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NRL Tips expert Steve Green previews a huge Friday night double-header. Things kick off in Penrith as the Panthers welcome the Warriors before we head to Suncorp Stadium for the Broncos and the Roosters.

 

Penrith Panthers v New Zealand Warriors

I have got a few things wrong in 2019, but picking the Panthers to struggle was something that I got right and not many others tipped that occurring. I said that their main issues were with their 9 and 1, and that continues to be the case in Round 10, Edwards is back in first grade… which I find a bit strange, as Aekins didn’t too much wrong in his time in first grade. In is 3 grades playing at 1, he made 0 errors…which is pretty remarkable for a fullback. In contrast, Edwards made 13 errors in his 5 games in the top grade. So much for Coach Cleary being a ‘supercoach’.

Mansour probably had to occur, as the former rep winger makes far too many errors and is not the player he once was. He has had a horror run with injuries and I think he will bounce back, but without him the Panthers have promoted Brian To’o from reserve grade. While the strong runner has been impressive in the NSW Cup, this isn’t a promotion where the player has been playing out of his skin…the Panthers have had to drop Mansour for poor form.

Finally, Campbell-Gillard has also been dropped. The 2018 rep player has been well off his best in 2019, averaging less than 100 metres a game and giving away far too many penalties.

So, on paper, this is a pretty weak Panthers line up. They will welcome Blake back after he was dropped for missing training and Kikau is also set to play…but the big fringe forward is clearly not 100% based on his numbers against the Tigers last week.

As for the Warriors, Coach Kearney has also decided to pick on form and go with youth over seniority. Blair and Luke have both been named in the reserves, with Roache and Sao given their spots. I like this move…and other coaches are doing similar things across the NRL (look at Broncos and Doggies coach in recent weeks, who dropped experienced and out of form players for up and comers).

But the Warriors come into this off the back of a strong win over the Dragons. They made 8 line breaks to 2 and completed at over 90%. With Hiku, RTS, Maumalolo and Fusitua in great touch, Herbert showing he belongs in first grade and Green/Nikorima looking good in their first outing as a halves pairing, there is a lot to like about the Warriors back line.

Up front, the Panthers and Warriors match up pretty well and so based on the strength of each team, I have the Warriors significant favourites. While the home crowd will be a factor, I don’t think it will be enough to get the Panthers home here and I think their 2019 season is already over.

Predicted Score:
Warriors 22
Panthers 18

 

Suggested Bet: New Zealand +2.5

 

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Brisbane Broncos v Sydney Roosters

Coach Siebold, fresh off sending Nikorima packing, has continued to stamp his influence on this team with the dropping of Roberts for a second consecutive week. With Bird missing through injury, the Broncos now have what can only be described as a second-string centres pairing. But don’t let that fool you, Stagg is a gun (as we have seen), while Shibasaki has been waiting in the wings for a few years now.

In the halves, Milford played his best game in a long time, while Dearden continues to look like he belongs in the NRL. Boyd also played a strong game last week, after what was a disastrous start to the season. He is still nothing more than a speed bump in defence, with Manly players steamrolling him on multiple occasions last weekend…but his attack was on point.

However, the real positive for the Broncos was their forwards dominance. Despite missing a ton of backs, Manly’s forward pack was still pretty strong. Yet from the kick off, the Broncos young forwards looked dominant. Haas and Ofahengaue were beasts, making over 200 metres each, while Lodge continues to press his claims for NSW. Pangai Jr. had some quality touches and Carrigan has best game since joining the first-grade team.

But they will have to be at their best against a Roosters forward pack that is spearheaded by JWH and Taukeiaho. Both of these guys destroyed the Raiders in the first half last weekend, making 10 metres every run. Liu is also a solid competitor, but with Cordner and Tupou joining Friend on the sideline with injury, the Roosters team is a little down on numbers and with a 5 day turnaround after a tough game against the Raiders…the young Broncos will fancy their chances of pulling of an ambush here.

The other big change that should give the Broncos hope here, is the change that they have been forced to make at 9. I thought Turpin was great last weekend for the Broncos, making plenty of tackles and providing real zip out of dummy half. The number 9 position is the hardest position to accurately measure using statistics. So much of what a great hooker does is not able to be quantified using any of the available metrics…but his service to the forwards and his halves was quality and he was great at choosing him moments to run and draw the markers before passing.

This weekend, Coach Siebold has recognised what a big ask it would be to require Turpin to play 80 minutes against this monster Roosters pack…so he has rightly included new recruit Segeyaro on the bench. Chicka has always been dangerous at 9 and it was a mystery to many why he wasn’t picked up by a rival NRL club earlier. But he can make a mistake and can miss a tackle, so it will be interesting to see if he takes this opportunity.

All in all…the Roosters have some key outs and the Broncos have injected some youth and speed into their team. The Roosters still have Tedesco, Keary, Cronk and Mitchell out wide, so they are going to be hard to contain as always. But at Suncorp the Broncos are right in this and I think the 6 point line is about right.

Predicted Score:
Roosters 20
Broncos 14

 

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