NRL Predictions – Round 4

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After another controversial and upset-filled round in the NRL, will rugby league writer Daniel Boss be able to climb the tipping competition ladder? Read below to find his NRL Predictions for all of the Round 4 games.

Before I start with this week’s article, I would like to wish Alex McKinnon the very best in his recovery from the sickening incident from Monday night. I hope that Alex can make a full recovery from this serious injury. I would also like to wish his family the best in what must be a very difficult time for them as well. I will go into this a little more in the next podcast, focusing on the impacts of this incident for the game as a whole.

Last round, I successfully picked 4 games correctly out of 8. Again, this wasn’t a great score and both my lock and upset of the week were unsuccessful. I wasn’t too devastated for the lock being wrong, as it meant that the mighty Tigers got up over South Sydney. I was angry over not getting the upset of the week as Brisbane somehow lost their game after leading by 8 with five minutes to go. I know my reputation is highly damaged at this point, so I’ll do my best to try and reclaim some pride this week. Maybe I should claim all the money I’ve lost in tipping comps as a charitable donation.

2014 Statistics

  • Lock of the week: 1/3
  • Upset of the week: 1/3
  • Total Tips: 9/24

Sydney Roosters v Manly Sea Eagles

Tip: Roosters (Lock of the week). Despite not currently sitting on top of the premiership ladder, the defending premier Roosters are still the team to beat in the NRL. They somehow came away with a win from the jaws of defeat last week against an emotional Brisbane side. As for Manly, they only just got home against a luckless Parramatta side. Last week showed how important both Brett Stewart and Kieran Foran are. This week they will still be without Stewart and possibly Foran as well. With those injuries, the Roosters should be too good, even though Manly will be looking for revenge in the grand final rematch. The Roosters are unchanged from 1 to 17 and have again named Siosiua Taukeiaho as the 18th man. For Manly, Foran has been named this week at five eight, Lyon is named in the centres and Satini is on the extended bench as cover for Foran. The only other change is the inclusion of Jesse Sene-Lefao on the bench for the suspended King.

St George Illawarra Dragons v Brisbane Broncos

Tip: Broncos. This will be a tough, gritty, defensive game between two sides who are surprisingly near the top of the ladder. I would be far more confident in tipping the Broncos if this game was played in Brisbane but I still think they will have a little too much more in attack than the Dragons. This is despite the ability of Brett Morris who scored two sensational tries last weekend. I really liked what I saw from Ben Hunt last week. He has the potential to be a really good halfback if the Broncos persist with him there. The only additions for the Dragons for this week’s game are Jack Stockwell and Bronson Harrison on the 6-man bench. Josh McGuire returns for the Broncos to start at prop, which forces Martin Kennedy to the 5-man bench.

New Zealand Warriors v Wests Tigers

Tip: Tigers (Upset of the week). Given my success with the upset of the week in the past two years, I may have cursed my side here. With that said, I think that they will win this weekend. While the Warriors were better in their win against the Cowboys, I don’t think they were that great as they almost blew the game and I think the Cowboys are overrated. As for the Tigers, their win last week was their best win in nearly two seasons. While Brooks and Tedesco got all of the headlines, the Tigers forward pack was the key to that win. They stood up to the challenge of the Rabbitoh forward pack and put them off their game as a result. The only change for the Warriors is the addition of Thomas Leuluai on the bench for Mateo. All fantasy owners of Chad Townsend and Nathan Friend should be concerned with this as Leuluai may play hooker or five eight. The only change for the Tigers is the inclusion of Cory Paterson in the starting second row for the injured Fulton.

Parramatta Eels v Penrith Panthers

Tip: Panthers. This game should be a lot tighter than people expect. Last week, the Eels could not buy a 50-50 refereeing decision (and even a couple that were dead set penalties) at Brookvale but almost came away with a win. Penrith came away with a last minute win against the Dogs. They have been impressive in the first three rounds in winning two games despite playing three different halves combinations. The one issue with the Panthers is their lack of attack as they have struggled to score points, despite having a lot of possession in some games. I still think that they will be too good here but I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Eels get up. For the Eels, Ken Sio replaces Toutai on one wing, Chris Sandow will start at halfback in place of Kelly, Edwards moves to the second row and Joseph Paulo comes from the bench to start at lock. Mitch Allgood is the addition on the bench. Penrith only have one change from last week, with Peter Wallace returning to start at halfback for John.

