BRISBANE V CANTERBURY Thursday night, Suncorp Stadium

What a tricky match to get the week started. I am not convinced by the Broncos despite their better effort last week against Parramatta. Both these sides had scratchy wins against St George, but then again that might not be bad form considering the Dragons thumped the Sharks last week.

This is the litmus test for the Broncos, at home it gives them the advantage although the away form of the Bulldogs is good. Whilst I lean to the Broncos to actually win the game, the bet is the Bulldogs with the +4 start ($1.94 UNIBET). The Dogs so often look far from premiership material, but they keep on winning. I expect them to stay right in this game for a long time.

For First Try Scorer – am looking to Moses MBye ($26 Ladbrokes) to get the Bulldogs off to a good start, he is always near the ball and with the big Bulldog forwards carting it up into the Broncos quarter, he is a good chance to score first at decent odds.
Bulldogs +4 - 1pt @ 2.50
Mbye First TS - 1pt @ 26.00

PENRITH V WESTS TIGERS Friday night, Pepper Stadium

This is going to be a good game. Both teams come off strong wins last start and with a fair bit at stake, it promises to be a belter. The Tigers are playing a really good brand of football and I enjoy watching them play with Moses calling the shots. However, they lose Tedesco to a season-ending broken jaw. He is a huge loss and a real x factor in this Wests Tigers side. This definitely swings the match the Panthers way.

Whilst it is hard not to tip the Panthers, from a betting perspective I believe the bet is Wests Tigers plus the start ($1.91 Sportsbet) which is a whopping 9.5 points. That’s too big, even with Tedesco out. A cold Friday night out at the foot of the mountains is conducive to a tight affair, and this looks a great bet.

Last week Matt Moylan ($15 Bet365) was simply outstanding and we are going to roll with him to be the First Try Scorer in this game. He will be instrumental in the Panthers push for the Top 8 so we expect him to figure prominently in this match.
Tigers +9.5 - 1pt @ 1.91
Moylan First TS - 1pt @ 15.00

NEWCASTLE V GOLD COAST Saturday afternoon, Hunter Stadium

Here we are again trying to assess the Knights, who put in a sterling effort to be 6 a-piece with Penrith last week, before turning it right up and getting thumped 36-0 in the second half. That’s nearly a point a minute and very disappointing given their first half ticker.

For the 3rd game in a row this weekend I am going to tip the short-priced favourites to win the game, but on the punt I am going to back the outsider with the start. The Knights get 13.5 ($1.91 Sportsbet) and I have a feeling the Gold Coast might drop their intensity here and let the Knights stay within 2 converted tries. The Titans are a work in progress and games which look locks to win can often see sides fumble around and make heavy weather of it. Ok the Knights have lost 15 in a row, and this is purely a speculator but if they can replicate the first half vs Penrith and the whole match effort vs the Storm, then the start looks good.

The big Kiwi Konrad Hurrell ($11 Bet365) has made a decent impression since landing in QLD from the Warriors and he is play good football. Let’s cheer him on to be the First Try Scorer at Hunter Stadium.
Knights +13.5 - 1pt @ 1.91
HUrrell First TS - 1pt @ 11.00

MANLY V MELBOURNE Brookvale Oval, Saturday afternoon

Manly put on a late season rally as they tried to sneak into the 8 but Parramatta torpedoed them and Manly are gone. With a few injuries taking their toll, especially the loss of Dylan Walker, the Eagles will have a tough time of it at Brookvale.

The Storm might not be going as well as they would like for this stage of the year after being rolled by an outstanding Raiders outfit last week. I do expect them to bounce and bounce well under Craig Bellamy, and I believe they will beat Manly easily. I am going to back the Storm minus the 8.5 line ($1.91 Sportsbet) as they must get back on track in their run towards the semis. Manly have nothing to play for, and as such are vulnerable.

It is hard to look past the Melbourne fliers for First Try Scorer, he has been in somewhat of a drought, but I am having a few shekels on Vunivalu ($7 Bet365) to cross first in the game.
Storm -8.5 - 1pt @ 1.91
Vunivalu First TS - 1pt @ 7.00

NORTH QUEENSLAND V NEW ZEALAND 1300 Smiles Stadium, Saturday night

Who would have thought we would be 3 weeks out from the semis talking about how the Cowboys have lost three in a row! One noticeable aspect of the recent Cowboys form is how Thurston isn’t his usual outstanding self at the moment. He wasn’t on song against the Roosters, and maybe he is feeling his hamstring somewhat. He has been off his game – something we haven’t been able to say for the best part of a decade.

