With no club games last week, our league expert has had a fortnight to assess this week's games!
STGEORGE ILLAWARRA V CANBERRA Thursday night, Jubilee Oval
At one point the Raiders had won 14 of 15 against Stgeorge Illawarra but have dropped the last three.
They probably haven't had the ideal preparation for this one either as they have five players backing up from City v Country while their previous game ended in a narrow defeat to Penrith.
One of the big pluses they do have is the availability of Blake Austin who will partner Aidan Sezer in the halves.
POINTS A PROBLEM
Scoring has been the Dragons' biggest concern in 2016 as they average a league-worst 9.8 points per game. That alone is an alarming stat but it is highlighted even further when you consider the winning team in this fixture has scored over 20 points the last 10 times they have played.
Points aren't a concern for the Raiders as they average over 24ppg.
Although the Dragons have won six of their last eight at Kogarah, and scored over 40 points there twice last season, we cannot back them with confidence so we are recommending a Canberra win here.
Raiders Boosted to $2.60 to lead at half time and full time! Click here T&Cs Apply.
Stake back if your team leads by 6 or more at any time but loses! Click here T&Cs Apply.
Raiders Odds boosted to $2 for a H2H win! Click here T&Cs Apply.
PARRAMATTA V SOUTHS SYDNEY Friday night, PIRTEK STADIUM
They have had over a week to digest the news that their 12 competition points are all gone. On top of that, they are being forced to shed players to get under the salary cap if they want to play for points.
That aside, the Eels have proven to be the greatest improvers this season and beat the Bulldogs without halfback Kieran Foran last start. They will again be without his services here.
While the Eels have been a big surprise this season it's fair to say that Rabbitohs are the big disappointments.
The 2014 premiers have lost six of their last seven including four on the trot heading into this one.
Slow starts have been a huge concern for Michael Maguire's side during their recent slump, conceding the first try and giving away big leads in their last few outings.
We think all the signs point to the Eels winning this one.
They have already beaten some of the best sides in the competition so you know they can play, while at the same time, they have extra motivation to get a result here.
Statistics also suggest the Blue and Golds will be too good here with a record of nine wins from their last 10 starts against Souths at Pirtek Stadium.
BOOKIE OFFER: Michael Jennings to score a try & Eels to win $3! Click here T&Cs Apply.
PENRITH V NEW ZEALAND Saturday afternoon, AMI Stadium
Last time out they played in Bathurst against the Raiders while this week they play the Kiwis in Christchurch.
Penrith have been ultra competitive in all their games so far this season with the average margin in their games being just three points.
They will also have a bit of confidence as they knocked off the Raiders last start, however, their form has seen them trade wins and losses since round 2 and you have to bear in mind they haven't won back-to-back games since round 17 last year.
Confidence will be a thing that the Warriors also have after scoring a comfortable win over the Dragons with an understrength side.
They welcome back several of their players this week including Bodene Thompson, Tuimoala Lolohea and Thomas Leuluai.
New Zealand threatened to mount a premiership charge with their squad prior to the season but have failed to flatter so far in 2016. They have been a nightmare for punters and are too inconsistent at this stage to take the gamble on.
We are tipping the Panthers to win this one and by a margin of 1-12 points considering the biggest margin they have been involved in this season is just eight points (versus Canberra, round 1).
BOOKIE OFFER: Matt Moylan to score a try & Panthers to win $5! Click here T&Cs Apply.
MELBOURNE V NTH QUEENSLAND Saturday night, Suncorp Stadium
Although a trip to Queensland on face value could harm their chances of success here that isn’t the case with the Storm, who have won their last five at the venue (all against the Broncos).
North Queensland, on the other hand, has lost its past five at Suncorp and that includes a Golden Point defeat to the Broncos earlier this season. Of those losses, four have been by four points or less.
ATTACK V DEFENCE
The NRL premiers have the best attack of any team in the competition through nine rounds and average almost 30 points a match. That sets up an epic battle against the Storm defence who have held the Warriors and Titans scoreless in consecutive games.
One of the chinks in the Cowboys armour, if any, has been their form on the road with their two losses coming when traveling away from 1300Smiles Stadium.
Both losses were by narrow margins to Parramatta (four points) and Brisbane (one point). Another interesting aspect in those losses is that they were held to 20 points or less.
This is as tight as they come and we believe that the Storm have a genuine chance of upsetting the Cowboys in this one. Go for Melbourne in Head-to-Head markets and 1-12 in Margin betting.
BOOKIE OFFER: Lachlan Coote to score a try & Cowboys to win $4! Click here T&Cs Apply.
MANLY V BRISBANE Saturday night, Suncorp Stadium
An interesting stat is that the Sea Eagles have a fantastic record of ‘home’ games they’ve played outside of Brookvale, winning 15 of 17 although the majority of those have been at Gosford.
