Editor of Rugby League Week, Mitchell Dale, provides TattsBet with an exclusive Round 2 Preview of the NRL.
TattsBet NRL Round 3 Preview
Tigers v Rabbitohs
Friday March 21 @ 18.45 (AEST)
Luke Brooks showed he is a player of rare talent last weekend, but the Tiger teen will find life a lot tougher this Friday. In defence, he will have a couple of Burgess boys running at him all night and in attack he will confront a much better defensive line than the Titans offered. The Tigers will take plenty of confidence out of their win over the Gold Coast, but they will need to be twice as good if they are to come close to the Bunnies – a team they have an atrocious recent record against. Souths have won the past five clashes between the two clubs, including their biggest winning margin against the Tigers in round 10 last year – a 54-10 shellacking at ANZ. It’s all pointing to a comfortable Rabbitohs victory.
My tip: Rabbitohs 13+
Friday March 21 @ 19.45 (AEST)
The Broncos have made a cracking start to the year, but this is by far their biggest challenge to date. The last clash between the two clubs produced just one try, with the Roosters winning a dour tussle 8-0. That was the least amount of points the Broncos have ever conceded in a loss. But we can all expect plenty more points on Friday. The Roosters looked devastating against the Eels, while Brisbane look a little bit sharper every week as Ben Barba settles into his new surroundings. The clash of the forward packs will be the highlight of this one . . . even without SBW in the Roosters line-up. The Broncos forwards have laid the platform for both their wins this year, and will need to get on top of the Tricolours if the home team are any hope. But with so many attacking options in the Roosters backline, even that won’t guarantee victory in this one.
Saturday March 22 @ 15.35 (AEST)
Penrith were certainly the most impressive of the eight losing teams last weekend. If not for a bit of Cameron Smith genius on the buzzer, they could very well have walked away from Melbourne with the two points. They didn’t get the win, but they would have taken a lot of confidence out of that match. Jamie Soward comes back into the side this week, forcing out Cook Islands representative Isaac John. Former NSW prop Tim Grant also comes back into the Panthers’ line-up, replacing the injured Brent Kite. The Dogs dismantled an undermanned Cronulla on Monday. But the near full-strength Panthers will provide a much bigger challenge.
My tip: Panthers 1-12
Saturday March 22 @ 18.05
Poor old Sharkies. With Gallen, Lewis and Fifita out through injury or suspension, they are missing 51 Tests and 33 Origins worth of experience. Take out Todd Carney and they also lose all direction and attacking potency. No wonder they’ve only scored 16 points in two games and occupy last spot on the ladder. Carney has been named to return from a hamstring injury for the local derby with the Dragons. But he cannot be considered a certainty. If he plays, the Sharks have some hope. If he doesn’t, they are no hope. The Dragons, on the other hand, are flying. Their spluttering attack of the past few seasons has clicked into gear – thanks in no small part to the arrival of Gareth Widdop. In two games, the Red V have scored a tick under 20 per cent of their total points for 2013.
Saturday March 22 @ 20.05 (AEST)
The Warriors are hands-down the underachievers of the first two rounds. After a strong pre-season and the arrival of Sam Tomkins, they fooled everyone into thinking they were going to come out all guns blazing to start the year. Two bad losses in, and they look like the slow-starting Warriors of old. The Cowboys have not set the world on fire in their opening two matches, but they are travelling a hell of a lot better than the Warriors. Add to that an impressive recent record against NZ in Townsville – the Cowboys have won their past eight clashes between the two sides at 1300SMILES Stadium – and it’s all pointing to JT’s men getting the cash.
My tip: Cowboys 13+
Sunday March 23 @ 14.05 (AEST)
Parramatta must have done something to annoy the NRL’s match schedulers last year, because they have been handed a torrid start to this season. Facing last year’s grand finalists in consecutive weeks is a tough gig for any team, let alone one that has finished with the spoon the past two seasons. Parra’s recent history against their once-arch rivals is not pretty. Manly’s combined score against the Eels in 2013 was 90-16, and in their past three meetings, the Eagles have racked up 130 points. You’d like to think Brad Arthur can start stem the blood flow, but from what we saw in the second half last weekend, there are still more holes in the Eels’ defence than a block of Swiss cheese.
Sunday March 23 @ 17.35 (AEST)
Canberra are on the verge of creating an unwanted piece of club history. A loss against the Titans would give them five-straight losses at GIO Stadium. Thankfully for the Raiders, they are playing a Titans side that was average last weekend, and have some injury concerns heading into this weekend. Five-eighth Aidan Sezer (quad) and hooker Beau Falloon (knee) will be monitored in the lead-up to the match and are no certainties to play, while co-captain Greg Bird (shoulder) and back-rower Mark Minichiello (virus) are unlikely to be 100 per cent, although they will take their place in the side. The Raiders will sorely miss Josh Papalii (injury) and Shaun Fensom (suspension) but should still have enough to come out on top.
Monday March 24 @ 18.05
When you’re 0-2 to start the year, the last thing you’d want to do is head south to face the Storm in Melbourne in round three. The Knights need to kick-start their season quickly, but they will need to overcome an in-form Storm – and a poor record against Melbourne – on Monday. The Storm have won seven of their past eight against Newcastle… but that one Knights win did come from their last clash in last year’s SF. Melbourne have won their past three regular season matches by a single point, but expect them to win this one more comfortably.
My tip: Storm 1-12
Mitchell Dale - Editor Rugby League Week @LeagueWeek
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