Canterbury Bulldogs v Melbourne Storm

Tip: Storm. This is another game that I am not completely sure about. The Dogs have not been great in the first three rounds this season, but they have shown improvement in each of their three games and they almost beat a very good Penrith team last week. As for the Storm, even though they are currently unbeaten, they haven’t set the world on fire. It will interesting to see how they will play, following the events of Monday night. I think that they are too professional to come out and not completely focus on the game. I think that the difference will (again) be Melbourne’s star players Smith, Cronk and Slater. For the Dogs, Chase Stanley returns to start on one wing, while Low moves back to the extended bench, alongside Moses Mbye who has also been added to the squad. The Storm has named an unchanged side, including McLean who has been stood down as his charge for his role in the tackle on Alex McKinnon will be heard next week. If the Storm appeal this, then McLean should be free to play this weekend.

South Sydney Rabbitohs v Canberra Raiders

Tip: Souths. This game should be given the title “The clash of the teams who are overly reliant on their fullbacks”. Yes, that isn’t a very good title but it is the truth. Souths looked clueless in attack after Inglis went off with an injury last week and Canberra’s attack was solely based around hoping that Milford could come up with something. Both sides need their respective halves combinations to step up and provide another point of attack. I think Souths should be too strong in this game but a Canberra upset wouldn’t surprise me either, especially as the Rabbits will be without Isaac Luke. Souths have named Apisai Koroisau at hooker for Luke, as well as Dylan Walker at five eight and Chris McQueen in the second row. Sutton moves to lock, which forces Te’o and Picker to the bench. Luke Burgess is also out of the side, while Kirisome Auva’a is added to the 6-man bench. For the Raiders, Bill Tupou replaces the injured Lee on one wing and Shaun Fensom returns to start at lock, which forces Vaughan to the bench in place of McIlwrick.

Newcastle Knights v Cronulla Sharks

Tip: Knights. This is a very important game, as the loser will be the only side to start the year winless after 4 rounds. The Knights will come out this weekend either really motivated to get a win for Alex McKinnon or they will come out flat following what will be a very trying week for them. Thankfully for Knights fans, they have Wayne Bennett as their coach, who is a master at player management and I believe that he will have their heads in the right place. The Sharks do get Andrew Fifita back, which is a big inclusion but I still think that the Knights will win as they have more points in them than the Sharks do. For the Knights, the only change is on the bench with Korbin Sims replacing McKinnon. As mentioned, Andrew Fifita returns to start at prop, which forces Gibbs to the bench. Nathan Stapleton is named on one wing in place of the injured Feki, Prior is named to start in the second row, while Sopoaga is named as the 18th man.

Gold Coast Titans v North Queensland Cowboys

Tip: Cowboys. The tip of the Cowboys in this game is the least confident of my tips for this round, but given my form that’s not really saying much. As mentioned above, I believe that the Cowboys are overrated, as I think that they are a mid-table team at best. Their form over the first 3 rounds suggests that. As for the Titans, I’m thinking that their Round 2 poor effort was a one-off as they tackled their way to victory against the Raiders. Still, I thought the Raiders offered very little creativity in attack, which won’t be the case this round as Thurston will throw everything at them. In fact, Thurston is the sole reason why I’m tipping the Cowboys. Yes, he is that good. For the Titans, Aidan Sezer has been named to start at five-eight but may also miss this game to injury, which forces Harrison to the halves, Bird to lock and Myles into the second row. This means that Bailey is named on the 6-man bench, along with Ben Ridge who has been added to the squad. The Cowboys, on the other hand, have named an unchanged squad.

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