NRL Tips Previews Sports Betting 17 | Round 3


NRL Tips Previews Sports Betting 2017 Round 3

MrG provides NRL Tips Previews Sports Betting content each week for our Reading The Play NRL subscribers.

NRL Tips Previews Sports Betting 17 Round 3

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358 winners / 662 bets | strike rate 54.1%

Rd 3 Game Handicaps

MrG’s Ratings

-5.5 Storm vs Broncos

Even Bulldogs vs Warriors

Even Titans vs Eels

+3.5 Knights vs Rabbits

-6.5 Panthers vs Roosters

-14.5 Cowboys vs Eagles

-14.5 Raiders vs Tigers

-11.5 Sharks vs Dragons

NRL Round 3 Recommended Bet List

Bet 1 unit Bulldogs +6.5 $1.90 Unibet / Bet365

Bet 2 units Titans +8.5 $1.90 Bet365 / Ubet

Bet 1 unit Panthers +1.5 $1.90 CrownBet / Bet365

Bet 2 units Cowboys -10.5 $1.90 CrownBet / Topsport

Bet 4 units Raiders -5.5 $1.90 Luxbet / CrownBet  BB

BB – Indicates Best Bet

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, FAQ – Why do you talk and bet in units? > answers here).

Longer Term Recommended Bets

Premiership (22nd February)

Bet 2 units Storm to win Premiership $8.00 Tabsportsbet

Most Losses / Wooden Spoon (9th March)

Bet 2 units Rabbits most losses $11.00 Ubet / William Hill

Individual Game Tips

Storm, Bulldogs, Eels, Rabbits, Panthers, Cowboys, Raiders, Sharks

Game Previews

Note: FYI, with the introduction of Thursday night games 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 weekend. 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).

Key Contest Stats

Kind thanks to Mark Hull a good friend and keen NRL follower who complies a weekly list of key stats and insights for each game. You can also follow Mark on Twitter here @FootyAssist

Storm vs Broncos

-5.5 Storm


The Storm has dominated the Broncos since 2007, winning 17 of the 21 clashes, while they have won 11 of the previous 14 clashes in Melbourne. Brisbane did however cause a major upset when they last met in Round 25 of 2016, to make it 2 wins from the previous 2 clashes at AAMI Park. It’s the 1st home game of the season for the Storm after spending the opening 2 weeks on the road, but they remain undefeated, just as they have done over the previous 11 season in their opening home game. Melbourne are 1 of only 2 sides to have won both matches, lead at half time in both and covered the line in both, while they are the only side yet to concede a 2nd half point. The Storm won 10 of 12 at home last season, with an 8-4 Under record in total match points, just as both of their matches have finished Unders this season, while this has also been the result in 5 of the last 7 clashes with Brisbane. Melbourne winger Suliasa Vunivalu has scored 3 tries in his 2 meetings against the Broncos and he has crossed in both matches of the current season. Brisbane won only half of their road games in 2016, but has covered a line in 9 of their last 11 as a road dog. Only on 5 occasions over the last 10 years spanning 21 games have the Broncos led the Storm at half time, while they have conceded 1st points in 13 of the last 16 encounters. Brisbane are the only side to have scored both the 1st and last try of the match in the opening 2 Rounds


Excellent contest. Storm return home off two away games (and wins), and come off two healthy typically Storm disciplined wins, both also in the wet. They now get Slater back and I have no doubt he will be right, and all but back to his best and the mail seems to suggest Jesse Bromwich will also play. It’s a good list, with a great record at home, they play tough, give you very little and just work the game down for 80 minutes. I’m sure a key tactic here will be to mount considerable pressure on the Broncos halves, in particular Hunt and pressure for errors, turn overs and alike, and then look to ramp things up from there. Another key tactic (and change) for Bellamy across the last 12 months has been to play and kick strategically to his two wingers, mainly to the right (Vunivalu) with amazing success.

