AFTER a week’s break for representative league, we’re back with a full Round 9 preview.
Kicking off the action on Friday night is the Broncos vs. Panthers and Roosters vs. Tigers. Both games are expected to be tight contests and will kick off a cracking NRL weekend.
Other high-profile games include the Sharks vs. Warriors, Cowboys vs. Bulldogs and Monday night promises to be a massive showdown between the struggling South Sydney Rabbitohs and the resurgent St. George Dragons.
We are covering all eight Round 9 games, complete with odds, analysis and tips.
Broncos vs. Panthers
Friday, May 8, 7:45pm, Suncorp Stadium
Broncos – $1.33 (-10)
Panthers – $3.70 (+10)
The Broncos have surprised many by leading the NRL after eight rounds so far. The men from Brisbane lost in round 1, but have since found their best form.
The Broncos will be buoyed by the inclusion of Darius Boyd who has been sitting on the sidelines for months. The former Australian and Queensland fullback/winger has had his fair share of problems, but he adds that needed experience in a youthful Broncos back line.
The Panthers come into this clash with a four win, four loss record and they have been struggling to find their identity so far this season.
Players such as Mat Moylan and Dean Watene-Zelezniak provide some flair in the backs, but they will likely find it too tough against a solid Broncos outfit here.
Tip: Broncos HTFT ($1.70) at Sportsbet.com.au
Exotic: Ben Hunt to score at $2.60
Roosters vs. Tigers
Friday, May 8, 7:45pm, Allianz Stadium
Roosters – $1.35 (-8.5)
Tigers – $3.25 (+8.5)
The Roosters started the season well, but now find themselves outside the top 8. The Sydney-based side have been in horrible form, yet they are very short favourites in this.
They face the Tigers which have been enigmatic this season with four wins and four losses, but overall they will be pleased with where they currently stand on the ladder.
They will be looking for hooker Robbie Farah to provide the spark in what hasn’t been his best career form this season. The New South Wales dummy-half has the ability to control the tempo and that will be needed against a Roosters side that should be improved.
The Roosters halves pairing are looking for a State of Origin birth so expect a solid game from both James Maloney and Mitchell Pearce.
Tip: Roosters -8.5 ($1.91) at CrownBet.com.au
Exotic: Tuivasa-Sheck to score first at $10
Raiders vs. Titans
Saturday, May 9, 3:05pm, GIO Stadium
Raiders – $1.60 (-4)
Titans – $2.25 (+4)
At the start of the season this game wouldn’t get many people excited, but the recent form of the Raiders has put them on the must-watch list.
The Raiders scored a massive upset over the Souths Rabbitohs last game and they welcome a Titans team that is just beginning to find their groove.
The Titans have had plenty of off-the-field troubles and that continued this week. The troublesome Greg Bird has been handed down an eight-week suspension and will miss not only eight rounds of NRL, but also all three State of Origin games.
The upstart Raiders will be looking to take advantage of the Titans not having their ‘tough man’ and score a comfortable victory at home.
Tip: Raiders -4 ($1.91) at WilliamHill.com.au
Exotic: Raiders 13+ at $3.10
Sharks vs. Warriors
Saturday, May 9, 5:35pm, Remondis Stadium
Sharks – $1.75 (-2)
Warriors – $2.12 (+2)
Whilst the Kiwis national side isn’t the Warriors, there are plenty of players in the Warriors team that will be rearing to go after a dominant test win last Sunday.
The Warriors have been a mixed bag this season, but they possess the power to beat any team on any given day and they would see this clash against the Sharks as a must-win.
The Sharks sit just behind the Warriors on the table in 14th place and their rain-soaked win against the Rabbitohs looked a good win, but they weren’t able to continue on with that form.
We picture a solid Warriors victory here on the back of some stellar Shaun Johnson ball play.
