NRL Tips & Game Previews | Round 5 | 2021

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MrG’s Game Handicaps for this round

-23.5 Rabbits v Broncos
-7.5 Warriors v Eagles – Gosford
-4.5 Panthers v Raiders
-11.5 Titans v Knights
-26.5 Bulldogs v Storm
-3.5 Roosters v Sharks
-9.5 Tigers v Cowboys
-12.5 Eels v Dragons

Recommended Bet List

Bet 2 units  Rabbits -21.5 $1.90
If the Rabbits want to have a crack here then the only question is the margin, it could be 20 it could be 30, I’m with them having a crack and it being the later, Broncos have 3 key outs, 2 more key ones from last week

Bet 1.5 units  Rabbits-Broncos anytime try scorer Latrell Mitchell (Rabbits) $1.95
Again up against weak defensive opposition, has a roving role and just makes things happen

Bet 2.5 units Rabbits 13+ $1.36 x Tigers to win $1.35 // $1.83 BB
Think this looks the best two options through the round

Bet 2.5 units Raiders +13.5 $1.44 x Sharks +13.5 $1.52 // $2.18
As mentioned in preview notes and handicap positions I think both Raiders and Sharks are far closer than the market position of +7.5 but would like a position over the key number of 8.0 to lessen risk. I like the following option of taking both with longer + Line positions into an All Up price, via Tab (or similar offering elsewhere). Under each individual game go to Pick Your Own Line and take both at +13.5 then take the all up / multi. This then positions both teams with a plus start above 12.5 and I think what should be winning positions for both

Bet 1 unit  Titans -10.5 $1.90
Back at home off loss, Knights decimated with very long list of injury outs

Bet 2.5 units Storm -25.5 $1.90 Tab BB
Storm improving, in a different league to Bulldogs

Bet 1.5 units Tigers -9.5 $1.90
At home now drop a level into an opponent leaking points a will

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

Rabbits, Warriors, Panthers, Titans, Storm, Roosters, Tigers, Eels

Game Preview Notes


This season so far, when Top 6 Teams from last season / 2020 are vs Bottom 6 Teams from last season / 2020 this year, the elite teams are 10-1 At The Spread / Cover The Handicap, with the only non-cover by a 1/2 (Eels / Broncos when Eels very complacent). The average winning margin is 26.73. Double digit / large favourites this year are 7-0 covering the handicap season to date.

-23.5 Rabbits v Broncos

Ground: Homebush
43.5 Total Points (market position)

Cody Walker out for the Rabbits, broncos pick up two further key outs from last week in Carrigan and Farnworth, both in the top few players for them. As noted last week, The Broncos Away record is horrible, losing last week to now take that to 21 losses from last 24 Away games..

For mine the only key is if and how the Rabbits want to have a crack here, and being a Bennett v Broncos game I expect a positive showing. Last week at this ground on a dry track they rattled up a 38-0 result against another bottom of table opponent in the Bulldogs, I’m not sure how this is much different. Marshall should slot in well for Walker, he’s already had a run each week and has the high level experience to get the job done. Broncos started positive last week but quickly fell away, 40 could well have been more, they now face back to back awat games and some key positional outs. Rabbits have covered 8 of last 11 at the ground and 17 of 27 when off scoring 30-plus wins, so further endorses that they look in a good position here. Broncos have covered only 7 of last 22 overall and just 5 of last 19 when away from home. It does look a strong Rabbits win.

-7.5 Warriors v Eagles – Gosford

Ground: Gosford
42.5 Total Points (market position)

Just looks a very tricky game here with such a long combined list of outs. I have 7 for Warriors and 8 for Eagles, in both cases amongst that multiple key players. So which ever way one looks at the game it becomes impossible to get a quality read on what might be happening here. On paper, with numbers I can mark it 7.5, buy I just don’t feel confident about that position, Warriors some questionable form / win and just not sure with the key forward outs where their yardage is to then create points (and some of their attack combinations have been poor). Eagles have been a mess and just very hard to like, really hard to see with the key outs that they have how they turn things around in the shorter term.

Warriors have covered the line at 9 of last 11 at this ground – but, in the majority of those games had a plus start or small line position, not 7.5. Think Warriors win, but game looks to have lots of risk all over it.

