A grand final rematch, the oldest grudge match in the game, two outstanding matchups on Super Saturday and a Queensland derby to finish off the weekend are the highlights of NRL round 3, which runs from Thursday to Sunday. Pressure will be felt at both ends of the competition as all 16 teams’ seasons begin to take shape. Here is our free preview and early betting tips for the key matches in NRL round 3 action:
Panthers vs Storm
What a shame Apisai Koroisau will be missing and possibly Nathan Cleary, who will need to pass concussion protocol on a five-day turnaround to take his place in the side. Penrith created history by securing their third regular season clean sheet but realistically that is where the streak will end. They could do worse than watch how Parramatta handled the Storm juggernaut in a bid to get revenge for their NRL grand final heartache, but you just know Melbourne will step up a gear after falling to the Eels. They are split evenly at $1.90 in the head-to-head market at the top Australian bookmakers, but Penrith will blow out if Nathan Cleary is ruled out, so if you like the Storm to bounce back get on early.
Storm to win
Dragons vs Sea Eagles
The Dragons showed a bit of life against the Cowboys and all of a sudden have a fantastic chance down in Wollongong to secure back-to-back wins. Manly have looked atrocious at times but did put in a better effort against Souths, and you’d have to think only their most fierce supporters are backing them to get the chocolates in the ‘Gong. Like the grand final rematch, they are even in betting at $1.90 and at that price I’d be all over the Dragons. Manly without Tommy Turbo are reminiscent of the Knights without Andrew Johns.
Rabbitohs vs Roosters
After the 60-8 thrashing last year, every fan should be intrigued to see how the Roosters bounce back from what was one of the darkest nights in the club’s 113-year history. They come into the game as favourites on the back of scoring 40 plus points in back-to-back weeks, but they’ll have a much tougher time of it against the Bunnies. Souths are still just playing their way into form and looked impressive early against Manly before they became a little complacent, so you know Bennett will be drilling them hard at training this week. The $2.20 at Ladbrokes for the Bunnies is good value when you consider their star power, but something is telling us the Roosters will be sky-high for this contest and could make it a tough night for their bitter rivals. It promises to be one of the biggest games of the 2021 NRL season.
Raiders vs Warriors
The Warriors did everything right against the Knights except finish in front at full time. They’ll have taken away plenty of positives and are more than capable of repeating that performance against the Raiders in Canberra. The Raiders have been patchy in their opening two games and should be on high alert for this game, but the $4 price for the Warriors is almost disrespectful. This game will be a mile closer than that and there is huge upset potential, and probably some good value to take the Warriors at the line. The +10.5 is a huge start considering how disciplined the Warriors have been to start the season.
Warriors +10.5 line betting
Broncos vs Bulldogs
Canterbury’s attack looked listless against Penrith and they failed to register a single point, but the good news is they should score plenty against the Broncos this week. Brisbane looked competitive for the opening half hour against the Titans but fell in a huge hole just before half time and it was game over within minutes. Canterbury have shown an aptitude for being able to stick at the task for longer periods of time and we think everyone should be all over the $2.15. Sure, the game is up in Brisbane but that hasn’t mattered for a long time and while their squad is still limited, they have more experience across the park and at least put their bodies on the line in defence. The $1.70 for the Broncos is absolute fools gold.
Eels vs Sharks
Now this promises to be entertaining. Cronulla and Parramatta are two teams who love to throw the football around and you can guarantee this is going to go over the points spread. The Eels’ produced one of their finest all around performances for several years against the Storm to record a huge win and are the deserved favourites at the $1.35 price with Australian betting sites, but Cronulla have a knack of being able to turn games into shootouts and the neutral fan would love to see a 30-28 score line and its well and truly on the cards. Being at Bankwest it is hard to see the Sharks pulling off the upset, but they’ll give a good account of themselves and give punters confidence in the weeks following this game.
Knights vs Tigers
The Newcastle Knights impressed by being able to win off the back foot against the Warriors who dominated most of their match in round two, while the Tigers have conceded an average of 35 points per game in the opening fortnight of the competition. It looked like a golden opportunity for the Knights to begin the season 3-0, but the Tigers have won three of their past four up in Newcastle and there is always a sense that the Knights can let you down on any given week. The Tigers will be absolutely desperate to avenge their horror opening fortnight, but at $3.25 in the head-to-head betting they appear to be headed for a third straight loss.
Cowboys vs Titans
Seeing how dejected the North Queensland Cowboys were after their loss to the Dragons was almost hard to watch. On one hand it showed they cared greatly about their poor performance, but on the other they needed to be reminded ‘it’s only round two, there is still time to turn the season around’. Their road back up the ladder doesn’t get any easier when they face their Queensland rivals the Gold Coast Titans, who ran into some form against Brisbane. The $1.47 favouritism is justified for the Titans but they’ve had an unhappy time heading to Townsville, winning just three times in their 14-season history in the NRL. The desperation stakes will once again be high for the Cowboys but the Titans still have too much to prove and too much grunt in the forwards, but anything can happen in a derby game.
Titans to win
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