The 2016 NRL season continues this weekend and the Rabbitohs are leading the way after another dominant performance whilst the Eels upset the defending champions the Cowboys. Continue reading for our NRL Round 3 Preview and Betting Tips.
North Queensland Cowboys vs Sydney Roosters (Thursday, March 17 at 8.05pm AEDT)
The Roosters had almost everything go their way on during NRL Round 2 and they still couldn’t defeat the Roosters. They gave up a 10-point lead at the half whilst they played against 12 men for a 10-minute period. The biggest issue for the side at the moment is experience and leadership as their veteran players are all on the sidelines for various reasons, while others have gone to rival clubs. Latrell Mitchell, Jackson Hastings and Jayden Nikorima are all rookies who have a lot of pressure on them as they are combining to form the spine of a team that has a lot of expectations on them. Despite gaining a first half lead, it wasn’t very impressive as the Roosters had the majority of the ball and all the field possession and they only managed three tries and two of them were scrappy.
Meanwhile, the Cowboys were out of sorts in their loss to the Eels. They had a lot of dropped ball and were under pressure for the majority of the match as they continually gave the Eels a piggyback down the field through a penalty. Michael Morgan was barely involved and he will want to bounce back this week and have a big game. Last year the Cowboys were embarrassed on home soil by the Roosters and you can expect them to remember that and use that as motivation for revenge as they earn a big victory.
Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs vs Parramatta Eels (Friday, March 18 at 8.05pm AEDT)
The Eels kick-started their season with a win against the reigning premiers. Kieran Foran had a successful debut for his new club, but it was his halves partner Corey Norman who was the star of the show. Norman’s running game is strong as he is a very elusive player and has a great ability to offload the ball. Their forward pack stood up to the challenge posed by the Cowboys pack and their backrowers were damaging ball runners. It will be another big battle this week as they take on one of the biggest forward packs in the game - the Bulldogs.
The Dogs left it to the final play to sniff out a victory against the Panthers during NRL Round 2 and it was far from the performance they put on against Manly a week earlier. This suggests it could be another inconsistent season for the Dogs, but Moses Mbye seems to have no trouble at halfback. He scored two tries, had four line breaks and outshone Josh Reynolds. He will need another big game this weekend and continue to work off the platform laid by the big men.
Unfortunately for the Eels they suffered a massive blow towards the end of the game when Nathan Peats suffered a dislocated elbow. The hooker is expected to be out for at least four weeks and he will be missed as he is good for around 50 tackles a game, is their defensive instructor in the middle of the field and kick starts their attack nicely out of dummy half. I expect the loss to have a big impact on the side and the Dogs will get the victory by a narrow margin.
Newcastle Knights vs Canberra Raiders (Saturday, March 19 at 5pm AEDT)
The Raiders proved they will be a tough side to defeat this season as they overcame a half time deficit in Round 2, having only 12 men and losing their third string halfback in the opening 40-minutes. They will be forced to do it this weekend without centre Joseph Leilua who will miss at least a week for a dangerous throw.
The Knights, meanwhile, have had an awful start to the season being smashed in their opening two games. The side’s defence is non-existent as it was far too easy for the Rabbitohs to go either straight through the middle or create an overlap for their wingers to score. It was embarrassing towards the end of the match as players were getting shrugged off with ease. There needs to be a lot of changes made to the team, especially at fullback with Jaelen Feeney being a spectator in his first two NRL matches of 2016. The Raiders will hand the Knights their third straight hiding.
Penrith Panthers vs Brisbane Broncos (Saturday, March 19 at 7.30pm AEDT)
The Broncos have seemingly been in cruise control for the opening two matches of the 2016 NRL season, but they managed to pick up two comfortable victories. They have an incredibly talented roster and Anthony Milford has continued to progress as a five-eighth. He has played at an incredibly high level, balancing his running and passing brilliantly to keep the defence in two minds. Corey Oates had been another stand out for Brisbane, but he suffered a dislocated shoulder in the final minutes of their win against the Warriors and he will be forced to miss the next six weeks. However, luckily for the Broncos Lachlan Maranta will return early and take his place on the wing.
The Panthers were seconds away from opening their 2016 account but the Bulldogs snatched the win from their fingertips. They will probably be regretting their decision to take the two points on offer on two occasions when they had the Dogs on the back foot. Tyrone Peachey was a solid replacement at hooker but the side is clearly missing Matt Moylan at fullback who is expected to miss at least another week with his back injury.