I liked the Broncos last week, quality game and form line, lite on errors, did some smart yet basic stuff with the ball, and they have won their last 2 in Melbourne at a ground where the Storm don’t lose many. At their last win at this ground last year Bennett was clever, choosing to play up tempo, width and attack, he got the Storm off their game, rattled them with points and controlled things there after, I’m sure Bellamy will be ready but if executed well its a winning plan.

Storms defence is again to the fore early in this competition conceding just 16 points in their first two games. Looks a game of inches and discipline, I can’t go past Storm, Stater a key in.

Bulldogs vs Warriors

Note – played in Dunedin



For the 3rd time in 4 seasons, the Bulldogs travel to New Zealand for a home game against the Warriors, this time at Forsythe Barr Stadium in Dunedin. The Bulldogs have won 5 of the previous 6 clashes with the Warriors, including 4 of the last 5 meetings played in New Zealand and are in desperate need of a win as they have now lost 6 in a row since the back end of last season. Recent meetings have been high scoring, closely fought contests, with the last 5 decided by a margin of 1-12, while 8 of the last 9 (and 11 of the last 13) have all topped 40 points. Canterbury has covered in only 1 of their last 8 matches played away from Belmore or ANZ Stadium and they have also failed to cover in 3 of the last 4 clashes with the Warriors. The Warriors will be based in New Zealand for the 3rd consecutive week and the 3rd time in the opening 6 weeks of the competition, with their only game on Aussie soil during that period coming next Round against the Dragons. They have been true to form to this point, with flashes of brilliance, some dumb mistakes and consistently inconsistent. The Warriors have opened the scoring in the previous 5 clashes with the Bulldogs, while they have registered the only win from the last 10 matches combined for the Bulldogs and Warriors. They have failed to cover the line in their previous 6 matches and in 9 of their last 11 played in New Zealand.


Warriors have some against them here. Lose Tuivasa-Sheck have some doubts on a few key forwards, still no Foran and play away in Dunedin. They have a poor away record in NZ away from Auckland losing 8 of their last 9 such games and come off an ordinary offering against the Storm into a desperate opponent in the Bulldogs. I expected greater composure and discipline under Kearney but rather we have seen more of the same, inability to lock games down, play with discipline yet a few moments of quality. Remain on trust for mine right now.

Bulldogs surely very desperate here at 0/2 and significant pressure on the Coach. They have not been that dissimilar to the Warriors, fair form line coming through defeats against two sides who have now won two from two (Storm and Roosters), clearly trying to play greater width in attack yet still not doing the hard yards through the middle to set such up to advantage, although close on the scoreboard last week scored 3 tries form straight up opponent handling errors, but were also disadvantaged by two key player injuries in Holland and Hopoate. Keep an eye on Abbey and Montoya who are both named to debut, each said to be very talented youngsters on the way up.

When I roll everything into analyzing the H2H position here, ie, original team ratings, neutral ground, key play outs, Warriors away from Auckland but in NZ form and the Bulldogs potential desperation I have this evenly placed and so the early market position of +6.5 (and over key number 6.0) looked very attractive and a play. We now see the Warriors are to be without Tuivasa-Sheck and so a much shorter line position of 2.5. Both sides are difficult to trust but I think the Bulldogs desperation might well get them home here.

Bet 1 unit Bulldogs +6.5 $1.90 Unibet / Bet365

Titans vs Eels



The Titans and Eels’ form lines are in stark contrast, with the Titans winning only 1 of their last 5, while the Eels have been beaten in only 1 of their last 5. The Titans have had the better of the Eels in recent seasons, winning 6 of the last 8, including 4 of the last 5 at Robina but they will be up against it here as they look to break their duck against the current ladder leaders. The Titans are 1 of 4 sides yet to register a win in 2017, while they have the worst defensive record in the comp, after conceding 66 points in their opening 2 matches. High scoring affairs have been common place in the last few years, with 9 of the last 11 meetings all topping 40 points at an average of 44, while the Titans have scored the 1st try of the match in 9 of the last 10 match ups. The Titans have also scored the 1st try of the 2nd half in the previous 7 meetings. The Titans have won only 1 of their last 6 matches at home and covered a line in just 2 of them, while they have conceded the opening try in 5 of them. For the 1st time since 1999, the Eels have won their opening 2 matches, they are also 1 of only 3 teams to cover in both Rounds and lead in the HT/FT double across both weeks. Eels’ speedster Bevan French crossed for a try in both matches against the Titans in 2016 and he has scored in both matches of the current season. The home team has covered in just 2 of 16 games in the opening 2 Rounds of the competition.


