There's a couple of tricky match-ups this week, but nothing our expert can't handle!
SEA EAGLES V EELS - Thursday night, Brookvale Oval
Round 7 of the NRL kicks off with a grudge match between Manly and Parramatta at Brookvale Oval.
There is a long history between these sides and another bitter chapter will be written when Kieran Foran lines up against his former Sea Eagles teammates for the first time since joining the Eels in the off season.
Parramatta has begun the season strongly and go into this one as favourites. Should they get the money it will be the 11th time in their history that they have won five of their first seven games. The previous time that happened was in 1986 – the year they last won the premiership!
For their part, the Eels smashed the Raiders 36-6 last week and have been defensive powerhouses, allowing the least points of any side in the competition (10.8 points per game) in 2016. Playing in their favour is the fact Fortress Brookvale isn’t as formidable as it once was, with the Sea Eagles winning just six of their past 13 games there.
Alarmingly for the home side, all six of those wins came when scoring four or more tries and losing the others when crossing the tryline three times or less.
We recommend taking Parramatta in this one as the Eels have stifled the best attacking teams in the competition so far, including the Broncos and Cowboys, and although Manly are on the up they would need to improve significantly to take this out.
EVEN-MONEY LINES: Get $2 lines on this game with Ladbrokes. T&Cs Apply.
COWBOYS V SOUTHS Friday night, 1300 Smiles Stadium
North Queensland will be aiming to create a slice of history when they host Souths Sydney in Friday Night Football.
The Cowboys have kept their previous two visitors at home scoreless (Sydney Roosters, Dragons) and should they do it against the Rabbitohs they will become just the second team in history to hold three consecutive teams to zero at the one venue.
Their form suggests there is plenty to worry about for the Rabbitohs who have lost four of their last five games.
The Cowboys are a lethal attacking machine in 2015 and lead the competition in points scored per game (25.8), tries (4.3), run metres and also line breaks.
A quick look at the history between these sides suggests there will be a decent margin for the winning side as five of the past six matches have been decided by 12 points or more.
Bunnies fans have been given a significant boost with their halfback Adam Reynolds returning from injury.
HOME GROUND ADVANTAGE
We think the Cowboys, with a formidable home ground record of 12 wins from 14 games, coupled with four wins from five against the Bunnies will take this one out. Looking for value? Go the Cowboys 9+ at Half Time or to win 13+.
ENHANCED ODDS: Ladbrokes have boosted the odds of a Cowboys win to $1.70. Was $1.33. T&Cs Apply.
TITANS V DRAGONS Saturday afternoon, Cbus Stadium
Dragons fans have been subjected to two straight weeks of watching their side being kept scoreless against the Cowboys and Broncos. This week they face a Titans outfit that they have enjoyed good success against (10 wins from 15 games) and coupled with that is the fact they have won four of seven at Robina.
The 2016 Titans though aren’t the pushovers many expected at the start of the season. Although they go into this match off back-to-back losses against Brisbane and Cronulla, they were fine efforts in defeat with the average losing margin being just 6.5 points.
Gold Coast’s attack has surprisingly been one of the most lethal in the competition with the Cowboys the only team to score more.
One major blow to the hopes of the Titans, who have won three of their opening six games, will be the absence of the suspended Greg Bird.
History suggests this one will be a close one with four of the past five clashes between these sides settled by two points or less.
Although the Dragons are due to improve in the points department, we can’t back them with confidence. This could be a match where you play the Winning Margin 1-12 for either side.
BULLDOGS V WARRIORS Saturday afternoon, Westpac Stadium
This is a home game for the Bulldogs who traditionally take one ‘home’ game on the road each season.
Their record in New Zealand is outstanding having never lost a ‘home’ game in the Shaky Isles from six attempts (six wins, one draw).
Although they have won four from six to start the season, the Dogs’ best form has been reserved for their away trips as displayed when beating the Storm in Melbourne last week. Funnily enough, the two proper home games the Bulldogs have played have resulted in losses at ANZ Stadium and Belmore Sports Ground.
A case to back the Bulldogs becomes stronger when you consider that they have the wood on the Warriors in recent years, winning five straight. In fact, they have lost just two of their 13 games when crossing the Tasman!
For all their dominance over the Warriors the winning margins in clashes between these sides is always close. Of the last 33 games between the sides, more than half have been decided by eight points or less including 11 by four points or less.
SHOOTING FISH IN A BARREL
It seems as though we say this every year but the Warriors have been disappointments so far. Even though they are one of the best attacking sides in the NRL (averaging 23.3 points per game), the stifling defence of the Bulldogs and the psychological advantage the Blue and Whites have over them makes this script a rather familiar one. Take the Bulldogs in the H2H market.
ENHANCED ODDS: Ladbrokes are pumping up the price of a Sam Perrett try and Doggies win to a juicy $4.50. T&Cs Apply.
BRONCOS V KNIGHTS - Saturday night, Suncorp Stadium
The Broncos have won five of six this season with their only slip up being a 23-22 loss to the Panthers in which they were leading for most of the game.
