Editor of Rugby League Week, Mitchell Dale, provides TattsBet with an exclusive Round 4 Preview of the NRL.
TattsBet NRL Round 4 Preview
Roosters v Sea Eagles
Friday March 28 @ 18.45 (AEST)
The Chooks are on a roll, having racked up 86 points in their past two matches – their biggest haul in two consecutive games since rounds 13-14, 2007. But they’ll need all the attacking firepower they can muster against a side they traditionally struggle to score points against. The Roosters average just 15.07 points per game against the Sea Eagles, their lowest figure against any team. Manly looked like their minds were already on this clash last weekend, when they nearly slipped-up against Parra. Eagles players admitted this week complacency was a problem against Parra . . . but it won’t be this Friday. Kieran Foran’s return will be a huge boost to the Eagles, but I think the Roosters will get up in the GF replay.
My tip: Roosters 1-12
Friday March 28 @ 19.05 (AEST)
After last Friday’s heartbreaking loss on the buzzer to the Roosters, things don’t get any easier for Brisbane, facing the in-form and unbeaten Dragons at the ’Gong. WIN Stadium has not been a happy hunting ground for Brisbane of late – in their past five matches there, they have only managed to score more than 16 points on one occasion. The Broncos welcome back Josh McGuire from suspension, giving them a bit more grunt upfront. But if they want to get the points here, they must shut down Englishman Gareth Widdop. St George Illawarra are on their longest winning streak since round 12, 2011, and I think that roll will continue another week, with a tight win here.
Saturday March 29 @ 14.05 (AEST)
The Tigers stood up to the big Rabbitohs pack last week – and have since let everyone know they won’t be pushed around this year. It’s music to the ears of any Tigers fan, who have watched their pack get consistently out-muscled in recent years. But that Tigers vow will be tested again this weekend against a massive Warriors side that finally fired a shot against the Cowboys last weekend. Winning in Townsville has proved virtually impossible for the Warriors, with time differences and the long flight over making life very tough. That win will do wonders for their confidence. Look for the NZ boys to continue their winning ways this Saturday.
My tip: Warriors 1-12
Saturday March 29 @ 16.35
Plenty of good signs for both these teams heading into the western derby. The Panthers are going great guns, losing just the one game – by one point – to Melbourne in the opening three rounds. A win this Saturday will give the usually slow-starting Mountain Men three wins in the opening month for just the second time since 2001. The Eels also look a much-improved unit from last year . . . even taking into account their 52-point loss to the Roosters in round two. They would have beaten Manly last weekend if not for a few dodgy refereeing decisions. Chris Sandow comes back into the side this week – a good move, if you ask me. Yes, Sandow is a bit erratic, but he is a man who can make things happen. The Eels’ backs have been throwing the ball around this year, and Sandow will fit that ad-lib style nicely. Penrith have the wood on their western rivals in recent clashes, having won five of the past six derbies. They’ll extend that record to six of their past seven this Saturday.
nib Stadium, Perth
Saturday March 29 @ 18.35 (AEST)
It’s been a difficult week for the Storm with Alex McKinnon’s injury and Jordan McLean’s subsequent suspension. So a trip as far away from the Eastern seaboard as possible might be just the thing they need. Melbourne have been clinical in their three straight wins to start the year, missing just 50 tackles in three games. On the other hand, the Dogs have been up and down, and would be ruing a missed opportunity at Penrith last Saturday. On top of that, they have a rotten recent record against Melbourne, having won just four of the past 11 matches between the two clubs. But the Bulldogs did knock off Melbourne when they last met – a 39-0 drubbing over an Origin-depleted Storm side in round 18 last year – and if they can muster a win in Perth, it would be the Dogs’ first consecutive defeats of Melbourne since 2005. But on current form, it’s hard to see that happening.
My tip: Storm 1-12
Sunday March 30 @ 13.05 (AEST)
Losing Issac Luke to a shoulder injury is a huge blow for the Bunnies . . . but there is some good news for Souths, in the shape of this little nugget of stats gold. They have won four of their past five matches without the Kiwi rake, averaging a whopping 35.2 points per game. That many points would be enough to beat Canberra three times over if they play like they did against the Titans last Sunday. But if Canberra were bad last weekend, Souths were terrible. They made 21 errors against the Tigers – their sloppiest effort since the bad old days of 1999. Shaun Fensom comes back for the Raiders which will tighten up their middle considerably. Souths also welcome back the cavalry, with Greg Inglis, Dylan Walker and Chris McQueen all named to play. Souths have won their past five matches against Canberra . . . and will make is six straight this weekend.
Sunday March 30 @ 14.05 (AEST)
It will be an emotion-charged match for Newcastle at home this Sunday, but they will need to make sure they remain calm. The fact is both sides are 0-3 . . . and a 0-4 start to the year will present a very tough hill to climb to make it into the top eight. Neither side is playing terrible footy. The Sharks pushed the Dragons last weekend, and Newcastle were in their Monday night clash with Melbourne for 60 minutes before ill-discipline cost them a chance at winning. The Knights have the wood on Cronulla, having won six of their past seven clashes. A big home crowd should be enough to get them home in this one too.
Monday March 31 @ 18.35
It’s hard to get a handle on either team after three rounds. The Cowboys looked like world beaters in the pre-season, winning all their trials and the Auckland Nines. They have then backed up a scratchy win over Canberra in round one with two disappointing losses. The Titans are 2-1, and poised to equal their best ever opening month to a season with a third win on Monday. But that record is misleading, when you consider how bad they were in round two when the Tigers pulled their pants down at home. The Cowboys don’t have a good record on the Glitter Strip, having won two from six visits to Cbus Super Stadium. That said, I think they’ll have too much class for the Titans and edge away in a tight one.
My tip: Cowboys 1-12
Mitchell Dale - Editor Rugby League Week @LeagueWeek
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