Titans return to play at home off two defeats and desperate for a win. They were poor last week and again picked up multiple key injuries through the game last week leaving them a sitting duck for the Knights to come home strongly late, which they did, and conceded 34 points. They have a list of unavailable injured players, the two key ones being Hayne and Peats, but its the dumb errors, poor discipline and defensive attitude issues that they need to change and improve. There strengths are in their forward pack and halves, and they’ll certainly need to muscle up here against the Eels physical offering.

The Eels have been good but those two wins have been against sides rated bottom 5 so the depth is questionable, but there is no better way to start your season than in winning form. The forward muscle and power through the middle has been excellent, setting a platform for their play, but they now have a massive out with the loss of Norman., akin to the Cowboys losing Thurston so influential has he become to this side. While his replacement (Robson) will do a good job of pointing them around the park its the skill, running game and slight of hand ball play that Norman also brings that they will miss greatly. They also face a short Sunday to Friday turn around and their 3rd away game (and travel) in a row, and so a tricky assignment.

The loss of Norman is a significant concern and clearly dents the Eels direction and skill / attack options and so points, and I’m sure they will rely on physically working over the middle and playing the basics well in field position and kicking game, and I expect this enough to get them a close win. The Titans also have key outs, in particular Hayne, but many of their recent on field problems can be quickly improved (handling, discipline and defence), while being back at home and desperate for a win should also be ticks in their favour.

Home underdogs with a +4 or more start have a very strong record through the opening 4 to 6 rounds of this comp each year. I originally had this marked as a 4 point game / handicap and so wanted to bet at the early +8.5 position, now with Norman’s absence it looks very even and the plus start the right play.

Bet 2 units Titans +8.5 $1.90 Bet365 / Ubet

Knights vs Rabbits

+3.5 Knights


Both the Knights and Rabbitohs suffered defeats in Round 1 before opening their accounts in Round 2 as underdogs, with the Knights beating the Titans and Souths knocking over Manly. The Knights have lost their last 7 straight against the Rabbitohs, with the last 4 defeats all being by 22 points or more, while 7 of the last 8 clashes have all topped 43 points at an average of 50. Only once in the previous 10 clashes have the Knights led the Rabbitohs at half time and they have trailed at the break in both Rounds of 2017. The Knights are 1 of only 3 sides to have covered a line in both of their opening matches but they have failed to cover in the last 4 clashes with the Rabbits. For the 2nd consecutive week the Rabbitohs are without the home ground advantage and they haven’t won back to back road games (excluding ANZ Stadium) since 2014. They have covered a line in 7 of their last 8 away games, while 7 of those 8 matches have finished Overs in total match points. Alex Johnston has scored 9 tries in his 4 matches against the Knights, bagging doubles in both meetings last year and he was back on the try scorers list last week with another double against the Sea Eagles.


Knights aimed up well last week and came home strongly through the 2nd half against their depleted opponent to record a positive win. Coach Brown used the Old Boy influence into their first home game to a tee and they should grow in confidence off that win into a home week prep and another home game. Unfortunately they have a 7 straight loos record into the Rabbits, and have leaked 30 plus points in each of the last 4 contests. The Rabbits won at Brookvale last week coming from behind early to win well led by the positive efforts of their halves in Reynolds and Walker but given the way the Eagles laid down so meekly one wonders what depth the form of that game carries.

