NRL ROUND 4
Rabbitohs v Roosters
After three completed rounds the Roosters and Storm stand alone as the only unbeaten teams; the Roosters are looking like a much more cohesive and determined unit than their 2016 version and there seems little doubt they’ll feature at the back end of the season. The same can’t be said for the Rabbitohs who have been up and down in the opening rounds, sure they go into this off the back of a win but albeit a tight one against a fairly green Knights side; they did suffer some collateral damage from that win too with three suspensions which have forced changes here.
The Roosters look to have a tough edge to them this season which was highlighted in their gutsy win over the Panthers last week and with an unchanged side taking the field here I can see this going all their way. Despite this being their first season alongside each other Keary and Pearce are playing like they’ve been team mates for years, a lot of that is down to their forwards though who are bending defensive lines and playing with a hunger seldom seen last year.
The line here is very manageable for the Roosters at touch more than a converted try and I can’t see them having too much difficulty in covering and maintaining their unbeaten start to the season. Pick – 3 units on Roosters -7.5 point start
Panthers v Knights
This is a huge game for the Panthers who are one of the premiership favourites but sit with a one win, two loss record after three rounds so the pressure is on to put the un-favoured Knights away in style here. It’s fair to say this week’s match-up is a lot more in the Panthers favour after going down to the high-flying Roosters last week but they simply cannot afford to take the Knights lightly and the pressure they’re now under should ensure a full throttle 80 minute effort – which does not bode well for the Knights.
Man for man the Panthers have it all over the Knights, sure there’s still plenty of inexperience in the Panthers side, most notably in the halves, but they’ve shown as a side in 2016 what a highly skilled unit they are and can play beyond their years. The number of play-makers the Panthers possess is their key strength with Cleary and Martin in the halves, Peachey in the centres and Moylan at the back all capable of tearing a game open – they just need the forwards to come to the party and that they will here at home and under pressure.
You’ve got to admire the guts the Knights have shown in the opening rounds but they don’t have the game-breaking abilities of the Panthers, nor the hardened forwards, and they’ll be found wanting here once the Panthers dominate up the middle. In addition to a very dangerous attack the Panthers have shown, both last week and the previous against the Tigers, that they’re a well organised defensive unit too and I struggle to see where the Knights points are going to come from.
It’s a big start on offer to the Knights but the Panthers will respond to the pressure situation they’re in and will cover it with ease. Pick – 3 units on Panthers -14.5 or better point start
Panthers -14.03 at 1.91+2.73
Sea Eagles v Bulldogs
Even though the Bulldogs came away with the win over the Warriors last week it was hardly awe-inspiring given the complete ineptitude of the Warriors attack and general lack of effort but a win is a win and it’s fair to say the Bulldogs will have graciously received it.
The Sea Eagles go into this off the back of one of their more memorable performances of recent seasons – thrashing the Cowboys in Townsville, a performance which was at a totally different level to that of the Bulldogs and returning home with the added bonus of Taupau’s inclusion it’s surprising to see the bookies have installed the Sea Eagles as underdogs.
Having lost their previous two matches at Brookvale this season the Sea Eagles will be fizzing to build off last week’s performance and repay the fans that make it along here. We saw last week the Sea Eagles forwards ability to bend the defensive line and with Taupau back they’ll be even more fearsome here; meanwhile DCE’s kicking game is far superior to either of the Bulldogs halves and he goes into this full of confidence. All the Bulldogs win last week did was paper over some fairly big cracks and against what I expect will be sterner opposition here they’ll be found wanting – take the Sea Eagles for the win. Pick – 2 units on Sea Eagles to win
Titans v Cowboys
The Titans showed incredible guts last week in overcoming a string of injuries and beating the Eels, they were helped though by some pretty lackadaisical play by the Eels who took their foot off the throat but it was a great effort nonetheless. There won’t be any let up for the Titans here though against a Cowboys side that will be licking their wounds following a heavy home defeat to the Sea Eagles with their forwards in particular needing to step up in the absence of Taumalolo and Scott.
There’s not too much to say for this match, the Cowboys have definitely got a huge amount of improvement in them from last week and I expect them to bounce back in style, their forwards will be very motivated and should have the equal or measure of the Titans pack which will give Thurston and Morgan the footing they need to cause havoc amongst the Titans defence.
The line is much narrower than I was expecting and we’ll happily take the Cowboys to cover. Pick – 4 units on Cowboys -4.5 or better point start (BEST BET)
Dragons v Warriors
It is hard to find a single positive out of the Warriors performance last week in a losing effort to the Bulldogs, they were simply dreadful on attack, totally rudderless and lacking any sort of urgency whilst their defence wasn’t much better as the Bulldogs made the most of the limited ball they did have. When you compare that performance with the one the Dragons put in against the Sharks then it’s a big surprise the teams are so close in the market for this clash – sure RTS is back and Foran scheduled to make an appearance but there’s something rotten at the club and not even the class of those two players can paper over it.
Short and sweet, the Warriors are used to being the lovable unpredictable entertainers of the competition but they’re none of that now – they’re basically a sad example of underachievement and failure. The Dragons have owned the Warriors over the years and on their home turf should heap further misery on them. Pick – 3 units on Dragons to win