Only 8 teams in action this week, several of them are significantly weakened due to State of Origin.
SOUTHS SYDNEY V PARRAMATTA Friday night, ANZ Stadium
Star playmaker Kieran Foran is out and Michael Jennings is on State Of Origin duty while there is still the issue of their points deduction to come into play. That said, they have been resilient over the past month and scored an upset over the Titans in Darwin last week.
Five-eighth Corey Norman will be the key for the Eels and has a good personal record against the Rabbits, boasting seven try assists in eight games against them. One of the main reasons the Eels have been hard to beat this year is their defence, which is second in the league only behind Melbourne and is conceding just 14.5 points per game.
That is certain to trouble the Rabbitohs attack who will be missing several strike players including Adam Reynolds and Greg Inglis.
Souths have lost six of their last eight games and were terrible against a Tigers outfit last week that was inviting them back into the game. One of their two wins during this run was against the Eels back in round 10 when they scored a last minute try and sideline conversion to win the game. That was the first game Parramatta played since the announcement of their salary cap breaches.
HOODOO NO MORE?
While the Blue and Golds should get the money here they will have to overcome their bogey team if they want the two points. They have just one win in 10 against the Bunnies.
We think a Parramatta Win is the way to go while Margin players should seriously consider the 1-12 option ($3.35 William Hill)
STGEORGE ILLAWARRA V MELBOURNE Saturday, WIN Stadium
Playing in front of the Wollongong faithful will be another big plus for them as they have won their last two against the Storm at the venue. Overall, they have taken the points on eight of the last 11 games at WIN against all comers.
Arguably the biggest plus for them could come in the shape of Cooper Cronk and Cameron Smith being out of the Storm team due to State Of Origin commitments.
Melbourne boasts a formidable record against the Dragons. Since 2005, they have lost just four times in 20 outings. Their form this season has been outstanding with only two losses coming their way through the opening 14 rounds. Riding high on a seven-game winning streak, they haven’t lost since round 6 against the Bulldogs.
HOME IS WHERE THE HEART IS
As mentioned earlier, the Red V are in with a big chance as they seem to grow a leg playing in front of their home fans. Winners of their first five games at home, not including last week’s game, they’ve conceded just 11.6 points on average during those wins.
We recommend backing the Dragons but there isn’t a great deal of confidence there. One thing is for sure – if they do win, it will be within the 1-12 margin ($2.95 Palmerbet) which is where all six of their wins in 2016 have fallen.
For Storm fans, you can bank on Suliasi Vunivalu in 1st Tryscorer ($11 First Tryscorer) and To Score A Try At Anytime ($2.40 Sportsbet) markets. He’s scored 11 tries in just seven games this season.
New Zealand Warriors v Sydney Roosters, Sunday, Mt Smart Stadium
New Zealand is without doubt one of the more frustrating and inconsistent teams in the NRL but head into this game off back-to-back wins.
That is the second time this season they’ve registered consecutive wins but notching the hat-trick will be a little more difficult this time as they face one of their bogey teams.
Their record against the Roosters isn’t good – winning just three of nine – including their last two at Mt Smart. In fact, the chooks are aiming for three straight at the venue for the first time in their history.
Sydney Roosters were flogged 46-nil at home against the Storm last week and head across the Tasman without the likes of Mitchell Pearce, Boyd Cordner and Blake Ferguson.
With just three wins so far this season, finals football is starting to look remote for Trent Robinson’s men. If they are to make a finals charge it has to start here, however, they must turn around their road form which reads an awful 1-6 at this point.
You can’t back against the Warriors here as their wins over the Broncos and Knights suggest they are finally heading in the right direction. Couple that with an imposing 19 wins from 26 matches during the Origin period for the last five years (the best of any team) and it all points to a home win.
Looking for value? Take the Total Points Over 45.5 option ($1.90 Sportsbet) as games between these sides are usually high scoring. On top of that their defences have been poor with the Roosters (25.3ppg) and Warriors (25.5ppg) rating in the bottom four teams in points against.
GOLD COAST V MANLY Monday night, Cbus Super Stadium
The Sea Eagles have rarely been troubled by the Titans and have only lost five times in 14 outings against them.
Manly were touted as premiership contenders at the start of the season but have been terribly inconsistent. Boasting just four wins in 13 games, they are currently riding a five-game losing streak and haven’t lost six in a row in more than 12 years.
Although their attack is okay (17.8ppg) its their defence which is a huge concern as it’s leaking nearly 24 points per match. Adding to their woes here is they will once again be without Daly Cherry-Evans while Dylan Walker has Origin commitments and Nate Myles is out injured.
Three of Manly’s four wins have been on the road this season but that loss at home to the Panthers, after blowing a 20-point lead, will be very hard to erase. We’ll go with the Titans here in the Head-to-Head market ($1.48 UNIBET). If you want something at value then how about Brett Stewart To Score A Try At Anytime ($2.50 Palmerbet)? He is currently on the longest tryscoring drought of his career (eight games) but you’d think he is due for a four-pointer soon.