NRL ROUND 7
Cowboys v Rabbitohs
This is arguably the toughest road assignment in the competition for the Rabbitohs as the Cowboys have made Townsville an absolute graveyard for visiting teams but they have the huge inclusion this week of Adam Reynolds whose kicking game has been sorely missed.
There’s no doubt the Rabbitohs will have had a real shake-up at training during the week following another sub-par performance against the Roosters and I’m expecting a lot more from them here. It goes without saying that the Rabbitohs forward pack will need to lead the way here and chew through some serious metres to give Reynolds the chance to cause trouble with his kicking game and they do have a pack that can mix it with the Cowboys, Sam Burgess will as always lead the way but the likes of Tyrrell, Grevsmuhl and the other two Burgess brothers will need to get busy and show some of the form that propelled the Rabbitohs to some big wins in the opening rounds.
Whilst I understand the big line on offer to the Cowboys I can’t help but feel it’s too large as the Rabbitohs will come to play and I can see this going down to the wire. Inglis will no doubt look to inject himself more and will be a target for Reynolds cross-field attacking kicks. Take the Rabbitohs with the start. Pick – 3 units on Rabbitohs +10.5 or better point start
Titans v Dragons
The pressure is well and truly on the Dragons attack to fire here given they’ve been held scoreless in their past two matches (both admittedly against two of the top defensive sides in the competition in the Cowboys and Broncos) and no two players will be under more scrutiny than Widdup and the returning Marshall in the halves. The Dragons have now scored just 40 points in their six games to date, compared with the Titans 136 points, but they should find the going easier here given the Titans have the 6th worst defensive record (133 point conceded).
Josh Dugan was absolutely brilliant for the Dragons in last week’s losing effort and he’ll be a handful again here as he seems on a one-man mission to turn their fortunes around. Dragons coach Paul McGregor suggested during the week that the Dragons were trying too hard on attack and overcomplicating things so expect a return to the basics here as the forwards roll up their sleeves and Marshall/Widdup play a more structured role in the halves.
The loss of Greg Bird is big for the Titans as his ball playing abilities in the forwards has contributed to what’s been a very effective attack, his experience will also be a big loss as he’s played a good support role to the very inexperienced Cullen and Taylor in the halves.
With the side they have on paper there’s really no reason why the Dragons should be near the bottom of the points table and I can see a breakout performance here as they come away with the win. Pick – 3.5 units on Dragons to win
Bulldogs v Warriors
With just two wins from six matches the Warriors have now hit crisis point and anything short of a win here will see McFadden slip perilously closer to getting the sack, it’s just a shame a number of his players don’t shoulder the same burden as they’ve really let their coach down (not to mention every fan) with apathetic performances.
For the Warriors to have any chance here Isaac Luke (who has been a main culprit for indifferent performances) needs to play like he’s wearing a Rabbitohs jumper and return to the darting runs out of dummy half, the desperate defence and the general attitude that had him rated as one of the world’s top hookers over the past few years. As a senior member of the team he’s been absent in terms of leadership but we all know what he’s capable of and I can’t help but feel we’ll see him at his best here.
The move to bring Lolohea into five-eighth means the Warriors now have two blistering halves with ball in hand, it remains to be seen how their kicking game will work as Johnson has been average in that department but McFadden had little choice given how ineffective Robson has been. The return of Bodene Thompson to the 2nd Row will also bring an injection of much needed enthusiasm and with Thomas Leuluai now having had a run under his belt he’ll be eager to get involved and share the playmaking duties as he comes off the bench.
The Dogs will look to grind the Warriors down through their big forwards and keep things relatively simple out wide but I sense somewhat of an ambush could be on the cards here as the Warriors have a breakout performance and save (for the time being) their coach from the axe. Take the very desperate Warriors to win. Pick – 2.5 units on Warriors to win
Tigers v Storm
It’s never a good time to face the Storm but especially when they’re coming off the back of a frustrating loss at home which is the position they’re in now having gone down to the Bulldogs on Monday night. That loss came despite their captain Cameron Smith putting in a mammoth effort which would usually be enough to drive them to victory but they lacked finishing touches and will be determined to make amends here.
The Tigers fast start to the season is quickly becoming a distant memory as they’ve now lost four on the trot and whilst they’ve not been thrashed in any of them the have been guilty of letting the opposition dictate terms to them which is exactly what the Storm will do here with a well-structured typical Storm-like approach.
The bookies have slightly sided with the visiting Storm and I can’t argue with that as I’m anticipating another huge game from Smith and for his forwards to battle around him, with Cronk to lift his kicking game and dictate terms with lots of repeat sets and plenty of yardage on his kicks for the Storm defence to then shut down anything the Tigers throw at them on the return. Pretty standard Melbourne Storm play really. We’ll take the Storm to cover the small start. Pick – 2 units on Storm -3.5 or better point start
WEEK RESULTS STAKES ROI BEST BET Grand Final
Week Three Finals
Week Two Finals
Week One Finals