Tip: Warriors to win ($2.12) at Sportsbet.com.au
Exotic: Warriors HTFT ($3.20)
Cowboys vs. Bulldogs
Saturday, May 9, 7:35pm, 1300Smiles Stadium
Cowboys – $1.38 (-8)
Bulldogs – $3.15 (+8)
After a dismal start to the season, the North Queensland Cowboys now find themselves as joint premiership favourites at $6.
They currently sit in fourth position on 10 points which looked a long way off after dropping their first few games. Led by Johnathan Thurston, the Cowboys have been in superb form and find themselves at home once again for this game.
They are the only team in the top 7 to have a losing points for/points against record, yet they have won five from eight and they face a Bulldogs team which is stuck in reverse.
The ‘Dogs started the season well, but have only been fair since with a record of four wins and four losses. There doesn’t appear to be any direction under the coaching of Des Hasler, which is surprising, and it won’t be easy for them to find form in North Queensland.
We’re expecting the Cowboys to continue their form heading into Origin.
Tip: Cowboys -8 ($1.90) at CrownBet.com.au
Exotic: Cowboys 13+ at $2.50
Sea Eagles vs. Knights
Sunday, May 10, 2:05pm, Brookvale Oval
Sea Eagles – $1.70 (-2.5)
Knights – $2.20 (+2.5)
If the Sea Eagles are going to drag themselves from last position on the table and give coach Geoff Toovey something to get excited about, then it must start with this game.
Playing at Brookvale Oval seems to really fire up the Sea Eagles and they can take advantage of facing a Knights team which has looked suspect over the past few games.
The Knights have slipped down to 9th on the table after being in the top four in the early rounds. Even though Uate is still in good form , the Knights just can’t seem to get anything going and the Sea Eagles will look to strike.
Tip: Sea Eagles to win ($1.70) at WilliamHill.com.au
Exotic: Sea Eagles HTFT at $2.45
Eels vs. Storm
Sunday, May 10, 4:00pm, Pirtek Stadium
Eels – $2.15 (+2.5)
Storm – $1.72 (-2.5)
On face value, the Melbourne Storm look great value at $1.72, but the Eels are that pesky team that likes to cause a big upset.
The bookmakers don’t seem to think an Eels win would be an upset, but they still sit in 15th spot with three wins from eight games.
The Eels were another team to upset the Souths Rabbitohs, but that form might not be as good as everyone thought it once was. Their home record of 2-2 reads better than their away record of 1-3 so give them a chance in this.
The Storm sit third on the table with five wins and three losses and they welcome back Billy Slater at fullback.
With the likes of Slater. Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk, the Storm boast a professional side and had they been playing at Melbourne, their odds would have been around $1.33.
We can’t overlook the Storm in this situation and we expect them to win at value odds.
Tip: Storm to win ($1.72) at Sportsbet.com.au
Exotic: Slater to score first at $11 at Crownbet
Rabbitohs vs. Dragons
Monday, May 11, 7:00pm, ANZ Stadium
Rabbitohs – $1.56 (-4.5)
Dragons – $2.50 (+4.5)
The big key to assessing this game is whether we believe the Rabbitohs or the Dragons.
Do we believe that the defending champions Souths Rabbitohs are as bad as they’re currently playing? But, on the other hand, do we believe the Dragons are as good as we are seeing?
The Rabbitohs started the season well with a win over the Roosters, but have done little to excite since and enter Round 9 with a 4-4 record. On points they sit in fifth-equal, but are only two points ahead of the Roosters which sit in 12th position.
The Dragons are loving life after winning on ANZAC Day in what was torrential conditions, and they are sitting pretty with six wins from eight games.
The Dragons are turned back time and are relying on their defense to win this season. They are the only team have kept their opponents combined points total under 100 (86) which is 30 points better than the next best – Melbourne on 116.
They might sit 15th on the ladder in points scored, but as they say “defense wins championships” and the Dragons are well on their way.
Tip: Dragons to win ($2.50) at Sportsbet.com.au
Exotic: Dragons 1-12 at $3.50
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