NRL Predictions – Round 3, 2014

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Last week, rugby league writer Daniel Boss had a par round of NRL tipping, by correctly picking 4 games from 8. Who will he tip this week?

Thankfully for yours truly, Round 2 of the NRL season was more predictable than the previous round. I was particularly happy with a score of 4, especially after starting the round tipping 0 for 3. With two weeks now in the books, I would like to think that I have a better understanding of where every team sits at this stage. Hopefully I am right.

Keep an eye out for this week’s podcast, where some of the topics discussed will include Cameron Smith’s re-signing, two new wooden spoon contenders, a tactic that seems to be backfiring and the early retirement of Jharal Yow Yeh. On that note, I would like to wish Jharal all the best for his retirement. It’s a shame that we couldn’t see more of him in the NRL and it shows just how cruel a game rugby league can be. Also, we will look at possible fantasy replacements, following some key injuries from last round.

Of the 4 tips I got right in Round 2, two of them included the lock of the week and the upset of the week, following wins to the Roosters and Canberra.

2014 statistics

  • Lock of the week: 1/2
  • Upset of the week: 1/2

Wests Tigers v South Sydney Rabbitohs

Tip: Souths (Lock of the week). It pains me to write this but I believe that Souths will be far too strong for the Tigers this week. The Bunnies will be hurting after the close defeat to Manly and they will be looking to bounce back with a big win. The Tigers showed plenty of potential in their big win over the Gold Coast, however I do think that the opposition were awful. The combination of Tesedco and Brooks looked quite good. Note to Tigers management: RE-SIGN JAMES TEDESCO NOW!!! DO WHATEVER IT TAKES! For the Tigers, Tim Simona is named to start in the centres for Lawrence and Liam Fulton is named to start in the second row, which forces Paterson to the extended bench. Chris McQueen is named to return for Souths, which moves Sam Burgess to the starting front row and Luke Burgess to the bench. Outside back Kirisome Auva’a has also been added to the 6-man bench.

Brisbane Broncos v Sydney Roosters

Tip: Broncos (Upset of the week). I’m going with my gut on this one. The head tells me that the Roosters are back in form and will be looking to build off last week’s performance. However, the emotion showed by the Broncos squad following Yow Yeh’s retirement announcement, plus the fact that the number 5 is being retired for this game, tells me that the Broncos will be really up for this game. Their defence has been the backbone to their two wins this season and it will need to be good again if they are to win. The only change for the Broncos is Ben Hannant starting for the suspended McGuire, with David Hala coming onto the bench. The Roosters are unchanged from 1 to 17, but have added Siosiua Taukeiaho as the 18th man.

Penrith Panthers v Canterbury Bulldogs

Tip: Penrith. The Panthers probably should have won last week’s game against Melbourne. In that game, they showed that they are the real deal. The only concern is their lack of point scoring ability as they had almost 30 tackles inside Melbourne’s 20 before scoring a try. As for the Dogs, they were better on Monday night against Cronulla. However, the Sharks are a mere shell of their best at the moment, which doesn’t really provide a true indication of their form. Given the short turnaround for the Dogs and my concerns over their form, I think Penrith will be too good here. For the Panthers, Jamie Soward returns to start at five eight for John, while McKendry moves to starting prop for Kite, while Tim Grant is the addition on the bench. Canterbury have named an unchanged side for this week’s game.

Cronulla Sharks v St George Illawarra Dragons

Tip: Dragons. This local derby is never short of fireworks and I am expecting nothing less on Saturday night in the Shire. Cronulla will be desperate to pick up their first win of the season, despite being severely under-strength. On the other hand, the Dragons will be looking to stay on top of the ladder. As is the case for the Broncos, the Dragons success has come off the back of their defence. I just think the Dragons will be too strong, as the Sharks have too many players out. It will be closer than expected though, as these games are usually fought to the end. For the Sharks, Todd Carney is named to start of five-eight for Manumalealii. Heighington is named to start at lock, while Arona moves back to the bench and Siosaia Vave is added to the 5-man bench. The Dragons are unchanged from 1 to 17, but have added Jack de Belin and Jack Stockwell to a 6-man bench.

North Queensland Cowboys v New Zealand Warriors

Tip: Cowboys. I refuse to tip the Warriors until I see something more from them. They have been downright awful in their first two games and it won’t get any easier for them in Townsville. I personally believe that they are relying on Sam Tomkins too much. He is a good player, but not a superstar at this stage of his career. As for the Cowboys, they only just went down to the Broncos last round but they should be far too good in this game. Tariq Sims is named to start at lock for Hall, who is named on the bench. For the Warriors, Manu Vatuvei is named to start on one wing for Fisitua and Mateo is named to start at lock for Palavi, who is named on the bench. Henry is out with injury, while Sione Lousi and Konrad Hurrell have been named on an extended bench.

Manly Sea Eagles v Parramatta Eels

Tip: Manly. These two sides had differing experiences last round. Manly came away with a gritty win against Souths, while the Eels got shellacked by the defending premiers. Manly looked like the Manly of last season and sadly, Parra looked like the Parra of last season. Hopefully, the Eels will show some of the form that saw them win their opening game, but I seriously have strong doubts over that. As a result, I think Manly will be far too strong in this game, especially at home. Glenn Stewart is named to start at lock for the Sea Eagles, which forces Buhrer to the 5-man bench. For the Eels, Nathan Peats returns to start at hooker, which forces Edwards to lock. Lussick is out as a result of a suspension, while David Gower has been named as the 18th man.

Canberra Raiders v Gold Coast Titans

Tip: Raiders. Just like the Warriors, I cannot tip the Titans until I can see something more from them. They are a chance in this game as the Raiders are missing a couple of key players but if they play like they did last week, they will get thoroughly beaten again. As for the Raiders, if they play like they have over the first two rounds, then they will definitely not win the wooden spoon (which will make my initial prediction wrong). They have been quite good, especially Anthony Milford. I think he will be the difference in this game, which should lead the Raiders to victory. Kennedy and Vaughan move from the bench to start at second row and lock respectively for the injured Papalii and suspended Fensom. Their replacements on the bench are Matt McIlwrick and David Shillington. With Buttriss, McCrone and McIlwrick, this gives the Raiders three specialist hookers in the side. I would expect one of them (most likely McIlwrick) to spend some time in the back row. For the Titans, Brad Takairangi is named to start at centre for Blair. They are otherwise unchanged ad have added Mark Minichiello and Ryan James to a 6-man bench. There has also been word that Sezer and Falloon may miss this game to injury, so fantasy owners should keep an eye on that.

Melbourne Storm v Newcastle Knights

Tip: Storm. Melbourne have come away with two close wins to start the season and should come away with a third win. Both wins have come against strong opposition in Manly and Penrith, which should please Storm supporters. They should do it far easier this round as the Knights have struggled in attack without Darius Boyd and Jarrod Mullen. The Knights need some of their forwards to stand up and provide a better platform as they have relied on their backs far too much to get them down the field. Both sides have named unchanged line-ups, with the only addition being David Fa’alogo as Newcastle’s 18th man.

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