NRL Tips & Game Previews | Round 19 | 2021

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MrG provides our NRL Tips Previews and content each week for our Reading The Play NRL subscribers. Further details on our NRL offering here

MrG’s Game Handicaps for this round

-12.5 Eels v Raiders – Robina
-9.5 Roosters v Knights – Sunshine Coast
-32.5 Cowboys v Storm – Townsville
-17.5 Rabbits v Warriors – Sunshine Coast
-17.5 Eagles v Tigers – Brisbane
-19.5 Panthers v Broncos – Brisbane
+6.5 Dragons v Titans – Robina
+7.5 Bulldogs v Sharks – Robina

Market Moves since opening positions on Monday

opened -12.5 now -15.5 Eels v Raiders – Robina
opened -9.5 touched -11.5 now -10.5 Roosters v Knights – Sunshine Coast
opened +24.5 now +30.5 Cowboys v Storm – Townsville
opened -15.5 now -19.5 Rabbits v Warriors – Sunshine Coast
opened -16.5 now -19.5 Eagles v Tigers – Brisbane
opened -16.5 now -20.5 Panthers v Broncos – Brisbane
opened +6.5 now +5.5 Dragons v Titans – Robina
opened +12.5 now +11.5 Bulldogs v Sharks – Robina

Recommended Bet List

Bet 2 units all up $2.11
Eels to win $1.18
Roosters to win $1.28
Storm -19.5 $1.40 (pick your own line)

Bet 3.5 units Storm -24.5 $1.90 BB
Cowboys offer the weakest defence in the comp at present, Storm look well placed to rattle up a big score

Bet 2 units Eagles-Tigers over 50.5 $1.90
Eagles get all their guns back this week, dry track, arvo game, both teams like attack, looks points all over it

Bet 1.5 units Bulldogs +12.5 $1.90
Bet 0.5 unit Bulldogs $3.80

Bulldogs have been deep into or won (Dragons) 4 of last 5, Marshall-King big in, neutral ground

Bet 1.5 units all up Anytime Try Nicho Hynes (Storm) x Tom Trbojevic (Eagles) $2.85

BB – Indicates Best Bet

Any longer term plays that have been recommended in prior weeks will be listed at the base of this message

Individual Game Tips

Eels, Roosters, Storm, Rabbits, Eagles, Panthers, Titans, Bulldogs

Game Preview Notes

-12.5 Eels v Raiders – Robina

Ground: Robina
52.5 Total Points (market position)

Eels without Moses. Raiders Wighton and Savage from last week, have list of longer term outs including Horsburgh, Whitehead, Simmonsson, Nicoll-Klokstad, Lui and Scott.

At a level below the top of the table few the Eels just keep doing the business. They could have had every excuse to put a bad one in last week, mid week relocations, keys rests and outs, lack of training runs and prep yet they turned up, aimed up and quickly went whack and put the game beyond the Titans. Season to date they have had a very favourable draw (interesting few weeks ahead) but they are reliable, get through their work and get the job done. I thought the return of Reed Mahoney was a big positive, he points them in the right direction, plays straight and gets them direct through the mid field and that is where the easy yards were and set up everything else that they then did. They get Paulo back this week, should have had a much more settled prep an get weakened opponent.

Raiders have surprised two weeks in a row, not only winning but also picking up away wins. But their injury toll does look to be catching up with them with at lest now 8 or 9 missing from what would be their best 17 a few months ago, that’s a very big hole in quality and depth to patch up. credit to their second half effort last week, which it was a low game they could well have rolled over just after half time yet kept turning up and then went on with the result. Hodgson has been very good through recent weeks with his direction and leadership, finding some old form and confidence. I don’t like Rapana anywhere near fullback, and the bench looks very thin for obvious reasons.

Eels to win, they have been well backed on the news of the further Raiders outs, I was 12 to 14 between them and expect that the Eels should cover that.

-9.5 Roosters v Knights – Sunshine Coast

Ground: Sunshine Coast
51.5 Total Points (market position)

Big ins for the Roosters with Tedesco and Taukeiaho. Key to the market position is if Ponga plays off the back of HIA protocol and turn around. They remain without key players Pearce, Best and a few additional injury outs.

The Roosters are two professional and still have that sprinkling of class when they line up against these teams either at the base of the table (like the last two wins) of those weakened with key outs and questionable depth as the Knights are here. The win over the Cows last week wasn’t as straightforward and a walk in the park like it could well have been 9and weak opponent) but they got away late to a margin and 34-18 win. Their two ins this week are substantial, class and strike at the back and experience and muscle in the middle.

