Sunday afternoon NRL is back for another year, with two interesting games on today’s slate. First up, the up-and-coming Gold Coast Titans head to Parramatta, where they will take on the impressive Parramatta Eels.
Then in the final game of the week, the two bottom placed teams from 2021 battle it out in a contest that will give an indication of where both clubs are headed in 2022. Be sure to check out our full previews for both clashes below, as well as Sunday's NRL best bets.
Stay tuned throughout the 2022 NRL season to get the best betting value when taking on the bookies, with our NRL Tips page previewing all the NRL matches in 2022.
NRL Round 1 Sunday Betting Tips
Parramatta Eels vs Gold Coast Titans
CommBank Stadium, Sunday 13th March, 4:05pm (AEDT)
1. Clinton Gutherson 2. Sean Russell 3. Will Penisini 4. Waqa Blake 5. Bailey Simonsson 6. Dylan Brown 7. Mitchell Moses 8. Reagan Campbell-Gillard 9. Reed Mahoney 10. Junior Paulo 11. Shaun Lane 12. Isaiah Papali’I 13. Ryan Matterson. INTERCHANGE: 14. Makahesi Makatoa 15. Oregon Kaufusi 16. Ray Stone 17. Jake Arthur. RESERVES: 18. Nathan Brown 19. Bryce Cartwright 20. Mitch Rein 21. Tom Opacic 22. Hayze Perham 23. Wiremu Greig 24. Ky Rodwell
Gold Coast Titans
1. Jayden Campbell 2. Phillip Sami 3. Brian Kelly 4. Patrick Herbert 5. Corey Thompson 6. Alexander Brimson 7. Toby Sexton 8. Moeaki Fotuaika 9. Erin Clark 10. Isaac Liu 11. David Fifita 12. Beau Fermor 13. Tino Fa’asuamaleaui. INTERCHANGE: 14. Will Smith 15. Sam Lisone 16. Jaimin Jolliffe 17. Kevin Proctor. RESERVES: 18. Jarrod Wallace 19. Tanah Boyd 20. Herman Ese’ese 21. Esan Marsters 22. Sam McIntyre 23. Paul Turner 24. Greg Marzhew
The preseason darlings of the “experts”, the Parramatta Eels start their season hosting the Gold Coast Titans. After finishing in the Top 6 in four of the last five seasons, many are predicting the Eels to finally get over the 36-year hump and win a Premiership. From a macro-level, it’s easy to see why. They have returned essentially the same team as last year, with all their spine returning. With several big names moving on in 2023, many are saying it’s now or never for the Eels.
Last season, the Eels finished 6th, after being only 2 points behind 1st place as late as round 16. Their back end of the season was poor, winning only 3 of their last 9 matches. They hosted the Newcastle Knights in the first round of the Finals, where they struggled to get by an average Knights side. They were then expected to be thoroughly outclassed by the Panthers in the Semi Finals, but narrowly lost 8-6 in a clash many believed the Eels should have won.
Their opponents in round 1, the Titans, seem to be at a crossroads. After a breakthrough of sort’s last season (first finals series since 2016), the Titans are a team that may struggle to maintain that momentum into 2022. They are a young and exciting team, with talented youngsters like Jayden Campbell, AJ Brimson, Toby Sexton, David Fifita and Tino Fa’asuamaleaui on the books. However, they’re spine is very inexperienced and might struggle this early in their careers to guide this team to regular wins.
As much as last season was a breakout and a successful season, the Titans still only won 10 games, going 10-14. They were in and out of the 8 all season, only securing their spot in the finals in the final round. They were wildly inconsistent, with their average margin of victory being 24.6 points, and their average margin when losing 17.8 points.
In the pairs only clash in 2021, the Eels cruised to a 26-8 victory on the Gold Coast in round 18. The Eels offloaded at will in this game, and the Titans will need to keep this in check against the explosive Eels.
A couple of late changes could be on the cards, with Nathan Brown a chance to come in for Jake Arthur for the Eels. For the Titans, there are whispers that AJ Brimson is in serious doubt, which would see Will Smith potentially starting at five eighth against his old team, and Tanah Boyd coming into the 17. Corey Thompson is also in doubt, with Greg Marzhew likely to deputise for him if confirmed out.
I like the Eels in this one and I like them to shut the Titans down. The opener was Eels -5.5, but plenty of money has come in and they’re now out to anywhere between -8.5 to -10.5. Given this, the best value is going to be Eels -10 at NEDS, taking advantage of their $2 lines.
After watching the Panthers / Sea Eagles match, the ruck speed has slowed. I believe the total is a little high, and like the Titans Team Total under.
