Broncos vs Rabbitohs
The Broncos’ last win, four weeks ago over the Roosters, will seem like a distant memory as they prepare to play yet another Thursday night game. Over the last three weeks, they have let in scores of 40, 52 and 38. It’s been simply embarrassing for Kevin Walters’ team.
South Sydney have the competition’s fifth-best attack and have gone past 30 on six occasions in the first 12 rounds. With the NRL’s most prolific ball-running hooker in Damien Cook returning, as well as Alex Johnston, coming off his second hat-trick in as many games, the Rabbitohs could hand the Broncos a pasting.
Rabbitohs by 26. $1.59 at PlayUp
Cowboys vs Sharks
The Cowboys may be awful on the road, but they have won five straight in Townsville. Meanwhile, the Sharks have lost their last five away from the adopted home at Kogarah. It means they have lost all three games played out of the Sydney basin this year.
While it’s impossible to tip the Sharks, expect this one to be a high-scoring contest with the Sharks third and Cowboys fourth for most missed tackles. The Cowboys have a marginally better attacking record and have scored 65 points in their last two home games.
Cowboys by 8. $3.10 at PlayUp
Panthers vs Roosters
The Panthers have lost two on the bounce after 12 straight wins to start the season, but they welcome back an enormous contingent of Origin stars this week. They have only scored 24 points in the last fortnight but, without Nathan Cleary and Jarome Luai, who have eight tries and 26 try assists in 12 games between them, that isn’t an enormous surprise.
The Roosters concede an average of almost eight points per game more than their opposition. Given Penrith lead the competition in run and post-contact metres, it will be enough for them to stay on the attack and win this one.
Panthers by 12. $3.05 at PlayUp
Knights vs Warriors
In a game between two sides struggling at the wrong end of the ladder, discipline and holding onto the ball will prove vital. The Warriors sit second for set completions at 80% and as a result make the second-fewest number of errors. The Knights are not particularly awful in these areas, sitting at the middle of the table, but given they have only scored 14 points in the last two weeks, their defence leaking 26 points per game will prove costly.
Kalyn Ponga, who has four tries and four try assists in five games, returning will help Newcastle’s cause, but it is balanced out by the return of Reece Walsh, who has four tries and eight try assists in six games for the Warriors.
Warriors by 10. $3.90 at PlayUp
Dragons vs Raiders
At one stage between 2003 and 2013, the Dragons lost 15 of 16 against the Raiders. While one of Australia’s longest-running sporting hoodoos has been snapped, the Red V is back on a slippery slope, having lost three straight against Canberra.
The Dragons might be on the edge of the top eight, but they suffered an abysmal loss to the Bulldogs on Monday, completing at just 70 per cent and missing 34 tackles. Given they sit in the bottom half for completions and have missed the second-highest number of tackles, it’s a continuation of worrying trends for the Dragons.
The Raiders may have just turned a corner too, running on 38 points last week with Josh Papalii’s return providing immediate impact. Combined with a five-day turnaround for the home side, this could get a little ugly.
Raiders by 20. $3.60 at PlayUp
Storm vs Tigers
If there was ever likely to be a one-sided game, it’s this one. With 11 straight wins under the belt where they have gone past 40 on eight occasions, Melbourne now welcomes back Origin stars Cameron Munster and Christian Welch.
They might be stuck on the Sunshine Coast, but given the Tigers have the competition’s third-worst defensive record, anything other than a cricket score-sized win for the Storm would be a surprise.
Storm by 30. $1.32 at PlayUp
Eels vs Bulldogs
Canterbury is coming off a stunning win over the Dragons on Monday, but haven’t won two straight since the middle of 2019. Not only that, but the Eels will be a step up in quality, with Parramatta sitting third for attack and having run up 40 points in each of their last two games.
Sitting third for line breaks, second for tackle busts, third for post-contact metres and second for total possession, it’s hard to see anything other than a Parramatta win. Canterbury might complete their sets better than any other team, but it won’t count for much here against the blue and gold.
Eels by 20. $1.43 at PlayUp
Titans vs Sea Eagles
The Titans are one of the most frustrating teams in the competition, with inconsistency plaguing them from week to week. They have lost three straight, despite scoring 34 points against the Roosters last Saturday.
Their defence is, at times, horrific, giving up over 27 points per game. It’s something a returning Tom Trbojevic will look to take full toll of, with Manly running up 50 in his absence last week. It’s the second time this season the Sea Eagles have hit a half-century and, with Trbojevic already having 20 try involvements, 34 tackle busts, 11 line breaks and 209 metres per game across his seven appearances, Manly will go to another level again.
Sea Eagles by 16. $2.44 at PlayUp