Knights were well exposed last week with some horrible defence against the benchmark team, in particular their right edge and then bench depth. With Pearce, Best and Daniel Saifiti missing and then the early game loss of Ponga they were completely exposed and then bashed up. With two of those still missing and a question mark over Ponga they again look well up against it here, they also have a very poor head to head record losing 13 of the last 15 and the last 3 by 30 point or more margins.

I can’t get the the game out to 12 or beyond, I continue to think the Roosters are venerable week in week out and for mine not a confident Line betting proposition. I expect they win, happy to leave it at that.

-32.5 Cowboys v Storm – Townsville

Ground: Townsville
51.5 Total Points (market position)

Storm are resting Munster, Kaufusi, Finucane. I expect with the return of Papenhuyzen they will also have the option of resting Hughes and moving Hynes to #7 if they do so. With Papenhuyzen they also get Welch, Asofa-Solomona and Addo-Carr back this week, not bad depth.

We have the benchmark team of the comp who have won their last 14 straight, 13 of those by 16 pt or more margins up against a bottom of table opponent who over the last 5 weeks in losing 5 straight have also been offering the worse defence in the competition. The Storm have quality and depth, strong combinations which ever way they line up and are so reliable just about ever week (as their record shows) to turn up, roll their sleeves up and get on with the business. I expect more of the same here, even with teh changes I was always at least 32 to 34 between them at the start of the week and could well justify having it higher.

The Storm have the best defence, and have rattled up 40 pts 12 times already this season. They beat the Roosters 46-0 only a few weeks ago, 48-4 last week and put 66 through the Tigers. It looks a decisive win here for mine.

-17.5 Rabbits v Warriors – Sunshine Coast

Ground: Sunshine Coast
51.5 Total Points (market position)

Rabbits are without Johnson, importantly get Mitchell back and Arrow in the middle. Warriors have a lit of major outs including Tuivasa-Sheck, Harris, Egan and Berry.

The problem with the Rabbits is that they are unreliable in motivation and hunger from week to week in wanting to really put their foot down for 80 minutes and perform at or near their best? On paper it is very easy to mark them 18 to 20 point favs here against a weakened opponent on a significant losing streak, and that they should be (-20.0) – but the Rabbits have only covered the line at 3 of the last 13 occasions where they have been -10.0 or higher, clearly worth staying away from at present. They key is their motivation, and picking the time when we think they are up and have something to play for ie against an arch rival and or a top of the table match up or game with key table outcome issue.

Warriors have now lost 8 of their last 9 and on the back of all of these injury outs are in deep poo right now. They were right in the game last week and leading / challenging the Panthers and looked like giving that a real shake until injury hit and they lost 4 key players in the run into half time, and then just couldn’t measure up in the second half (for obvious reason, yet did exceptionally well to hold the game back from a blow out). They will be back to 17 here, but those 4 outs are key players and weaken them significantly.

Expect Rabbits win. If they are half serious they cover the line, with the key ins and talent they have they should well do that anyway, but I’m happy to stay out.

-17.5 Eagles v Tigers – Brisbane

Ground: Brisbane
52.5 Total Points (market position)

Suncop Stadium, 5.30pm, dry track, looks big attacking and open footy match up here. Eagles get all the guns back this week, both Trbojevic brothers, Cherry-Evans and then additional key forwards Aloiai and Gosiewski – that’s 5 very key ins. Tigers pretty much remain the same as last week.

While I am not as wide as 20.0 here on paper, known performance, strike and defence weakness there is certainly a gap. What we do know about the Tigers is they are very flakey and have not aimed up when under any expectation or focus against the good teams (like this match up). And lets be frank, they were behind by 10 points at half time last week to the 16th placed team, and but for their opponents disgraceful second half defensive offering could well have been in some real trouble. I think the game and win result has little depth. In their 3 games prior against contenders at the top of the table they were weak, Rabbits, Storm and Eels easily owning them. I’m sure there will be patches here where they compete, but hard to see them sustaining that in a winning position for 80 minutes.

As we already know the Eagles are just a different gravy when Tom plays, then this week add to that the additional key ins and all but back to full strength line up and they look a very formidable, strong and attacking team. They also look to get all the conditions to play, dry track, clear arvo, 5.30pm game time and a defensive offering that can leak and or quickly fold.

