Editor of Rugby League Week, Mitchell Dale, provides TattsBet with an exclusive Round 9 Preview of the NRL.
Cowboys v Broncos
Friday May 09 @ 19.45 (AEST)
There’s nothing quite like a Queensland derby to fire-up these two teams. Brisbane got the better of the Cowboys when they met in Round 2, continuing a dominant record against their ‘little brothers’ from the north. Even in Townsville, Brisbane enjoy the advantage, having won 15 of 19 up there. The Cowboys produced their finest effort of the year in their last-start hammering of the Eels. Friday night’s game will be a much sterner test, but I’m tipping the home side to buck history, buck the Broncos, and string together consecutive wins for the first time this year.
Roosters v Tigers
Friday May 09 @ 19.45 (AEST)
Tigers players admitted this week they were concerned about the danger Sonny Bill Williams poses. And with good reason. It’s no secret SBW has been down on form – but every quiet game he plays, he is one game closer to breaking the shackles and busting out of his lull. The Tigers are still heavily undermanned, with a long list of players unavailable, and despite their promising start to the year – and the Roosters’ up-and-down start – they are facing a blow-out here. The Chooks have a very good recent record against the Tigers, having won seven of the past eight clashes, and have piled on 142 points in the past three games against Wests.
Saturday May 10 @ 15.05 (AEST)
The Warriors snapped a run of outs when they upset Melbourne on Anzac Day... but now the real test arrives – finding consistency. These two teams are arguably the least consistent teams of 2014 – providing an equal mix of good and garbage so far. The Warriors are still chasing a win at Eden Park after five starts at the home of NZ Rugby. They should do it this weekend.
My tip: Warriors 1-12
Titans v Rabbitohs
Saturday May 10 @ 17.35 (AEST)
Gold Coast can stamp themselves as a genuine premiership threat with a win over Souths this Saturday. The Titans might have a share of the competition lead, but they still have their doubters – myself included. A win here will go a long way to shutting up people like me! Interestingly, the Gold Coast have failed to score more than 13 points in a match in their past three games at home . . . but have still managed to win two of those outings. That says a lot about their 2014 form – not a lot of style, but a whole heap of substance. They’ll need every ounce of that determination if they are going to prevent their fifth-straight loss to Souths.
My tip: Rabbitohs 1-12
Saturday May 10 @ 19.35 (AEST)
This game could not have come at a better time for Melbourne, as they battle a very un-Storm-like slump. Firstly, they’re up against their old rivals. Secondly, their rivals are incredibly understrength. No Lyon, no Foran, no Glenn Stewart... and there’s a very good chance there will be no Daly Cherry-Evans either. Melbourne haven’t lost consecutive matches at AAMI Park since Round 19, 2012. If that streak ends against the wounded Eagles this Saturday night, Melbourne have massive problems.
Sunday May 11 @ 14.05 (AEST)
After leading Country Origin impressively last weekend, Knights halves Jarrod Mullen and Tyrone Roberts will be keen for more of the same this Sunday. For Mullen in particular, another starring role could bring the ultimate reward – his second NSW jersey. The home ground advantage should get the inconsistent Knights home in this one, despite their poor recent form in Newcastle – they have won just two of their past seven matches at Hunter Stadium.
Sunday May 11 @ 15.05 (AEST)
The Dogs have now won four tight games on the bounce and their confidence is palpable. On the flip side, the Dragons’ inconsistency would be severely eroding any confidence they gained in their three-match winning streak to start the year. The Red V have won just one of their past five. On top of that, coach Steve Price still hasn’t been able to settle on a regular No.7 to partner Gareth Widdop in the halves. This week he has given Sam Williams another crack. The Dragons will need a lot of improvement from their last-round effort against the Roosters – and for Williams to grab his chance – if they are to be any hope.
My tip: Bulldogs 1-12
Monday May 12 @ 19.05
Luke Lewis makes his return to footy for the year following off-season shoulder surgery... but it’s not all good news for the Sharks. Lewis has been tossed into the largely unfamiliar five-eighth role to cover for Todd Carney, who injured his hamstring against the Panthers a fortnight ago and is set to be out until Round 11. The Eels will be looking to build on a good record at home this year - they’ve won three from three at Pirtek in 2014. But after a promising start to the year, they fell back into old habits in the second half against the Cowboys last start. The bye came at a good time, giving them a chance to take stock of what went wrong – and work out how to recapture their early-season form. Still, I fear the Eels of old might have returned. And until Parra prove otherwise, I can’t bring myself to tip them.
My tip: Sharks 1-12
Mitchell Dale - Editor Rugby League Week @LeagueWeek
Click here to bet on NRL Round 9 matches