The 2016 NRL season continues this weekend after a massive Round 3 which featured lots of upsets. It has blown the competition open in the early days, as the Melbourne Storm is the only side to have picked up three victories. It will be interesting to see what happens this weekend as we offer our NRL Round 4 Preview and Betting Tips!
South Sydney Rabbitohs vs Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs (Friday 4pm AEDT)
These two sides will enter this match on the back of a disappointing loss. It was the first time they tasted defeat for the season, however they both lost for different reasons. The Rabbitohs attack took a dive as the conditions deteriorated at the SCG on Sunday with the heavens opening up. It tore the field to shreds as it took away the advantage the Rabbitohs had in the outside backs. The Bunnies did have an opportunity late in the game to have one last attack but Greg Inglis had a famous brain snap and took a shot at field goal with his team trailing by 2 points.
On the other hand the Bulldogs missed opportunities early in the match to take the lead but they weren’t able to penetrate the Eels defence. The forward pack that had shown so much punch and energy in their opening game against the Sea Eagles was a shadow of its former self as they fell apart in the final 20 minutes to lose 20-6. Moses Mbye and Josh Reynolds didn’t show much in attack and the spark Mbye had in previous weeks wasn’t apparent in this one. Fullback Will Hopoate had his first poor game of the year and he will need to bounce back this weekend otherwise the loss of Brett Morris will continue to haunt them for the next 12 or so weeks.
Update: Sam Burgess will miss this week which is a massive blow for the already injury ravaged Rabbitohs - The Bulldogs forward pack will be too strong in this one as they bounce back from their loss last week.
Brisbane Broncos vs North Queensland Cowboys (Friday 8.05pm AEDT)
The rematch of last year’s grand final is set to have a lot of emotion as the two Queensland sides face off for the first time this season. The Cowboys bounced back from a disappointing loss against the Eels to smash the Roosters last week on home soil. The 40-0 drubbing was convincing, as they never looked like conceding any points whilst their attack was brilliant without Johnathan Thurston being his dominant self. Lachlan Coote had a terrific game and was the vocal point in the Cowboys two first half tries. He is pushing his claim to be the New South Wales number one but North Queensland will be quietly hoping he doesn’t make it, as they will be left short handed without him.
The Broncos seemed to be cruising towards their third straight victory, as they were seconds away from halftime leading 22-6. A try to Bryce Cartwright just before the siren would gave the Panthers the momentum heading into halftime and the Broncos were kept scoreless in the second half as they suffered their first loss. The Broncos need to take a page out of the Eels book and look to get their best attacking weapons involved in the match. James Roberts is one of the quickest players in the NRL and is one of the premier scores in the competition but he hasn’t seen any ball in attack whilst playing for the Broncos. The speedster managed to score 17 tries last year for the struggling Titans outfit and he should be reaching an even higher number for a premiership contender.
This should be an incredibly close match with the match being played at Suncorp stadium giving the Broncos a slight advantage. However, I am backing the defending premiers to get one over the Broncos again as their two victories this season have been more convincing whilst their forward pack – especially Jason Tuamalolo – has been laying a great platform for Thurston and Morgan to work with.
Canberra Raiders vs Gold Coast Titans (Saturday 5.30pm AEDT)
These two sides enter this match on the back of completely different results. The Raiders led the Knights by 18 points before letting that lead slip and eventually ending the match in a draw. The team became lacklustre and essentially stopped playing with 30-minutes remaining. It is understandable for the side to lack direction as they are without two of their halves Aiden Seizer and Blake Austin through injury. Sam Williams will need to step up this weekend in their place and control his side better if they manage to get a lead.
The Titans were down 18-0 against the highflying Tigers who had won their opening two games. It seemed as if it was going to be a long day for the Titans on their home soil but they had other ideas as they pulled off an incredible comeback to win their second game of the season 30-18. It showed a lot of character for the young side as they could have easily let the match slip away from them even further.
It will be a tough ask for the Titans to defeat the Raiders in Canberra, however with the Raiders being without their two first choice halves and their history of having close matches we will back the Titans with the line in this one.
Sydney Roosters vs Manly Sea Eagles (Saturday 7.30pm AEDT)
The season is continuing to get worse as the weeks go by for the Roosters as they not only suffered a 40-point loss to the Cowboys for their third straight loss to start the season but Dale Copley and Ian Henderson joined a long list of players on the injury list. Their inexperienced spine will be down on confidence as they have struggled to combine for points this season and I don’t expect that to be changing this weekend as they take on a vastly improved Sea Eagles outfit. Brett Stewart returned to the line up for Manly against the Sharks and what a difference he can make. He found himself on the scorer’s sheet and constantly put the Sea Eagles on the front foot to start their sets, as his positional play is nearly perfect at the back and always managed to catch the ball on the full. He also takes a lot of pressure off Daly Cherry-Evans and Dylan Walker in the halves as he is a great ball player and picks the correct option more often then not whilst in attack. The Roosters will be a better side than last week but they a couple of months away from full strength and they will lose their fourth straight to start the season in this one.