An Eagles 20 point win would not surprise, but this game does look to have points all over it and I thought that looked the best way to play it. I did my numbers on this 3 times, and was anything like 62 to mid 60’s in total. The Eagles last 5 outings have seen totals all above 46, with four of them at 68, 80, 66 and 50. The Tigers last 4 outings have delivered totals at 52, 82, 60 and 66. The Tigers can score 20 or so points, but they consistently leak 30+ against the better teams (and 24 last week against the 16th placed team). I can’t see how this isn’t well over the original total position.

-19.5 Panthers v Broncos – Brisbane

Ground: Brisbane
51.5 Total Points (market position)

Luai is a very big in for the Panthers this week. Fisher-Harris in some doubt. Broncos leak 32 points second half last week and remain unchanged?

While still without Cleary the Panthers do look much better with Luai back. Interesting that they have a big big match up next week against the Storm and how much their eyes and head is on that game and more going through the motions here, get the win, get the job done and don’t get injured? They had their poor moments last week (and the game prior 13-12 win) but again get the right opponent at the base of the table who are unlikely to really test them and physically take the game and pressure to them. One thing they have done well through recent games while and has been a hallmark of their work over the last two seasons has been their defence, they still only concede 10 to 12 points on average each week and again last week held the Warriors to 16, and many times late in the first half and through the second did they turn up again and again on their own line.

The Broncos are the Broncos, a positive first half effort last week, lead by 10 at half time (and should have been at least 4 to 10 more) and then have a few things go against them early second half and they just completely fold. With Lodge and Pangai now gone they are should on a big physical forward that can take it to an opponent and set a platform for them to aim up, and lead others forward, Croft is flakey at #7 and makes many poor decisions, Gamble has strong moments but can also over play his hand, and they have way too many general errors.

Panthers should be winning, should the Broncos once again roll over then they cover the line, but I do have some concern on them having their mind on next week.

+6.5 Dragons v Titans – Robina

Ground: Robina
51.5 Total Points (market position)

Who turns up here? Dragons have 7 changes and a major (positive) overhaul of their team list, they look in this up to their ears. Titans lose Fogarty, Clark and Sami.

My bad last week as I got the Titans very wrong. I expected they had everything in their favour, at home, week of home prep, off positive away win, opponent having key outs and a plus underdog position, yet they were utter rubbish. Mentally they just can not be trusted and you can all but leave me out of them for the weeks if not months to come. Yes they had a key sin bin against them (horrible decision) but they were already rolling over, no attitude, no effort to defend key errors and just have a crack, completely trampled through the middle. The Dragons are not at that level, and normally no where near as direct or physical, and off such a shit offering you would expect improvement. We shall wait and see. Fogarty is certainly a loss.

I think the Dragons had penciled in last week as a tough week and a loss and are just getting on with the job. I think they likely take the opposite approach this week and will be very up and about and give themselves a great chance in this game. The changes and ins are all positive, looks a good strong forward line up, don’t like the centres (Beale and Ramsey), but overall a much much better team than they have had for many weeks.

If the game opens up and defence is just optional then the Titans are likely favoured. If the Dragons as they so often do make this an unattractive arm wrestle then they also get their chance. I’d like to see the Dragons play more positive ball play and attack, and maybe without Norman and with the changes at #6 and Dufty back they can do this. On paper with the Titans at home I can have them 6 or so points favs, but it looks a very very tricky game.

+7.5 Bulldogs v Sharks – Robina

Ground: Robina
49.5 Total Points (market position)

It may be the last game of the round but this one has a lot of intrigue all over it, in particular for mine in and around the Bulldogs. They have Marshall-King and Stimson back. Sharks are with out Tolman, and still have Moylan and Graham out.

Firstly I think the Bulldogs have been priced wrongly and down too far on losing and not on effort, their opponents and overall formline. With all of that in the conversation and onto a neutral ground I can’t be more than 6 to 8 between them. My rational is as follows: They have been deep in and or won at 4 of their last 5 games including the positive win over the Dragons. The game they were flogged they had 5 or more outs and thin bench depth and were into a hiding to nothing game against the Eagles. When they have had their best or near best team list available they are competitive and have had a crack. They were deep into the game against the Eels and had some key decisions go against them early second half, had the Roosters 16 all with 8 minutes to go two games ago and then last week were neck and neck with the Rabbits with 10 to go and blew any chance due to their own error and poor play. And yes they have that in them, but they are far better in effort and execution now than they were months ago. This now is the best forward line up they have fielded for months with only Elliott missing, with the luxury of 3 big middles, good edge, and better bench depth especially with Simson added to Napa and Ogden. Marshall-King is a very positive in, he has ability, now gives them something at #9 and can make little things happen especially with his back up play. They sit last on the table for a reason but I think their recent form is better than it looks and this is a far better team list than they have had for many weeks.