The Broncos defence was strong all of last year and it has been just as hard to penetrate this year as they have conceded just 14 points. Their attack has been strong and they will earn their third straight win to start the season.
Gold Coast Titans vs West Tigers (Saturday, March 19 at 9.30pm AEDT)
The Tigers have started the NRL season by completing two upsets as they have played an expansive type of football that has paid dividends for them. Their backs are all young players, but they have begun to lift to the level experts predicted of them last year. They have fast and exciting players in their squad, and on the back of the platform laid by their forwards, their backs are shining.
James Tedesco bagged a hattrick in the win against the Sea Eagles. His speed and ability to pass the ball makes him an incredibly dynamic player and he is due to play for New South Wales in this year’s State of Origin. Kevin Naqiama has locked down the right centre position and he is capable of doing brilliant things.
The Titans were exposed against the Storm as their defence isn’t up to the standards to stop the topsides. The bookmakers have them standing a chance in this one, but with the Tigers playing an attacking brand of football, we don’t see the Titans holding them out in this one.
New Zealand Warriors vs Melbourne Storm (Sunday, March 20 at 2pm AEDT)
This could be one of the most interesting matches of the round as the New Zealand Warriors return home for the first time this season in search of their first victory. The side came into the season with a lot of expectations placed on them and they have not lived up to it yet with two losses. Shaun Johnson was put under the microscope last week as the New Zealand international only took the line on once and barely made an impact on the match against the Broncos. He will want to bounce back this week whilst Roger Tuivasa-Sheck also needs to be more involved.
The Storm will be without fullback Billy Slater as his shoulder continues to give him troubles. They have a solid replacement in Cameron Munster but he will still be missed. The Storm also has a poor record against the Warriors and I expect those struggles to continue this weekend. The Warriors will be without Ben Matulino but they have a lot of big men who will step up in his place.
St George Illawarra Dragons vs South Sydney Rabbitohs (Sunday, March 20 at 4pm AEDT)
The Rabbitohs have had an explosive start to the season. They were without Adam Reynolds and John Sutton on Saturday night but they didn’t miss a beat as they ran away 48-6 winners against the Knights. Cody Walker has been a revelation in his first two NRL games whilst Sam Burgess had an incredible game. He constantly made damaging runs with the ball whilst he was dynamic with his offloads and passing. Bryson Goodwin had one of the best games of his career, picking up two tries and two try assists. However, he can’t expect to play against such a weak defence very often, and no doubt the Dragons will improve on their efforts last week against the Sharks.
They were smashed 30-2 and coach Paul McGregor would have been tearing out his hair if he had any at all of the drop by his players. The Josh Dugan experiment at centre seems to be failing as the Dragons failed to click in attack. The reason for the move was Dugan is a ball runner and struggles to get his outside backs involved. However, if he is cleared to play this weekend he will likely be moved back to fullback and get his hands on the ball more. This could be the lift the side needs but with the Rabbitohs playing at the high level they are now, it would be silly to back against them.
Manly Sea Eagles vs Cronulla Sharks (Monday, March 21 at 7pm AEDT)
The Sharks were unlucky to miss out on a victory against the Cowboys in the opening match but there was no luck involved in their dominant performance against the Dragons during NRL Round 2. Chad Townsend was the stand out as his move to halfback seems to be working a treat after playing a hand in the majority of their tries. They are going to be a tough team to beat this season with a strong forward pack and class across the field with players who can change the game in an instant. It will be interesting to see if Ben Barba remains at fullback or if there is a reshuffle whilst I believe Jack Bird should be moved to lock whilst Paul Gallen is on the sidelines.
The Sea Eagles suffered back-to-back defeats in matches they entered as firm favourites. Martin Taupau was their only stand out performer as he was a hard man to tackle and was a constant threat down their left flank. However, the 10-million dollar man Daly Cherry-Evans didn’t step up and the criticism around him will continue to grow until he lives up to his price tag. Dylan Walker crossed for a good solo try but this just highlights his intent to run the ball rather than create plays for his outside men. He needs to balance his options in attack to keep the defence in two minds or the Sea Eagles will continue to struggle in attack. The Sharks will earn the win in this one and the pressure will mount on the Sea Eagles.
Head to the official NRL website for the full Round 3 schedule.
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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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