By Troy Whittaker (@troywhittaker98)
After claiming our best result yet with 6 from 8 tips landing last weekend, we’re out to ensure we back it up with profit in Round 9.
The round promises some eye-catching footy, and, as always, Punter Problems is here to help you back some winners.
Newcastle Knights v South Sydney Rabbitohs
Most people wrote the Knights (5-3) off when Mitchell Pearce tore his pectoral, but they just won’t give up. Newcastle didn’t set the world on fire against Manly last start and still found a way to win. However, the Rabbitohs (4-4) are a much harder test. Though beaten a week ago, Souths are rapidly proving to be one of the most improved teams in the competition. They have strike all over the park, particular on their left edge where John Sutton, Greg Inglis and Robert Jennings are on fire. Given the Knights rank 11th in attack, we think the Rabbitohs have too many points to be contained.
Tip: South Sydney Rabbitohs halftime/fulltime @ $2.20 (Ladbrokes)
Penrith Panthers v North Queensland Cowboys
Penrith (6-2) is in second position on the ladder after running over the top of the Bulldogs last weekend. Meanwhile, the Cowboys (2-6) are struggling terribly and look incapable of solving their issues in the short-term. The statistics don’t stack up well for North Queensland in this one. Penrith hasn’t been defeated at home this season (this fixture is in Bathurst, but is well and truly in Panthers territory), while the Cowboys have lost every match on the road. The Panthers are a fantastic price to win here and we’ll gladly back them in.
Tip: Penrith Panthers @ $1.85 (Ladbrokes)
Canberra Raiders v Gold Coast Titans
Canberra (3-5) continued its rejuvenation after starting the season 4-0 with a quality victory over the Cowboys last week. The Titans (3-5) were valiant in a 10-9 loss to Cronulla but lacked the composure needed to win. When these teams met in Round 1, the result was a thrilling last-minute victory to the Titans who surmounted a steep deficit. The Raiders could well carry scars from that experience. In what is a logjam for the top-eight, winning these matches might prove the difference between playing finals or not. Both teams will be up for this one and we predict a nail-biting game. We only see a few points in this, so an 8-point start should see the Gold Coast to cover the line.
Tip: Gold Coast Titans +8 @ $1.91 (Bet365)
New Zealand Warriors v Wests Tigers
Despite coming off losses, the Warriors (6-2) and Tigers (5-3) are hovering in and around the top-four. New Zealand was embarrassed by the Storm in a 50-10 walloping and will be motivated to prove their sizzling start to the season wasn’t a flash in the pan. The Tigers were downed by the Eels – their second straight loss – and will likewise be eager to show they’re around for the long haul this year. This looms as a tight one, but points should flow given the attacking nature of this sides in recent weeks. The Over is our best bet here.
Tip: Over 38.5 points @ $1.95 (Sportsbet)
Cronulla Sharks v Parramatta Eels
Cronulla (4-4) and Parramatta (2-6) have each won consecutive matches. The Sharks are sitting in 9th place and will be determined to climb back into the top-eight. For the Eels, a glimmer of finals hope remains if they continue their winning run, though they’re up against it here. Cronulla mightn’t have Josh Dugan on deck for this one, but they still firm as favourites. Playing in front of a fervent home crowd and gaining captain Wade Graham, it’s the Sharks’ game to lose. The Sharks have kept their opponents to under 20 points five times this season; if they do the same here, they’ll grind out a win.
Tip: Cronulla Sharks @ $1.72 (Bet365)
St George Illawarra Dragons v Melbourne Storm
Potentially the match of the round, this game has a distinct finals feel about it. The first-placed Dragons (7-1) were clinical against the Roosters on Anzac Day. They took their chances in attack, but it was in defence where they were most impressive – at one point defending six straight sets on their line. Melbourne (5-3) was also head and shoulders above its opponent, dismantling the Warriors with the hottest attacking display of the year in a 40-point romp. The Storm won’t run over the Dragons’ defence quite as easily, however. Five of the past six matches between these sides totalled under 36 points, and scoring should be hard once again. The Under looks a Sunday special here.
Tip: Under 38.5 points @ $1.91 (Bet365)
Sydney Roosters v Manly Sea Eagles
Last week I wrote that things couldn’t get any worse at Manly (2-6). Turns out I was very wrong. Another loss on the weekend was compounded by a season-ending injury to five-eighth Lachlan Croker. Dylan Walker moves into the halves as his replacement while Moses Suli – infamously booted from two clubs this pre-season – makes his club debut in the centres. The Roosters (4-4) weren’t great against the Dragons on Anzac Day, but they shouldn’t have any dramas taking a comfortable win here. With the Sea Eagles ravaged by injury, battling internal dramas and drained of confidence, we’re expecting the Chooks to crow loudly on Sunday night.
Tip: Sydney Roosters -10 @ $1.91 (Centrebet)