Although last weekend produced plenty of exhilarating rugby league, we were cursed on the tipping front with some cruel last-minute losses.
But a new round brings another opportunity to get it right, and that’s exactly what we plan to do starting tonight.
The Punter Problems ‘Cheat Sheet’ for round six is built off in-depth statistical analysis and, fingers crossed, holds many winners.
Written by Troy Whittaker (@troywhittaker98).
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Sydney Roosters v South Sydney Rabbitohs
Another gripping chapter is set to be written in the infamous Book of Feuds when the Roosters host arch-rivals South Sydney in Thursday night footy.
The Roosters put a round four thumping behind them to win big against the Sharks last start. Marquee halfback Cooper Cronk had perhaps his best game for the Eastern Suburbs club, sinking the boot into Cronulla with a perfect kicking performance that set up two crucial tries. Five-eighth Luke Keary continued his brilliant form with three try assists.
After posting back-to-back wins, South Sydney was pipped by the table-topping Dragons. The Rabbitohs were ineffective for the majority of the match but capitalised on a mountain of second-half possession to score two late tries and almost snatch victory.
Souths prop Sam Burgess is serving the second week of a suspension for dangerous contact and lock Cameron Murray will join him on the sidelines with a hamstring injury, handing the Roosters an advantage in the forwards.
But it’s in the backline where the Chooks will take this one. The Tricolours are one of the competition’s best sides at making yardage from their own end, largely thanks to winger Blake Ferguson (1st in NRL with 978 run metres).
With fresh combinations beginning to gel nicely and an unchanged line-up going into this match, we envision a comfortable Roosters win and see a lot of value in backing the home team against the spread.
Tip: Sydney Roosters -8 @ $1.93 (Unibet)
Melbourne Storm v Newcastle Knights
A year ago you wouldn’t have blinked before locking in the Storm as certainties over Newcastle. Now, the result is anyone’s guess.
The Storm sunk to an 11-10 defeat to the Tigers last Saturday and failed to live up to the lofty standards they’ve set over the last decade. Melbourne completed at an ordinary 63 per cent, which is unheard of for a Craig Bellamy-coached side.
Rookie halfback Brodie Croft has been dropped following a lacklustre opening to the season, replaced by Ryley Jacks. The Stormill hope Jacks’ injection can spark a rejuvenation in attack after they scored just 14 points in two games. Their defence has been stout, however, conceding 67 points thus far (fourth-best in NRL).
The Knights scrapped their way to a slender win over a fast-finishing Broncos side in round five. While they only scored two tries, dogged defence and classy game-management from half Mitchell Pearce got the Novocastrians over the line.
Both teams are in the bottom-half of the competition for points scored and this game will come down to defence. We’re happy to take the unders before it drops to a lower total.
Tip: Under 38.5 match points @ $1.90 (Sportsbet)
St George Illawarra Dragons v Cronulla Sharks
The Southern Sydney derby is on for the second time this year, and the Sharks are aiming to avenge a narrow round two loss against their big brother.
It’s no easy task, though. St George Illawarra remains undefeated and will be hungry to impress at home in Wollongong after a reality check last weekend when they were almost run down by South Sydney.
The Dragons’ success has stemmed from doing the basics well. They lead the NRL for set completion (79 per cent), possession (55 per cent), and have made the equal-fewest errors (44). Simply holding onto the ball and running hard has allowed halves Gareth Widdop and Ben Hunt to weave their magic and lay on ample points.
For the Sharks to become the first team to topple the Dragons, they’ll have to find an answer to their toothless attack. Cronulla could only score two tries against the Roosters last Friday, and both came fortuitously from kicks.
They haven’t scored over two tries in a game this season, with eight four-pointers in total. By comparison, the Dragons have already notched 24 tries. St George Illawarra is the competition’s second-best defensive side (60 points against), so crossing the try-line will again prove difficult for Cronulla.
Josh Dugan got through training unscathed this week and looks certain to return from injury against his former club, albeit at centre with Matt Moylan staying at fullback. Dugan will add to Cronulla’s attack, but we don’t think it will be enough to halt the Red V express.
Opt for the Dragons straight out as a nice booster for any multi-bets.
Tip: St George Illawarra Dragons @ $1.52 (Centrebet)
New Zealand Warriors v Brisbane Broncos
Brisbane head across the ditch faced with the arduous mission of edging the unbeaten Warriors in their own backyard.
The Broncos desperately need to win, having now lost their last two matches. Their attack stills lacks direction, headlined by the fact halves Kodi Nikorima and Anthony Milford are both yet to record a try assist in 2018.
Further compounding Brisbane’s woes are the injury clouds that limited Josh McGuire and Joe Ofahengaue’s training involvements this week. The duo is expected to play on Saturday, but Nikorima is in doubt for the clash with a badly corked thigh. He’ll be given until the last minute to prove his fitness, with Jack Bird to line up in the halves if Nikorima doesn’t play.
The Warriors are yet to set a foot wrong this season, maintaining perfection with a 10-point win over the Cowboys last start. The signing of five-eighth Blake Green continues to prove a masterstroke, his composure the perfect foil for halfback Shaun Johnson’s flashy genius.
