The 2016 NRL season started with a bang with a couple of upsets taking place. However, almost every team suffered a setback with a lot of injuries throughout the opening round of the competition. Continue reading for our NRL Round 2 Preview and Betting Tips.
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Penrith Panthers vs Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs (Thursday, March 10 at 8.05pm AEDT)
The Bulldogs put on arguably the best performance of NRL Round 1 as they shocked a lot of people in their thrashing of Manly. It was their forwards who dominated the game and set the platform brilliantly for their halves paring of Moses Mbye and Josh Reynolds. James Graham was especially brilliant as he constantly had his hands on the ball, whether it was to take a hard hit up, or to be the start of a back play. His importance to the team is paramount and their struggles last year came whilst he was injured. Hooker Michael Lichaa did suffer an injury, but at this stage it is predicted he will only miss a little over a months action.
Meanwhile, the Panthers showed flashes of brilliance but were unable to defeat the Raiders on the road. Trent Merrin was a stand out for them and he showed why the Panthers paid such a large amount to bring him to Penrith. The injury around James Segyaro is a concern for the side and he is a far bigger loss to the team than Lichaa is. I expect the Dogs forwards to continue to dominate the match and this will lead to a comfortable victory for the away side.
Brisbane Broncos vs New Zealand Warriors (Friday, March 11 at 8.05pm AEDT)
The Warriors were the most disappointing team in the opening round of the 2016 NRL season. For years the side has been known for having a quality roster and being unable to put it all together on the football field. With some great additions the side made during the offseason, experts believed those days were coming to an end. However, they were blown off the park in an entertaining first half that saw the Tigers as the more exciting team. To make matters worse for the Warriors they staged a second half comeback only to blow it and suffer the loss.
They won’t have long to turn things around as they come up against the Broncos who are favourites to claim the title at the end of the season. The Brisbane outfit picked up a comfortable victory against the Eels but they were far from convincing. The Eels had Kieran Foran ruled out prior to the match and they lost Corey Norman at half time. It was as if the Broncos were just going through the motions rather than trying to kill off their opponent. It didn’t come back to bite them in the contest against the Eels but it is a worrying sign heading towards the future.
Both these sides have quality players across the park and I will be backing the home team to get the victory in this one, but it will be a closer match than expected with the Warriors wanting to prove a point.
Canberra Raiders vs Sydney Roosters (Saturday, March 12 at 3.05pm AEDT)
The Raiders earned a great victory at home against a tough opponent but their win will be bittersweet after suffering injuries to two stars. Halves Aiden Seizer and Blake Austin will miss the next six weeks with separate injuries and this will place a lot of pressure on the shoulders of Sam Williams. The Green Machine showed they will be an improved version of the side from last year but they will be attempting to win matches in a similar fashion – by outscoring their opponents. Their attack was strong but again they conceded a lot of points and as they will be without two creative players for the upcoming weeks, it could be a big issue for the side.
The year continues to get worse for the Roosters as their biggest rivals the Rabbitohs embarrassed them. They weren’t in the match from the beginning and they didn’t show any signs of the team that had been the best defensive side of the last three years. They clearly missed a lot of experience on the field and with injuries to key players and all of the quality players who left during the offseason, I am backing the home side to come away with a victory in this one.
South Sydney Rabbitohs vs Newcastle Knights (Saturday, March 12 at5.05pm AEDT)
The Rabbitohs had the most convincing win in the opening round of the NRL season, however they were the side that was arguably worst hit by injury. Halfback Adam Reynolds was playing one of his best matches in his young career before he fell awkwardly in a tackle on Kane Evans and came up clutching at his jaw. The news was bad for Reynolds who will miss a large portion of action with a broken jaw, while John Sutton won’t return till around Round 17 with a torn pectoral muscle. In a big boost for the side Greg Inglis seemed fresh despite needing to get his knee strapped at half time and Sam Burgess had a successful return to the 13-man format without having a huge impact on the match. He will return to his preferred position on the edges where he will have more of an impact this week with his brothers George and Thomas being included in the side.
