Match Previews

As well as providing his best value bets every week, our NRL guru Steve Green also previews every NRL game for members. Here’s Steve’s thoughts for every Warriors game.

To get Steve’s previews plus his best bets each week, join NRL Tips now!

NRL Round 17: Sharks v Warriors

In what is a pretty uninspiring round of footy, this is one that is really shaping up as a contest.

The Sharks’ run of wins came to an end last weekend against the Broncos and although the Broncos played well, I think it did show that the Sharks winning run was off the back of them going through a soft part of the draw.

They did lose Moylan late last weekend, but he is out again this weekend, so it is Tracey and Johnson in the halves. Chambers is back in the centres, after missing last weekend due to the birth of his child, while talented youngster Luke Metcalf is on the extended bench.

It is hard to identify what went wrong for the Sharks last weekend, with nearly every key stat in their favour or neutral. They missed far less tackles, ran for more metres and made more line breaks.

However the Broncos capitilised on their chances, while the Sharks were a bit clunkier with their backline movements.

This weekend, they come up against a Warriors team that has undergone a lot of change throughout 2020. They have Lodge joining the squad and moving straight into starting prop. His combination with Fonua-Blake should prove to be very formidable and one of the reasons I think they can win this one.

In the halves, Coach Brown looks set to give Sullivan a go alongside the returning Nikorima, therefore leaving Walsh at 1 and RTS on the wing. I am not sure this is how they will line up on the day, but overall it is a strong line up – despite a few key outs.

The one out that has me really worried is Tohu Harris. The hard working lock forward is one of the Warriors best players and gets through a ton of work. But the Warriors have great depth in the forwards and so I like their chances of holding their own against this Sharks pack.

All in all, I think the Warriors can win this one and because I think both teams are highly unpredictable, I think the longer term more profitable play in this situation is to have a small bet on the head-to-head.

Predicted score Sharks 20 – Warriors 20

NRL Round 16: Warriors v Dragons

While the loss of Aitken and Curran (due to exposure to a COVID case) is not great news, the effect of this double flow will be tempered by the inclusion of new signing DWZ on the wing and Townsend at halfback. With RTS at the back in the place of the injured Walsh, the Warriors line up still looks strong.

The Dragons also look much better, due to the inclusion of Lomax out wide and Duty at 1 and Bird back in the centres. This gives the Dragons a lot more attacking strike power, something they have sorely missed in recent weeks.

In the forwards, they welcome back McGuire and Fuimaono from lengthy suspensions and while it is handy to have these guys on the bench, the Dragons forward pack features quite a few guys that have not played a lot of minutes over the 5 weeks and they could struggle to match this big Warriors back.

The Warriors have struggled to score points in recent weeks, but I think the inclusion of Townsend will be a big boost. The Warriors halves have failed to control the game at key moments in 2021 and while Nikorima is a terrific ball runner, his game management is not his strength.

Playing at their adopted home in Gosford and with some new experienced signings joining the squad, I think the Warriors will bounce back into form this weekend with a clinical performance.

Predicted score Warriors 24 – Dragons 14

NRL Round 15: Knights v Warriors

The Knights cannot take a trick in 2021. Just as they welcome back Klemmer from suspension and Pearce and Hunt from injury, they lose Best for an extended period and have Ponga’s return delayed again!

When you throw in the injury Frizzel suffered against Manly a couple of weeks ago, the Knights head into this missing their best player (Ponga), their key outside back (Best) and probably their form forward in 2021 (Friz).

With Clifford still finding his feet and Pearce returning from a long lay-off, I think they are going to have to play great to get the win here. The form of Tex Hoy at 1 has not been great, with his speed and strength well below what you see from fullbacks at other NRL clubs.

As for the Warriors, this is a strong looking team – with Walsh at the back, RTS on the wing, Fonua-Blake joining an already strong forward pack.