The Sharks might also be the right opponent for them this week. Lost 2 of their last 3 and the win was over the losing streak Warriors, and they fell away very poorly in a low game last week to a weakened list Raiders to leak 34. With no Graham and or Moylan they might be lacking that hard edge of leadership and want to win, and maybe are back to just going through the motions? The loss to the Broncos was credible in a decent game of footy, but it still looks a thin form line, and the Bulldogs first win of this season was against them back in Rd7 when the Bulldogs were the across town away visitor.

From the outset I thought the +12.5 was too big and the right way to play the game. With then the named teams and in particular the Bulldogs two ins I give them a very good chance of the upset. It’s the Bulldogs, never rolled gold good things, but I do think they get a week where they will give themselves a real chance and give the upset a real shake.

Longer Term Recommended Bet List

Bet 6 units Storm to win Premiership $2.60
Clearly now the benchmark and the one to beat, Panthers likely to have longer term injury questions over Cleary (shoulder) and Luai (knee), Storm have key depth, confidence and quality combinations

Bet 3 units Eagles to make Top 4 $5.00
Think the price is way too high, Eagles have a very soft run home with only 2 games vs Top 4 contenders then a further 10 vs bottom 8 sides/contenders. Clearly they are very reliant on the fitness of Tom Trbojevic which is factored into the odds and my bet, but if he plays most of these games they give this a huge shake

Bet 3 units Raiders to miss Top 8 $2.00 Topsport $1.95 Tab
Lost 5 straight and should have been beat by 16th placed Bulldogs last week, not a happy crew from everything I hear, think bottom of the 8 gets very competitive in second half of the yr and have to take them on

Bet 4 units Panthers Minor Premiers $3.30 Topsport
Market is also available at Tab and Sportsbet $3.00
Undefeated after 3 rounds, quality longer home record and have depth in key positions, my numbers right now suggest they now appear as $2.00 chance

Bet 5 units Titans top QLD team $1.77 Topsport
Market is also available at Ladbrokes $1.75 and Sportsbet $1.67
We have a small interest speculator on Titans Top 4, think this is a positive way to cover our stake longer term. Three way contest, what we are betting is the final table position between Titans and Cowboys and I’m confident on the Titans progression late last yr (won last 5 games), key signings, positive off season + quality coach that this is the right play. Should Cam Smith turn up mid season as I expect then icing on the cake!

Bet 6 units Storm Top 4 $1.85
Looks an excellent longer term anchor bet, Bellamy’s record of top 4 finishes each season is unparalleled, as is his ability to replace players and bring his team back to the top. They will win near 90% of home games (Melb or Sunshine Coast), have near the best D once again and likely finish top two.

Bet 3 units Broncos most losses $5.00
Expected / rate them closer to $2.00, this price looks very very generous. The squad is weaker than last yr (and they finished with the spoon), start the season with key injury outs, question mark on whether Coach is up to this task and have a hard draw.

Bet 2 units Titans to make Top 4 $4.50
Think the Coach is quality, started to put his imprimatur in them late into the season with some very positive and exciting play/results. They have purchased astutely, top 4 might be a reach (you can save top 8 at $1.85 if you wish) but I just see a) lot of up side and b) a comp with potential long tail. They look the team with the flashing red light for me this season. There is some $5.00 available in some places.

Market Odds Comparison – a quick link to assist with the available odds across many possible providers – nrl-odds-comparisons

Staking: The recommended units bet is indicated next to each bet in the above bet list. The base bet is 1 to 5 units (and is also a reflection of confidence. Everyone chooses to bet in different bet sizes, from differing betting banks (the personal funds they put aside for betting). Some will bet $20 per bet, some $200 per bet. So as to keep things simple and clear for everyone to follow we then talk in bet units. Our advice is to decide what size betting unit is likely to work for you and call this your betting unit, remembering that you may have approx. 5 to 10 units of recommended outlay per week per sport and that you also run the risk of losing.

Game Notes Preparation: FYI, with the introduction of Thursday night games in recent years it is now near impossible with the work and list of things that I chose to do to have all game previews written and finished until late in each week or early Saturday am. With the final team lists not announced until Tuesday afternoon, which I then re rate against (current performance, key ins and outs / final team lists and then look to handicap each up coming game then consider a range of form and match up factors towards final potential bets and written game previews. In short with team lists announced late Tuesday that then leaves two days to work through these tasks. I will focus the first preview notes at any game that has a recommended bet so that any key factors and reasoning is then known in advance, and then be working through each game there after in order of day and time (from Thursday onward).

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