It may be magic by name, but this round’s NRL underdogs will require some serious wizardry to spring a surprise this week as the entire competition heads to Brisbane.
Tigers vs Knights
The Wests Tigers are a bit of a rabble, as seen by the mass changes made by Michael Maguire for tonight’s meeting with Newcastle. Adam Doueihi has been moved to the centres and Moses Mbye to five-eighth. Jock Madden is on the bench, while Jake Simpkin has been dropped entirely.
With all those new combinations in crucial areas of the field, it’s hard to see the Tigers getting close, even with Kalyn Ponga out for the Knights. The line of 3.5 looks very enticing indeed for the Novocastrians.
Sea Eagles vs Broncos
Brisbane’s home-ground advantage (even if they’re technically the away team) won’t make for too much considering the superstar fullback they need to deal with this week. Tom Trbojevic is doing some incredible things at the moment. How’s this for a stats line for his four games of the season? Eight try assists, 20 tackle breaks, nine line breaks, 841 total running metres. Oh, and he’s scored at least one try in every one of his games so far.
Some of the top teams might be able to stop him, but a top team the Broncos are not. Manly should be looking at a win with a hefty margin.
Bulldogs vs Raiders
Surely the Raiders have to turn it around now. A loss to the battling Bulldogs would probably result in crisis meetings early next week, but that’s an unlikely scenario, particularly given Canberra get star hooker Josh Hodgson back via the bench.
The last time these two sides met, Jack Wighton snared a double for the Green Machine, so could be worth looking at if you fancy a first try-scorer bet.
Sharks vs Rabbitohs
Cronulla have just lost Shaun Johnson for another fortnight, they aren’t playing all that well, and the Rabbitohs will be desperate for redemption following their 50-point beatdown at the hands of Melbourne.
The main point that puts this match in favour of Souths is that Adam Reynolds is back and will have a point to prove. His value only increased during his absence, and with him back at halfback, the Rabbitohs look a good chance of a win by ten or more points.
Roosters vs Cowboys
The Roosters have continued to win despite their injury toll, but this week are due to be boosted by the return of Victor Radley at lock. With the Cowboys ‘leading’ the league for missed tackles, having Radley’s ball-playing ability at the back of the pack could well open up the game and lead to a very high-scoring match.
Warriors vs Eels
If you want to take an upset this weekend, here’s your best chance. The Eels have been training in two groups due to biosecurity measures and have injuries to deal with. The Warriors were impressive in attack last week, and their defensive issues won’t be as much of a concern given Parramatta’s star five-eighth, Dylan Brown, is suspended.
History suggests this one could be a low-scoring encounter: 2016 was the last time the Eels and Warriors combined for more than 30 points in a single match.
Storm vs Dragons
It’s no great surprise to see the Storm heavily favoured in this one – they’ll almost certainly grab the win. Still, they have a mountain of key players out: Cameron Munster, Harry Grant and Brandon Smith will all spend this weekend on the sideline. It could be a far closer match than the line of 14.5 suggests.
Josh Addo-Carr is coming off an incredible six-try performance last week, and it’s no surprise to see him the shortest-priced option for first try-scorer this round.
Titans vs Panthers
The Panthers will lose eventually, but to a Titans, side missing David Fifita? Unlikely. Fifita has been Gold Coast’s most important player this year, averaging a try per game from the second row on top of a heavy ball-running and tackling workload. With him out, the Titans attack will struggle to get any significant go-forward, and Penrith should cruise home to their tenth-straight win.
A version of this preview was originally published over at The Roar https://www.theroar.com.au/2021/05/13/the-roars-nrl-expert-tips-and-predictions-round-10-5/