I think the key to the game is the halves, and notably the kicking games of Hodkinson and Reynolds. Both teams will be prone to errors and some defensive issues so being able to play your opponent as much as you can out of their own end and control field position is key. I think Reynolds has the edge here with a smarter and longer kick game, and the Rabbits a likely edge with his attack combination with Cody Walker.

As indicated by the markets and my handicap not a lot between these two. I’m with the Rabbits, but both are bottom 4 sides and happy to stay out.

Panthers vs Roosters

-6.5 Panthers


Panthers made it a clean sweep in 2016 against the Roosters for the 1st time since 2012, while its 25 years since they recorded 3 straight wins against the TriColours. Penrith return to Pepper Stadium for the 1st time in 2017 and they have been a 50/50 proposition over the last 10 years in their 1st home game of the season, while the team with the home ground advantage has also won just half of the last 10 meetings between the Panthers and Roosters. The Roosters have won 53 of the 87 matches against the Panthers all time, including 7 of the last 10 clashes at Pepper Stadium. Low scoring matches have been common place with 4 of the last 5 encounters failing to top 37. The Panthers won 6 of 10 at Pepper Stadium in 2016, with a 5-5 cover record and a 6-4 total points result in favour of the Overs, while in 8 of the 10 matches, the 1st try of the match was scored by the 7th minute. The Roosters had just the solitary win on the road in 2016 but they can eclipse that result with a win over Penrith in only their 2nd away leg of 2017. They have been quick out of the blocks with 2 dominant 1st half performances but will need to address their 2nd half intensity after being outscored in the 2nd half in both Rounds. The Roosters have averaged 22 1st half points in the opening 2 Rounds, with the Eels ranked 2nd, some 6 points lower with 16, while both of their matches have topped 50 points. Blake Ferguson has scored 5 tries in his last 6 games against the Panthers, while Sean Kenny-Dowall has scored 4 tries from his last 5 versus the Mountain Men.


Two last start winners and teams that we expect to be somewhere top 6 or above by seasons end. There recent H2H record is pretty even, and this looks like an excellent contest. Cartwright is an out for the Panthers, they have depth and given his early poor form and personal issues I think they are better balanced without him for the time being while Ferguson is a key out for the Roosters who are also missing Taukeiaho and Evans off their forward list.

The Roosters two first half offerings have been very positive, they are playing quick (deliberately) with the ball, playing direct with their halves, prepared to play what they see and consistently hit each edge and or switch and link together (Pearce and Keary). I think the speed and intensity at which they are playing the first half is then taking its toll on them into the second hence their defensive lapses, while prior to this weekend the two teams they had beat were both 0/2 (Bulldogs and Titans) so some questions as to the quality of the form. This looks a step up and a very good test.

Panthers come off two away games to return home, a key stat I like, and got their season going last week with a positive thumping of the Tigers, but again a questionable form line. They have size and muscle in the middle so a nice match up up front, like the Roosters a quality set of halves, their attack plays with less structure, but their off load, second phase play and ad lib options can keep breaking a defensive line up.

With 3 key players sitting on the sidelines (Ferguson, Taukeiaho, Evans) and home track advantage I marked the Panthers a 6 to 8 point advantage, certainly far wider than the markets. I think the Panthers returning home should be a key factor, they should take something out of their win last week, but a good match up just the same. I want to be with the Panthers for a small interest.

