NRL Preview – Round 2 – 2013
Eels v Bulldogs
|Head to Head||Lost last 4|
|At Ground||Lost last 10 straight||Won 10 of last 11|
|Home/Away||13% Away record||73% Home record|
Homebush: 8.00pm Thursday
Eels lose Kelly at 6, Bulldogs look unchanged with Low likely to again play 1. The Eels looked good last week, but I’d just temper any excitement for them until we see what they offer through the grind of week in week out footy, and more importantly up against a few top of table sides as opposed to the rubbish that the Warriors served up last week. The Eels were able to play at will with soft yardage, easy line breaks and little of note played back at them. They will grow in confidence from that but lets review through the coming weeks. Certainly there were the obvious positives of Sandow looking far fitter and prepared to play direct and run the ball; Hayne with any sort of room is always going to be dangerous and he is certainly their “game breaker” while Maitua and Ryan also played well. A further key issue here is that that winning form was at Parra Stadium (where the majority of their winning form through recent years has been) while this “home game” has been moved to Homebush (the Bulldogs home venue) where the Eels have a shocking record having lost their last 10 here on the back of an equally terrible away record. I didn’t think the Bulldogs were that far away last week against the Cowboys. Their attack was well drilled with the same preparedness to play off the back of a go forward offload; they still have class and speed to finish with and while not in Barba’s class Low can fill the roving attack role from the back suitably. The Cowboys are a likely top 4 contender this year and although beaten that’s a handy form line for the Bulldogs to have come through. They’ll improve further back at Homebush and Hasler doesn’t often lose two in a row. I think we’ll look back in weeks to come and confirm that any form line through the Warriors has a bad smell about it.
Last Word: Homebush a huge advantage for the “away” side. They’ll improve and I expect to be a much different opponent to what the Eels faced last week. Keen on the Bulldogs.
NRL Betting Interest: Happy to play the Bulldogs through the H2H and or the short line.
Dragons v Broncos
|Head to Head||Lost 6 of last 7|
|At Ground||Won 6 of last 8||Lost 3 of last 4|
Wollongong: 7.00pm Friday
Tricky game for mine. Dragons as expected struggled in Melbourne and were comfortably beaten franking their poor away record. Granted that they were playing against one of the best defensive structures in the comp but their attack (like last year) again looked well short of options and importantly points with just the one line break and one of their two tries coming from an intercept. The game was also played in draining 34 degree heat from which the Dragons now only have a short 5 day turnaround! They will welcome at return to home base (Wollongong) but gee they look to still have a lot to change to be any different than the disappointing team of 2012 (in particular in attack). For mine the Broncos were also very disappointing first up and had I any inkling of what I saw last Friday night I’d have put a line through them as a semi final contender. They have no domination nor size across their forward list. They now lack anyone with grunt and authority to dominate the middle as a Petro or Webcke have done so in years past. Thaiday is now being asked to play in the middle as opposed to his past strength as a ball running right edge player. Worse still, they have no creativity – more a reliance of pieces of individual brilliance (Hodges) off which to play. Like any of the form through week one we need to wait and balance any views after 4 or 5 weeks but off the back of a rocket from their coach through recent days the Broncos do have a hell of a lot of improvement to make. As suggested, a tricky game. Dragons improve markedly at home but come off a energy sapping distant road trip and short turnaround; the Broncos off a very “vanilla” first up performance. I lean to the Broncos having greater improvement.
Last Word: Both sides have much to do, off improvement the Broncos look like they have more points in them.
NRL Betting Interest: Not a betting game for mine.