Same thing as three previous matches this round – I expect the Cowboys to win, but I have to take the Warriors at the +12 line ($2 Bet365). If you erase their woeful effort at home against the Bunnies (and there isn’t a side like the Warriors who can chuck in such a poor effort out of the blue) with quite a lot at stake here, they need to match it with the Cowboys.

We are setting a trend for backing big, tough Kiwi-bred backs to score First Try and there is no point bucking this trend. Manu Vatuvei ($15 Bet365) to score first in Townsville. You could also look at a sneaky HT / FT double Warriors into Cowboys ($8 UNIBET) which is a good price for a speccy.
Warriors +12 - 1pt @ 2.00
Vatuvei First TS - 1pt @ 15.00
Warriors / Cowboys - 1pt @ 8.00

CANBERRA V PARRAMATTA Sunday afternoon, GIO Stadium

The Raiders were simply outstanding against Melbourne last week and I do not honestly expect them to be able to replicate that benchmark they set. Losing Hodgson is a decent enough blow, whilst Parra welcome back some very, very big ins – Beau Scott and Semi Radradra. They are huge additions to this Parramatta side, and keeping up with the trend, this is my best bet of the round – Parramatta plus the 13.5 start ($1.91 Sportsbet) against the Raiders. I am all over it. It is a really, really good line to have on your side of the ledger.

Also working well with my theory about afternoon games with free scoring sides, the Overs in Total Points ($1.91 Sportbet) looks a decent enough bet on top of the start, so have a piece of that too.

For a 3rd investment in this match, let’s take some great odds about the Eels / Raiders HT-FT Double ($8 Centrebet) as I expect the Eels to start well, with Bevan French ($12 LuxBet) a very good chance to kick-start the day perfectly for the Eels by dotting down first.
Eels +13.5 - 1pt @ 1.91
Eels / Raiders - 1pt @ 8.00
French First TS - 1pt @ 12.00

SYDNEY ROOSTERS V ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA Sunday afternoon, Allianz Stadium

This is going to be an interesting match-up as both sides are coming off cracking wins. Saints haven’t been able to buy a try, yet put 5 past my Sharkies! What on earth was going on there? The Roosters too finally played to their rosters capabilities, swatting aside the defending premiers.

I do think the market has got this one wrong and for mine it is a toss-of-the-coin game. Therefore, I simply have to be on the Dragons ($2.85 UNIBET) at the chunky price. Not only that, I think that the Dragons will come out of the blocks with plenty of confidence after dusting their bitter rivals last week, so expect Euan Aitken ($15 Bet365) to be a very live chance to score the First Try, as the Dragons go about leading from start to finish. Have something on the Dragons-Dragons HT/FT Double ($4.20 UNIBET).
Dragons - 1pt @ 2.85
Aitken First TS - 1pt @ 15.00
Dragons / Dragons - 1pt @ 4.20

SOUTHS V CRONULLA Monday night, ANZ Stadium

What a game to finish off the round. Cronulla’s wobbly wheels are making their supporters very nervous at the moment, but it is better their slump happens now than in 3-4 week’s time. They still need to get out of it, and this looms as a very important match. What about Souths? The last few weeks have been nothing short of unbelievable. They were gone for all money a few weeks ago, squared off and almost toppled the Storm, then belted the Warriors away last week. What did you do Madge?

Damien Cook has given the bunnies some spark around dummy-half and Inglis is starting to fire a motor that has stuttered in club football this season. It is too hard to ignore the Bunnies form of the last week or so, and it is also too hard to ignore the slump the Sharks find themselves in. We love a trend and yet again I believe the favourites will win off the bat, but I am all over the Bunnies with the start of 7.5 ($1.91 Sportsbet). Its looks the bet here.

After being demoted to the mighty North Sydney Bears NSW Cup side where he bagged a treble, Joe Burgess ($14 Sportsbet) is back in First Grade and has been scoring tries for fun. We are on him to continue that rich vein of form and get across the chalk first on Monday.
Rabbitohs +7.5 - 1pt @ 3.15
J. Burgess First TS - 1pt @ 14.00