Melbourne Storm ($1.24) v Wests Tigers ($3.85)
Storm to batter Tigers
Melbourne and Wests both enjoyed big wins in Magic Round and will be looking to keep that good form going in Thursday night’s clash at AAMI Park. The Storm easily brushed aside a terrible Parra side, running in 11 tries in a 64-10 thumping at Suncorp Stadium. 10 Storm players ran for 100 metres or more in a dominant effort, with the Storm scoring seven second half tries. The Tigers’ 30-4 win was just as routine, as they raced out to a 24-0 lead after 18 minutes against a woeful Panthers outfit. The second half was much more subdued as far as points scoring went, but the Tigers didn’t concede in the second stanza. Jahrome Hughes and Curtis Scott are forced changes for Melbourne through injury. Speedster Ryan Papenhuyzen gets his first start at fullback, while Marion Seve is in the centres. For the Tigers, its just the one change, with Josh Aloiai back on the bench for Oliver Clark. As part of a number of upsets against big names last season, the Tigers actually beat the Storm twice in the opening five rounds by two and one point respectively in low scoring encounters. The Wolf didn’t expect the Storm to rip apart the Eels so effortlessly and they looked to have gotten their ruthlessness back. The Tigers were easily beaten by the Chooks just two weeks ago and this match might be a similar outcome against quality opposition.
- Round Nine was the first time the Tigers had scored a try in their opening 20 minutes this season. They laid on four tries in 17 minutes versus the Panthers.
- The Tigers beat the Storm both times last season with a combined winning margin of three points (R2 10-8 in Melbourne, R5 11-10 in Auckland).
- Curtis Scott ran for 281 metres against the Eels, making it the most run metres in Round 9 and the best for a Storm player this season so far. One hundred of those metres was his brilliant length of the field try.
H2H: Storm -10.5 ($1.90)
Value: Storm 11-20 ($3.50)
Value: Storm 11-20 ($3.50)
Penrith Panthers ($1.67) v New Zealand Warriors ($2.15)
Warriors to heap more misery on Panthers
Another week, another loss for the Panthers. This time the team from the foot of the mountains were crunched by the Tigers 30-4, after beating Wests just weeks earlier in golden point. An insipid opening 20 minutes where they conceded a 24-0 start made it nearly impossible for Penrith to recover. Under pressure coach Ivan Cleary has swung the axe at selection, with Wayde Egan, Josh Mansour, Reagan campbell-Gillard and Caleb Aekins all either out or not in the starting 17. Dylan Edwards, debutant Brian To’o and Sione Katoa are among the inclusions. It was a rare win in Brisbane last weekend for the New Zealand Warriors as they toppled St George 26-18. It was even more impressive for the fact the Kiwi side was down 18-6 at half time before scoring four tries in the second half to run out eight point winners. Stephen Kearney has stuck fat with the starting 17 that did the job a week ago, with Isaac Luke and Adam Blair named as reserves. The Panthers have owned this fixture in recent times, particularly in Penrith, winning four of five overall. The Wolf can’t risk the Panthers as favourites on current form though. They are a bad team with little chemistry and not much upside, especially at the price on offer. Take the Warriors in this match of two unpredictable teams.
- The Warriors last beat Penrith at Panthers Stadium in Round 15 2012, 30 points to 16.
- Ken Maumalo sits in second spot with most runs with 155 making 1,492 metres. Averaging 9.6 metres per run. He is the leading back in this stat.
- Panthers woes continue with not making much ground in their runs. The Panthers average 1,335 running metres per game which has them sitting last in this stat, the Roosters lead with 1,582 running metres per game.
H2H: Warriors ($2.15)Value: Warriors 1-10 ($3.30)
Brisbane Broncos ($2.70) v Sydney Roosters ($1.45)
Chooks to ease past Broncos
The Roosters are one of a trio of teams at the top of the table and they confirmed that with a 30-24 win against the Raiders last Sunday in challenging circumstances. After racing out to a 30-6 lead, a host of the Chooks’ big guns including Latrell Mitchell and Boyd Cordner were down and out with injuries, but the side held on for a win. The Broncos also got in the winner’s circle in Magic Round with a 26-10 triumph against Manly. A makeshift halves combo for the Sea Eagles was outgunned in the second half, as youngster Payne Haas had a field day with 202 run metres. It was just weeks ago that the Roosters trounced the Broncos 36-4 at the SCG, running rampant in the first half, leading 22-0 at the break. Brisbane has struggled to step up to the plate against the top teams this season, losing by double digits to the Storm, Bunnies and Chooks. Jack Bird’s ACL injury sees him lost for the season, while new hooker James Segeyaro has been named in the reserves for Brisbane. Chooks captain Boyd Cordner is out with concussion, with Lindsay Collins coming onto the bench. The Wolf sees no reason to jump off the Roosters bandwagon, and despite not covering last round against the Raiders, they are being given a one try start in this one and their defence can shut down Brisbane’s attack on the road.
