The third week of the NRL season will draw to a close today with just two unbeaten teams remaining. The Knights will be looking to join the Eels and Panthers with a perfect record to start the year. We’ve got two matches to sit back and enjoy today with the Knight hosting the Tigers while the Cowboys and Titans will do battle up North later this evening.
Sunday March 28, 4.05pm (AEDT)
As mentioned, Newcastle will look to become one of the three teams who have started the season 3-0 as they host the Wests Tigers in a Sunday afternoon clash in Newcastle. The Tigers will be desperate to turn their fortunes around as they still search for their first win this season. To be fair they have had one of the tougher draws to start, facing the Raiders and Roosters in the first two weeks. It doesn’t get any easier here, with the Knights playing some quality footy in 2021. Today marks the 300th match of Mitchell Pearce’s career so you can guarantee there will be a big crowd out today with all his teammates wanting to get the win for their playmaker today. The Tigers have conceded 70 points in their opening two games of the season so defence is clearly something they will need to work on if they want to be any chance of making the top 8. Bradman Best will miss the match through injury for the Knights while Joey Leilua has been dropped after some below par performances to start the season.
Expecting the home side to be too strong for the Tigers here this afternoon. The return of Kurt Mann to partner Mitchell Pearce is a massive boost while the fact it is game number 300 for Pearce is enough reason for any side to get up and perform well. They face a side with one of the worst performing defences in the competition so far and I am expecting Newcastle to cross the line for their fair share of points today. Led by David Klemmer and Tyson Frizell, The Knights forward pack has been outstanding in the opening rounds with Frizell breathing new life into the side. Think they will be able to get plenty of roll forward up the middle and set the platform for their outside backs to finish off some strong sets. The Tigers will obviously need to show massive improvement to be in with a chance today but I just can’t see their attack matching motors with the Knights. Luke Brooks has clearly been struggling while Adam Douehi is definitely a better fullback then number 6 in my opinion. There seems to be no spark or organised attack going forward and I just can’t see them putting it all together here today.
Sunday March 28, 6.15pm (AEDT)
We head to Townsville for our second game on Super Sunday where the North Queensland Cowboys will be desperate to bounce back against the Gold Coast Titans. The Cowboys are in search of their first win of the year while the Titans will look to build some momentum after a win against the Broncos last week saw them improve on their poor round 1. New recruit david Fifita showed why the Titans splashed the cash to get him with a barnstorming two try performance last week against his old club. North Queensland were much improved last week, only narrowly going down to the Dragons. They will be keen to return to their home ground today and will be looking to get one over their Queensland rivals here this evening. Michael Morgan has been omitted from the side while they will again be without star forward Jason Taumalolo. In a blow for the Gold Coast, Ash Taylor will miss the next five weeks due to a hand injury which gives young Tanah Boyd a chance in the halves. Interestingly, the Cowboys have won their past 10 matches against the Titans in a stat which will fill them with plenty of confidence tonight.
I’m actually pretty keen on the Cowboys to perform well in this one as underdogs. The loss of Ash Taylor is huge with Jamal Fogarty having to be the experienced head in the halves and is going to have a huge impact on the attack of the Titans. Obviously the Gold Coast have a far better forward pack on paper but the Cowboys big men haven’t been too poor this season so far. Josh McGuire was brilliant last week and will again add some fire off the bench. You can expect he will be calling on his younger teammates to step up and match it with the strong Titans forwards in the middle of the field. If they can win that battle I am pretty confident the Cowboys backs match up better across the park than the Titans. Val Holmes was showing signs of his best footy last week as he pushes for that fullback jersey while Jake Clifford and Ben Hampton have much more game experience than their opposing halves. The Cowboys also have an incredible record against the Titans, as mentioned winning the past 10 matches between these two sides. I expect them to put up a big fight here tonight and will be desperate to avoid starting the season 3-0. Happy to go for some value today and back the underdogs straight out.
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