Friday Night Football sees the St George Illawarra Dragons hosting the 2021 Premiers, the Penrith Panthers. With both teams coming off convincing first round victories, the winner of this will be in pole position for a place in the final’s series come September.
For reference, 19 teams who went 2-0 to start the season have made the finals in the last 5 years out of a possible 24 teams. That’s a 79% chance. I like those odds! Check out our preview of the clash below, as well as the best bets for this clash.
As always, 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.
St George Illawarra Dragons vs Penrith Panthers Betting Tips
Netstrata Jubilee Stadium, Friday 18th March, 6:00pm (AEDT)
St George Illawarra Dragons
1. Tyrell Sloan 2. Cody Ramsey 3. Moses Suli 4. Zac Lomax 5. Mikaele Ravalawa 6. Talatau Amone 7. Ben Hunt 8. Francis Molo 9. Andrew McCullough 10. Blake Lawrie 11. Jack Bird 12. Jayden Su’A 13. Jack De Belin. INTERCHANGE: 14. Moses Mbye 15. Josh Kerr 16. Jack Gosiewski 17. George Burgess. RESERVES: 18. Jackson Ford 20. Tariq Sims 21. Mathew Feagai 22. Daniel Alvaro 23. Poasa Faamausili 24. Tautau Moga
1. Dylan Edwards 2. Charlie Staines 3. Izack Tago 4. Stephen Crichton 5. Brian To’o 6. Jarome Luai 7. Sean O’Sullivan 8. Spencer Leniu 9. Api Koroisau 10. James Fisher-Harris 11. Viliame Kikau 12. Liam Martin 13. Isaah Yeo. INTERCHANGE: 14. Mitch Kenny 15. Scott Sorensen 16. Matt Eisenhuth 17. Jaeman Salmon. RESERVES: 18. J’maine Hopgood 19. Chris Smith 20. Robert Jennings 21. Taylan May 22. Lindsay Smith 23. Soni Luke 24. Kurt Falls
The Penrith Panthers did nothing to sour early season expectations of them, moving from the second favourite at most bookies to become Premiers, to the consensus favourite everywhere. And few could argue, they were absolutely dominating in their round 1 win against a top 4 calibre team in the Sea Eagles, all the while playing without their best player and chief playmaker Nathan Cleary. They completely nullified the attacking prowess of reigning Dally M Player of the Year Tom Trbojevic, limiting him to only 157m. They kicked deep to the wing of Jason Saab, meaning Tom never got any room to move, as he was being used as the second hit up during the set of 6, when the Panthers defence was already set. It resulted in a clinical 28-6 victory, and one that will have the rest of the competition very nervous indeed.
The Dragons started their season with a 28-16 victory over the New Zealand Warriors. The Dragons shot out of the gate, looking brilliant early and cruising to a 12-0 lead after just 16 minutes. They looked slick in attack, and their defence was handling the big Warriors forwards. Then things went sideways quickly, with fullback Tyrell Sloan having a brain snap in the Dragons in-goal, allowing Watene-Zelezniak to pounce and score in the corner. 10 minutes later and Josh Curran showed a soft spot through the middle of the Dragons forward pack, waltzing through and handing off to Wayde Egan to make it a 2-point game. The Warriors eventually took the lead 8 minutes into the second half, and the game was in the balance, before Mikaele Ravalawa showed immense strength on two occasions to finish his hat trick and get the Dragons home.
In terms of changes, the Dragons lost prop forward Aaron Woods for a few weeks with a hamstring strain. He is replaced by George Burgess on the bench, with Francis Molo set to start. For the Panthers, they also lost a starting prop forward (Moses Leota), who looks to be out for 6-8 weeks (shoulder). Matt Eisenhuth comes in on the bench, with Spencer Leniu promoted to start. These teams last met towards the end of 2021, with the Panthers winning 34-16.
Whilst the Dragons look improved from last season, the Panthers defence appears as hungry as ever. I think if they can shut the Dragons down early and grind out the field position game, they will smother the Dragons and win comfortably. There may be a slight let down from their energy of last week, but Ivan Cleary will not accept a weak performance this early in the season. The Panthers to win and win comfortably.
Look for both total match points under and Dragons team total unders as viable betting options as well, with Panther night games hitting unders on a regular basis. Since the beginning of last season, Panthers’ night games have averaged 38 points per game, with Panthers’ opponents only averaging 10.6 points per game.
Dragons Under 15.5 Points ($1.93 at Sportsbet)