NRL Round 5 Preview

The Melbourne Storm  is going from strength to strength, not only being unbeaten but gaping their opponents. At home, they are seemingly unbeatable, so it will take a repeat of the Knight’s  performance against Canterbury and then some to cause an upset. Billy Slater’s try scoring double in each game this season is a talking point but stopping him is easier said than done. If any coach knows how to beat a Craig Bellamy coached side it’s Wayne Bennett, given that Bellamy learnt his craft under Bennett at Brisbane. The return of Kurt Gidley and the experience of Danny Buderus made the difference for Newcastle last week but Melbourne holds too many aces. Melbourne Storm 1-12

Rivalry round brings together the Broncos  and Dragons  at Suncorp Stadium and both come off good wins last week. Brisbane’s effort in Perth was top shelf given that they faced a 0-12 deficit and the poor refereeing was against them. St George-Illawarra has three wins out of four but is still to convince their fans that they are really one of the top class sides. There will still be feeling between these two teams but maybe with the Wayne Bennett factor now missing, the intensity of seasons past may not be quite as strong. Toss of the coin but perhaps Brisbane although as the upset loss to the Cowboys showed, Suncorp Stadium doesn’t hold fear for visiting sides. Brisbane Broncos 1-12

Penrith  and Cronulla  shapes as a tight game at Penrith on Saturday. It’s probably hard to take a gauge on the Panthers last start win as Parramatta was woeful but the Sharks win in Townsville was full of merit. Coming off a Monday night win over Manly in the wet and the trip north, Cronulla did an excellent job. They just have to hope that inspirational Paul Gallen stays injury free for he is just so important to the team. If you are taking Footytab Pick the Winners, Cronulla getting 3.5 points start looks good value. Cronulla 1-12

The Roosters  copped a shellacking from Melbourne last week but they won’t be the only side to suffer that fate. However the boys from Bondi are lacking real firepower and shouldn’t cause good sides that much trouble. The Warriors  needed the win over the Gold Coast to restore some confidence and they should make it two in a row at the SFS on Saturday night. The Roosters will need plenty of muscle to deal with “The Beast” Manu Vatuvei as he just loves playing against the tricolours having scored eight tries in the last eight encounters. Having something on Vatuvei as first try scorer could be profitable. New Zealand Warriors 13+

Parramatta  surely can’t keep playing as badly as in the first four rounds or can they? Another loss at home to Manly  on Saturday night will not only have the fans booing but put Stephen Kearney’s tenure as coach on life-support. If the Eels are ever a chance of beating Manly, then a face saving performance this week against a still below strength opponent is it. The Sea Eagles still has plenty of firepower but without Matai, Williams and Glenn Stewart, they are vulnerable as shown by the loss to the Dragons. The 9.5 start on FootyTab Pick the Margins for Parramatta might be worth a small investment but to get the two points it’s hard to go past Manly. Manly Sea Eagles 1-12

Sunday at the SFS is the moment of truth for the Wests Tigers . Are they genuine premiership contenders as evidenced by their pre-season favouritism or are simply pretenders? The Tigers were dreadful on Monday night and that is taking nothing away from Canberra but defensively the Wests Tigers effort was pathetic. They are a better team but must start turning things around beginning with the clash against South Sydney . The Bunnies should have won in Perth against Brisbane having led 12-nil and luck of the game going their way. Both sides will be down on confidence after round four and how each team comes up mentally for this game could make the difference. South Sydney Rabbitohs 1-12

Another week from hell for the Gold Coast Titans , belted by the Warriors in Auckland and the club teetering on the fringe of insolvency off field. It won’t get much better for them at home on Sunday afternoon against a Canterbury  side eager to put last week’s below par effort against Newcastle behind them and the Titans will be without halfback Scott Prince, even though his form this year has been ordinary. Bulldogs’ coach Des Hasler will have pointed out a few home truths this week and Canterbury will almost certainly turn up to play. Canterbury Bulldogs 13+

Monday night football has become a graveyard for favourites but can the North Queensland Cowboys  buck that trend? The trip from Townsville to Canberra is not an easy one and the Raiders  have the advantage of a full week’s break to recover from the Monday night win over the Tigers. The Cowboys have had a setback with representative prop and club co-captain Matthew Scott on the injured list for a few weeks. It will take something special from Thurston and Bowen to spark the visitors but the Canberra Raiders hold all the aces even without star fullback Josh Dugan. Terry Campese and Jason Croker are in top form and the Raiders are specialists on Monday night at home. Canberra Raiders 1-12

Click here to bet on NRL Round 4 matches