Despite a lot of changes and coach Nathan Brown joining the Knights, it was the same old story for Newcastle as they were very ordinary against the Gold Coast Titans. Halves pairing Jarrod Mullen and Trent Hodkinson played alongside each other for the first time and it was evident as they had little combination and this will take a lot more time to improve. Despite the injuries to key players for the Rabbits, they will Luke Keary returning who will replace Reynolds whilst the Burgess brothers will bolster the side’s forward pack. The Knights have a lot of young players and they won’t be up for the challenge.
Parramatta Eels vs North Queensland Cowboys (Saturday, March 12 at 7.30pm AEDT)
The Cowboys got off to a great defence of their title with a win on home soil against an incredibly tough opponent. Their line was tested for the majority of the match and as they were able to find a way to come out on top it proves the side still has the fire in their belly to chase a title this year.
Kieran Foran will make his Eels debut this weekend as he narrowly missed out on making the field last week against the Broncos. There are question marks surrounding whether Corey Norman will be fit but he should make the field and it will be a massive boost for the side to have both of these players on the field. The Eels should solid defence throughout the match but the Broncos didn’t throw much at the side. They will face a much better offence this weekend that will be steered around by Johnathan Thurston. Michael Morgan is always posing a threat himself whilst Lachlan Coote took his game to another level last week and put his body on the line to make a try saving tackle on the 115kg forward Andrew Fifita in the final seconds of the match. The Cowboys will prove superior to the Eels this weekend.
Cronulla Sharks vs St George Illawarra Dragons (Sunday, March 13 at 4pm AEDT)
The Sharks were arguably the best team in the opening round to suffer a loss. Despite the side reshuffling and adding an entirely new halves pairing to their team they were able to gel nicely and nearly caused an upset against the defending champions. James Maloney played at a high level whilst Chad Townsend looked comfortable at the halfback position. Captain Paul Gallen will be lost for the next six weeks with a knee injury but over the last few years it has been common for him to be looking on from the sidelines and the team will be fine without him.
Meanwhile the Dragons blew an early 10-0 lead against the Melbourne Storm and went on to lose the match and they only have themselves to play. Throughout the final 20 minutes they trailed by just two points but continually gave away penalties, which gave the Storm a piggyback down the field. They can’t afford to show that sort of ill discipline again this week. I am expecting a close match but the home side will come out on top.
Melbourne Storm vs Gold Coast Titans (Sunday, March 13 at 6.30pm AEDT)
The Titans played a strong match in their opening win of the season but it was against the Newcastle Knights who played at a poor level. Ashley Taylor and Tyrone Roberts were strong in the halves and controlled the game well whilst their forward pack laid a strong platform for the two players. Roberts was caught out defensively as he made the wrong decision twice which led to the two tries from the Knights. He can expect Storm coach Craig Bellamy to have taken notice of those two mishaps and he will be in the ears of Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk and he will see a lot of traffic his way this weekend. The Storm have two great back rowers in Tohu Harris and Kevin Proctor and they will continually be running at the opposition halves and attempt to wear them down. The Storm are a class above the Titans and after having a game under their belt they will earn a big victory on home soil.
West Tigers vs Manly Sea Eagles (Monday, March 14 at 7pm AEDT)
The Sea Eagles were another disappointing side in Round 1 of the NRL season. The side had a lot of positive talk surrounding them, but they weren’t able to look threatening against the Bulldogs. Other than Jake Trbojevic, Manly had an entirely new forward pack and it was outmuscled and outplayed by the Bulldogs pack. They were also woeful in attack as they looked confused on what plays they were running and constantly got in each other’s way which would lead to errors. Dylan Walker has a lot to prove at five-eighth whilst Daly Cherry-Evans needs to lift his level of play and take over matches to justify the massive contract he signed last season.
Meanwhile the West Tigers were the shock outfit of the round. They were expected to get blown off the park by the Warriors but they came out with an attacking mindset and they threw the ball around with a lot of success. This strategy could leave the side being inconsistent throughout the season as sometimes it will come off whilst other times it will turn into a disaster. James Tedesco had another great performance and he will continue to put his hand up for Origin selection. After looking at how both sides played in the opening round, you would be silly to back the Sea Eagles in this one.
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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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