NRL ROUND 4
Broncos v Cowboys
Wayne Bennett will be anything but happy following his sides loss to the Panthers last week where they gave up a big lead having dominated the Panthers for the first half of the game and this won't be a good time to face them after a tough week of training and reflection. The Cowboys meanwhile bounced back brilliantly Thursday night in totally dominating the under-cooked chooks holding them to the big doughnut whilst posting 40 points of their own.
The Cowboys have named the same team to that which beat the Broncos in last year's grand final and there will be plenty of Broncos players who will be happy about that, none more so than their halfback Ben Hunt who will look to go some way towards putting to bed some of the nightmares he's no doubt had since that fateful match.
Whilst both sides are fairly evenly matched on paper it's the home ground advantage that sways this contest in favour of the Broncos for mine, coupled with the desire for grand final revenge and the bounce-back factor from last week's disappointment. Milford has been absolutely brilliant thus far at five-eighth for the Broncos and with Hunt expected to front big-time they'll be formidable in the halves and lead what will be a clinical performance on attack whilst the Broncos defence will smother everything Thurston and co throw at them. Take the Broncos to cover the narrow start. Pick - 3 units on Broncos -3.5 or better point start
Raiders v Titans
The Raiders are sitting pretty with two wins and a draw with each of their games highlighted by the grittiness they've shown as they appear to have developed a tough and spirited edge which has been lacking in recent years. Their opponents here have also shown plenty of character thus far with two wins under their belt and looked very impressive in racking up a decent total against the Tigers last week as their offence fired, they'll find the Raiders defence a tad tougher to crack than the Tigers though.
What's made the Raiders start to the season all the more impressive is that they've done it off the back of a heavy injury toll, the replacements have all stepped up though, particularly Whitehead and Williams in the halves, and with an unchanged team this week they'll be just that bit more settled and in familiar surroundings at home will step up again.
I like the look of the Raiders forward pack who are amongst the largest in the competition and are using every bit of that bulk to chew through the metres up the middle and I can see that being where they have the edge here in what is otherwise a fairly evenly matched contest on paper. Take the Raiders to win a close one here. Pick - 2 units on Raiders by 12 points and under at 3.00 or better
Dragons v Panthers
The Dragons were courageous in beating the Rabbitohs and overcoming the elements in their two-point win on Sunday afternoon and showed plenty of desperation on defence which was needed following the previous weeks deluge against the Sharks. They'll be out to repeat that defensive performance here against a Panthers side who clicked into gear in the second half against the Broncos in coming back from a large deficit to win by one point; the Panthers also get some metal back in their forwards with the return of Trent Merrin.
Of the two it's the Dragons who look to have the more rounded side as they hardly missed Marshall in the halves as McCrone slotted in nicely, playing the perfect support role to Widdup and that combination will grow in stature here with a game under their belt.
It's always tough for opposition sides to win at WIN Stadium (ironically) and whilst last week's conditions didn't lend a hand to attacking footy we should see the Dragons attack at full flight here as Widdup and McCrone control things from the halves and Dugan injects himself, all off the back of what I expect will be a dominant forwards display.
The line for the Dragons to cover isn't large and I'm confident they'll back up last week's effort against the Rabbitohs with a decent win here. Pick - 2.5 units on Dragons -1.5 point start
Warriors v Knights
I really hate doing this but with so much on the line and after having shown some degree of backbone last week (albeit in a losing effort to the Storm) I'm liking the look of the Warriors to cover the line here against an average Knights team. There are absolutely NO, ZERO, ZILCH excuses for the Warriors not turning up big-time for this clash with the right attitude and roaring intensity given they're sitting at 15th on the ladder and should be absolutely desperate to get the win; the alternative is simply too mind-boggling to imagine as a loss to the probable wooden-spooners in Auckland would send the club into complete chaos.
Apart from the opening half against the Tigers in round one the Warriors have not been too shambolic having shown steady improvement, and with RTS looking more and more confident each week he'll be a handful for the Knights who have looked very susceptible on defence.
The further absence of Isaac Luke is not ideal for the Warriors but Tevega was solid on debut last week as a replacement and will take confidence from that effort, other than that the Warriors are fairly settled across the park so no excuses there! Hurrell will be looking for a huge game off the bench to try and cement a starting spot and will be a handful; meanwhile Shaun Johnson has been quiet thus far but is due a breakout performance.
I'm confident we'll see 80 minutes of dominance from the Warriors here as they throw everything into this and come away with a big win. Pick - 3.5 units on Warriors to win by 13+ points
WEEK RESULTS STAKES ROI BEST BET Grand Final
Week Three Finals
Week Two Finals
Week One Finals