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 Rabbitohs game.

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

NRL Round 17: Rabbitohs v Cowboys

This is a game that I see as being similar to the Manly v Raiders game.

The bookies are looking at the flogging the Cowboys copped at the hands of the Knights last weekend and with a few more players out due to Origin, they are predicting another Cowboys capitulation.

But there are a few reasons I think that the Cowboys will be competitive here:

1) In terms of getting flogged by the Knights, as you are aware I am a big believer in the Knights in 2021 and I think they played some terrific footy at home last weekend. The score line was not so much a reflection of how poor the Cowboys are, but rather, just what Ponga can do to a team when he is injury free.

2) The Cowboys were without the head coach due to COVID isolation requirements, so that was a huge disruption to their prep last week. He is back this weekend with the squad.

3) Souths are missing a ton of talent due to Origin and injury, with Latrell, Cook, Murray, Gagai, Arrow and Tatola, all missing this week. That is two key outside backs, and four starting forwards.

While the Cowboys will miss Holmes at 1, Hammer out wide and Molo in the middle, they do not lose Feldt this time around and they keep their halves pairing of Dearden and Drinkwater. Their forward pack is largely intact and they welcome back Gilbert from injury. While Souths still have their starting halves and some fire power out wide, their forward depth will be tested here. Marshall at 9 will be a target for the Cowboys big men, while Taaffe at the back will also be something the Cowboys will look to punish on the kick return, with the diminutive fullback a much different player to Latrell.

All in all, this is a very disrupted Bunnies team and although I do not think the Cowboys have the class to win, I do think they are worth a small bet at the head start.

Predicted score Rabbitohs 24 – Cowboys 16

NRL Round 15: Broncos v Souths

The Broncos looked very poor against the Raiders, with their new halves combination of Hunt and Gamble failing to fire.

With Milford and Kelly still injured, Croft on the outer and Deardon now playing for the Cowboys, Coach Walters has no real other option but to give Hunt and Gamble another shot.

Unfortunately, they come up against one of the most dominant and consistent halves pairing of the past few seasons in Cody Walker and Adam Reynoldson.

To further demonstrate the contrasting quality of these two squads, Tesi Niu has been given another go at playing fullback (after being rushed into the team due to the injury to Coates suffered before the Broncos loss to the Raiders.

Niu had been playing in QLD Cup for nearly the entire season after some poor defensive showings earlier this year. Although he showed some glimpses of brilliance against the Raiders, he is a long way off his opposing number 1 Latrell Mitchell.

Finally, although Turpin is a hard working number 9, despite having played 2 less games that Turpin in 2021, Cook has made twice as many metres, has 6 line breaks to Turpin’s 1 line break and has 24 tackle breaks to Turpin’s 4 tackle breaks for the entire season.

It is therefore hard to see where the Bronco’s points will come from and although they usually play much better at home, the Broncos have been truly awful in recent weeks and it is not clear whether Coach Walters has really improved this team much in the opening half of the season.

Souths were not great against the Knights last week and with a strong forward pack, the Broncos might be able to put up a fight, but I think Souths will prove to be far too strong.

Predicted score Souths 32 – Broncos 10

NRL Round 14: Souths v Knights

With Arrow and Gagai already not named, and Murray all but certain not to play due to the head knock he suffered in Origin 1, all eyes will be on Latrell, Cook and Su’A to see if they back up for Souths.

Latrell looked like he came through unscathed and while Cook did a mountain of work early, he is also likely to play. Su’A had been in and out of first grade in recent weeks, so there is a big chance Bennett rests the backrower.

With all of those outs, you would think the Knights are a chance to cover the line here, but their form against the Eels last weekend was very concerning. While I still believe a resurgence is coming, I do not think it will be this weekend.

D Saf is the only player likely to boost their squad and while his likely inclusion will help with their go forward, the absence of Pearce, Ponga, Hunt, Klemmer and Frizell is too much to overcome this weekend.

I do like that Mann has finally moved from 6 to the centres, and Tuala has been shifted to the wing in place of the injured To’a, but there are still too many weaknesses in this Knights team.

