NRL Tips Round 2
We had a pretty good start to the NRL season last weekend, picking 6 out of 8 winners for you!
Here’s our preview and Tips for Round 2 of the NRL
BULLDOGS V EELS – FRI 13 MAR, 7.35PM AEDT ANZ STADIUM
Traditional rivals. Old foes. One … a round one winner. One … a round one loser. But both would have come away from their season debut equally buoyant. The Eels were razor sharp in their demolition of Manly. William Hopoate showed there is life after Jarryd Hayne with some key moments at fullback. Anthony Watmough brought steel and experience to their pack. And Chris Sandow wound back the clock with a performance that would have had the Parramatta faithful flashing those pearly whites. Yep, the same fans more than happy to disown the prodigious talent at the mere thought of a missed tackle or misdirected pass. Ah footy fans. Gotta love the passion! The Bulldogs had no bark for an hour against Penrith. Then something happened. Like a puppy that just found a bone they played like world beaters as the Pink Panthers seemingly had no (Inspector) Clouseau. Their 15 minutes of fame is the crucial form guide to take into account. Josh Reynolds is out with a broken arm and his loss will be felt. But the Doggies showed enough in a quarter of an hour to propel them into week two. There was a little bit of magic in that spell. Wizardry some might say.
ATHLETES TALK: Bulldogs by 8
SHARKS V BRONCOS – FRI 13 MAR, 8:35PM AEDT (7.35PM AEST), REMONDIS STADIUM
Let’s be honest. There wasn’t much to like about either of these teams last weekend. The Broncos re-launched the Wayne Bennett era with a crushing loss to the Rabbitohs. The Sharks were on the wrong end of one of the more forgettable games of 2015. Yep. Only one round in and we have an early contender that may be hard to beat! Both teams look strong on paper but what good is that if their defence is only as stern as the sheet it’s written on. Bennett has swung the axe and Sam Thaiday has been dumped to the bench. His first hit-up should be fun to watch. The Sharks were dismal but with rain around in Sydney the conditions may just suit their big forwards. They’re unlikely to help Ben Barba’s game in his first clash against the team that dumped him mid-season. He’s likely to see a lot of traffic in defence. Probably of the Thaiday variety.
ATHLETES TALK: Broncos by 6
PANTHERS V TITANS – SAT 14 MAR, 4:30PM (AEDT), CARRINGTON PARK
The Panthers are taking this game to Bathurst and you can expect they’ll have their motor running after dodging one almighty scare against the Doggies last weekend. They go into this one with an unchanged line-up and if they can put an 80 minute performance together they should be way too strong for the Titans. Emotion surely played a part in their admirable round 1 narrow loss to the Tigers. That sort of energy rarely carries into a second week.
ATHLETES TALK: Panthers by 18
SEA EAGLES V STORM – SAT 14 MAR, 7:00PM (AEDT), BROOKVALE OVAL
Ok. So Manly were terrible in round 1. We know it. They know it. And I sense that’s what will be the catalyst for change tomorrow night. They’re back at home and they don’t call it “Fortress Brookie” without reason. There are plenty of doubters out there queuing up to put a red line through the Sea Eagles campaign already. Do so at your own peril. Daly Cherry-Evans has declared his future plans and Steve Matai makes his first appearance for 2015. He’s a big inclusion. Countering that is the loss of Kieran Foran, breaking up the best halves pairing in the competition. But when Foran missed games last year Geoff Toovey called up Jack Littlejohn from the NSW Cup and he didn’t let him down. Manly will be ok! They meet their old rivals Melbourne who despite beating the Dragons last weekend, weren’t in great nick themselves. What can’t be denied is their incredible defence. They had very little of the ball and still managed to get by. Expect the Sea Eagles to be a much tougher prospect for the Storm, especially at home.
ATHLETES TALK: Sea Eagles by 4
COWBOYS V KNIGHTS – SAT 14 MAR, 8:00PM AEST (9.00PM AEDT), 1300 SMILES STADIUM
Newcastle head north to take on a Cowboys side who will be hell bent on proving last week’s smash and dash by the Roosters was a mere blip on the North Queensland radar. The Knights were solid in week 1. They boast what could be one of the most lethal centre pairings in the competition and a repeat performance from Dane Gagai and BJ Leilua could spell trouble for the Cowboys. They get Kurt Gidley back from injury and behind a surging forward pack the Knights aren’t without hope. You’d think the Cowboys will be a much tougher prospect this weekend though. There is too much pride in Johnathan Thurston to think something special isn’t around the corner. In great news for all NRL fans, Lachlan Coote has been named on an extended bench following two years of injury torment.
ATHLETES TALK: Cowboys by 14
RABBITOHS V ROOSTERS – SUN 15 MAR, 4:00PM (AEDT), ANZ STADIUM
What a game this one shapes as. Anyone got a coin? Flip it and see if it can pick a winner! Both of these fierce rivals were extremely impressive in their respective Queensland road trips last weekend. The Rabbitohs started 2015 where they left off last season, destroying the Broncos in a serious warning shot to the rest of the competition. Adam Reynolds was sensational for the Premiers and his combination with Luke Keary suggests there are a lot more points to come in the Bunnies. But as good as the Rabbitohs were, there was plenty to like in the Roosters lassoing of the Cowboys. There was an element of “under the radar” from the Chooks, the kind of stealth mission that perhaps North Queensland didn’t see coming. There’s little danger of that now. Let’s hope the weather is good. This one should be a beauty.
ATHLETES TALK: Roosters by 2
RAIDERS V WARRIORS – SUN 15 MAR, 6:30PM (AEDT), GIO STADIUM
This one has got points written all over it. The Raiders were the surprise winner in round 1 but even they would concede they still have a long way to go to be considered a genuine threat. They’re on home turf where their record is traditionally enviable, but that was mostly compiled by better teams than this one. The Warriors are a good match-up for Canberra. Two huge forward packs which should bash and crash all the way to the bruise bus. How they’ll stop the Warriors when the ball gets given some air is the burning question. They put 54 points on Canberra when they last met and in a game sure to produce plenty of tries yet again, there’s every chance the floodgates could open when the dam wall breaks. Or something like that. The Warriors should have beaten Newcastle last weekend. They’ll be too good for Canberra – if they turn up. And with the Warriors, that’s never guaranteed!
ATHLETES TALK: Warriors by 10
WESTS TIGERS V DRAGONS – MON 16 MAR, 7:00PM (AEDT), CAMPBELLTOWN STADIUM
It’s hard to see the Dragons getting a result here. The Tigers weren’t brilliant in round 1 but they found a way after trailing for most of the game against the Titans. There was little to remember from that game apart from Pat Richards’ dramatic match-winning field goal in the final seconds. On paper, something suggests the Dragons should be better than they are. But they dominated possession against a Storm side that is nowhere near the force they once were and hardly fired a shot. They looked impotent in attack. Josh Dugan is injured and there’s no certainty he’ll play. Without their best attacking weapon it’s hard to see that changing. The Tigers won’t score a heap but they’ll have enough in this one.
ATHLETES TALK: Tigers by 10