A big part of their early season success has been the form of Anthony Milford, who has scored five tries and has six try assists through the opening six rounds.
Although short in the H2H market, Brisbane do look a moral and will no doubt be very popular in Multis this weekend.
What makes the task of the Knights even more formidable is the fact they have won just once in their last 10 against the Broncos with all eight losses being by double figure margins (there has been a Draw in there too).
Newcastle will bring a bit of fight into this one as they will be riding high following their maiden win of the season against the Tigers last week.
A simple look at their form sees they face a huge task in causing a boilover.
Only the Dragons have scored less points while Nathan Brown’s men are the worst defensive outfit in the competition through six rounds.
BANKER Take the Broncos straight out or if you are looking for a bit of value, go the 13+ in the Winning Margin market.
RAIDERS V SHARKS - Sunday afternoon, GIO Stadium
Cronulla supporters will head into this match with a bit of confidence considering their recent efforts against the Raiders.
For one, they have taken the two points on eight of the past 11 occasions they’ve been in the nation’s capital. Secondly, whenever these teams play of late it seems as though the away team has come away with the spoils which is another big tick for the Sharks.
More importantly for those looking to have a bet, Canberra’s form on Sunday afternoons at GIO Stadium has been abysmal in recent years. They lost all three games last year and 10 of the past 12.
The Sharks have been the quiet achievers this season and are currently sitting just one win off the lead. They are chasing four straight wins but their away form isn’t flash in 2016, winning just once and that was against the out-of-form Tigers at Campbelltown a fortnight ago.
Canberra couldn’t back up from their Monday Night Football defeat of the Bulldogs at Belmore when they faced Parramatta last week, being humbled 36-6 at Pirtek Stadium. There will be somewhat of a bounce back factor but the question is whether it’s enough to beat this well-oiled Sharkies side.
Ben Barba has scored in all four of the Sharks wins this season after crossing the line just three times in all of 2015. Look to him to Score a Try At Anytime. Raiders fans should look no further than Edrick Lee as First Tryscorer or To Score A Try, with the talented winger crossing for five tries in his last six home games.
MEGA MULTI: Get an enhanced $6 for the Raiders, Storm and Panthers all to win with Ladbrokes. T&Cs Apply.
TIGERS V STORM - Sunday afternoon, Leichhardt Oval
The Tigers are returning to their spiritual home of Leichhardt Oval for this one where it is almost a case of dejavu as they face the Storm.
The last time they faced Melbourne here they were coming in off the back of straight losses but proceeded to blow the visitors away, winning 34-16. This time around, Jason Taylor’s men have lost four straight after opening the season with back-to-back wins.
There is no doubt that with the likes of James Tedesco, Luke Brooks and Mitchell Moses that the Tigers are one of the most exciting teams in the competition, however, that doesn’t always relate to wins.
Tedesco grabbed a double the last time they played the Storm and currently leads the NRL with eight tries this season. He is returning $1.50 with TAB to Score a Try while he is $3.25 to Score 2+ Tries.
The Storm are four from six in the opening rounds but a closer look at their form suggests they aren’t going as well as they appear. They have dropped two of their past three (against the Bulldogs and Sharks) while they were unconvincing in their 18-14 win over the Knights.
For us, we recommend taking a bit of value and going for the Tigers to win considering they have beaten the Storm just 10 times from 26 starts eight of those wins (from 11 games) being at Leichhardt.
ROOSTERS V PANTHERS - Monday night, Allianz Stadium
Outsiders for their match against the Panthers in MNF, they will head into this with a bit of confidence having scored their first win of the season last week over the Bunnies.
Giving them an added boost is the fact they have a tremendous record on Monday nights, winning all seven at Allianz since Trent Robinson became coach and eight of nine overall under his tenure.
Robinson also has a formidable record against the Panthers since taking over the tri-colours having won five of six against the Mountain Men. Stats can only take you so far though and the Roosters' form this season doesn't allow you to back them with confidence at this stage of the season.
As for the Panthers they head into this one as deserved favourites although they are only one win above the Roosters on the table.
A deeper look into their results suggests that the Panthers are actually one of the hardest teams to beat in the competition.
The only team to knock off the Broncos so far in 2016, the average margin in Panthers games this season is a mere 3.3 points which is the lowest of any team since 1967.
If they are to register a vital win here though they will need to overcome their problems on the road, where they have won just three of their past 15 games. Importantly though their last away win was a fortnight ago against the Eels at Pirtek when they scored on the buzzer.
The Panthers could be one of the smokeys to win the NRL title with their efforts in defeat certainly worthy of having a few dollars on them. They have beaten premiership heavyweights in the Broncos and Eels and taken the likes of Cowboys and Bulldogs to the limit in narrow losses.
If they are to be considered contenders, however, they need to win the games they are expected to win and we think that will happen on Monday.
INSURANCE: If the team you back score the first try but lose, get your stake back in bonus points! T&Cs Apply.