Warriors v Roosters
|Head to Head||Won 6 of last 7|
|At Ground||Lost 5 of last 6||Lost 5 of last 6|
Auckland: 5.30pm Saturday
What were the Warriors really doing through their off season? It’s not like they didn’t have much improvement to make having lost their last 8 games to finish 2012 nor correct a defensive attitude and structure that was leaking 26 points a week? They were as soft as butter last Saturday making last year’s Wooden Spooners look like top 4 contenders. Elliott may well give them a jolt this week but aside from the physical execution their attitude looked to have a terrible smell about it that may well take a hell of a lot more work to change and turn around, if at all. They lose Vatuvei and will welcome a return home to what appears a big crowd (SBW factor). The Roosters weren’t that far away last week through the first 40 and actually showed some promising signs with the attack structure and patterns but cruelled themselves with some basic error and ill discipline (signs again of 2012). I do think that they needed to get that game out of the way to start their year. There had been a lot of hype surrounding the SBW appearance, their new signings and suggestions of major on field improvement let alone face their arch rivals. I think having now got that behind them and in coming back to earth such a losing jolt they’ll have their minds very much on the basics and what’s required to get the job done and 2 points this week. The Warriors should improve something at home but I wouldn’t touch them with stolen money, I expect significant improvement from the Roosters.
Last Word: Mustard keen on the Roosters to put up here.
NRL Betting Interest: Roosters already well backed, happy to play the H2H and or Line.
Cowboys v Storm
|Head to Head||Won 2 of last 3|
|At Ground||Won 8 of last 9||Won 4 of last 5|
Townsville: 7.30pm Saturday
Cracking game! Both sides have opened their account as expected with wins last weekend, both now travel – the Cowboys returning home for their favoured Saturday night time slot and the Storm (off the heat game factor) to head north to Townsville. The Cowboys were good last week in getting the job done as they did. I think that is a stronger game (and form line) than many think. They showed some patience, some well structured and executed defence and the normal touches that they execute themselves for a 10 point victory. They have a good record over the Storm including a well earnt result in Melb late last year. They have the physical game and go forward to trouble them, kicking options that will make the Storm have to play long and more importantly the defensive smarts to contain the Storm better than most. The Storm have picked up from where they’ve been, professional to a tee, but this is an interesting test as they face a shortish turn around, distant travel off the back of the day / heat game last Sunday (34 degree heat) which was only a week after their return from the UK then into another tropical / humid game against a formidable opponent. If there is one side that eats this sort of stuff for breakfast it’s the Storm, but as game two of the season it is a hurdle. Lots of quality match ups across the park, physically in the middle, Smith at 9, Cronk, Thurston then Slater and Bowen! Interestingly I think the new tougher adjudication of the play the ball with less wrestle and 3 man tackles will favour the Cowboys here as it’s been a master card for the Storm for some years.
Last Word: Home side have some advantage here, cracking game with two top of the table contenders, like the Cowboys at home.
NRL Betting Interest: Happy to watch, enjoy and learn.
Titans v Raiders
|Head to Head||Lost 4 of last 6|
|At Ground||Won 4 of last 5||Lost 4 of last 5|
Robina: 2.00pm Sunday
Titans have been priced (and then backed) as good things and if a serious contender in any way shape or form this year then this should be a game that they are winning but I’m not so sure being round 2 that it’s that straight forward. They do get the Raiders on the right week off a poor offering at Penrith and then in dealing with the Dugan and Ferguson issues (for which they will be the better) but the Raiders looked well off their game last week first up and although away I do expect considerable improvement. The problem with the Raiders is that there is two of them – what we saw last week and what we saw last August, they like playing without expectation and they’ll get that this week. I thought the Titans could have won their game 3 times last week yet poor discipline and execution cost them numerous times – as suggested pre season that’s what you get with rookies at 9, 7 and 6. If they set it up properly with some yardage and then some depth and attack their right edge with Taylor and Idris they should have a picnic here, but they both ran with little depth or room last week. Going with the Titans at home but they are priced way unders for mine.
Last Word: Just the sort of game that the Riders will bob up in, no expectation or pressure. Titans at home but I trust them as much as I do their opposition.
NRL Betting Interest: Anyone stepping into the Titans at $1.50 in round 2 needs medical assistance.