Titans Under 19.5 Points ($1.80 at Pointsbet)
David Fifita Anytime Try ($3.10 at Bet365)
Isaiah Papali'l Anytime Try ($3.25 at Pointsbet)
North Queensland Cowboys vs Canterbury Bulldogs
Queensland Country Bank Stadium, Sunday 13th March, 6:15pm (AEDT)
North Queensland Cowboys
1. Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow 2. Kyle Feldt 3. Valentine Holmes 4. Peta Hiku 5. Murray Taulagi 6. Tom Dearden 7. Chad Townsend 8. Jamayne Taunoa-Brown 9. Reece Robson 10. Coen Hess 11. Heilum Luki 12. Jeremiah Nanai 13. Jason Taumalolo. INTERCHANGE: 14. Reuben Cotter 15. Jordan McLean 16. Mitchell Dunn 17. Tom Gilbert. RESERVES: 18. Jake Granville 19. Scott Drinkwater 20. Griffin Neame 21. Brendan Elliott 22. Ben Condon 23. Connelly Lemuelu 24. Daejarn Asi
1. Matt Dufty 2. Jayden Okunbor 3. Braidon Burns 4. Brent Naden 5. Josh Addo-Carr 6. Matt Burton 7. Jake Averillo 8. Luke Thompson 9. Jeremy Marshall-King 10. Paul Vaughan 11. Jack Hetherington 12. Tevita Pangai Jnr 13. Josh Jackson. INTERCHANGE: 14. Bailey Biondi-Odo 15. Corey Waddell 16. Max King 17. Chris Patolo. RESERVES: 19. Brandon Wakeham 20. Aaron Schoupp 21. Joe Stimson 22. Joshua Cook 23. Ava Seumanufagai 24. Kyle Flanagan 25. Reece Hoffman
We round out the 1st week of NRL action with a clash that pits the two bottom teams from 2021 against one another. Despite this, there is quite a bit of intrigue around this clash, with both teams believing they will be improved this year.
Let’s start with the home side. In 2021, the Cowboys brought in Todd Payten to be their new Head Coach. Much was expected after Payten led the 2020 New Zealand Warriors to a respectable 10th place finish after the sacking of Stephen Kearney. It was a slow start, with the Cowboys losing their first 4 matches, and looking very poor in those losses. They managed to turn this around, winning 7 of their next 9 matches heading into their bye in round 13. Unfortunately, the bye did nothing but hurt the Cowboys, as they went on to lose 11 of their last 12 games in season 2021.
This season, they’ve brought in Premiership winning halfback Chad Townsend, and whilst most will agree the Cowboys overpaid for the half, he will improve this team. They’ve also added journeyman Peta Hiku and young prop Jamayne Taunoa-Brown from the Warriors. Hiku in particular should really help this squad out, as he is a solid defensive centre who can also create in attack.
Now for the Bulldogs. Another team who started 2021 with a new Head Coach, poaching Panthers Assistant Coach Trent Barrett. Barrett appeared out of his depth, with the Bulldogs putting together an extremely disappointing season. Even taking into consideration their roster, the Bulldogs were horrible, and ambitions of them making the Top 8 this year seems farfetched.
There are obvious reasons for optimism though. Their recruitment department were working in overdrive in the off-season. Big name signings in Josh Addo-Carr, Matt Burton, Paul Vaughan, and Tevita Pangai-Junior, as well as solid first graders like Brent Naden, Matt Dufty and Braidon Burns, gives the Bulldogs a definite upgrade on the field. However, with so many changes and a spine that still isn’t great, I just can’t see where the big improvement comes from.
In the only clash between the teams last season, the Cowboys ran out 30-18 winners at home in Round 6. The result was never really in doubt, particularly after Jack Hetherington was sent off for a high shot on Valentine Holmes in the 56th minute.
There doesn’t appear to be any changes likely to either team, with the biggest chance for the Cowboys being one of Scott Drinkwater or Jake Granville coming onto the bench as a utility. The Bulldogs look like they’ll run out 1-17.
Whilst both teams will surely improve upon last season, they are both more than likely headed for the bottom ¼ of the ladder. I don’t rate Barrett as a Head Coach, and with this spine I can’t see the Bulldogs keeping up with most teams. In what is most likely going to be a hot and muggy Townsville on Sunday night, I see the Bulldogs struggling to score points. If Taumalolo is anywhere near his best, look for the Cowboy forwards to dominate and Chad Townsend to steer his new team home on debut.
With the conditions likely to be warm and wet, look for unders to be the play in this game. The second half may open up with fatigue setting in, so first half unders may be the safer bet.
First Half Total Under 22.5 ($1.87 at Neds)
Tevita Pangai-Junior Anytime Try ($4.00 at Neds)