Bet 1 unit Panthers +1.5 $1.90 CrownBet / Bet365

Cowboys vs Eagles

-14.5 Cowboys


The Sea Eagles hold a 15-12 all time advantage over the Cowboys, but North Queensland have dominated in recent seasons, winning 5 straight since the final Round of the 2014 season, including the last 3 at 1300SMILES Stadium. There have been plenty of points on offer in recent meetings, with 6 of the last 7 clashes resulting in total match points of 42 or more. The Cowboys have won 14 of their last 15 matches at home and in 12 of those, they have scored the 1st points of the match, while they have also scored the 1st points in the previous 5 clashes with the Sea Eagles. North Queensland are currently ranked 4th with 2 wins from 2 outings, both of which have been decided by Golden Point. They are 1-1 both at the spread and in total match points, while they are yet to lead at half time after trailing the Broncos last week and being all tied up with the Raiders in Round 1. Coen Hess is currently the Cowboys leading try scorer after scoring in both matches, taking his career tally to 6 and he has now scored in his last 4 matches for the Cowboys. The Sea Eagles are on the road for the 1st time this season where they had a 4-8 record in 2016, including losing 7 of their last 8 as the away side, while they have also lost their last 6 straight as a road dog. They were soundly beaten at home last week as a short priced favourite and have lost 4 of their last 5 matches the following Round from that position. Manly’s last victory was in Round 21 last season, putting them on a 7 game losing run. The Sea Eagles have also lost 6 of their last 7 games played in Queensland.


Eagles were insipid last week. Led with the 3 opening tries to nil, at home, against an opponent who had been lapped the week prior yet folded quicker than a 3 leg card table, a seriously disgraceful offering and while its still very early in the season surely it highlights some key attitude and ability issues. Potentially they have a long hard look at themselves this week but they now travel onto one of the more difficult away legs in the comp, long distance to Townsville. Still missing 4 front rowers, a middle 3rd that on occasions looks a soft as butter and two edges who defended more like turnstiles than 1st graders last weekend surely leaves them very vulnerable here.

The Cowboys also have some key injury issues of their own with Scott and Taumalolo out in the middle, and Coote and Winterstein at the back. But the Cowboys do have depth, quality depth that’s good enough to shine here, with the likes of Hess, Fensom, Ponga and Bowen all well up to this. The Cowboys as one have muscled up well through two stand out games through the last two weeks, both golden point results but high quality offerings, they have class leadership and combinations at 9, 7 and 6 and now the touch of next generation ability of Ponga at the back. Oh, and throw in an outstanding home track record of 14 wins from their last 15 starts, despite those key injury outs they face an opponent who looks levels below them still with significant advantage.

I could nearly have handicapped this -16.5 and a potential 18 point gap, I expect the Cowboys should win clearly. They have won tehir last 5 over the Eagles on 4 occasions knocking up 30 or more points, and this looks a far weaker Eagles side than they offered up in any of those prior match ups. The Eagles through recent seasons have also been poor travelers, covering the line at just 1 of their last 5 interstate games. Through the last 24 hours I keep hearing that Cherry-Evans may also be in some doubt, given all of this I want to be with the Cowboys to cover the line.

Bet 2 units Cowboys -10.5 $1.90 CrownBet / Topsport

Raiders vs Tigers

-14.5 Raiders


The Tigers hold an 18-14 all time advantage against the Raiders, but the Tigers have lost 4 of the last 5 meetings, including 2 humiliating defeats in 2016, with the Raiders outscoring the Tigers in a combined total of 112 to 16 and their Round 8 match up was the Raiders biggest ever win over the Tigers. The teams have met 17 times at GIO Stadium, with the Tigers holding a slight 9-8 advantage. There are usually plenty of points on offer, with 10 of the last 11 topping 37 points, while 3 of the last 4 have topped 50. The Raiders have traditionally been a big Overs side in day games, with 33 of their 43 day games since 2014 all finishing Overs, including 9 of their last 10 at home. The Overs has also hit at 60% in day games in the opening 4 Rounds of the comp since 2014. Canberra has covered the line in 5 of the previous 6 clashes with the Tigers who have also covered in 6 of their last 7 as a road dog. The Tigers have also covered in 8 of their last 11 when coming off a 13+ defeat. The Tigers finished 2016 with a 5-7 road record and they have won just 7 of their last 25 games as a road outsider. The side to score the 1st points of the match has gone on to win 11 of the last 13 meetings. In try scorer outcomes look to Raiders winger Jordan Rapana who scored 6 tries in 2 games against the Tigers in 2016.


