Round 3 kicks off with a clash between 2015's premiers and minor premiers.
North Queensland Cowboys v Sydney Roosters
Could last season’s minor premiers start 2016 with three straight defeats? We think so. The Roosters had their feathers ruffled last week in a 21-20 loss at Canberra and Thursday night’s trip to the Cowboys looks a tough one. The Cowboys are on the rebound after being pipped by Parramatta but should still have too much for the Roosters. Quite a few bookies have North Queensland at $1.25 for the win and after an error-riddled performance against the Eels, we think they will bounce back. However, the Roosters burst out of the blocks against the Raiders last week. They scored three of the first four tries, so we’re also snapping up Sportsbet’s $2.79 for the Tricolours to be the first team to score in Townsville.
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North Queensland Cowboys - 1pt @ 1.25
Canterbury Bulldogs v Parramatta Eels
Despite a week from hell off the field as the club was swallowed up in another salary cap drama, the Eels made a statement with a four-point win over reigning champs the Cowboys in round two. They face the Bulldogs at Homebush on Friday night and will be without Nathan Peats, who has dislocated his elbow, and Manu Ma’u (suspension). Ma’u has been everywhere for the Eels in the opening two rounds of the season and is a massive loss. The $1.65 Hills and Centrebet are offering for a Doggies win will be like taking candy from a baby. Meanwhile, you can retire on your winnings when Will Hopoate scores the first try ($17 with Sportsbet).
Canterbury Bulldogs - 1pt @ 1.65
Newcastle Knights v Canberra Raiders
Canberra are flying after starting their season with back-to-back victories. The Green Machine are on the road in round three at struggling Newcastle and we have a feeling the visitors have this one in the bag. They will even win despite the absence of Samoan star Joey Leilua, who was banned for two matches for a dangerous throw. Canberra’s bench was influential against the Roosters, with Sia Soliola (134 metres), Paul Vaughan (168m) and Jeff Lima (144m) playing their part. Take the $1.67 Bet 365 is spruiking for a Raiders triumph. The Bunnies scored for fun early against the Knights last week and if you fancy the Raiders to lead both halves, why not take some of the $2.20 on offer at Unibet in the HT/FT double.
Canberra Raiders - 1pt @ 1.67
Penrith Panthers v Brisbane Broncos
The Panthers have been close but not close enough in rounds one and two and are looking at a third successive loss when they host Brisbane. Broncos flier Corey Oates, who has scored ‘meat pies’ in both of Brissy’s wins this season, is out of the clash with a shoulder injury and that is a big loss. We are still going for a Broncos half-time/full-time double, which pays $2 with bet365 and Unibet. Brisbane have kept their opposition to less than 20 points for the past 10 games and that sort of tight defence cannot be ignored. With that in mind, we’re also taking Sportsbet up on their $1.75 for the Panthers to score less than 16.5 points.
Brisbane Broncos - 1pt @ 2.00
Gold Coast Titans v Wests Tigers
It has been impossible to ignore the West Tigers at the start of the season as they have caused a few surprises. Jason Taylor’s boys have been the early bolters in 2016 and we like the look of them making it three wins on the trot. The Tigers have also won three of their past four games against Gold Coast and we therefore think William Hill’s $1.75 for the visitors to claim victory is great value. James Tedesco crashed over for three tries in the triumph over Manly and we think you should take the $9.50 Bet 365 are offering for the man from NSW to cross first on the Titans’ home patch.
Wests Tigers - 1pt @ 1.75
New Zealand Warriors v Melbourne Storm
Sunday’s Warriors versus Storm clash at Mt Smart is shaping up as a close one to call. The Storm will miss Billy Slater following the news that their star full-back’s season is over due to a shoulder injury which requires surgery. The Kiwis are favourites as a result, however, we reckon Melbourne have the experience to get the job done over the ditch. Unibet’s juicy $2.15 for a Storm win is where the action can be found. Why not also get on Sportsbet’s $5 for Marika Koroibete to score Melbourne’s first try? The tight nature of this contest means there is plenty of value to be found across the board.
Melbourne Storm - 1pt @ 2.15
St George Illawarra Dragons v South Sydney Rabbitohs
The rampant Redfern machine steamrollered Newcastle in round two and the next stop is the SCG for a bout against St George-Illawarra. This will be the only NRL game played at the historic venue in 2016. Bustling Sam Burgess was unstoppable for the Bunnies with 149 metres and nine offloads in a 48-6 demolition of the Knights whilst South Sydney also piled on the points in round one against the Chooks. With that in the memory banks, we’re tipping a big Bunnies victory. Go for Luxbet or Unibet’s Rabbitohs by 13+ which is paying $2.55. Bryson Goodwin to score a try at any time ($2.63 with Sportsbet) is also worth a go.
South Sydney Rabbitohs - 1pt @ 2.55
Manly Sea Eagles v Cronulla Sharks
After an off-season clean out, the new-look Sea Eagles are yet to click for coach Trent Barrett. That could spell danger against the Sharks, who pounced on plenty of Dragons mistakes in a 30-2 triumph in round two. At the ripe old age of 32, Luke Lewis was brilliant for the Sharks in that win with 123 metres from his 16 carries. With recruit Chad Townsend also on song in the halves, we like Cronulla at $2.04 for the win with Unibet in a close one at Fortress Brookvale. You would also be a fool to miss out on Sportsbet’s $3.30 for Sharks star Ben Barba to score a try at any time.
Cronulla Sharks - 1pt @ 2.04