Traditional rivals the Sydney Roosters and St George Illawarra Dragons get things started on Thursday afternoon in an action packed Anzac weekend of fixtures. Here’s The Wolf’s round seven NRL tips.
|Roosters v Dragons|
SCG, Thu 25/4, 4,05pm
|Dragons +7.5 ($1.88)||Roosters 1-12 ($2.90)|
|Storm v Warriors|
AAMI Park, Thu 25/4, 7.50pm
|Storm -13.5 ($1.90)||Storm 21-30 ($5)|
|Bulldogs v Cowboys|
ANZ Stadium, Fri 26/4, 6pm
|Cowboys ($1.90)||Cowboys 1-12 / Under 37.5 ($5.20)|
|Panthers v Rabbitohs|
Panthers Stadium, Fri 26/4, 7.55pm
|Rabbitohs -3.5 ($1.90)||Rabbitohs 13+ ($3.30)|
|Tigers v Titans|
Scully Park, Sat 27/4, 5.30pm
|Titans ($2.15)||Titans 13+ ($6)|
|Broncos v Sharks|
Suncorp Stadium, Sat 27/4, 7.35pm
|Broncos -4 ($1.90)||Broncos 11-20 ($5)|
|Sea Eagles v Raiders|
Lottoland, Sun 28/4, 2pm
|Sea Eagles ($1.98)||Sea Eagles 1-12 ($3.15)|
|Knights v Eels|
McDonald Jones Stadium, Sun 28/4, 4.05pm
|Eels -2 ($1.90)||Eels 13+ ($3.70)|
Sydney Roosters ($1.38) v St George Illawarra Dragons ($3.05)
Chooks to win tight Anzac Day affair
One of the season’s most anticipated matches kicks off round seven when the Roosters and Dragons meet at the SCG on Anzac Day. The two teams come into this one in ripping form, with the Roosters winning five in a row, while the Dragons have strung together four straight victories. The Chooks held a 20-0 lead against Melbourne before being chased down, only for a brilliant Latrell Mitchell field goal to seal their win in golden point. Five-eighth Luke Keary was off with concussion in the second half and the short turnaround to this Thursday afternoon fixture has meant that he is an omission. Latrell Mitchell shifts into the halves with Joseph Manu back in the centres. In a boost for the hosts, Jake Friend is back at hooker, moving Victor Radley to the second row. Paul McGregor’s Dragons were under the pump a month ago, but have rattled off four gutsy wins, including a two-point come from behind win against Manly last Saturday. He has opted for the same 17 that won that game 14-12. The Dragons won last year’s Anzac Day match 24-8, but this fixture has more or less flip flopped winners in recent times. It is hard to deny how threatening the Chooks have been in the first half of matches this season, ruthless in fact. The Wolf is not expecting them to show any mercy on Thursday afternoon, but the Dragons will surely have a pep in their step and make it a close contest.
- The Dragons are three and zero versus the Roosters at the SCG since the joint venture in 1999.
- Cameron McInnes leads the competition in tackles with 295.
- Latrell Mitchell is the bad boy of the competition giving away 11 penalties so far this season.
H2H: Dragons +7.5 ($1.88)
Value: Roosters 1-12 ($2.90)
Value: Roosters 1-12 ($2.90)
Melbourne Storm ($1.19) v New Zealand Warriors ($4.70)
Storm to respond
The Melbourne Storm suffered their first loss of the season in sensational fashion last round and will be eager to bounce back when they host the struggling New Zealand Warriors at AAMI Park on Thursday night. Last weekend’s 21-20 loss to the Roosters would have been crushing for the Storm, but they only have themselves to blame as a sluggish first half saw them down by as many as 20 points. The Warriors had plenty of opportunities against the Cowboys in Auckland but failed to convert. Their completion rate of 68 per cent and 12 errors was their downfall as they fell 17-10. They face a trip to Melbourne without winger David Fusitu’a, but half back Blake Green is expected to return after missing two games. The Storm holds a dominant record over the Warriors and The Wolf sees no reason why that won’t continue on Thursday. The Warriors last beat the Storm back in 2015, losing six on the trot to the team in purple. They were hammered 50-10 on Anzac Day last year and while it won’t be that one-sided this time around, the Storm should get home with room to spare.