Tigers off poor home track showing last week conceding 36 points an unable to score a single try themselves. They look to remain unchanged and now travel, something they have a poor recent record at out of Sydney venues. They clearly also have had a problem up against the size and ball movement of the Raiders through recent seasons including conceding 60-6 and 52-10 defeats at their last two match ups. The Tigers are going to be hard to catch this season, as they have through recent seasons they will bounce up with some surprise results but I’m likely to be happy to oppose them more often than not until we see some consistency. As suggested last week I though there was an over reaction to their first up win (Rabbits) and that although appearing to win comfortably their defence looked scrappy and ordinary, that was then again the case last week. I also question their resolve in the middle when worked over by the bigger size and muscle sides and they are going to face that in spades here.

While the Sharks were very good last week, and played some very astute attack tactics targeting the Raiders edges it was hard to believe how bad the Green Machine were first up back at home. They were slightly out of balance with a couple of key outs, and are clearly a big side who are only going to get better running their big men week in week out into match fitness, but they were very ordinary and just completely dropped off when it mattered. They are much better than that and I’m sure have felt the wrath of a cranky Stuart this week. They get a key in in Croker and add another big popper with something to prove in Taylor to their bench.

The Tigers will be up for improvement this week, but the Raiders should also be primed and for mine they have plenty of advantage in all the right spots here, size and muscle through the middle third – and then more of the same off the bench, then with some room to move and play two halves and edges who can play ball and attack. I expect the Raiders bounce back and aim up here, I thought there looked a decent gap here of at least 2 to 3 tries.

Bet 4 units Raiders -5.5 $1.90 Luxbet / CrownBet  BB

Sharks vs Dragons

-11.5 Sharks


A local derby closes out Round 3 when the Dragons travel to the shire to take on Cronulla and as history shows, there has been little between sides, with the all-time honours going the way of the Dragons 19-18, while there has been 1 draw. Wins have been split evenly in 5 of the last 6 seasons, with the Dragons making a clean sweep of the 2014 season. Generally these clashes have been low scoring affairs and only on 3 occasions in the last 19 meetings since 2007 have the match points totaled more than 40 at an average of 32, while the last 9 matches at Shark Park have all finished Under at an average of 28. The last 5 clashes have pretty much been 1 way traffic with the victors recording a winning margin of 13+ and 4 of them have been by 20+. In the last 10 meetings 1 side has been held to 6 points or less in the 2nd half and on 6 occasions they have failed to score a 2 nd half point. It’s the 1st away game of the season for the Dragons who won only 2 of 12 on the road in 2016, while they have been a 50/50 proposition in their opening away game over the last 10 years. The Sharks have scored the opening try in the last 4 clashes and on 2 occasions Valentine Holmes has been the 1st try scorer of the match and he has also scored 4 tries in his 4 matches against the Dragons.


Very difficult to go past the Sharks here, but the market has them well found and what looks the right position at -10. They come through a good form line and were very good last week running over the Raiders in Canberra, with some astute coaching to target the Raiders two edges with success. They get Holmes back, return home, look well placed.

Dragons are an enigma. They looked good setting a platform through the middle in their round 1 win, yet last week with less room to play with when trying to roll forward they were again exposed as being very one vanilla in attack, playing one out with no second phase offload or ball play before or through the line  making it very easy for their opponent to shut them down. I’m sure they have (again) looked at this this week, but until they get this right against the top of table sides they are really going to struggle.

As we have learnt with a few bounce back form results again this weekend with the line position where it is I have no interest in playing. I expect the Sharks to be to strong, but very interested to see what the Dragons offer up in attack.


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NRL Tips Previews Sports Betting 2017

MrG’s recommended weekly game by game previews and any recommended betting plays for this individual round are listed here. Each NRL Preview and Sports Betting Tips message thread will normally open on a Wednesday and list any early game ratings and betting plays. 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 (Fridays). All subscribers can also receive all recommended bets via sms message.

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