Editor of Rugby League Week, Mitchell Dale, provides TattsBet with an exclusive Round 7 Preview of the NRL.
TattsBet NRL Round 7 Preview
Rabbitohs v Bulldogs
Friday April 18@ 16.05 (AEST)
Who believes in omens? Souths fans probably will if the Bunnies can knock off the Bulldogs on Good Friday.
If the Rabbitohs can beat the Dogs, it will be three straight wins over Canterbury for the first time since 1971. And we all know what else Souths did that year... and what they haven't been able to do since.
The Rabbitohs were superb in defence in the wet at Penrith last Friday, but a Bulldogs side on a dry track will throw a lot more at the Red-and-Green wall.
Losing suspended pair Ben Te'o and Geroge Burgess could well trip up the Rabbitohs (sorry, terrible pun!) against this giant Bulldogs pack, and I think that will be telling.
If Te'o and Burgess were playing, I'd take the Bunnies. Without them, I think the Dogs can keep at least one 42-year run going and avoid three-straight losses to Souths.
Knights v Broncos
Friday April 18 @ 19.45 (AEST)
Newcastle are not a one-man band... but, boy, they are a much better outfit when Jarrod Mullen plays. Mullen returned from a hamstring injury in Canberra last Sunday and the Knights were an infinitely better side with him at the helm.
The Knights have been inconsistent so far this year, but a lot of that can be put down to a changing spine. Now that Mullen is back, and Newcastle's first-choice one, six, seven and nine – Boyd, Mullen, Roberts and Gidley – are together, look for the Knights to settle into a rhythm.
That said, Brisbane will have reason to be optimistic heading into this one, despite two ordinary performances the past fortnight. The Broncos have a very good recent record against the Knights, having won four, drawn one and lost one in their past six clashes with the Novocastrians. But Brisbane have gone backwards in a big way over the past month, so it's the Knights for me in this one.
Central Coast Stadium
Saturday April 12 @ 15.05 (AEST)
The Cowboys have been less consistent than the Pakistan cricket team this year.
They turned in a good effort against the Knights at home in round five, but backed it up with a poor showing against the Tigers last weekend, looking bereft of ideas in attack.
This kind of inconsistency cost Neil Henry his job last year. But under a new coach, it is the same story for North Queensland this year. Any team with Johnathan Thurston, Matt Scott and James Tamou should be much more stable than this.
They will need a massive improvement to beat Manly in Gosford. With that aforementioned trio on board anything is possible... but I can't see a Cowboys' win here.
My tip: Sea Eagles 13+
WIN Jubilee Oval
Saturday April 19 @ 17.35 (AEST)
A match-up against their whipping boys could not come at a better time for the Dragons.
The bumbling match officials might have dudded the Red V last Monday, but the bottom line is the game should never have been in the balance at that stage after the Dragons had led 24-10 in the second half.
After a super start to the year, St George Illawarra has now lost three straight.
Add to that the fact they have lost their past four matches at WIN Jubilee Oval – and have been held scoreless in two of those games – and you can see why a match-up against the Warriors is a Godsend.
The Dragons have won nine straight against the Kiwi outfit – the equal longest running streak in the NRL.
My tip: Dragons 13+
Saturday April 19 @ 19.35 (AEST)
Is the Premiers' Curse striking again? The Roosters – so mighty last year – have been so mediocre this year.
Aside from their 52-point shellacking over Parramatta in round two, their only win was a lucky escape against Brisbane in round four. They look a shadow of the side that dominated last year... and Trent Robinson needs to find the solution in a hurry.
Coming up against a Sharks side that is still suffering a huge injury toll will give them the chance to start turning things around. But Remondis Stadium has not been a happy hunting ground for them of late – the Tricolours haven’t saluted in the Shire since Round 8, 2009.
If the Sharks had a few less troops out injured, I'd back them to extend the Roosters' woes. But they are too light-on to take, even at home.
Sunday April 20 @ 15.05 (AEST)
Here's four good reasons I wouldn't even bet on Canberra with your money this weekend:
1. Canberra average less points scored against Melbourne than any other team (15.52).
2. Melbourne have won 19 of their past 23 clashes against Canberra.
3. The last time these teams clashed, Melbourne put a record 68 points past the Raiders.
4. Canberra seem to have forgotten how to win at home.
Monday April 21 @ 16.05 (AEST)
How good is it to see Parra win a few games? C'mon, admit it – after watching the Eels play so poorly for so long, it is kind of nice to see them finally string a few wins together. Well, I think it is anyway. Parramatta have an opportunity for a fourth consecutive victory for the first time since Round 10, 2010. And against a Tigers side minus Robbie Farah, I'm backing them to do just that. The Tigers and Eels have both been the early season surprise packets, but the Tigers just can't seem to take a trick on the injury front.
Robbie Farah has never played better, so to lose him for up to six weeks will be a devastating blow and will halt a lot of the momentum the Tigers have built over the past few weeks.
If Farah was fit, this would have been an absolute corker of a match. But without him, the Tigers will struggle.
My tip: Eels 1-12
Monday April 21 @ 19.05
The Titans are a bit like an old bar room brawler – they ain’t pretty, but they sure know how to fight.
There is a hard edge to the Gold Coast this year, and it is allowing them to hang on in games, then strike the killer blow late in the match. Aidan Sezer is cold as ice when the heat gets turned up, and with hard heads Greg Bird and Nate Myles leading the way admirably, there is plenty to like about the new scrappers of the NRL.
But they will face another tough challenge in the form of Penrith at home. Penrith have won four of their past five matches at Sportingbet Stadium, and have knocked over the Titans on five of their past eight clashes.
Gold Coast, on the other hand, are poised to win five consecutive matches for the first time since Round 24, 2010, and just the third time in club history.
I’ve gone against the Titans the past few weeks and they have proved me wrong… but I am backing against them one more time. Yes, I am a slow learner!
My tip: Panthers 1-12
Mitchell Dale - Editor Rugby League Week @LeagueWeek
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