- The Warriors lead the competition in tackle breaks with 28.7 per game.
- Last years ANZAC Day clash ended with a Storm victory 50 to 10.
- The Storm sit third in run metres averaging 1564 metres per game.
H2H: Storm -13.5 ($1.90)Value: Storm 21-30 ($5)
Canterbury Bulldogs ($1.90) v North Queensland Cowboys ($1.90)
Cowboys’ class to prove the difference
The market is struggling to split the Dogs and Cowboys as they meet for this crucial round seven match on Friday night. Neither set has set the world alight this season, with the Dogs winning just one from six and the Cows not much better at two from six. Dean Pay has shown faith in his charges by naming an unchanged side to that which lost 14-6 to Souths on Good Friday. The Cowboys will also be unchanged as they embark on back-to-back road trips after a 17-10 win in New Zealand last round. The Cowboys showed some determined in defence last weekend, something that has been severely lacking for them this season. Neither side has been dominant without the ball, with the Dogs conceding the most points in the competition at 156, with the Cowboys’ 141 points conceded tied for second most with the Broncos and Warriors. It’s not much better in attack, with the two sides ranking in the bottom four for points scored. The Wolf sees the Cowboys as having the classier lineup and their forwards did the hard yards last weekend. They have five out of six against the Dogs, who often look out of ideas in attack.
- The Bulldogs are making 358.3 tackles per game.
- The last time the Bulldogs beat the Cowboys at ANZ Stadium was Round 21, 2012 with a 32 – 18 win.
- The Cowboys Josh Maguire is equal leader with 109 runs this season.
H2H: Cowboys ($1.90)Value: Cowboys 1-12 / Under 37.5 ($5.20)
Penrith Panthers ($2.20) v South Sydney Rabbitohs ($1.66)
Souths to pour it on
It is surely panic stations at the foot of the mountains now after their woeful start to the season. New coach Ivan Cleary has done little to ease the Panthers’ chronic inconsistency, which was on full display in a 24-20 collapse against Cronulla last weekend. The Sharks looked down an out when Waqa Blake scored after an hour, but rattled off three converted tries to come back from a 14-point deficit. Caleb Aekins comes in at fullback for Penrith, with Dallin Watene-Zelezniak moving to the centres to cover the injury of Dean Whare. It’s a settled side for Souths, who name the same 17 as that which beat the Dogs 14-6 on Good Friday. The past six matches between the two teams have been split 3-3, with neither team able to be dominant at home or away. With two wins from six games, it is clear Penrith is under pressure and general manager Phil Gould parting ways with the club on Tuesday does little to help its cause. It’s hard to know what impact that will have on the playing group, but The Wolf knows that Souths are the much stronger team and a shoddy Penrith defence won’t put up much of a fight against their attack when it’s firing on all cylinders.
- The Panthers haven’t won a game in the second 20 minute period (20 – 40 min) of the first half.
- The Panthers concede the most missed tackles per game with 34.2.
- Cody Walker is joint try scoring leader with six tries along with five try assists and five line breaks and five line break assists.
H2H: Rabbitohs -3.5 ($1.90)Value: Rabbitohs 13+ ($3.30)
Wests Tigers ($1.70) v Gold Coast Titans ($2.15)
Titans to upset Tigers
Tamworth’s Scully Park hosts just its second regular season NRL match when the Tigers and Titans lock horns on Saturday afternoon. The two sides are coming off very different lead ups, with the pressure on the Tigers to perform after a number of lacklustre weeks. They were battered 51-6 at the new Bankwest Stadium on Easter Monday in an Easter horror show. They let in try’s with regularity after having one of the league’s stingiest defences entering into the game. The Titans also poured it on in round six, scoring 38 points as they humbled the Knights at home. That was despite plenty of injury chaos for the Coasters, as Ryan James suffered a potentially season-ending knee injury and Kevin Proctor was ruled out just before kick off. He will be back for this one, with Keegan Hipgrave on the bench and Moeaki Fotuaika promoted to the starting side. The Titans are 0-3 on the road this season, but have the wood on the Tigers in recent times. They have won five of the past seven against Wests, with four of those wins being the visitor. They will fancy themselves to get it done again on Saturday in country New South Wales and The Wolf is prepared to give the improving side a chance based on that dominant record against the Tigers.
