The season is well and truly rolling now and Round 3 will begin with a blockbuster on Thursday. The momentum continues on Friday with one match between two teams still aiming to establish themselves and two old rivals battling it out in a game that always raises in intensity. Lucky Saturday comes afterwards because a sleep-in ahead of Super Saturday may be warranted.
NRL Round 3 Friday Night Betting Tips
St George-Illawarra Dragons v Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles
Wollongong Showground, Friday 6.00pm (AEDT)
The Dragons had their fans excited after they ventured north and upset the Cowboys 25-18. In a pleasing performance, several key players finally stepped up and took control of this team; most notably, Hunt was dynamic at halfback and closed out the match for his team. This was all while they completed at just 71% and averaging just 7.8m per carry. Their defence was strong with 27 missed tackles, covering well for the 12 errors made with the ball. The Sea Eagles suffered another loss to begin the season 0-2, going doing to the Rabbitohs 26-12 at home. While it was an improvement on Round 1, concerns are still evident; they completed at just 69%, having just 3 line breaks, 35 missed tackles and 13 total errors. This team has to drastically improve their execution if their fortunes are to change and, while they will sense an opportunity against the Dragons, they are a team that is confident following their display last week.
Head-to-Head = Dragons 20 Sea Eagles10
At WIN Stadium = Dragons 61% Sea Eagles 11%
Past 10 matches = The Dragons have won 6 out of the past 10 meetings (actually 5 out of the past 6). One of the Sea Eagles victories over the Dragons came at this ground but otherwise, the Dragons have dominated here (average winning margin of 18.7 points). 4 of the Dragons victories have been by 24 or more points. The home side has only lost 3 times in the past 10 matches.
The Dragons head into this game as favourites but the odds are closer than the early season form of both teams suggests. The Dragons will carry the same 17 that got the job done last week and that will be a strength, as it was the best they’ve look in some time. The Sea Eagles are still without several key players and Walker has again been named to start at fullback. While they are down on talent, the execution of their stars has been below par in the opening two rounds. If that doesn’t dramatically change ahead of this clash, they could find themselves in some trouble. It is still too early in the season to have any confidence in either team, but the promise demonstrated by the Dragons last week far outweighs anything the Sea Eagles have displayed in the opening rounds. Expect an improved Manly outfit but not enough to cause an upset. The Dragons should win by less than 2 converted tries but invest on this game at your own risk. Ideally, I recommend staying away but if you must, my recommendation is below.
South Sydney Rabbitohs v Sydney Roosters
Stadium Australia, Friday 8.05pm (AEDT)
The Rabbitohs gained their first win of the season last week in horrendous conditions, capturing a 26-12 over the Sea Eagles. While their opponents hardly possess the quality of others in the competition, they did what was needed. Completing at 73%, with 5 line breaks and 13 total errors, they play direct and broke their opponents through the middle. Their defence was strong too with only 17 missed tackles to their name. They will need to rise to another level to compete with the Roosters, the competition leaders after 2-weeks. They kept their momentum rolling with a dynamic display of skill and execution. The Tigers were dismantled 40-6 at the end of 80 minutes, leaving few questions unanswered about the potential of this Roosters team. With 55% possession, they completed at 84% with just 8 errors; this lead to 7 tries, 13 offloads and 34 tackle breaks. While the quality of the opponents in the opening two rounds can be questioned, you cannot overlook the manner in which this squad has performed. It all sets this match up to continue the bitter rivalry between the two oldest clubs in the competition.
Head-to-Head = Rabbitohs 15 Roosters 28
At Stadium Australia = Rabbitohs 56% Roosters 51%
Past 10 matches = The Roosters have won 6 out of the past 10 matches. The home side has only been victories on 4 occasions. Excluding last year’s Round 20 drubbing, the average margin of victory (both sides) is 10.7 points; for the Rabbitohs it’s 9.4 points and Roosters 11.4 points. 4 matches have been decided by 8 points or less.
The form of the Roosters in the opening two weeks of the competition has them heading into this game as strong favourites. The hopes of Souths were hardly helped with Reynolds and Mitchell both under an injury cloud ahead of this fixture. The key to winning this game is in the middle of the field. The Roosters have an outstanding backline that dominates opponents; however, if they are not getting the ball, the effectiveness is minimised. Expect the Rabbitohs to take it to the Roosters in this area. There were questions raised last year about their opponents in this area and games against weaker opponents may have many overlooking this area; the form line (Manly) suggests the Roosters also have the edge, but this area cannot be trusted just yet. The most recent match between these sides will also be a motivating for the visitors (they were hammered 60-6 at the end of the 2020 season). This, combined with the respective talent in both sides, should make for a very exciting contest. It’s very difficult to split these two sides. The Rabbitohs would have benefitted from a strong hit out against the Storm and will be ready for this game. If Reynolds plays, take the Rabbitohs to cover the line. If not, take the Roosters to do the same.