As well as providing his best value bets every week, our NRL guru Steve Green also previews every NRL game for members. Each week on the blog we’ll feature three of his match previews from the eight games. Check out his NRL Round 7 Triple Preview…
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NRL Round 8: Broncos v Titans (Friday)
The Titans have dominated these Queensland derbies of late and although their defence in recent weeks has been a real concern, they look like doing so once again this weekend.
The Broncos were very poor against the Eels and although Dearden moving to the Cowboys is not a huge deal in my view, the team changes that Coach Walters is making (with the promotion of guys like Tyson Gamble) does suggest he might be running low on ideas and a grand plan.
I like Milford being brought back into the top squad and there is a chance that his terrific performance in the QLD Cup on the weekend could spark his confidence, but there is a big step up from the McKay Cutters to the Gold Coast Titans.
While the Titans will lose Lisone and Herbert due to injury, they welcome back Don on the wing and they have some great depth in the forwards, with guys like Ese’ese and McIntyre getting a run now for their new club (this is not good for our Tweed futures bet!).
All in all, this is a very hard one to price up. Fifita’s attacking brilliance, along with the speed of guys like Thompson and Brimson should be too much for the Broncos to handle.
However one reason I do give the Broncos some hope, is the fact that their poor start to the season has been compounded by a horrible draw… one that has seen them play the Eels twice, Panthers, Storm and Souths. Along with Manly, no team has had a harder draw.
In contrast, the Titans have only played Souths (missing Latrell) and Raiders (in poor form) from the top 8. So one reason the Titans may be racking up such better numbers is the difference in quality of their opposition.
If Coach Walters had selected Milford and Dearden in the halves, I would be very keen on the Broncos at the plus. But Gamble has not shown me enough at NRL level to think he is the answer here.
Because of the vast difference in the draw and the fact that a desperate Broncos at home should put in a strong performance, I have had a small bet on the Broncos at the plus here.
Predicted score Titans 25 – Broncos 18
NRL Round 8: Knights vs Roosters (Saturday)
A massive game for the Knights here after what was a tough loss to the Panthers.
While no one is happy after losing a game by 18 points, I can understand why Coach O’Brien was impressed with his team’s defensive grit. They matched the Panthers in physicality for most of that match and if a few of Blake Green’s kicks were better placed, they could have built the pressure needed to win that game.
This weekend they might welcome back Fitzgibbon in the forwards and Hoy on the bench, with both guys capable of providing the attacking spark that Ponga needs to create enough points to win this one.
The Knights pack again looks very strong and although I wish Tuala was replaced by someone like Dom Young, overall this is a pretty strong Knights squad.
As for the Roosters, while Tedesco has been named, it would be very strange if they played him given their conservative approach to handling concussions, his history with head knocks and the importance he holds for this team.
I think it is much more likely that Manu plays at 1 and Suaili gets his NRL debut in the centres. While that will still leave the Roosters with plenty of attacking options, I think the Knights have the team to match them here – particularly in front of what should be around 20,000 parochial fans.
I think this could be the game where the market twigs as to just how much potential this Knights team has, and how much they will improve as they slowly welcome back more outside backs in coming weeks.
Predicted score Roosters 20 – Knights 20
NRL Round 8: Warriors vs Cowboys (Sunday)
The Warriors were dismantled by a ruthless Storm, but I think the Storm were given a big leg-up with that horrendous sin binning of Curran.
So although the Warriors form line might look quite bad, this weekend I think their squad looks much stronger and more settled.
Firstly, Fusitua and Pompey returning give them more stability in defence out wide, while the return of Tohu Harris in the middle is massive.
While Rocco Berry and Reece Walsh are both only playing their second game, both have showed – in the QLD Cup and last week against the Premiers – that they are ready to step up to NRL level. Travelling to AAMI to face the Storm is a baptism of fire, so I am expecting them to step up back at Central Coast against the Cowboys.
While the Cowboys have now won three in a row and Coach Payten has once again proven how good he is at turning around a playing group, I do think that it is worth noting the Raiders were winning 24-6 at half time and scored some tries with ease.
While their comeback was very impressive, I think a lot of that had to do with the climate in Townsville and the Raiders running out of steam due to poor ball control.
Holmes, Drinkwater and Taumalolo will throw plenty at the Warriors, but I think the Warriors squad is stronger and at home, I have them winning this one by about 12.
Predicted score Warriors 24 – Cowboys 12
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