By Troy Whittaker (@troywhittaker98)
With one game already completed in a shortened round, Punter Problems has formulated two best bets for the rest of the weekend.
Last week was our first time using our new formula on NRLSCT and we went two from three, so here’s hoping we can get into the profit once again.
Tip 1: New Zealand Warriors over 20.5 points v Penrith Panthers @ $1.89 (Sportsbet)
Having fallen out of the top four following a controversial loss last weekend, the Warriors will be keen to reclaim their place amongst the heavyweight teams immediately.
If they can topple the fourth-placed Panthers tonight (6 July), then that’s exactly what they’ll do.
This match couldn’t come at a better time for New Zealand, as Penrith has its three most integral players unavailable due to NSW Origin selection (Nathan Cleary, James Maloney, Tyrone Peachey). Front-row enforcer Reagan Campbell-Gillard also remains on the sidelines with a broken jaw.
On the other hand, the Warriors are almost at full-strength. They will be confident of dominating the understrength Panthers, especially given the ‘Mountain Men’ are fielding an unproven halves combination.
Tyrone May and Jarome Luai will wear the 6 and 7 jerseys for Penrith – and it’s in defence where they could be found out. As we saw last night when the Storm beat the Dragons 52-30 in an Origin-affected match, edge defence is especially crucial to stopping points.
And just like how rookie Dragons halfback Darren Nicholls was exposed defensively, the Warriors will look to show up May and Luai.
Their respective second-rowers and centres won’t be used to defending alongside the young playmakers in pressure situations, and if there’s any indecision, you can bet Shaun Johnson (nine try assists in nine matches) and Blake Green (seven in 15) will take full advantage.
New Zealand has eclipsed 21 points in seven of its fifteen games this season – at an astounding strike rate of 46.67%. The Kiwis’ hopes of a blow-out are boosted by the return of winger David Fusitu’a, the competition’s current leading try-scorer with 15 four-pointers.
We’re backing the Warriors to pile on the points at Panthers Stadium tonight at what is a nice price.
Tip 2: Gold Coast Titans +4 v Brisbane @ $1.84 (Unibet)
Like the Panthers, the Broncos are heavily depleted by Origin selection.
With James Roberts, Andrew McCullough, Corey Oates and Josh McGuire in Queensland camp, it will be a mostly inexperienced Brisbane team that takes on the Titans.
The Gold Coast are also affected (forwards Jai Arrow and Jarrod Wallace are in the Maroons side) but they look very capable of an upset following two straight wins.
After being snubbed for an Origin debut, gun halfback Ash Taylor is on deck for the Titans and will be a constant threat.
Taylor is in imperious form – the 23-year-old leads the NRL for try assists (20) and is the main source of points and creativity for the Gold Coast. He’s coming off two try assists and a solo try himself in a dominant performance against the Tigers last weekend.
Last time these neighbouring teams met was in round four, and the Gold Coast ran out 26-14 victors on that occasion.
The Titans need to virtually win every game from here on out if they’re to snare an unlikely finals berth. They’ll be ready to do the double over the Broncos to keep their season alive.
Gold Coast is currently being favoured by tipsters, and for good reason. At the very least, we think this will be a tight affair. The Titans should get up with the four-point start.
For what it’s worth, here’s where we see the value in the remaining matches (not official plays):
Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs +6.5 v Canberra Raiders @ $1.91 (Centrebet)
New South Wales Blues 1-12 v Queensland Maroons @ $3.50 (Bet365)