While the loss of Egan and Harris-Tavita may be perceived to be big losses (i.e. starting 7 and 9), Egan is not a terrific player and I do not think the Warriors lose much there. While Harris-Tavita has struggled at 7 in attack and I do not mind Sullivan as a replacement, so the Warriors are now deserved favourites in this one.

At home, and with Pearce back, I am expecting the Knights to play a very structured game that relies on solid defence and a good long kicking game.

But with the attacking brilliance of Walsh, Nikorima and RTS, I think the Warriors will have too many attacking threats for the Knights.

Predicted score Warriors 20 – Knights 18

NRL Round 14: Warriors v Storm

Welch, K Brom and Big Nelson (suspended) are all out of this game, meaning the Storm will be drawing on fringe forwards like Pene, Eisenhuth, Lewis or Loiero to play a lot of minutes.

Usually this would not be an issue for the Storm, they seem to always have guys capable of getting the job done, however they are up against a very strong Warriors pack.

Fonua-Blake makes his return and that is a big inclusion, but so is Josh Curran… who is having a breakout year. When you throw in the rest of this big Warriors forward pack, then I can see them more than matching the Storm in the middle.

With Munster and Grant backing up, the Storm have a very strong looking spine, however an injury to George Jennings will further disrupt their back line.

In total, the Storm are missing a lot of key players and they also have some core guys backing up from a gruelling Origin played only 5 days ago, so there is a chance Munster, Grant and Kaufusi in particular, are below their best.

While the Warriors will miss the prodigious Reece Walsh in attack, it is still a strong looking line-up that will be competitive at their new home in the Central Coast.

With a home date announced for the Warriors return to NZ later in the season, I am expecting a spirited Warriors to take the Storm all the way.

But because the Storm have been so costly for me this year, I am not willing to have more than one Unit at the line.

Predicted Score Storm 24 – Warriors 14

NRL Round 12: Cowboys v Warriors

The Cowboys scored some impressive tries against the Knights, but the Knights also squandered their opportunities with some basic errors last week.

One thing the Warriors are very good at is not making silly errors. With an average completion rate of 81%, they get through their sets better than any team in the competition.

While it was unconventional, having Walsh 1 and RTS on the wing seems to be working, and it provides them with some serious strike power in attack.

Defensively, the Warriors are also an underrated outfit, ranking 6th best in missed tackles, compared to the Cowboys who rank 4th worst.

But the real reason I am backing the Warriors this weekend is the absence of Taumalolo. The Cowboys pack looks so much more vulnerable without their million dollar man and the Warriors forward pack is one of their real strengths.

Although they welcome back Hess and Tom Gilbert is a great young player, the Warriors have a squad that is about 12 points better on my raw ratings.

Factoring in the home ground advantage – which is very strong up in Townsville, I think the Warriors are worth a small bet to win this one.

Predicted score Warriors 24 – Cowboys 18

NRL Round 9: Sea Eagles v Warriors

Two big outs for Manly, with Josh Aloaia and Marty Taupau both not lining up this weekend. The effect of this double blow is amplified by the fact that the Warriors forward pack is one of their strengths.

While Manly have some depth and I like what I have seen of reserve grader Zac Saddler, the Warriors forwards now have a decent edge in my books (remembering Manly are already without the likes of Curtis Sironen, Andrew Davey, Jack Gosiewski and Morgan Boyle).

The Warriors on the other hand are welcoming back more troops, just as they are starting to capture some form through the promotion of some talented youngsters.

Berry is doing a good job out wide, while Walsh is a real talent.

This week they look set to welcome back Aitken (who will replace Kosi), Harris-Tavita and E Katoa, who are all very strong players on my ratings system.

RTS continues to tear opponents to pieces and while Murdoch-Masila will be a big loss, the Warriors have the forwards depth to cope with this.

While Tommy T and DCE are always hard to shut down, the Warriors are an underrated team that has proven hard to beat all year, with their only significant losses coming against the Roosters and Storm.

On my ratings, this game looks set to be a thriller and happy with the small bet on the line and the head to head.

Predicted score Manly 20 – Warriors 20

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