St George Illawarra Dragons vs Penrith Panthers (Sunday 4pm AEDT)
These two sides opening their 2016 accounts last week as they both earned come from behind victories. The Panthers effort was a lot more convincing as they overcame a 16-point deficit against last year’s grand finalists. The match saw a youngster Te Maire Martin shine as he kicked the winning field goal on his NRL debut. The five-eighth also crossed for the game-tying try and he will likely retain his spot in the starting side despite the possible return of Matt Moylan. The Panthers fullback is expected to be right for this weekend and it gives Griffin a welcome headache to fit all of his star players into his backline.
The Dragons had to grind their way to victory against the Rabbitohs and they did it without Benji Marshall. They had a solid replacement in Josh McCrone and they will be relying on him again this weekend with Marshall out for another week. Their defence was strong but the conditions helped them as it allowed them to clog up the middle and use the sidelines to their advantage in the wet weather. I will be waiting until the full team lists are available for this match before providing a prediction but it is likely I will be leaning towards the Panthers in this one.
Note: Matt Moylan has not been named to return at fullback but he could be a late inclusion.
Update: Trent Merrin and Isaah Yeo return to the back row this week and it is a massive boost for the side which will contribute to their victory.
New Zealand Warriors vs Newcastle Knights (Monday 2pm AEDT)
These two sides are searching for their first victory of the season but the Knights did manage to earn a draw against the Raiders last weekend. The Knights showed a lot of improvement in the second half and they were finally able to look dangerous in attack. Dane Gagai’s move to fullback paid dividends as he was strong in returning the ball back and was a lot better than Jaelen Feeney with the ball in his hands.
The Warriors were another side that improved in round 3 but it still wasn’t enough for the side to earn the victory as the Storm outclassed them towards the end of the match. The Warriors missed a couple of opportunities in attack but they showed a lot of improvement in defence as they managed to hold the Storm out for long periods. Shaun Johnson still needs to get more involved in the match as he is a former golden boot winner and the superstar should be taking control of matches. The return of Isaac Luke to hooker will be a boost as the Warriors will earn their first win of the season and run away with this one.
Wests Tigers vs Parramatta Eels (Monday 4pm AEDT)
The Tigers were cruising up 18-0 against the Titans and it was looking as if they were going to continue their perfect start and earn their third straight victory. However, Kevin Naiqama scored his hat trick and injured himself whilst doing it and it was the start of a disaster. They never looked in the match after that as the Titans ran them off the field and they made constant errors.
Meanwhile the Eels earned their second straight victory and it was an impressive one as they won the contest on the back of their defence. Throughout the opening 10-minutes their line was pressured and in previous years it would spell disaster for the Eels as they would almost certainly concede a try in that period. On the back of that defence, they were able to come out on top. The Tigers have allowed 78 points in the opening three matches and the Eels will be able to crack their defence easily this weekend and they will earn a big victory.
Cronulla Sharks vs Melbourne Storm (Monday 7pm AEDT)
The Storm are the only team to have picked up three victories in the opening three rounds and they will look to maintain their undefeated record against a Sharks outfit that suffered a disappointing loss on Monday night. The Sharks had just thrashed the Dragons 30-2 and a lot of people thought it would be a sign of things to come but the Sharks looked out of sorts at Brookvale oval as they continually dropped the ball and despite racing to an 8-0 led in the opening 10 minutes they ultimately lost 22-12 as their offence lacked fluency. They will be a stronger side this week as the halves pairing of James Maloney and Chad Townsend will grow throughout the season as they learn to play alongside one another. The side would benefit by moving Ben Barba out of fullback and replacing him with either Valentine Holmes or Jack Bird as they would offer more in attack as they are dangerous ball runners and can beat defenders with their speed and strength.
Life without Billy Slater started positively for the Storm as they picked up a quality win against the Warriors in New Zealand over the weekend. Cameron Munster scored a try in a good performance as Slater’s replacement and he will fill the void well this season. The experience between Cooper Cronk and Cameron Smith has shone throughout the opening two games as they have overcame deficits and managed to end the games victorious and I expect them to repeat that this weekend.
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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