NRL ROUND 4
Cowboys v Panthers
The Cowboys started the season as one of the favourites to take out the premiership and the fact they have just one win from their opening three matches won’t be sitting well with them, their losses though have been away from Townsville against handy opposition in the Broncos and Storm.
The loss of Cleary for the Panthers is a huge hit as he’s the orchestrator of their attack and we saw last week once he left the field how Maloney struggled in the main playmaking role to worry the Bulldogs defensive line which could again be a problem for them here against a fired up Cowboys defence.
The Panthers have numerous stars in their side but they all seem to be working as individuals at present and without Cleary to steer the ship I can’t see that changing here; meanwhile the Cowboys are always formidable at home and have JT at the helm who will do what he does best and terrorise the Panthers defensive line. We’ll take the Cowboys to cover the line as they simply have too many points in them and the Panthers won’t be able to match the power and aggression of the formidable Cowboys forward pack who are due a huge game. Pick – 3 units on Cowboys -10.5 point start
Sharks v Storm
The Sharks will be looking to build on their first win of the season here after downing the Eels last week and are good value to do so at home against a Storm side still adapting to life without Cooper Cronk in the halves.
On paper both sides are quite evenly matched with a host inexperienced players surrounded by seasoned veterans and something tells me points will be at a premium as I can’t see either attack taking the game by the scruff of the neck.
The Sharks will be after some dividends from Moylan who returns at five-eighth for this clash and showed last year how dangerous he can be in that position, it remains to be seen whether he can step up for his new club in the playmaking role but he has solid support in Townsend who will do the majority of the kicking with Moylan likely to take on the line more.
Croft is still finding his feet after stepping into the very large shoes of Cronk at halfback for the Storm and could be the weak link here as the Sharks pile on the pressure. The Sharks will look to their seasoned forward pack in Lewis, Fafita, Gallen and Graham to get things moving up the middle and should lay the foundation for the upset – take the Sharks to win in the margins at good value. Pick – 2 units on Sharks to win by 12 points and under
Sea Eagles v Raiders
Both these sides are averaging 25+ points per game on attack, whilst the Raiders are giving up even more than that on defence so on what’s forecast to be a dry deck at Lottoland we should be treated to an offensive bonanza.
I’ve no doubt Ricky Stewart will have been ripping into his side after they took the foot off the throat late last week against the Warriors to suffer their third close defeat on the trot, they’ve had several fast starts this year but the downside of having a big pack is that they tire and fatigue has been an issue. The Sea Eagles will be well aware of the Raiders late-match capitulations and will no doubt look to run them off their feet with quick play-the-balls and plenty of offloads.
Both sides have plenty of attacking weapons and a defence that’s conceded 128 points between them so let’s just sit back and watch the scoreboard tick over at regular intervals in what should be an entertaining match. Pick – 4 units on total combined points ‘over’ 44.5
Tigers v Eels
Wow, what an absolute disaster the start of 2018 has been for the Eels, losing their first three matches including a record loss to the Sea Eagles and accumulating a mere 18 points at an average of six points per game – it doesn’t get much worse than that. One glimmer of hope for the Eels here will be the fact the Tigers have the second worst offensive record thus far, scoring just 27 points however they have conceded just 25 points and have the best defensive record in the competition.
This is essentially a must win match for the Eels and their task has been made tougher with the loss of Hayne and French to injury, they do still have a decent halves pairing in Norman and Moses but they’ve been absolutely off thus far so it’s anyone’s guess whether they will fire.
This match could well be as ugly as the respective offensive stats of both sides suggests and given all three Tigers matches have been decided by a converted try or less there’s every chance this will be another low scoring close encounter against a desperate Eels side. Pick – 2 units on either side to win by six points and under
WEEK RESULTS STAKES ROI BEST BET Week Six -3.51 15 -23% LOST Week Five -3.3 15 -22% LOST Week Four +3.6 11 33% N/A Week Three -7 7 -100% LOST Week Two -4.5 12 -38% LOST Week One -5.27 11 -48% LOST Total -19.98 71 -28% 0%