- The Roosters are nine from nine wins in the second 20-minute period (20 mins to 40 mins) of their matches.
- The Broncos lead the competition in tackles breaks with 29.7 tackle breaks per game.
- James Tedesco now leads the competition in running metres. Teddy has now run 1,657 metres so far this season off 144 runs, averaging 11.5 metres per run.
H2H: Roosters -6 ($1.90)Value: Roosters -6 / Under 42.5 ($3.20)
Gold Coast Titans ($1.63) v Canterbury Bulldogs ($2.25)
Dogs to get off the bottom
Two Magic Round losers clash on Saturday afternoon when the Titans host the Dogs. Neither side can take a trick this season and despite being in each of their respective game’s last round, lacked an 80 minute performance. The Titans actually led at half time against the Sharks before being overpowered in the second half and losing 26-18 after failing to register a point in the second 40 minutes. The Dogs found themselves in a 16-0 hole against Newcastle before a pair of second half tries threatened to get them back into the game, only for Kalyn Ponga to race away for a late try and consign the Dogs to a 12 point loss that keeps them on the bottom of the table. Titans full back Michael Gordon’s leg injury means utility AJ Brimson moves back to his preferred position of full back, with Tyrone Roberts in the halves. Dean Pay has made changes in a bid to save a sinking season for the Dogs, with Kieran Foran in at five-eighth and Jack Cogger at half back. Lachlan Lewis and Kerrod Holland continue to be on the outer, named in the reserves. Neither side has been able to get much of an advantage on the other in recent meetings, with results flip flopping. Both teams are in the bottom four for points scored and in the top four for points conceded and with little to separate them, The Wolf sees the value in the underdog, with the Dogs certainly not unaccustomed to winning on the Coast.
- The head to head between these two sides has them evenly split with 8 wins each from their 16 games.
- The Bulldogs lead the competition in errors making 8.2 errors per game.
- Jai Arrow is the second best forward in terms of runs. He has made 150 runs so far this season which sits him fifth overall. David Klemmer is leading (and obviously the leading forward) with 164 runs this year.
H2H: Dogs ($2.25)Value: Dogs 1-12 ($3.40)
North Queensland Cowboys ($1.64) v Parramatta Eels ($2.25)
Eels road woes set to continue
It was a horror show for the Eels against Melbourne last Saturday night as they conceded 11 tries and 64 points in a 54 point thrashing at Suncorp Stadium. The good news for them is that they can put that loss behind them with two points against the Cowboys, who are struggling for consistency this season. At 3-6, the Cows look a spent force when it comes to finals, but few teams will envy a trip to Townsville to play them, given their decent forward pack. A 32-16 loss to Souths in Magic Round flattered the Queenslanders, as they were down 16-0 in the first half and always second best. Jake Granville has been named to start at hooker after starting on the bench against Souths in the only change for North Queensland. Brad Arthur has responded to last round’s beat down, with Maika Sivo and Michael Jennings out. George Jennings, Bevan French and Will Smith are named among the reserves. The teams split their two meetings last season, with the Cows thumping the Eels by 38 points in North Queensland in Johnathan Thurston’s last home game. The home side won’t have that sort of motivation in this one, but The Wolf knows the Eels have been atrocious away from Sydney this season and expects that trend to continue.
- Both sides are the best-behaved teams in the competition. The Eels concede 4.7 penalties per game, ranking them first whilst the Cowboys concede 5.3 penalties per game ranking them second.
- The Cowboys sit last in line breaks with only making 2.7 line breaks per game. The Eels on the other hand sit second with 4.9 line breaks per game.
- The Eels have only notched up two wins in their last ten outings at 1300Smiles Stadium.
