The 2016 NRL season continues this weekend with a full compliment of matches to take place starting on Thursday night. Continue reading for our Round 17 Preview and Betting Tips.
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Sydney Roosters vs Canterbury Bulldogs (Thursday 7.50pm AEST)
The Bulldogs seem to be finally bringing everything together as they have won their last two matches in a row with convincing performances. Tony Williams has returned to his best form after being dropped to NSW Cup for three weeks and it has seen him become the damaging player that he is capable of. If he can continue to bring impact on the left edge the Bulldogs forward pack will be even more intimidating. Sam Kasiano crossed for a double whilst David Klemmer barged his way over as the Broncos had no answers for the big men. In another positive note for the Bulldogs, Brett Morris made a successful return after spending a long period on the sidelines after having two-knee surgeries.
Meanwhile the Roosters are coming off of a much-needed bye as they attempt to return to health and regroup. They have had a season from hell and whilst they will be looking forward to its conclusion there is still a lot of pride that the club will need to play for as it has a rich history and their supporters will want to see their players digging deep. Mitchell Pearce will likely return from injury this weekend which will push Jackson Hastings out of the line-up but even with the former New South Wales halfbacks return, the Bulldogs to win this match comfortably.
Brisbane Broncos vs Melbourne Storm (Friday 7.50pm AEST)
The match of the round will come on Friday night as these two sides have a lot to play for as they are essentially both in the top-four with the Eels set to drop out any day with their 12-point deduction. The Broncos are 6-1 at Suncorp stadium this season but their form has dropped off dramatically throughout the Origin period. They have suffered a loss in four of their last five matches and they will have their backs against the wall this weekend against a Storm side that has remained impressive despite their injuries. The Broncos need to regain form in their halves pairing if they are going to return to their dominance at the start of the season. The Broncos soared to the top of the table and were looking unbeatable for long stretches and it was because Anthony Milford and Ben Hunt were carving defences to pieces and setting up their outside backs with ease. However, these two are clearly down on confidence and didn’t create anything until the final minutes of the match against the Bulldogs whilst they had crucial errors in other losses.
The Storm were leading 26-0 at halftime against the Tigers on the weekend and it seemed as if they would cruise to victory and put another big score on a side. However, it wasn’t to be as the Tigers chanced their hand and came back but again the experience of Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk was too much as they stepped up when it counted to ensure their side would earn the two points. Cameron Munster and Blake Green have remained on the sidelines for the past two weeks but that should come to an end this Friday as they should be right to return to action. It will be a massive boost as Green offers stability for the side and Tohu Harris will be able to return to the second row whilst Munster has been Billy Slater like in his performances. If these two are right to play, the Storm will continue to hand the Broncos issues as their defence will be strong and they will do enough to win.
New Zealand Warriors vs Gold Coast Titans (Saturday 3pm AEST)
The Warriors showed on the weekend that they mean business as they pushed the premiership favourites to the limit as the game was forced into overtime. The side led early but a slip in concentration allowed the Sharks to grab two quick tries before halftime and it cost them the lead. They did well to fight back into the contest and their attack is still looking strong despite Shaun Johnson carrying an injury. They have had solid performances on their home soil lately and they will be desperate for a victory in this match, as it will see them leapfrog their opponents on the ladder.
The Titans are coming off a disappointing loss against the Raiders as the score line favoured them, as their performance was very poor. However, the side was forced to have a reshuffled back line due to injuries during the week and game and they had two back rowers defending in the centres against Jarrod Croker and Joseph Leiluia, which are danger signs for any side. Ryan James is continuing to lead from the front for the side and he lays a great platform for his young halves and other forwards around him. They need more players to lift to his level and especially against a big Warriors forward pack. The Titans have played better than a lot of people predicted this season but this could be the period where their inexperience shows and they begin to fall away from finals contention. It is a tough ask for any team to win on the road in New Zealand and I am predicting a comfortable win for the home side.
Wests Tigers vs Penrith Panthers (Saturday 5.30pm AEST)
The Panthers are beginning to hit their straps as they have won their last two matches but the side has stuck to their habits this year by giving their coach Anthony Griffin a heart attack in both. Their comeback was brilliant against the Sea Eagles but they allowed the Rabbitohs into the match in the last 10-minutes and if the ball had of bounced differently in the final play they could have easily lost the match. In a massive shining light for the club and their future, 18-year-old halfback Nathan Cleary is improving every week and he is playing well beyond his years in first grade. He will certainly be named this weekend. Bryce Cartwright has been strong in the five-eighth position with his ability to offload and keep the defence in two minds makes him a dangerous player. He set up three of the Panthers tries on the weekend and with the Blues having lost their first two matches and the series over he could get his first chance at Origin in the coming weeks.