-4.5 Panthers v Raiders

Ground: Penrith
37.5 Total Points (market position)

Panthers all but full strength (Koroisau, Edwards) into Raiders who in naming Tapine look full strength. Panthers been super at home, won last 11 here and in those 11 have covered the line 9 times. Raiders away record is ok, better than most and they do normally have a good record of lifting for these bigger key games. Raiders also have an outstanding record as an Away Underdog, 69% cover of the line off their last 29 games (covering 20), a very strong position.

For all the right reasons I thing the markets are over pricing the Panthers at present. Hey they keep winning (and covering the lines), but on my numbers I am 4.5 at best between them. I have Panthers rated top of the table, minor only penalty for the outs, but if this game was played on the main street (neutral) with both teams full strength then I am at this stage only 3.5 between them. Small minus for Panthers outs (could have been harsher), Raiders pretty much their best line up, then a plus for Panthers at home. 4.5 between them is a fair figure.

Both 4 rounds into the season have question marks on form. Three of the Panthers wins over teams at the base of the table, Raiders fair, their best is good but been patchy so far, yet to really stamp a game. Very good match up through the middle, two very strong middles, very physical. Panthers look to have some advantage down the edges, and Cleary’s kicking game looks a significant advantage, he is very good at making teams play off their own back corners or in goal.

With Panthers for all the obvious reasons, looks close, think the kicking game and field position should be the strength in the end but if the Raiders got to 8 or 8.5 I would have to play.

-11.5 Titans v Knights

Ground: Robina
43.5 Total Points (market position)

The Knights now riddled with a long list of outs, up to 8 my my count many of them key players including Pearce, Best and Mann. Ponga has been named to return and I expect that he plays, hence the market move back to under 10, but he and Green you would expect are well short of fitness. Titans have named Taylor on their extended list, looking at what and how they have named their team I am expecting that Fogarty is ok and plays, and so Don the only real out.

Important game for the Titans, they are off two away games to return home (strong positive) and off a loss to Raiders where they were close for much of the game but didn’t take or convert some of the key moments and opportunities that came their way, it was a good test against a top of the table side and at the present moment shows the gap that they have to bridge. They had easy wins with some positive signs against weaker opponents in the Broncos and Cowboys, I’m expecting them to get a similar chance here against an opponent now significantly weakened with injury outs. The other addition factor here is ground the Titans get their second game back at home for the new season and have grown their local following and membership through the last 6 weeks, I expect they should have a strong crowd in support, which the Knights have a very poor distant interstate away record losing 11 of their last 14. Ponga and Green look the key to the Knights, they’d need to pull out big performances to lead the way. I thought the Titans looked at least 12 pt winners here.

-26.5 Bulldogs v Storm

Ground: Homebush
43.5 Total Points (market position)

Storm get get ins here including Grant, Kaufusi and Broncos Lee which leaves them all but back to full strength (missing Finucane). Bulldogs get some key ins as well with Thompson and Jackson key ins in their forward line up.

We have the worst attacking and all but the worst defensive offering after 4 weeks up against one of the more professional travel teams who can light up the attack and scoreboard with points and make it a habit to defend very well and give you little, in particular against the weaker bottom of table teams. The market opened 23.5 and has continued to widen, even with the naming of teams and some ins for the Bulldogs, and I’d be very surprised with likely dry weather into this game that we don’t get to 30.0. With Grant back while even underdone it should offer them some sharp dummy half play and set up their fast running game and then attacking momentum, it will also allow Smith to then play as both a running forward and or back up #9, and we then know that with some room off which to play what their #6 and #1 can do.

As already stated we are seeing the top of table sides cover these big lines when against those right at the bottom, and in most cases do so by a further margin. I gave a lot of thought and number planning around this position but it was very hard to see the Storm not give this a big shake.

-3.5 Roosters v Sharks

Ground: SCG
41.5 Total Points (market position)

If this game was anywhere else other than the SCG then I would be with the Sharks to upset, and I still think they give this a bit of a shake. Roosters have 7 outs, 5 of them forwards and then add on Keary, and they are all but quality first starters for them so its a big list of outs. Robbo has done exceptionally well so far to pull things together and still have them winning last week and certainly a reflection of how good a coach and his system is as they were very well prepared, played fast, played to their strengths through the middle, had a few key tactical changes that worked, and snuck away with a margin late in the game. It was a strong win. Clearly I am expecting more of the same here, but they do meet a much better opponent who I think will have a smell of being able to upset and win.

