Super Saturday is here! 3 exciting games ahead for fans to watch. Get comfortable at 3pm on the lounge or at the pub because these 3 fixtures promise to be very intriguing. We have a full preview and betting tips for all three fixtures and if you want more tips for the Round 1 action, be sure to check out our NRL Betting Tips page.
2021 NRL Round 1: Saturday Preview & Betting Tips
New Zealand Warriors v Gold Coast Titans
Saturday 3pm (AEDT)
The saviours of the NRL competition have again sacrificed a shift in location, with the Warriors spending majority of their preparation in Australia. Still playing home games out of the Central Coast, the Warriors head into a new era under the guide of Nathan Brown. They have made some interesting acquisitions in Aitkin, Fonua-Blake, Sironen and Murdoch-Masila adding experience to the side. All have been named to feature in the game, as RTS heads into his final season with the club. It is a new dawn for the Titans also; they too have recruited well and will look to start the season off on a positive note. Fifita and Fa’asuamaleaui will both start for the Titans in a monster pack that also feature Kevin Proctor and Jarrod Wallace. The challenge for them will be having their spine and outside backs using the strong platform set up front to create attacking opportunities. The way they concluded the season suggests that hopes are high ahead of this campaign and it will be interesting to see just how they start the season.
The Warriors have a strong record over the Titans, winning double the number of matches since they first met. Their overall record sits at 18 wins in 27 matches played. Playing away from home isn’t always ideal though but the Warriors will look to turn their adopted home ground into a fortress. They currently have a 60% winning record at Central Coast Stadium compared with the Titans 25%. Of the past 10 meetings between these two sides, the Warriors have won 8 matches and never losing as the home team (those matches were played in New Zealand though).
The Titans carry plenty of hope into this game and their squad will want to prove people right with a strong start. They are strong favourites for this match; although, recent money has closed the gap between the two sides. This is mainly due to the unknown surrounding both sides and what 2021 holds for each of them. On paper, the Titans have the superior team, but you cannot overlook the pride that the Warriors play with. They are a remarkably better team when spending an extended period of time together. It is hard to go past the Titans winning this match, but confidence overall is low. As such, take the visitors to win by 2 or more points and use this match to gain a better understanding of the potential of each team.
Sydney Roosters v Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles
Saturday 5.30pm (AEDT)
The Roosters look to solve several problems within their team this season, most of which emerged last year and were a major reason why they were unable to reach the Grand Final. Not one to sit back and wait, the Roosters have gone out to do something about it; they will start with Lachlan Lam at halfback and Angus Crichton will start in the second row for injured captain, Boyd Cordner. Making the call to move on Flanagan places a lot of pressure on the new halves combination, while their forwards will need to rebuild the middle if teams are to fear them as they once did. The Sea Eagles already have several hurdles to overcome; most notably, the omission of Tom Trbojevic. They have returning experience with Kieran Foran lining up in the halves alongside DCE, as they look to arrival at the same level of execution which delivered them a Grand Final victory. Dylan Walker will start at fullback, with plenty of question marks remaining around the spine and just how strong they are in the middle of the field. One thing is for sure, you can never rule out the determination of this squad or the wise head of Des Hasler.
Interestingly, the Sea Eagles have the edge over the Roosters in their total matches played since 1998. Of the 34 matches played, the visitors have a 19 to 15 edge over the Roosters. The home ground advantage slightly swings the momentum to the Roosters, having a 55%-win rate compared with Sea Eagles 50%. In the past 10 meetings, the Sea Eagles have won 6 matches; when the Roosters have won their 4 matches, they have been the away team on three occasions. For what it is worth, the Roosters have lost all 3 of their opening round fixtures in the past 3 years.
Injuries have hampered Manly ahead of this match and had they been at full strength, the odds (and outcome) may have been a lot closer. It is hard to go past the Roosters in this contest as they have a strong side, built on quality, who continually execute to a high standard. The Roosters were also caught out by Manly in Round 2 last year, when the visitors sprung a 1-point upset on their opponents with similar circumstances. The line is 9.5 points, and this could be too much; especially considering the Sea Eagles still have a quality leader in DCE. The home should win but by no more than 2-converted tries.
Penrith Panthers v North Queensland Cowboys
Saturday 7.35pm (AEDT)
The 2020 runners up, the Panthers, will be desperate to get their season off to a strong start in order to begin their journey towards a drought-breaking premiership. Not much changes for this talented team of youngsters and coach Cleary will want them to play with the same freedom and confidence which saw them demolish teams last year. There was minimal fear in their play and little to suggest that this should change ahead of a new campaign. The only limiting factor could be the time other teams have had to study their play. The Cowboys have the tough task of opening their season against them. They are heading in a new direction with coach Todd Payten and will want to start the season on a positive note. Their squad is littered with talent; their performances last year suggested that they underachieved, and many players failed to justify the money they were being paid. Payten proved himself a capable coach in one setting (Warriors) last year, but this is a different set of circumstances altogether. Either way, this game promises to be an exciting attack-oriented game.
The rivalry between these two sides is close. In the past 37 meetings between these two sides, the Panthers have a slight edge in winning 19 games compared with the Cowboys 18. Of their 18 victories, 7 have come at this ground, giving the Cowboys a 47% winning record here. The Panthers are superior in this area though, winning 57% of matches played on their home turf. In the past 10 meetings, the ledger is split evenly with 5 wins to each side; only 4 times has the home side been successful (Panthers 3 out of 6).
The Cowboys fit perfectly into the category of teams that have a lot of unknown surrounding them. Compared with the Panthers, a team that should only improve on their 2nd placing last year, they have a lot of improve ahead before you can take them with any confidence. The dynamite scoring ability of the Panthers is no secret and there is little to suggest that it will change ahead of this campaign. The spirit and ‘fresh start’ for the Cowboys may stimulate some change within their squad and improve their chances, but not enough to win this match. Take the chance on the Panthers maintaining their amazing scoring and to pressure the Cowboys in defence, ultimately, covering the line.