No prizes for guessing the game of the round this week - Grand Final Replay 2.0!
RABBITOHS V DRAGONS Thursday night, ANZ Stadium
The reason we are giving the Red V a chance here is the fact the Rabbitohs attack hasn't been firing on all cylinders lately. Although they scored 22 points in their win over the Eels last week, 10 of those points came in the last eight minutes.
While the Dragons have a poor For and Against record (-98), it is mainly due to their losses with four of them being by 13+ margins. Their five wins have been by an average of just three points.
We believe their defence can stifle many teams in the NRL outside the top three or four, so on that basis, we think the Dragons ($3 LuxBet) are the way to go in this one.
One of the key factors to the Rabbitohs losing four of their last five games is the fact they have been conceding tries in clusters. In Round 7 against the Cowboys they conceded three in five minutes; in Round 8 it was three tries in 10 mins; the Tigers put four tries on them in 16 minutes two weeks ago while the Eels scored three in seven minutes including two just prior to half-time in Round 10.
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COWBOYS V BRONCOS Friday night, 1300Smiles Stadium
The last time these teams met, back in Round 4, it took a Golden Point field goal from Anthony Milford to win the game for the Broncos at Suncorp Stadium. Of course, the previous time they played was in the 2015 decider and again, it took a field goal in Golden Point, this time from Johnathan Thurston, to seal the deal.
We think the Cowboys ($1.80 Bet365) will get the result here for a number of reasons. The first is their phenomenal record at home in recent times. Of their last 35 games in Townsville, they have won 30 and lost just five. Secondly, the Broncos have only left 1300 Smiles Stadium with the points just once in their previous five visits so the venue isn't exactly a happy stomping ground for them.vFinally, and this is probably just as important as the first two stats, is that the Broncos two losses this season have come on the road.
North Queensland come into this one off the back of a 15-14 loss to the Storm at Suncorp last week and all three of their defeats have come on the road. They are yet to lose back-to-back games this season. The Broncos two losses (against the Panthers and sharks) have been by an average of one-and-a-half points.
On that basis we think that a Cowboys 1-12 Winning Margin ($3.10 Palmerbet) is the way to go.
Looking for a bit more value? Then consider Gavin Cooper to be either 1st Tryscorer ($17 Sportsbet) or to Score A Try ($3.20 Sportsbet) at any stage. He is currently on a six-game tryscoring streak and has scored the first four-pointer on four occasions during that span.
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TIGERS V KNIGHTS Saturday afternoon, Campbelltown Stadium
It must be remembered that the previous week they blew the Rabbitohs off the park early before holding on to score a 30-22 win. That was their first win in seven weeks.
Playing in front of what should be a big crowd at Campbelltown, Wests Tigers have the chance to get a valuable two points here against a team that has the worst attack (10.5ppg) and defence (35.5ppg) in the NRL. It won't be easy though and if you fancy a bit of value then there is a case to back the Knights 1-12 ($4.80 LuxBet) in this.
They have knocked off the Tigers in five of their last six encounters and their sole win in 2016 was against this very team back in Round 6. Their inability to score points is ultimately going to hurt them though so we are banking on the Tigers to win a close one 1-12 ($3.30 Bet365).
WARRIORS V RAIDERS Saturday afternoon, Yarrow Stadium (New Plymouth)
We recommend backing the Warriors but it must be said it won't be with a great deal of confidence!
After beating the Dragons a fortnight ago against the odds, the Warriors then fell apart in the second half against the Panthers to lose 30-18. They did have their chances to win that game, however, as has been the case before they simply couldn't put together an 80 minute performance. One consistent thing about the Warriors though is their recent record against Canberra.
It seems as though they enjoy playing the Green Machine and have notched five straight victories over them. All five wins have been by huge scores with the average winning margin being just over 29 points.
Canberra lost in Golden Point last week to the Dragons but held on stoutly to at least push it to extra time. Considering they were poor in completions (63 percent) and made 15 errors, they did remarkably well to even be in a position to win it.