H2H: Cowboys -3.5 ($1.90)Value: Cowboys 13+ ($3.30)
Canberra Raiders ($2.15) v South Sydney Rabbitohs ($1.67)
Bunnies to upstage Raiders
It’s back to back top four clashes for the Raiders as they host the Bunnies in Canberra on Saturday night. Two of Canberra’s losses this season have been to sides in the top four (Storm, Roosters), while their other loss was to the fifth placed Sea Eagles. A win on Saturday night would go a long way towards stamping their top four credentials, while a loss might have them in the pretender category. A 30-24 loss to the Chooks flattered the Raiders, who ran in the last 18 points against an injury ravaged Tricolours side. The Bunnies took care of business in Magic Round by dispatching the lowly Cowboys by 16 points. There are few changes for either side, with Jordan Rapana’s knee injury the big news, with Bailey Simonssen replacing him. Corey Allan moves to fullback for the injured Alex Johnston. The Bunnies have rarely played in the nation’s capital in recent seasons, with just three games at GIO Stadium since 2011. They have won two of those clashes, but lost last season’s round 24 encounter 24-12. A 24 point run from midway through the first half got the job done for Canberra in one of their most impressive wins of the season. Given their ladder position, its unsurprising that this game pits two of the competition’s best attacking and defensive teams against one another. The Wolf knows Souths are the real deal, but Canberra is yet to prove that. Until they beat quality opposition then favouring the side with the runs on the board is wise.
- Both sides weaknesses seem to be the opening 20-minute period of the second half. Both Canberra and Souths have three wins, three losses and three draws in this time frame.
- This game will see a lot of dummy half scoots. The Raiders average 15.4 dummy half runs per game which sees them first in this stat with the Rabbitohs second with 14.4 dummy half runs per game.
- Damien Cook now sits second in try assists. He has now 12 try assists, just one behind Roosters Luke Keary.
H2H: Rabbitohs -4 ($1.90)Value: Rabbitohs 1-12 / Over 41.5 ($5.10)
St George Illawarra Dragons ($1.66) v Newcastle Knights ($2.20)
Knights to upstage Dragons
The Knights have sprung to life with three wins on the trot and will look to extend that to four when they play the Dragons in Mudgee on Sunday afternoon. The two sides played a memorable match in round four, with a Corey Norman field goal late in golden point sealing a one-point win for St George. Since then, the Dragons have been patchy to say the least. They have been dreadful in their past two second halves against Parramatta and New Zealand, losing both games. The Knights are in ninth spot on the table, while the Dragons sit in tenth, so there is plenty on the line in this game. A three-game skid has not meant Dragons coach Paul McGregor has made wholesale changes to his side, with Korbin Sims potentially joining the fold as the only change. Newcastle’s lack of injuries and winning form has meant they stay unchanged. They are gunning for four wins in a row for the first time since 2015. The Wolf knows the mental aspect of the game is important and the Knights will be out for revenge after losing at home in round four and blowing a number of chances to win the game. The Dragons look fragile of late, and dropping away in the second half of games is never a good sign. Newcastle for the upset.
- This is the first clash between these two sides at Mudgee’s Glen Willow Stadium. The Dragons are one win from three starts at this venue.
- The Dragons opening 20-minute period is their best with seven wins in that time frame.
- Mitchell Pearce leads the competition for kicks. He has kicked 128 times and is second in kicking metres with 4,163 metres. Adam Reynolds leads this stat with 4,444 kick metres.
H2H: Knights ($2.20)Value: Knights +3.5 / Over 40.5 ($3.95)
Cronulla Sharks ($1.52) v Manly Sea Eagles ($2.50)
Bunnies too good for Cowboys
The Sharks and Sea Eagles have both started the season well, with five wins from nine starts, but one will be pushing for the top four after their clash on Sunday and the other will be battling to stay in the top eight. PointsBet Stadium holds no fears for the Sea Eagles though, who have won a staggering eight times in their last 10 visits to the Shire. A 26-10 loss to the Broncos a week ago came in part due to a host of changes to the Sea Eagles spine that certainly upset their flow in attack and defence. Lachlan Croker and Kane Elgey resume in the halves this week after Curtis Sironen deputised a week ago. There are no changes for Cronulla, with Sione Katoa and Scott Sorensen named as reserves. The Wolf loves following trends and the Eagles dominance against the Sharks is one that takes the eye. Both sides are solid in defence and attack, with little separating them statistically. Last season, when the Sea Eagles were not a finals contender, they produced a stunning 33-32 golden point win against Cronulla thanks to a Daly Cherry Evans field goal. This match could be just as close.
- The Sea Eagles are eight wins from their last ten games at PointsBet Stadium.
- The Sharks second 20-minute period in the first half seems to be their downfall. They have only won once in this time period. But the last 20 minutes of the match is when they excel. They have won this 20 minute period five times.
- The Sharks like ball movement. On average they pass 227.6 times a game which has them first in passing and second in offloading with 11.8 offloads per game.
H2H: Sea Eagles ($2.50)Value: Sea Eagles ($3.80)