By Troy Whittaker (@troywhittaker98)
Round 8 kicks off this afternoon with the traditional Anzac Day matches, and Punter Problems has all your betting needs covered.
After splitting down the middle with 4 from 8 tips last weekend, we’re confident of pushing into profit this round.
St George Illawarra Dragons v Sydney Roosters
Is there a better regular season fixture on the rugby league calendar than this? If there is, I’m yet to see it. The Dragons (6-1) come into Anzac Day having finally lost their first match of the year. They’re battling a short turnaround from last week’s overseas trip to New Zealand but do have a fully fit playing roster.Sydney (4-3) is coming off a bizarre 6-0 win over the Bulldogs. While the Roosters’ defence was sublime, their attack was directionless at times.Both teams will lift for such a special occasion and we’re in for a treat. St George Illawarra has won 7 of the last 10 Anzac Day matches and we think they’ll pip the Chooks today.
Tip: St George Illawarra Dragons @ $1.83 (Bet365)
Melbourne Storm v New Zealand Warriors
The Storm and Warriors were arguably the two best performing teams in Round 7, setting up a mouthwatering game tonight. Melbourne (4-3) is without in-form winger Suliasi Vunivalu who withdrew late with a hamstring complaint. For the Warriors (6-1), halfback Shaun Johnson misses a further week with a leg injury but is again ably replaced by Mason Lino. New Zealand proved its mettle last weekend with an awe-inspiring defence performance against the formerly undefeated Dragons, who had 62 per cent of possession and led the penalty count.The Warriors are unblemished away from home this season, winning 3 from 3 matches in Australia, and look good value with a healthy start here.
Tip: New Zealand Warriors +7.5 @ $1.76 (Sportsbet)
South Sydney Rabbitohs v Brisbane Broncos
South Sydney (4-3) is among the competition’s form teams having now won four of its last five matches. The Rabbitohs’ left-edge attack, headed by Greg Inglis and John Sutton, is perhaps the strongest in the NRL. In a blow for the cardinal and myrtle, enforcer Sam Burgess is again suspended after a careless high tackle. The Broncos (3-4) couldn’t come away with a win against Melbourne last weekend but continued their marked improvement. Brisbane’s attack is finally starting to click, with enigmatic five-eighth Anthony Milford starting to find his feet. Both teams have shown a willingness to play expansive football in the last few rounds. The previous three matches between them have totalled over 40 points – and we’re backing history to repeat.
Tip: Over 40 match points @ $1.90 (Sportsbet)
Manly Sea Eagles v Newcastle Knights
Things can’t get much worse at Manly right now. After suffering the public embarrassment of the Jackson Hastings v Daly Cherry-Evans infighting saga, the Sea Eagles (2-5) were whipped 44-10 by the previously winless Parramatta Eels. Meanwhile, Newcastle produced perhaps its finest win of the season, coming back to edge out the Tigers in a thriller. However, halfback and captain Mitchell Pearce ruptured his pectoral muscle in the match and will sit on the sidelines for the majority of the season. Without Pearce, the Knights’ attack – which already averages less than three converted tries a match – will struggle. Manly need to get back to basics and will probably shelve the theatrics in this one. With defence likely to win this match, Unders is our best bet.
Tip: Under 38.5 points @ $1.90
Penrith Panthers v Canterbury Bulldogs
Penrith’s three-match winning streak was ended by Cronulla last round. The Panthers (5-2) still sit within the top four and will be raring to stay there. The Bulldogs (2-5) were, to put it bluntly, shocking in attack last weekend against the Roosters. For nearly the whole 80 minutes, the Dogs enjoyed prime field position and possession – and weren’t able to trouble the scorers. Canterbury did beat the Panthers 20-18 back in round three, but the Mountain Men have gone from strength to strength since then. Penrith average a tick under 24 points a game and should have far too much strike-power for hapless Canterbury.
Tip: Penrith Panthers –5-5 @ $1.90 (Palmer Bet)
Gold Coast Titans v Cronulla Sharks
The Titans (3-4) suffered their second consecutive loss when trumped by the Cowboys last weekend. Garth Brennan’s youthful team was valiant but lacked the class to break the game open. Meanwhile, the Sharks (3-4) toppled Penrith to secure a much-needed two points. Luke Lewis and Paul Gallen are both out of this match through injury – but Scott Sorensen and Joseph Paulo were brilliant in the veterans’ absence. It’ll be tough on the road, but the Sharks are finally finding positional consistency and need to start winning consistently if they’re to be in the race come September. We’re tipping they’ll be up for the task.
Tip: Cronulla Sharks @ $1.73 (Sportsbet)
North Queensland Cowboys v Canberra Raiders
North Queensland (2-5) returned to the winner’s circle for the first time since Round 1 last weekend – and they won’t want to give up the feeling. The Raiders (2-5) looked to have arrested their appalling start to the season when they won consecutive games but were battered by the rampant Rabbitohs in Round 7. Despite being in 12th position, Canberra averages 22 points per match. By the same token, they’re also allowing 23.7 – so the Cowboys will have ample chance to post points of their own against the Green Machine. While 44 points seems a high total to surpass, we’ve seen plenty of matches break the 50 barrier in the last few rounds.
Tip: Over 44 match points @ $1.90 (Sportsbet)
Parramatta Eels v Wests Tigers
It may have taken a whole seven weeks, but Parramatta (1-6) is finally off the duck egg! The Eels were sensational against the Sea Eagles in posting 44 points, leaving many to ponder where that form has been hiding. The impact of fullback and new co-captain Clinton Gutherson cannot be understated. Wests (5-2) went down to the Knights in a last-minute heartbreaker and will be out to prove they climb back on the bus quickly. These teams met in Round 4 when the Tigers won the free-flowing match 30-20. Good Sunday afternoon conditions could mean we’re in for a similar scoreline.
Tip: Over 38.5 match points @ $1.90