Last week was a bit of a test game for the Sharks and while they met weak opposition they stood up and went whack and put them right away. I say a test in that they had been so bullish the week prior (Eels) and hung in that game under such difficult circumstances, and the week prior had gone very close to beating the Raiders, if there was some depth and attitude in what they were doing (and it looked so) then they needed to have a decent crack against the Cowboys. I think these last 3 efforts also give them further confidence. The key here tho is the middle and how well they can defend the Roosters fast and rolling forward play as the speed and tempo can quickly put you on the back foot and under field position pressure and then offer up the smarts of Tedesco or one of their key backs.

I still think the Roosters are an ongoing risk, rookies at 9, 7 and 6 who are not necessarily going to be great most weeks and are still learning their way, and a dependence on Crichton and and few of their key big men and then Tedesco to consistently play big games. Looks a very good contest, if the market gets to 8.0 then i would want to play, I’m at best only 3.5 between them and the excellent record that the Roosters have at the SCG a key factor.

-9.5 Tigers v Cowboys

Ground: Leichhardt
43.5 Total Points (market position)

Cowboys have named Taumalolo to potentially return here (and from all reports has trained through recent days), Feldt also returns, aside from that it appears Payten is just reshuffling his list each week to try and stir up improvement. Cowboys also have a horrible longer term record at this ground, losing 10 of all 11 games here, and they have lost 16 of their last 23 Away games.

I’m expecting the Tigers to have a similar set up to the Sharks last week here, come off some improving form, off a loss, key point to prove, back to a strong home ground and a chance to stand up and really have a crack. Through the early weeks I was critical of their overall error rates and offering, but last week was their best effort to date and so with the key changes he has been making and training work maybe Maguire is starting to get much more of what he wants. They then need to build on that here and stamp some positive authority on the game and the outcome.

And surely they don’t get a better chance to do so. Return to Leichhardt and should have a big home crowd for the first game back here and the remembrance of Tommy Raudonikis. They have no major injury issues and have made a positive short term change on an edge to try and tidy up some defence issues. They were much better through the middle last week for good parts of the game, and the 7, 6 and 1 combination is improving. Laurie gets his chance here to step up and put his own stamp on a game.

I’m with the Tigers to aim up here, it will need to be a strong 80 minutes, but if near so then I expect that they can comfortably.

-12.5 Eels v Dragons

Ground: Parramatta
42.5 Total Points (market position)

Well we should get much more of an accurate read on where the Dragons are here. They have won their last 3 but through questionable form, Cowboys, Eagles (both winless at base of the table) and then came from behind in Newcastle when the Knights hit the wall with their long list of in game injury issues. But they would be buoyed with winning and building some internal confidence. This match up will be interesting, they have lost 9 of the last 11 against the Eels and then face them at Bankwest where the Eels have a super record winning 11 of their last 13 and should have a full house of support.

The Eels are playing well enough off the back of their power game through the middle, big boys up front, big bench, strong muscle game of banging forward and creating room and then trying to create something when they have field position. Their 9, 7 and 6 have been good, the kicking game has improved (as has them playing better field position) and the two wins against the Sharks and Storm have some substance. The little risk with them is they can have sloppy periods where they take their foot off the peddle and relax, but other than the Storm (in horrible conditions) they are yet to face an opponent who takes it to them and can then stand up to them all the way through 80 minutes. I’m not convinced this Dragons line up has that in them.

With the combination of the Eels current rating, full strength, at home (big tick) and overall recent record v this opponent (big tick) into the Dragons with Hunt out into away game I have 12.5 between them. The market is 9.5. Should we be winning through the weekend and we look to have dry conditions the Eels to cover is a further bet option we might consider.

Longer Term Recommended Bet List

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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NRL Tips Previews Sports Betting

MrG’s game previews and analysis for this weeks round of NRL are listed above. Each NRL Preview and Sports Betting Tips message thread will normally open on a Wednesday and list any early game ratings and thoughts. It will be updated each day and then detailed game by game Previews, Ratings and final Bet List will be published online by 8am on the morning of the first game of the round (Thursdays). All subscribers can also receive all key information and updates by direct sms message.

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