NRL ROUND 9
Rabbitohs v Sea Eagles
The Sea Eagles have been a bogey side for us this season, putting in big performances when backed against and then being absolutely lifeless when backed, nevertheless I feel the Rabbitohs offer good value here after unluckily losing to the Broncos last week and with the return of Reynolds at halfback.
The Rabbitohs have been building slowly into the season, they were in the game against the Bulldogs two weeks ago only to have a 10 minute sleep and last week showed plenty of character against the Broncos, if they repeat that effort then they win here for mine. I suspect the injection of Farah will come earlier this week following the way he changed the Rabbitohs attack and general levels of enthusiasm once he came on and his influence around the rucks could be what tips the game in the Bunnies favour.
Take the Rabbitohs to get the win and cash in on the underdog value. Pick – 3 units on Rabbitohs to win
Cowboys v Eels
Despite playing at their fortress in Townsville the Cowboys are up against it here with so many experienced frontline players still missing; they made tough work of putting the Knights away last week as they looked rudderless at times as Michael Morgan lacks the leadership on attack that they take for granted when Thurston is in the side.
The Eels go into this off the back of a determined effort in beating the Panthers and it’s that guts they’ve shown all season that should see them put up another decent fight here and push the Cowboys close. The absence of Takairangi is a blow for the Eels but Edwards is solid enough to play a decent support role in the halves to the electric Corey Norman. The Cowboys do have firepower up front, with Taumalolo in particular the one to watch but the Eels have some power of their own in M’au, Matagi and Scott.
The start on offer to the Eels is hard to go by as they have the edge in the backline for mine and should compete up front; Norman will go into this filled with confidence too after his effort against the Panthers last week which means trouble for the Cowboys defence. Pick – 3 units on Eels +6.0 point start
Note: Should Thurston end up playing this game then recommended proceed with caution, at time of writing it was looking unlikely Thurston would play but that is now less clear. The pick stands as Eels still a good chance of getting within the line but JT will obviously make that less likely should he play. Suggest reduction in units should he take the field.
Titans v Knights
The return of Hayne inspired the Titans to a big upset over the Sharks last week and they’re hot favourites here to beat a Knights side that’s on a collision course for the wooden spoon.
The Knights conceded 24 points to what was a fairly pedestrian Cowboys attack last week and signs are not good for them here with a day game to be played in fine conditions and up against an attack that is unpredictable, especially with Hayne chiming in all over the park to produce his magic.
The start for the Knights is a decent one but about right, the smart money here is on the total combined points line as the Titans will thrive in the conditions and clock up a decent total meanwhile the Knights will be good for two or three tries themselves. Pick – 4 units on total combined points ‘over’ 44.5 or better (BEST BET)
Tigers v Sharks
The transformation of the Tigers under Ivan Cleary has been one of the talking points of the season to date as they continued to defy the odds last week in beating the Bulldogs, making it two wins and a narrow loss now under his reign. Their opposition here won’t have had a pleasant week following the shock defeat to the Titans and will be fired up for this but I’m confident the Tigers will be ready and waiting for whatever they bring.
The Tigers enthusiasm and confidence have been the obvious changes since Cleary has taken over as they’re backing themselves, fighting their opposition for every metre and the good players in the side are now looking great (ish) with Brooks and Moses menacing in the halves and their forward pack looking as solid as any in the competition.
Short and sweet here, the Tigers will be desperate to light up the Leichhardt Oval faithful and Tedesco, Moses, Brooks, Woods and co should lead the way to another classy victory as they continue the intensity and enthusiasm they’ve brought to their last three games. Pick – 2 units on Tigers to win
Warriors v Roosters
Dragons v Storm