Tigers v Panthers
|Head to Head||Won last 5|
|At Ground||Won 9 of last 11||Lost last 3|
Campbelltown: 3.00pm Sunday
Dear oh dear. Have I said another tricky game yet? Tigers come off a Monday night touch up but at least will play at Campbelltown where they have an excellent record. The game looked to get quickly out of their control last Monday night and the rest was easy to read, possession, momentum and then the amount of defence gassed them. If they have any steel and or attitude they’ll be very keen to turn things around here. Lets judge their progress after this. The Panthers took a long time to put an ordinary Raiders beyond doubt last weekend and they are still a bit scratchy with new combinations. I thought Manu and Segreyaro played well and certainly added something to the Panthers’ play. Not a game I want to read too much into. I’d rather see what’s on offer, watch and learn. Lean to the Tigers with a strong home advantage and a bounce back.
Last Word: Tipping the Tigers, just, but toss a coin.
NRL Betting Interest: Not on your life.
Eagles v Knights
|Head to Head||Won 5 of last 7|
|At Ground||Won 7 of last 10||Lost 11 of last 13|
Brookvale: 6.30pm Sunday
Great match up. Thought the Eagles were super last week and if they didn’t already “own” the Broncos then they do now. But for some Hodges pieces of brilliance they were the better team of the first half, clearly dominating the yardage and field position games, and then against an 8 point problem then went on to frank that in the 2nd half – and with key outs in King and G Stewart. Kite was super, Cherry-Evans and Foran outstanding, ably supported by others. I rated their win the best of the round being away, key outs and up against it yet commanding when it mattered. Long term they have to stay healthy (still question the depth) and not encounter any ASADA issues, but all of that can wait for another day. They are very good at Brookvale, hold a commanding H2H and at ground advantage and are likely to get King back – hard to beat. The Knights were also very impressive (none of the $3.75 for the Top 4 we recommended a few weeks ago available now) with 3 months of Bennett polish very obvious. They had their yardage and second phase games right, simple spreads to their left, Boyd playing with speed and precision, a very good start to the year. Hard to go past the Eagles here at home, but the Knights will arrive with plenty of confidence and belief and I like where they are headed this season. Should be a ripper game.
Last Word: Eagles the obvious but the Knights will enjoy the challenge.
NRL Betting Interest: No, just a game to enjoy.
Rabbits v Sharks
|Head to Head||Won 5 of last 7|
|At Ground||Won 11 of last 14||Lost 6 of last 7|
Homebush: 7.00pm Monday
Rabbits started their season with a bang, lose Sam Burgess and Champion for this but they do have depth. The Rabbits size and power game through the middle is going to be a handful for most sides this year, they then have the touches of skill or class of T’eo, the 7, 6 or Inglis, let alone the quality edge finishing. I liked the way they got into the game last week, and then kept going up a level. They are a serious top 4 contender this year. They also love Homebush, winning 11 of their last 14 here and have a 11 day prep into game 2. Nothing but admiration for the Sharks efforts last week – they picked themselves up and got an important job done, but I fear for the emotional letdown that they would have faced off the back of that game and the then preparation into this next one (no coach or key support staff). I think they are very vulnerable here. It’s somewhat pointless trying to work out or forecast where the Sharks might be as they are dealing with some acute pressure and emotion, which I fear will sooner than later take some toll on their on field offering. If the Rabbits knuckle down this game looks for the taking for mine, I think it might get ugly.
Last Word: I think the Rabbits might well do a number on their opponent here.
NRL Betting Interest: Rabbits at the Line -8.5 and 13+
Individual Game Tips
Bulldogs; Broncos; Roosters; Cowboys; Titans; Tigers; Eagles; Rabbits
I won’t be firing a serious bullet till round 4 or 5 but for those looking for an interest this week I’d suggest these –
– Bulldogs – playing at Homebush a lovely advantage, play the H2H and short Line
– Roosters – opened as a gift at over $2.00, still nothing wrong at the $1.70 H2H and play the line
– Rabbits – look the best of the round, back the Line and 13+
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