NRL ROUND 22
Bulldogs v Eels
The Bulldogs attack has been a real issue for them throughout the season and things are certainly not getting any better as they’ve managed to score a combined 20 points in their past two games – both losses to the Broncos and Panthers respectively. Defence has not been such an issue for the Dogs though as they’ve often managed to bring sides into a scrap which has often resulted in low-scoring affairs.
On the other side of the ledger are the Eels whose attack has been brilliant this season along with their defence. If heart and consistent effort alone determined the points table then they Eels would be up there with the Storm and all of their qualities were on display last week when they overcame an early two-try deficit to beat the Broncos.
This has all the makings of a real dog-fight with neither side likely to let their guard down on defence and when you take into account the forecast of rain for Sydney throughout Thursday then the combined points total to go ‘under’ appeals. Pick - 3 units on combined total 'under' 34.0 points
Knights v Warriors
This game again presents a tricky situation for the bookies as they continue to back the Warriors to front; it’s suited us nicely though as we’ve cashed in on their opposition, most recently backing the Sharks to easily cover the narrow start last week.
It’s hard to watch the Warriors play these days without feeling like you’re watching a reserve grade side fumbling around in the big league as their attack looks painfully predictable, their forwards are going nowhere and they make even the most basic skills look difficult. Having said that one can understand, with the Warriors unpredictable history, why the bookies have made them favourites here against the cellar dwelling Knights but the Knights have shown tonnes more heart than the Warriors this season and I can’t help but feel this game will mean more to them in front of their loyal fans.
The Knights disposed of the Dragons last week, far tougher opposition than the Warriors, and will be desperate to build on that performance which does not bode well for the Warriors who have managed just one away win all season. We’ll take the value on the Knights to win. Pick – 3 units on Knights to win
Knights to Win3 at 2.20+3.6
Titans v Broncos
In a game that was of crucial importance to the Titans last week in terms of their faint finals hopes they barely fired a shot in losing to the Tigers and now they’re officially done for the year it’s hard to see a drastic lift in performance here. The Broncos meanwhile go into this off the back of a loss to the Eels and are clinging onto 4th position so badly need the win here to give themselves some breathing space.
The loss of McCullough is a blow to the Broncos but with Hunt shifting to hooker and Nikorima moving into the halves they don’t lose a lot, especially when you consider they’ve yet to lose a game this season when Nikorima has started at Halfback.
Man for man the Broncos have it over the Titans quite comfortably and I’m expecting a fired up performance, they’ll be too clinical on attack and the Titans will struggle to breach what will be a solid defensive wall. Take the Broncos to cover the narrow start. Pick – 4 units on Broncos -5.5 or better point start (BEST BET)
Sharks v Raiders
The Raiders have shown improvement over recent weeks but may have left their run too late as they sit two wins outside the top eight, they’ll still rate themselves a chance of winning all remaining games though and certainly have the side to achieve that which makes them a very dangerous opposition.
With Rapana and Papalii both returning to the Raiders they’re a much stronger side than that which easily beat the Rabbitohs last week; just like the Sharks they have several x-factor players and a sizable forward pack but given the do-or-die mentality they must take into this clash I can see them edging the favoured home side.
The absence of Maloney wasn’t a factor last week against the Warriors but will be felt here by the Sharks as the Raiders defence will be much better organised and Brown/Townsend will be put under a heap of pressure. I like the Raiders to keep their faint finals hopes alive and we’ll have a nibble on them at good odds for the upset. Pick – 2 units on Raiders to win
Sea Eagles v Roosters
The Sea Eagles have absolutely capitulated over the past fortnight with two heavy losses to the Dragons and Storm, conceding 92 points in the process, but one would expect a significant improvement from them here back at Lottoland and with their spot in the top eight on the line.
You simply don’t become a bad team overnight and the Sea Eagles have shown many times this season they’re worthy of their spot inside the top eight; they are taking on the second placed Roosters though who are stacked with talent and are playing a very clinical brand of footy this season.
With all factors considered I find it very hard to separate these sides and am leaning towards this being a nail-biter with either side to win by less than a converted try. Pick – 2 units on either side to win by six points and under
Either under 6.52 at 3.10-2