Editor of Rugby League Week, Mitchell Dale, provides TattsBet with an exclusive Round 5 Preview of the NRL.
TattsBet NRL Round 5 Preview
Roosters v Bulldogs
Friday April 4 @ 18.45 (AEST)
Bulldogs legend Steve Mortimer tells RLW this week he believes halves Josh Reynolds and Trent Hodkinson are ready to elevate themselves to the realm of ‘great’ halves pairings and steer the Dogs to the title this year. Well, they have a good chance to show Turvey is on the money by putting one over the reigning title-winning halves James Maloney and Mitchell Pearce this Friday. But the Roosters will present a much sterner challenge for the Dogs than the Cameron Smith-less Storm did in Perth last weekend. The Chooks have lost Jared Waerea-Hargreaves to suspension, but welcome back another three-named star, with Sonny Bill Williams returning. Having kept six teams to zero last year – including Canterbury in a 38-0 shutout when the two teams met at this venue – the Roosters got a taste of their own medicine when Manly kept them scoreless last weekend. They will be out to set things straight this week.
Broncos v Eels
Friday April 4 @ 19.45 (AEST)
The news just keeps getting better for the Broncos. Not only are they flying along at 3-1, they also welcome back inspirational co-captain Justin Hodges for the first time this year. Hodges’ early return will be a further boost to a side playing with more confidence and character than they showed at any stage last year. And speaking of confidence and character . . . the Eels come into this match on the back of a surprisingly strong start to the year. Parra are 2-2, but the fact they are disappointed not to be 3-1 after letting Manly get out of jail a fortnight ago is a good reflection of the new mindset Brad Arthur has instilled in the Blue-and-Golds. This clash promises to be a close one – just one of the past five matches between these teams has been decided by more than 12 points. But I reckon in-form back-rower Sam Thaiday will celebrate his 100th game at Suncorp with a win.
Saturday April 5 @ 14.05 (AEST)
Looking at recent form, you’d think the Warriors should win in a canter. I’m not so sure. If you can be certain about one thing with the Warriors, it is that you can’t be certain about anything when it comes to the Warriors! And the Sharks will be desperate. If they start the year 0-5, they can pretty much kiss goodbye any hopes of a top four finish, and therefore any hope of finally winning the comp. Unfortunately, the cavalry won’t be arriving this week for Cronulla either, with Lewis, Gallen and co all said to be a few more weeks away. But, some good news for the Sharkies – they have knocked off the Warriors in their past four clashes, and NZ has won just four of 14 at Remondis Stadium. That’s enough for me to take an upset here . . . regardless of how bad Cronulla were last week.
My tip: Sharks 1-12
Saturday April 5 @ 16.35
The Panthers were furious with the way they capitulated towards the end of last weekend’s clash with Parramatta, so look for them to start strongly here. Canberra, on the other hand, were impressive in victory over Souths. But how much of that result was down to Souths’ inept performance? The Panthers have made a number of changes, with Peter Wallace returning, along with Tim Grant and Josh Mansour. Keep an eye out for young Dallin Watene-Zelezniak on the wing too – he’s making his debut and the word out of PantherLand is that this kid is a real goer.
Saturday April 5 @ 18.35 (AEST)
These two proud clubs return to the Grand Old Lady – the scene of so many historic clashes between the Rabbitohs and the Red V. Will this trip down memory lane be enough to spark Souths to life? You’d sure hope so, because at the moment they are playing more like wooden spooners than the premiership favourites they were just a few weeks ago. Coach Michael Maguire has responded to two weeks of terrible performances by ringing in the changes. The Dylan Walker Experiment is over, with the young gun moving back out to the centres, and John Sutton reverting to five-eighth. Bryson Goodwin shifts to the wing to accommodate Walker, leaving no room for Lote Tuqiri. Sam Burgess replaces Sutton at lock. The Dragons welcome back Josh Dugan from injury, while Michael Witt also returns, leaving no room for Adam Quinlan or Sam Williams. South Sydney have not lost four consecutive games in a single season since Round 17, 2009. And they won’t break that run this weekend. Look for a much better showing by the Red-and-Greens.
My tip: Rabbitohs 1-12
Storm v Titans
Sunday April 6 @ 14.05 (AEST)
You can put Melbourne’s shellacking from Canterbury last weekend down to two things – the emotional toll of the week leading up to the game and the loss of Cameron Smith. The Storm will get their skipper back this weekend, but they have had another emotion-charged week following on-going reports on Alex McKinnon’s health and Jordan McLean’s judiciary hearing. Having Smith back will certainly help, as will the chance to be back at AAMI Park. The Titans continued their good start to the year with a scrappy win over the Cowboys last Monday. It might have been ugly, but the Titans won’t care – they’re 3-1 and sitting in equal first. However, Melbourne have definitely had the wood on the Titans of late – Gold Coast have just one win from their past six matches against the Storm. Come Sunday night, you can make that one win from the past seven.
Sunday April 6 @ 15.05 (AEST)
The Tigers hit Leichhardt for the first time this year, and after the youthful side’s promising start to the year, you can expect a sea of black-and-gold on the hill. But I doubt that will be enough to get the Tigers home against a Manly side that flexed its considerable muscle against the Roosters last Friday. Manly’s gritty, grinding style will stifle the free-flowing Tigers, just as it has done over the past few seasons. The Tigers have not beaten the Eagles since Round 21, 2011, and that run will extend a little longer come Sunday.
Monday April 7 @ 19.05
Paul Green must be wondering where it all went wrong. The Cowboys looked like world beaters in the pre-season and had everybody fooled into thinking their slow starts to the year were a thing of the past. But after a month of poor footy, they look very much like the Cowboys of old. The Cowboys had exactly the same formline this time last year – a win in Round 1 followed by three straight losses. They need to kick-start their season in a hurry, and recent form suggests Newcastle is an ideal opponent to do it against. Newcastle have won just one of their past five matches against North Queensland . . . but the Knights do enjoy a Monday night outing, having won five of their past six, including a 34-6 win over North Queensland in Round 3 last season.
My tip: Cowboys 1-12
Mitchell Dale - Editor Rugby League Week @LeagueWeek
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