Their travels across the ditch haven't been great lately, losing their last three, and their poor record against the Warriors makes it difficult for us to back them.
We can't see it being a blowout, regardless of who wins, so maybe take the 1-12 Winning Margin either side (Warriors $3.15 LuxBet) (Raiders $3.60 Palmerbet) if you aren't comfortable with backing the Warriors straight out ($1.80 Bet365).
SHARKS V SEA EAGLES Saturday night, Southern Cross Group Stadium
This is the perfect opportunity to notch eight straight wins as they face a Manly side without Brett Stewart, Martin Taupau and Tom Symonds just to name a few. Manly head into this one having lost consecutive games to last year's Grand Finalists but aren't without a hope here.
One of the big reasons to be worried if you are a Cronulla supporter is the fact Manly has won at 'Shark Park' in seven of their past eight encounters. Of greater concern is the fact the Sharks have just one win in their last 14 against their bitter rivals. Despite those damning statistics you can't ignore current form and the Sharks are equal first on the premiership ladder for a reason.
They have the best attack in the competition averaging 28.1 points per game and their defence concede just under 16 points a match. Couple that with the fact they are unbeaten at home this season and it adds up to a Sharks win in our eyes. Take them to lead at Half Time and also at Full-Time ($1.75 Bet365).
PANTHERS V TITANS Sunday afternoon, Pepper Stadium
They definitely look hard to beat going on their home form which reads three wins from five starts. You have to look deeper into the stat though to find that the Panthers love playing at Pepper Stadium. Their only two losses at the ground in 2016 have been to the Cowboys (five points) and Bulldogs (two points).
Another big plus for the Panthers is they broke the narrow margin streak that has been a feature of their games this season. Last week they won by 12 points - the biggest margin involving the Panthers in 2016 - while their average prior to that, winning or losing, was just three points.
Gold Coast are just 1-3 on the road this season and have lost to the Panthers four of the last five times they have played, although in saying that, they did beat them last time quite comfortably at Cbus Super Stadium.
Even though the Titans are coming off an upset win on Monday Night Football over the Roosters, for us it looks highly likely that the Panthers will continue their climb up the NRL ladder and will get the two points here with a resounding victory. Take Penrith 13+ ($2.15 UNIBET).
BULLDOGS V ROOSTERS Sunday afternoon, ANZ Stadium
Surprisingly, the Roosters have owned the Dogs in recent years by winning six of the past seven games between the sides. The last time they met was in the semis last season where the Roosters strolled to an emphatic 38-12 triumph.
While that ordinarily would spell trouble for the Dogs, the fact remains that the Roosters have been poor this season for a number of different reasons. With their best squad on the park over the past fortnight, they smashed the Knights 38-0 (rd 9) in what looked to be a real turning point in their season but they crashed on Monday Night Football by 20 points to the Titans.
With the Bulldogs finding their scoring touch last week in winning 36-4 over the Tigers at this venue, the smart money is saying they will get the job done here.
The question mark for them is consistently as they have traded Wins and Losses since Round 2. Can they go back-to-back for just the second time this season? We think so and are rooting for a Bulldogs win straight out ($1.61 UNIBET).
EELS V STORM Monday night, Pirtek Stadium
They had the game against the Bunnies shot to pieces last week but two tries in the final 10 minutes saw them go down 22-20. That could come back to haunt them at the back end of the season but despite that they are still one of the better teams in the premiership. Looking at their results and they've lost four games this season but all have been against quality opposition and in most cases, they were still in with a fighting chance to win in the closing stages.
With that in mind and the fact they have beaten the Storm in four of the past six contests at Pirtek, we think the Eels could be the go here. Melbourne have been on fire lately, smashing the Titans and Warriors prior to their thrilling one-point win over the defending premiers last Saturday. Their away form though still isn't convincing and the fact they are don't have the best record at Pirtek gives the home side a chance at grabbing the points. Some reports are suggesting that Kieran Foran could return to the Parramatta line-up for Monday's game. Should that happen then it gives you an even bigger reason to back the Eels ($1.91 Bet365) in this one.