Another good point that will give the Manly faithful more reason to back them to win here is that they’ve won the six of the past nine at Suncorp.
The last time these teams met was in round 21 last year with the Broncos on an eight-game winning streak. The game was in Gosford and Manly blew them off the park, running away to win 44-14.
Big margins have been a feature between these sides in recent years with the average margin in the last four clashes being a whopping 25.5 points.
BRIDGE TOO FAR?
While history suggests that Sea Eagles are a big chance in this one, logic says otherwise.
The Broncos are coming off a narrow 30-28 loss to Cronulla at Shark Park which was their second defeat of the season. Both losses have been on the road and been by two points or less.
Brisbane has won all five matches at Suncorp Stadium this season and by an average of 23 points to boot!
We think Brisbane are a lock and probably the best bet of the weekend here. If you are looking for a bit of value, go for Corey Oates (Brs) or Jordan Kahu (Brs) to Score A Try at any stage as the pair has crossed the line in four straight games, with Kahu actually on a five-game streak.
BOOKIE OFFER: James Roberts to score a try & Broncos to win $3! Click here T&Cs Apply.
NEWCASTLE V CRONULLA Sunday afternoon, Hunter Stadium
Historically they have a good record over Cronulla, winning eight of nine at one point before the Sharks won both encounters last season. Sharkies fans are starting to believe they have a side that is a genuine shot at the premiership and it’s easy to see why. They beat the Broncos in round 9 and are equal first on the ladder along with both of last season’s Grand Finalists and the Melbourne Storm.
Their two losses this season have been on the road but that was earlier in the season (rounds 1 and 3) to the Cowboys and Sea Eagles respectively. On both occasions they were held to 14 points or less.
If the Knight’s defence was solid you could make an argument for them here, however, they are the worst side in the NRL in that department and are leaking 32.6 points per game.
That won’t be good enough against a side the calibre of the Sharks and we are tipping the visitors will easily get the money here.
BOOKIE OFFER: Jack Bird to score a try & Sharks to win $2.50! Click here T&Cs Apply.
WESTS TIGERS V BULLDOGS Sunday afternoon, ANZ Stadium
The last five times they have met has produced an average of 50 points per match, with the average winning margin being nearly 22ppg.
Bulldogs fans have been getting a little worked up recently over the lack of performance from their team. What is of more concern is their lack of attacking spark.
Through the opening nine rounds, the Bulldogs have scored over 20 points just once at home but if they are to break out it could be against the Tigers who are the second-worst defensive outfit in the competition behind Newcastle.
The Bulldogs have won seven of the last nine against the Tigers and have a top record at ANZ Stadium, losing just twice in their past eight at the venue (both against Parramatta this season).
Jason Taylor’s side blew Souths off the park early last start and held on for a 30-22 win, however, they will be without prolific tryscoring fullback James Tedesco for this one.
Making matters worse for the Tigers is a shocking ANZ Stadium record – just four wins in their last 17 visits.
HOME SWEET HOME
Although the Tigers get back the likes of Mitchell Moses and Aaron Woods, the loss of Tedesco is a big one. Expect them to put up a fight but we are thinking the Dogs will have too much muscle for them and grind out their sixth win of the year.
BOOKIE OFFER: Kevin Naiqama to score a try & Tigers to win $9! Click here T&Cs Apply.
GOLD COAST V SYDNEY ROOSTERS Monday night, Cbus Super Stadium
That was a big topic of conversation after they smashed the Knights 38-0 in their last outing. Although it was only against Newcastle, it was the first time the Roosters had fielded a near full strength line-up.
They are going for back-to-back wins for the first time this season and face a Titans outfit that is staring down the barrel of six straight losses.
Taking out their last loss, which was at home to the Storm 38-0, the Gold Coast’s efforts haven’t been without merit. In fact, their previous four losses were all by eight points or less so it goes to show they aren’t the pushovers many expected this season.
MONDAY NIGHT IS ALRIGHT
One of the concerning things for the Titans will be the Roosters imposing Monday Night Football record.
The chooks have won eight of the past 10 on MNF although they did lose their last one to the Panthers by two points just a matter of weeks ago. Sydney Roosters haven’t lost back-to-back MNF matches since 2011 while their away record for the time slot is seven wins and a draw from their last 10 starts.
We are still yet to be convinced of the Roosters’ stock as contenders but all the signs were there against Newcastle that Mitchell Pearce and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves will only improve with further game time.
Go for a Roosters win here but we definitely don’t think it will be an easy affair. If you are looking for a bit of extra value to round out the weekend then consider William Zillman (GC) to Score A Try – he has five in his last five outings against the Roosters.
BOOKIE OFFER: Latrell Mitchell to score a try & Roosters to win $3.50! Click here T&Cs Apply.