- The Tigers haven’t won an opening 20 minutes all season.
- The Tigers are only making two line breaks per game seeing them last in this vital stat.
- The Titans are the most penalised side giving away 7.5 penalties per game.
H2H: Titans ($2.15)Value: Titans 13+ ($6)
Brisbane Broncos ($1.63) v Cronulla Sharks ($2.25)
Broncos to topple Sharks
The bottom four is not where you’d usually find the Broncos after a quarter of the season but with just one win this season, they will be eager to jump up the ladder against Cronulla on Saturday night. The Sharks cling to a spot in the top eight on points difference and were once again back to their patchy best against Penrith last round. They were down 14 points with just 20 minutes to go before staging a terrific comeback to steal the two points from Penrith. The Broncos fell in the nation’s capital to a rampant Raiders side, with the final margin of just four points flattering the Queenslanders. In a boost for them, Tevita Pangai is back from suspension and James Roberts is back in the starting 13 after coming off the bench against Canberra. The visitors lose Briton Nikora to suspension, with Jason Bukuya added to the bench. Despite seven of the past eight between the two teams being decided by 12 points and under, The Wolf has a feeling this is the week Brisbane turn things around and show up. In front of a rare Saturday night home crowd, they could release the shackles and put on a show.
- The last Sharks victory at Suncorp Stadium was in Round 16 2014 with a 24 – 22 win.
- The Sharks lead the competition in Offloads making 13.7 per game.
- Eight of the last ten matches the Broncos have been first try scorers.
H2H: Broncos -4 ($1.90)Value: Broncos 11-20 ($5)
Manly Sea Eagles ($1.98) v Canberra Raiders ($1.82)
Sea Eagles to upset Raiders
Manly was desperately unlucky not to beat the Dragons a week ago and will be eager to atone against the red hot Canberra Raiders on Sunday afternoon. The Sea Eagles have really turned the screw defensively under Des Hasler, conceding just 100 points through six games after being atrocious without the ball in 2018. Canberra is doing it at both ends at the moment, suffocating teams defensively, conceding the fewest points in the league at 66 and scoring the fifth most with 122. It will be a test for them travelling to the northern beaches and playing in front of a hostile Lottoland crowd. Matches between the two teams have tended to be wildly unpredictable, with three of the past four contests decided by two points or less. Another close one is on the cards on Sunday, with The Wolf predicting lots of points and a tight finish. The edge has to go to the home side who are performing between than their 3-3 record shows.
- The Raiders are conceding only 11 points per game.
- Jack Wighton leads the competition in errors with 13.
- Daly Cherry-Evans sits second in points scored with 51 points in total from three tries, 16 conversions, three penalty goals and one field goal.
H2H: Sea Eagles ($1.98)Value: Sea Eagles 1-12 ($3.15)
Newcastle Knights ($2.15) v Parramatta Eels ($1.70)
Knights to fall short again
The time has been and gone for Newcastle to show something. A putrid 1-5 start has them second last on the table and their season in jeopardy. Last week’s humiliating 38-14 loss to an injury hit Titans was easily their worst of the season. More runs didn’t translate into more points for the Knights, who coughed up 12 errors, with many of those ending up in Titans four pointers. They now run into a point scoring phenom in the Parramatta Eels, who racked up 51 points on the Tigers on Easter Monday. Parramatta looked sublime at their new stadium and are justified favourites for this one. Despite their futility in recent years, the Knights have won three on the trot against Parramatta, including a 30-4 drubbing in round 13 last season. The Wolf is not prepared to back the Knights again though, as their forwards aren’t doing enough and they simply don’t have the cattle in the halves to make enough of a mark. Parramatta should cruise home.
- The Knights are only offloading 6.3 times per game seeing them second last in this stat.
- The Eels lead the competition in Run Metres with 1646.8 metres per game.
- Clint Gutherson has now run 1180 metres and sits first in this stat.
H2H: Eels -2 ($1.90)Value: Eels 13+ ($3.70)