New Zealand ranks third for points scored and tries scored as well as second for try assists and line break assists, but most impressively is the NRL’s third-best defensive team (65 points against).
On the other hand, Wayne Bennett’s Broncos are one of only seven teams to have conceded over 100 points. Given they’ve posted a meagre 69 points in attack, the stats lean towards a one-sided result.
Tip: New Zealand Warriors -5.5 @ 1.91 (Centrebet)
North Queensland Cowboys v Canterbury Bulldogs
The Cowboys and Bulldogs are anchored at the bottom of the ladder with a lone win each, making victory in this match imperative if either club is to resurrect their season.
North Queensland was soundly beaten by the undefeated Warriors in round five, continuing an uncharacteristic beginning to 2018. Despite completing at a healthy 83 per cent, the Cowboys couldn’t contain the Warriors away from home.
The Bulldogs went down to the Raiders last Thursday and never looked in the match from the first whistle. A plethora of unforced errors and thoughtless last tackle options quickly killed off the Dogs’ chances as the Raiders ran rampant in the early stages.
Canterbury captain Josh Jackson was slapped with a one-match ban after a late hit on Aiden Sezer, but fought the charge at the judiciary and is now cleared to take on North Queensland. His inclusion greatly aids the Bulldogs’ cause.
This will be a hotly-contested game given the desperation involved and might very well go down to the wire. These sides are neck and neck for points scored (Cowboys 80, Bulldogs 76) and points conceded (Cowboys 123, Bulldogs 130) so a tight tussle is expected.
A 10-point start for the Bulldogs seems very generous and we’ll gladly back Dean Pay’s men to cover the spread.
Tip: Canterbury Bulldogs +10 @1.91 (Unibet)
Canberra Raiders v Parramatta Eels
After a 0-4 start to the year, Canberra aims for its second consecutive win on Saturday. The opposing Eels are still searching for their first – and stare down the barrel of falling completely out of finals contention if they can’t get off the mark this round.
The Raiders didn’t put in a complete 80-minute display against a disappointing Bulldogs team last week, but the glimpses of class they flaunted in the 26-10 triumph were enough to give fans hope that their 2018 campaign may still contain life.
Parramatta, too, showed marked improvement in round five, even if it didn’t result in tasting victory. The Eels went down 12-6, but their defence finally exhibited the starch that has been sorely missing.
In fantastic news for Parra fans, Clinton Gutherson makes his long-awaited return from an ACL injury, slotting straight in at fullback. Try-scoring machine Bevan French also comes into the side on the wing after missing two games with a shoulder issue. Their additions give Parramatta’s attack much-needed X-factor.
It’s now or never for the Eels, and with a near full-strength line-up against the struggling Raiders, this is the best chance to open their account.
Parramatta will give this match a huge shake and is a great price to cover the spread in the nation’s capital.
Tip: Parramatta Eels +3.5 @ $1.91 (Centrebet)
Penrith Panthers v Gold Coast Titans
The Panthers look to cement themselves in the top four when they welcome the Titans to Western Sydney.
Penrith has only lost one match in 2018, a two-point heartbreak against the Bulldogs in round three. In the absence of the injured Nathan Cleary, James Maloney has stepped into the halfback role with aplomb while Tyrone Peachey is a constant danger closer to the ball at five-eighth.
The Panthers’ goal-line defence has been something to behold, with no better example than last Sunday versus the Eels. Parramatta camped inside Penrith’s 20-metre zone for what seemed like an eternity in the second-half, but the mountain men turned them away time and again to hold on for a well-earned two competition points.
The Titans recorded two wins on the trot when they outlasted Manly in round five. Slowly but surely, the Titans’ attack is clicking into gear, and they seem to defend with more vigour when they play from in front.
Gold Coast has their work cut out this weekend, however. Statistically, Penrith is among the best defensive teams in the NRL (68 points against) and is one of eight teams to crack 100 points with ball in hand.
The Titans still have the unwanted title of the most missed tackles across the league (177), and the Panthers will be out to make the most of any half-chances in their first home game in three weeks.
Penrith is unbeaten when leading at the break this season, and should do the double again on Sunday.
Tip: Penrith Panthers halftime/fulltime @ $1.91 (Bet365)
Manly Sea Eagles v Wests Tigers
Capping off round six is an intriguing clash between the Sea Eagles and Tigers in Brookvale.
While the Tigers sustained their stunning revival by thwarting Melbourne for the second time this season in round five, Manly suffered a setback in losing to the Titans.
Although they’ve dropped a single game, Wests are still relying very heavily on defence to win; the Tigers sit second-worst for points scored (68) and tries (10).
They made several unforced errors against the Storm, gifting their opponents prime field position, and their last tackle options were poor. Had Melbourne not been so inept, the Tigers wouldn’t – and shouldn’t – have walked away with the one-point victory.
Manly has scored the most points in the competition (130) at a rate of 26 a game. Meanwhile, Wests average 13.6 points and have only exceeded 11 in one match this year.
Though Josh Reynolds is slated to make his debut in black and orange colours, we can’t see the Tigers outscoring Manly come Sunday afternoon.
Tip: Manly Sea Eagles @ $1.71 (Unibet)