NRL ROUND 5
Sea Eagles v Rabbitohs
The Rabbitohs flying start to the season hit a major speed-bump last week as they were thoroughly outplayed in every aspect of their match against the Bulldogs, highlighting just how valuable Sam Burgess is to their side as their forward pack looked relatively toothless in his absence. With Sam back on board here though I’m expecting a much better display up front as he ploughs into the Sea Eagles providing the leadership and guidance that was sorely missing last week.
The loss of DCE for the Sea Eagles has them looking rather short-handed in the halves as the Koroisau / Walker combination will take time to gel and there are major question marks around what sort of pressure they’ll be able to build on attack, particularly with their kicking game.
Despite this being played at Manly’s beloved Brookvale Oval I’m leaning towards a big bounce back from the Rabbitohs, they have been brilliant for the most part thus far in 2016 and they’ll be eager to put last week’s blip behind them. The return of Sam Burgess gives the Rabbitohs the edge up front and Keary / Walker have shown how good they can be in the halves off the back of some good momentum, throw Inglis into the mix at the back and they have enough of an advantage on attack to have me leaning quite comfortably towards a decent win. Pick - 3 units on Rabbitohs -4.0 point start
Storm v Knights
The Knights look to be the clear frontrunners for the 2016 wooden spoon and go into this off the back of another big loss, this time to the struggling Warriors who put them to the sword in the second half on Sunday and things will only get worse for them here against a Storm side coming off a disappointing display against the Sharks.
The Storm blew several chances against the Sharks with execution letting them down, that and the fact the Sharks defended brilliantly, they won’t meet anywhere near such resistance on defence here though with the Knights looking susceptible anytime the opposition attack their line. The return of Kevin Proctor for this match is a big boost for the Storm as his ball carrying and off-loading abilities add another dimension to their attack, meanwhile I expect a much more clinical effort all round from a side who prides themselves on a low error rate and building pressure on the opposition.
There’s not a whole lot more to say about this match, the Storm are everything the Knights aren’t – well-drilled, cohesive, determined and have experience in key positions; there’s only one way this match is going to go and that’s a comprehensive victory to the Storm. I was expecting a larger line for the Storm to cover here at home but will happily take what’s on offer and back them to cover with ease. Pick – 4 units on Storm -16.5 point start
Tigers v Sharks
The Tigers came up against a rock solid wall of defence in the form of the Eels on Monday who held them scoreless and things won’t be much easier for them here in the face of a determined Sharks defence who limited the Storm to just the one try and who are welcoming back their captain Paul Gallen from injury.
On paper the Sharks have by far the stronger of the two sides with a mountain of experience, game-breakers out wide in the form of Barba, Holmes and Bird as well as a wily forward pack full of seasoned professionals, they also boast one of the strongest benches in the competition who can all be relied on for big contributions.
I can see Monday’s win over the Storm sparking a run from the Sharks as they’re simply too classy and experienced (plus coached by one of the best going around in Flanagan) to not be sniffing around the top four and they’ll be too strong for the Tigers here. We’ll take the Sharks to cover the slim line on offer. Pick – 3 units on Sharks -3.5 or better point start
Roosters v Warriors
Despite coming through for us with a big win on Monday I’d still only give the Warriors performance a pass mark as the end score line papered-over some soft defence and pedestrian attack, they were just lucky to be playing the worst team in the competition in the Knights. The Roosters meanwhile lost their fourth match on the trot in controversial circumstances to the Sea Eagles but it was arguably their best performance of the season to date filled with determination and grit which is exactly what they’ll again bring to this match.
Whenever the Warriors defence has been seriously questioned this season (and most of the back end of last season) they have more often than not buckled and despite the Roosters being slightly short-handed on attack they still have enough quality to hurt the Warriors and keep the scoreboard ticking over. I’m expecting somewhat of a carnival atmosphere on the Central Coast for this afternoon clash and with a dry forecast the conditions will be good for throwing the ball around which should see plenty of points being scored as neither side have been particularly strong defensively thus far.
The total combined points line is what I’m eyeing up here as attack will be the order of the day as both sides chance their hand – take the game total to go ‘over’ 44.5 points. Pick – 3 units on total combined points ‘over’ 44.5 or better
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Week Three Finals
Week Two Finals
Week One Finals