There is a chance Dom Young is a late inclusion, though I think Coach O’Brien will likely give him another 80 minutes in reserve grade to boost his fitness before potentially giving him a go in Round 15 when the Knights look set to welcome back a host of talent.

With a spine likely to feature Cook, Reynolds, Walker and Latrell, Souths should be too good here. But I do think that Murray is a big out and this could open the door for a desperate Knights forward pack to hold their own.

On my ratings, the Knights are a good chance of covering the big line on offer, however off the back of their last start performance, I am not willing to bet any more than one unit on the Knights

Predicted score Souths 28 – Knights 16

NRL Round 12: Rabbitohs v Eels

This is another game where it is terribly hard to get a read on Souths. Last week, with Latrell back, I thought Souths would put up a real fight against the Panthers.

But they struggled for energy and Latrell himself looked disinterested at times. With the departure of Reynolds locked in, it does seem like the wheels have fallen off this Souths season, which is very disappointing for what is already a lopsided competition.

This weekend Coach Bennett has dropped Su’a and Mansour to reserve grade and has promoted Milne and Sele. While both of these guys have been playing well in reggies, I doubt these changes will make much difference.

Murray however is a big inclusion, and a hard working forward can sometimes be just the player a team needs to find their groove.

For the Eels, they were dominated by Manly last weekend. While Manly are playing great, there were a few worrying signs for a club that has a habit of starting to lose their early season form around this time of the year.

Statistically, the Eels had more possession, made more metres and completed well, so a heavy loss to Manly may have been the result of poor execution and a bit of bad luck.

Although Arthur a strong debut, he is not as strong a defender as Dylan Brown and this, combined with a wayward Waqa Blake, allowed Manly to make 8 line breaks! Before this, the Eels had conceded only 3.3 line breaks per game.

The loss of Campbell-Gillard is also significant, with the big fella playing so well he has come back into Origin contention.

So with both teams missing a couple of key players still and both coming into the match off poor performances, I think there is far too much uncertainty to have a bet with any confidence.

Staying out of the head to head market, however, I have had a rare total points bet on this one.

Although going the overs in total points would have netted a massive return if you did it for every game this season, the lines have moved up to over 50 points now…which makes sense in most games this weekend, but not this one – which is likely to be a tight game between two teams that are usually strong defensively.

While Souths conceding 50 twice in three weeks may make such a play look stupid, I have faith that master Coach Bennett, with the return of Murray, can get the Souths team defending well again and I think this one will be lower scoring that the market predicts.

Niukore coming in for Blake in the centres, which I think is a near certainty, should also stiffen up the Eels defence here.

Predicted score Rabbitohs 22 – Eels 20

NRL Round 9: Rabbitohs v Storm

Without Reynolds, Mitchell, Murray, Graham, and Mansour, the Bunnies depth will really be tested this weekend.

While Marshall to 7, Walker to 6 and Johnston to 1, and Arrow to 13, is a pretty good work-around, the real danger for Souths will be out wide and at the back.

Filling in fullback is extremely difficult and I think Johnson has struggled to do it in the past. So it is no surprise to me that Hawkins has been called in to partner Marshall in halves and Walker shifted back to 1. I am not happy about this change, as Johnston at 1 was a real weak link in my view and something Munster would have targeted with big bombs.

The Storm showed that when the turn it on, they can tear out of position players to pieces. Wilton and Chambers had no answers out wide last weekend and Souths could struggle with the likes of Marsters, Milne and Burns all coming out of the NSW Cup to up against the Premiers. (UPDATE: Milne has dropped out of the squad due to the reshuffle discussed above).

While Marsters had played all year in the NSW Cup, Burns has played only 1, so he is going to be challenged by the speed the Storm play the game.

On the plus side Tatola will return, while Su’a played his best game in a long time last week. Souths forwards look strong and that is the reason this one is not a 2 Unit play.

As for the Storm, with Papenhuyzen rested again this weekend and given an extra week to get over his injury, Nicho Hynes will be at the back. But besides that, this is a full strength Storm line up that is in great form.

Munster, Grant, B Smith and Hughes should be able to craft enough points against this depleted Souths line up and I think the Storm should run away with this one.

Predicted Score Storm 24 – Souths 12

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