NRL ROUND 10
BULLDOGS v COWBOYS
The Cowboys looked set to get Thurston back for this clash but another injury has put that off by at least a week and I’m afraid for Cowboys fans that pretty much spells the end of their chances here; winning in Sydney has always been tough for the boys from Townsville but without their maestro that task is twice as difficult. What makes matters worse for the Cowboys is the fact they’re playing a Bulldogs side full of confidence, having won four of their past five matches after finally sorting their offence out and having their forwards roll up their sleeves a bit more.
Short and sweet, the Cowboys looked dreadful against the Eels last time out, lacking leadership in attack and I can see the Bulldogs forwards rolling over the top of them laying the perfect platform for the all of a sudden very dangerous looking Dogs backline. Pick – 3 units on Bulldogs -4.5 or better point start
DRAGONS v SHARKS
It’s a shock that we’re a third of the way through the competition and the Dragons sit 2nd on the ladder with the best attacking record of all teams; despite that impressive record though they are going to be up against it here without two key attacking weapons in Dugan and Widdup who they could have really done with against the best defensive side in the competition.
The Sharks have a terrible record at Jubilee Oval but despite that I have them to win this in what will be a match dominated by defence but ultimately won off the back of relentless pressure from the Sharks who have the star-power to get the job done. We’ll take the value in the margins as the Dragons defence is good enough to ensure it won’t be a blow out. Pick – 2 units on Sharks to win by 12 points and under
TIGERS v RABBITOHS
It seems fairly obvious that something really stinks at the Rabbitohs as they are a shadow of their former self and look disinterested at times which was on full display in their embarrassing display against the Sea Eagles last time out. The frustration is that their big guns in Reynolds, Sutton and Sam Burgess are not putting their hands up to pull them out of the mire and until they pull finger the results will continue to go against them.
The improvement in the Tigers attitude since Cleary has taken over has been huge, with a handful of wins and close losses and despite them losing Woods and Idris it’s still somewhat of a surprise they’re starting as underdogs given the lifeless recent performances from the Bunnies.
The form of Tedesco has been scintillating of late and along with several other attacking weapons in Brooks and Moses in the halves I can see the Tigers having enough of an arsenal to really trouble what’s been a paper thin Bunnies defence. There’s not a lot between the packs but the Tigers forwards have been more willing of late to roll up their sleeves; throw in the respective attitudes of both sides and it all amounts to good value on the Tigers for the win as they lead from the outset. Pick – 2 units on Tigers half and fulltime double
PANTHERS v WARRIORS
Neither of these sides have set the competition alight yet after coming into the season with great expectations but it’s the Panthers in particular that have copped the most criticism given the roster they have and the nature of some of their losses. Of both sides it’s the Panthers that will have benefited most from last week’s competition break with many of their players getting a taste of footy outside of the Panthers environment and it could be just the tonic to get some much needed confidence back.
The Panthers have been their own worst enemy with a very high error count (highest in the NRL) but it’s something that can be relatively easily fixed; if they get the completion rate up here then the Warriors are going to struggle to contain their live-wire side who promise the world on paper but have rarely delivered – thus far.
Despite the obvious positive influence Foran has had on the Warriors side they’re still not the real-deal in my opinion, particularly when it comes to playing on the road where they’ve yet to secure a win thus far and when you look at their recent record against the Panthers (2 from 8) and last three at Pepper Stadium (0-3) then the very slim start the Panthers have to cover here looks mouth-watering! Pick - 4 units on Panthers -2.5 point start (BEST BET)
SEA EAGLES v BRONCOS
It’s a curious sight when you see the ‘home’ side for this is the Sea Eagles who have opted for the larger cash return of what’s promised to be a sell-out crowd at Suncorp over the comforts of Brookvale; whilst that decision may improve the bank balance it will likely backfire on them when it comes to their standing on the points table.
Manly have been one of the surprise packages of the competition as they’ve upset a number of sides but when you compare both these sides on paper, particularly up front, it is tough to see any other result than a Broncos win here.
The bookies have the Broncos as favourites but the line isn’t big enough in my opinion; they have the stronger of the two sides and will have a huge home crowd cheering them on which will make them grow another leg. We’ll take the Broncos to cover the start as the Sea Eagles struggle to breach what will be a rock solid defence. Pick – 3 units on Broncos -4.5 or better point start