Round one of the 2021 NRL Premiership is gone like last week’s pay, but we picked eight winners, so the kitty and form are both healthy. On paper there are a few big outsiders in round two, but does the tried and true method of early-season upsets ring true? Let’s take a look at the latest odds on offer at Australia’s best NRL betting sites.
Eels vs Storm
Everything is telling us to look no further than backing the Melbourne Storm to win and win well. Under Craig Bellamy they are almost a lock every season to win no fewer than seven of their first 10 games. The Parramatta Eels have played Melbourne at full strength in three of their last four head-to-head matchups and conceded an average of 33 points a game, and that average includes a performance in which they kept the Storm reserve grade to zero. The Storm fully loaded minus Harry Grant look primed to win by 13 or more on the road.
Warriors vs Knights
The Nathan Brown Bowl might be the hardest game of the week to pick. The New Zealand Warriors pulled off a good win against the Titans, and Newcastle’s injury concerns are starting to mount already. The Knights at full strength would go in as favourites by a distance, but come kickoff it could be close to level pegging in the betting stakes. We think the forwards of Newcastle will once again be the reason they get the win, but the 1.5 handicap tells you just how close the online bookmakers believe this game will be.
Broncos vs Titans
A Queensland derby early in the season on Friday Night Footy is just about as glorious as the month of March gets. The Brisbane Broncos showed last week that under Kevin Walters they will be no pushovers, but missing John Asiata, Matt Lodge and potentially Xavier Coates is already a big handicap as the underdog. The Gold Coast Titans looked clunky in attack against the Warriors and only managed a try once the game was out of reach, and it could be a few weeks until that corrects itself. It looks a good game to back the unders and for David Fifita to score against his old club. We are leaning towards the Titans to win in a close game.
Bulldogs vs Panthers
This looks like a tough afternoon for the Canterbury Bulldogs. They showed signs against Newcastle that they could be the big improvers that everyone expects them to be, but if they make those same mistakes coming out of their own end, the Penrith Panthers will have them for breakfast. It looks to be another 13-plus win for the Panthers, but the Doggies will have their moments where you will see what Trent Barrett is trying to do with the team.
Sea Eagles vs Rabbitohs
The good news for Manly Sea Eagles fans is they can move on from their team’s dismal showing against the Roosters. The bad news is the last time they played the South Sydney Rabbitohs they conceded a whopping 58 points. Des Hasler across 17 years as a coach in the NRL has rarely had a team that is this bad defensively, but everyone is looking for answers and they don’t appear to be forthcoming. Souths had the toughest round-one match you can get on the draw, so this feels like a big drop in class and a great chance for them to hit their straps. Take the Bunnies by 13 or more.
Cowboys vs Dragons
Another two disappointing clubs from round one where both sets of fans walked away probably thinking they will win the wooden spoon. If that is indeed the case, the two points on offer in this contest could feel more like four. The North Queensland Cowboys have the most improvement in them after failing to trouble the scorers against the Panthers, and to add to all of that, there appears to be a conflict of footballing ideas between the coach and the team’s best player. A bit of turmoil might help steel the playing group for their first home game of the season, and the humidity with the new rules could spell trouble for the St George Illawarra Dragons. The Cowboys should get home by a try.
Tigers vs Roosters
Historically, this matchup is as lopsided as it gets. The Wests Tigers have just nine wins over the Roosters since the turn of the century and have lost 14 of the last 15 meetings. It is incredibly hard reading for Tigers fans, as is the poor discipline that creeps in every season right on schedule. They were in the game against Canberra up to their eyeballs, but one poor mistake gets compounded by others and within 20 minutes they have lost a game by a fair score. Expect this contest to be almost identical to their first-round loss, which means a 13-plus win to the Sydney Roosters.
Sharks vs Raiders
The Cronulla Sharks dealt with the Dragons a lot easier than we anticipated last week, but the step up in class is obvious. The Canberra Raiders clicked into gear in the second half against Wests and looked the real deal, while Cronulla let the Dragons get back in the game and almost had to win it for a second time. Canberra won’t be that poor in the first half again, and the defence will have a lot more steel in it than the Dragons’ did. Look for the 1-12 margin.
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