The Tigers have the ability to look like a million dollars or a dumpster and they showed that again on the weekend against the Storm. Their first half was embarrassing but they showed a lot of fight in the second half and they pushed the Storm to the limit. It just shows what the side is capable of when they are clicking and playing at their best but also shows there is a lot of development needed for the team as they need to be putting those performances together on a consistence basis.
The Panthers have pushed into the top eight and we believe they will be too strong in this contest. However, as the Panthers have had a lot of close matches this season we will be predicting them to win by a narrow margin.
Cronulla Sharks vs Parramatta Eels (Saturday 7.30pm AEST)
The Sharks are searching for a record 12th straight win this weekend when they host the Eels. They were able to pull off a golden point victory against the Warriors with a James Maloney field goal just finding its way over the bar in the 87th minute. The home side was clearly impacted by the Origin three days earlier as they had five players who were backing up whilst they would have been also hit by the low of losing the series in two straight games. However, their defence was still strong and despite allowing two early tries they were solid for the remainder of the match.
The Eels are another side that has strong defence but the club’s name is still in the headlines for all the wrong reasons with Semi Radradra leaving the country last week to head home to Fiji and there are reports the flying winger will be heading to France to play rugby union. Even if Radradra is to return, the constant negativity surrounding the club will continue to take its toll on the players. Despite being on a three game winning streak, the team hasn’t played as strong as it was at the start of the season and they are clearly missing the impact of Nathan Peats and Junior Paulo who were shipped off to move under the salary cap. The Sharks have been strong on their home soil all season and they will do enough to extend their winning streak in a narrow victory.
Canberra Raiders vs Newcastle Knights (Sunday 2pm AEST)
The Knights only have the one win to their name this season but they did manage to earn a point against the Raiders on their home soil earlier this year after these two sides played out a 24-24 draw. However, the Knights have been poor all year and their defence continued to crack on the weekend despite playing the Dragons who have the second worst attack in the competition.
The Raiders are only second to the Cowboys in attack and they have been even more dangerous on home soil. They will be licking their lips as they come up against the Knights this weekend who are conceding over 35 points on average. It will be a great chance for the side to gain a lot of confidence whilst cementing their spot in the top eight. This will be an easy and convincing win for the Raiders as the inexperienced Knights continue to learn about first grade the hard way.
South Sydney Rabbitohs vs North Queensland Cowboys (Sunday 4pm AEST)
The Cowboys raced out to an early lead against the Sea Eagles but they allowed the side to come back and take the advantage. However, the side was able to show enough class to earn the victory on home soil. The lack of effort in the second half can be attributed to the majority of their players backing up for Origin and Michael Morgan being on the sidelines. Morgan won’t be back in action for at least three weeks but the Cowboys have enough class to continue to get victories and remain near the top of the table.
The Rabbitohs season continues to get worse as they are sitting in 13th position and have lost double the amount of games they have won this season. They have been forced to change their spine multiple times throughout the year whilst they have a lot of injuries to their outside backs. The side won’t have enough in attack to crack the Cowboys strong defence whilst they have leaked a lot of points this season. The Cowboys are just 2-5 on the road this season but I am expecting that record to improve in a close contest.
Manly Sea Eagles vs St George Illawarra Dragons (Monday 7pm AEST)
The Dragons are coming off their most impressive performance of the season, however it was against the struggling Knights and the majority of teams have had their best games against the Novocastrians. It is a good sign that Benji Marshall was able to have a great game as he has been under scrutiny all year. If he is able to continue this then the Dragons attack will benefit drastically and a lot of the pressure will be lifted from Widdop’s shoulders.
Meanwhile the Sea Eagles almost managed a massive upset as they fought back in the second half against the defending premiers. Daly Cherry-Evans was solid at halfback and he seems to play at a higher level with Jamie Lyon outside him at five-eighth compared to his poor games with Dylan Walker playing alongside him. Brett Stewart still doesn’t seem like his normal self and if it wasn’t for the nagging foot injury to Tom Trbojevic he could have been moved to fullback. Instead he is doing a lot of damage from the centres. If the Sea Eagles can play similar to how they did in the second half this could be their game to lose.
Take note: Any of the tips in this article are simply the author’s opinion, so bet at your own risk and always gamble responsibly. Also be sure to check out the Before You Bet Twitter Page for all our thoughts in the lead up to bets! Happy punting!
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