The show must go on! Round 2 of the NRL starts with the Bulldogs/Cowboys needing a win and the Panthers keen for a 2-0 start after beating the Roosters. Then, we’re treated to the battle of the coaches at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night footy.
Thursday, March 19 8:05pm
Thursday night footy heads to ANZ Stadium as the Bulldogs and Cowboys look for their first victory of the new season. Round 1 was a similar story of their 2019 struggles for the Bulldogs as their attack didn’t really threaten the Eels but their defence kept them in the game. They’re still try-less after the 8-2 result last Thursday night and will need to improve quickly against the Cowboys. But after the off-field distractions before Round 1, it was a decent effort to keep up with Parramatta at Bankwest. They’ve made just the one change for Round 2 with Holland coming out of the side for Averillo.
It was an underwhelming start to the new stadium era in Townsville as the Cowboys went down to the Broncos 28-21. With a few retirements in the forward pack, it showed as the Broncos dominated field position all night. But the return of Josh McGuire from suspension should help. Val Holmes did look a bit rusty in his first game back in the NRL but should be better for the run as he adjusts to the fullback position. With McGuire back, John Asiata moves to the bench and Corey Jensen has lost his spot. They could also be without Justin O’Neill after a head knock.
The two sides met on Thursday in Round 24 last season and we saw a low scoring 15-8 result. So we like the chances of the Under, especially considering both teams weren’t overly great in attack last week. The Bulldogs scored just 2 points in Round 1 and also have a 7-3 Unders record at ANZ since last season. While for North Queensland, they also have a positive record against the Under (15-9) in their last 24 games.
Friday, March 20 6:00pm
Jubilee Stadium features the Dragons and Panthers in the first game of the Friday night doubleheader. The Dragons started the season with a disappointing 24-14 defeat against the Tigers. Despite leading 12-8 at the half, Benji Marshall took control in the second half and St. George basically had no answers. So they haven’t downplayed preseason expectations of finishing near the bottom 4. The news doesn’t get better off the field as Tariq Sims is out for a week and winger Mikaele Ravalawa missing with a thigh complaint. Matt Dufty will return from injury at fullback and that pushes Lomax to the wing.
It was an excellent start to 2020 for the Panthers as they caused a massive upset over the Roosters in Penrith. Apisai Koroisau was superb for the home side and proved why the Panthers were so keen to sign him. They also showed great resolve to storm home after falling behind 12-0 in the first 20 minutes against the defending champions. In team news, Kikau will get the start this week and Liam Martin will move to the bench. Tetevano did have a knee issue last week so they may have a late change.
In the head to head, the Panthers smashed the Dragons 40-18 last season and this could be another high scoring affair. The Dragons defence was pretty poor last week against a team that just lost their halfback and the Panthers are going to be fired up after beating the Roosters. The Over does have a nice 4-1 record at this venue as well so we’ll stick with the trend.
Friday, March 20 8:05pm
It’s Bennett versus Seibold this Friday night as the Broncos host the Rabbitohs at Suncorp. The Broncos travelled to North Queensland and produced an impressive display to spoil the Cowboys new stadium party. Their forward pack was particularly strong, despite missing the likes of Matt Lodge. David Fifita tore the game open in the 57th minute with a massive try and Payne Haas was unstoppable on his way to 213 run metres. Tom Flegler was also very impressive and Brodie Croft showed good signs in his Broncos debut. Unfortunately, Pangai Jnr is in trouble with the judiciary again after a 4-week suspension and that will see Jamil Hopoate in the #12 jersey. Corey Oates may be a late out as he battles gastro throughout the week.
It was a tale of two halves for the Rabbitohs in Round 1 against the Sharks. They led 16-8 at half-time as Adam Reynolds dominated. But were almost run down in the second half as their forward pack couldn’t stop the momentum. So missing the likes of Sam Burgess is going to be a problem and that’s especially true against the Broncos big pack. Latrell Mitchell was pretty underwhelming in his fullback/Rabbitohs debut after playing just 55 minutes so the Broncos will look to put the pressure on.
With the battle of the coaches being the main storyline, on the field these two teams are starting to build a modern-day rivalry. Which is highlighted by the epic 22-20 result at this venue last August. So we can’t see a huge blowout in either direction between two in-form sides.
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