders ($1.73) v Brisbane Broncos ($2.10)
Raiders to make it 5 from 6
The Green Machine is rolling this season, winning four from five, with their only loss against the undefeated Melbourne Storm. They host a backs-to-the-wall Broncos side on Sunday afternoon in Canberra, with Brisbane reeling at 1-4. Back rower Joe Tapine has had no luck with injuries for the Raiders and he is their only change, with JJ Collins his replacement. A hallmark for the Raiders this season has been their defence, with just 44 points conceded in five games, including two shutouts. The Broncos three-game losing streak hasn’t forced drastic changes to the squad. James Roberts has been named as a reserve and could inject a spark into the Broncos attack. They were beaten at the hooter by the Tigers as Michael Chee Kam sliced through the defence to score a late try. It is the second home game in a row they have been beaten at the death, after losing to the Dragons by a point. The Raiders are not as short in head-to-head betting as The Wolf expected, but their six game losing streak against the Broncs may have something to do with that. They last beat Brisbane in 2013 by a 30-18 scoreline, conceding 20+ points in their six prior losses. A stronger defence and a more balanced squad this season has them looking a top four fancy and they should dispatch the Broncos, despite the northerners desperation.
- The Raiders are only averaging 8.8 points conceded this year so far.
- The Broncos have lost twice this year after leading at half time.
- The Broncos sit last in Missed Tackles. The Broncos are averaging 33 missed tackles per game.
H2H: Raiders -2 ($1.90)Value: Raiders 1-12 / Under 38.5 ($5.55)
Parramatta Eels ($1.84) v Wests Tigers ($1.96)
Tigers to win first match at new stadium
The first match at the much anticipated Bankwest Stadium on Easter Monday is a real cracker as the Eels play the Tigers. A sold out crowd of more than 30,000 will be in attendance at the state of the art arena for a clash between two sides who have had a good start to the season after not playing finals a year ago. Each has three wins, with the Eels coming into this one as slight favourites. Brad Arthur has shuffled his interchange bench with Oregon Kaufusi and Ray Stone the new men coming in for Kane Evans and David Gower after their 19-0 loss to the Raiders on Sunday night. Michael Maguire has kept an unchanged side to that which toppled the Broncos. 6 of the past 7 matches between the two clubs have been decided by 1-12 points, and The Wolf expects this one to be no different. Neither side will give much, with the Tigers’ better defence likely to provide the difference. Wests are conceding just 11.8 points per game this season, while Parra is letting in 18.2 points. In a game as close to this, that may well be the difference in a big day for rugby league on Monday afternoon.
- This is the very first match at the new Bankwest Stadium.
- The Tigers have not won a game in their opening 20 minute period this season.
- The Eels continue to be the most well behaved team in the competition this year with only conceding 4 penalties per game so far.
H2H: Tigers ($1.96)Value: Tigers 1-12 ($3.05)
Cronulla x Warriors -7.5 x Tigers 1-12 = $9.53