NRL ROUND 9
Rabbitohs v Tigers
The Rabbitohs have been a disappointment early season with the last two weeks being particularly toothless performances against the high-flying Cowboys and Broncos but this match promises to be much less gruelling against a Tigers side who are fresh off conceding 60 points against the Raiders.
As I mentioned last week the Tigers are going through somewhat of an identity crisis at the moment with their playing style and I can’t see a quick fix for them, whilst the Rabbitohs on the other hand have just been relatively flat but have come up against the two best sides in the competition two weeks running which will have prepared them well for this match.
I can see this being a break-out performance from the Bunnies as their attack will have a lot more space in the face of a less structured defence which will see Reynolds with plenty of opportunity to unleash his lethal kicking game and for their forwards to chew up plenty of metres against one of the competitions softer packs. Sam Burgess was full of effort last week but lacked support from the rest of his pack and a lot more will be demanded of them here and a response is imminent.
The line for the Rabbitohs to cover is very manageable and we’ll happily back them to cover it in what I anticipate will be all one-way traffic. Pick - 3 units on Rabbitohs -8.5 or better point start
Eels v Bulldogs
The Eels have put their off-field salary cap issues to one side this season as they’ve performed admirably on the field despite coming off second best last week against a rampaging Cowboys side in Townsville, they’re not the first side and certainly won’t be the last to cop a heavy loss up in the far North though. Given the character this Eels side has shown I’m expecting a firm response to that loss here against a Bulldogs side who are struggling for consistency and who are coming off a golden point win against the Titans in a match where they let the opposition run them down late.
Defence will be the order of the day here and the Eels sit second equal in points conceded with an uncompromising wall which the Bulldogs will struggle to breach, meanwhile the Eels attack has looked crisp with the halves combo of Foran and Norman operating very well together and creating plenty of opportunities for their dangerous outside backs.
The bookies can’t split these two sides which is fine by us as I can see this being a relatively low-scoring encounter with the cool heads of the Eels to proposer. Pick – 3 units on Eels to win **Friday Morning Update: Caution is advised here in light of Kieran Foran's withdrawal.
Panthers v Raiders
Despite sitting outside the top eight the Panthers have been very consistent showing plenty of heart thus far and if not for a few very narrow losses would be right up there whilst the Raiders are somewhat less predictable after they followed up a big loss to the Sharks with as an absolute towelling of the Tigers last week.
I’m leaning towards the consistency of the Panthers to win out here, they have some big ‘ins’ with Segeyaro, McKendry and Whare all returning to the side, all players that’ll add another dimension to their attack. Soward and Wallace have controlled the Panthers attack brilliantly in the halves and with Moylen electric at the back and several ball-playing forwards in Cartwright and Peachy they have a brilliant mix of experience and raw talent.
The line is small and at home the Panthers will offer too much across the park for the Raiders who go into this off the back of a huge win against soft opposition. Pick – 4 units on Panthers -4.5 or better point start
Roosters v Knights
Trent Robinson’s frustrations spilled over following their loss to the Dragons on Monday and whilst he aimed up at the officials I’ve no doubt a lot of the anger was born out of his sides performance and the fact they’re on the bottom of the table, their fortunes are about to change though with the return of two of their most influential players – JWH and Pearce.
You have to feel somewhat sorry for the Knights here as they’re about to cop the full wrath of this Roosters side who have been solid in the face of a heavy injury/suspension toll but have lacked the x-factor which is exactly what Pearce and JWH will provide, along with their other recently returned star players. From the moment his suspension was handed down Pearce will have been dreaming of his return to the field and I’m predicting he’ll have a huge game here and his players, particularly the forwards, will rally around him accordingly which is going to make it very tough on the Knights to compete.
The Knights don’t win many of the match-ups on paper here and the Roosters will be approaching this game as though their season starts now as the bulk of their 2015 minor-premiership winning side are now back on the park – take the Roosters to cover the start. Pick – 4 units on Roosters -14.5 point start
Sea Eagles v Cowboys
The Sea Eagles will be well and truly aware of the mountain they have to climb here to get the win given how well the Cowboys have been playing but at Brookvale Oval and with DCE now back at the helm running their attack they are capable of mixing it with the reigning premiers.
We saw two weeks ago, albeit against the Warriors, how tough this Manly side can be when their forwards turn up and if they can replicate that effort here then their dangerous and experienced backs - DCE, Matai, Stewart and Lyon – will ask more questions of the Cowboys defence than they’ve had of late.
This is a very long competition and it’s tough for teams to play at their highest level every single week and whilst the Cowboys have been close to that thus far they’re due a bit of a lull which is likely to come on the road in an environment such as Brookvale where many opposition sides struggle. I’m fancying the Sea Eagles to bring it here and for the Cowboys to be off a beat or two which makes the start on offer to the home side appeal. Pick – 3 units on Sea Eagles +8.5 point start
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