By Troy Whittaker (@troywhittaker98)
The round following a mid-week State of Origin match is notoriously hard for punters, given the player fatigue factor.
Luckily, Punter Problems has you covered with all the information and tips you need to have a winning weekend and avoid the Origin hangover.
Canberra Raiders v Penrith Panthers
Round 14 kicks off in the nation’s capital tonight and we’re expecting a low-scoring affair. The first-placed Panthers haven’t conceded a try in the last two rounds and will look to continue their outstanding defensive form.
Canberra does average 21.8 points per game in 2018, but Penrith poses a tough task: even St George Illawarra – who is ranked second for points scored – couldn’t cross the Panthers’ sturdy line.
The mountain men have a quartet of Origin stars backing up – Nathan Cleary, James Maloney, Reagan Campbell-Gillard and Tyrone Peachey – and might struggle to find attacking energy two days after arguably the biggest game of their lives.
We think the total of 39.5 points is rather high, especially given the forecast of wet weather, and will confidently select the Unders as our bet of the round here.
Tip: Under 39.5 points @ $1.91 (Bet365)
Gold Coast Titans v South Sydney Rabbitohs
South Sydney enters this match off a five-game winning streak but will be without Queensland Origin stars Greg Inglis and Dane Gagai. Blues duo Damien Cook and Angus Crichton revert back to the Rabbitohs bench.
Meanwhile, both Jai Arrow and Jarrod Wallace have been named to back up from Origin in the Titans’ starting side.
This is a danger game for the Rabbitohs, and while they own an impressive record over the Titans, we think they may underestimate the Gold Coast here.
The Titans are good value to get the chocolates with a 7.5-point start and we’re backing them to do just that against a weary Souths side.
Tip: Gold Coast Titans +7.5 @ $1.87 (Ladbrokes)
Manly Sea Eagles v New Zealand Warriors
It’s technically a Sea Eagles home game in Christchurch, but the Warriors will certainly have the support of the locals.
The 13th-placed Manly was disappointing last weekend against the Cowboys, beaten comfortably by 14 points. On the other hand, the fourth-placed Warriors are coming off the bye and will be buoyed by the return of star halfback Shaun Johnson.
While New Zealand was unaffected by Origin selection, Manly’s two biggest names – Jake and Tom Trbojevic – played key roles in NSW’s win and now have to travel across the ditch and back up just three days later.
We can’t see this one going any other way than a Warriors win.
Tip: New Zealand Warriors @ $1.66 (Centrebet)
Newcastle Knights v Sydney Roosters
The Roosters have won nine of their past 10 clashes against the Knights, but have four stars backing up after Origin.
James Tedesco was in absolutely everything for NSW on Wednesday night and he could be forgiven for having a quiet match here. Latrell Mitchell, Boyd Cordner and Dylan Napa all churned through big minutes for their respective states as well.
Newcastle produced perhaps its best performance of the year in a 30-4 towelling of Parramatta last start and will be keen to do well again in front of a home crowd. The Knights were unaffected by rep selection and should be fresher than the Chooks.
This one could go either way in our books. Sydney has struggled for points of late and could well be lethargic due to the Origin factor. We can’t go past the value for Newcastle with an 8.5-point start.
Tip: Newcastle Knights +8.5 @ $1.87 (Ladbrokes)
Parramatta Eels v North Queensland Cowboys
To put it bluntly, Parramatta was absolutely awful in Round 13. And making matters worse, injuries to playmakers Mitchell Moses and Will Smith in the 26-point loss against Newcastle adds to their packed casualty ward.
Jarryd Hayne and Corey Norman will return for the cellar-dwelling Eels but based on their previous contributions this year we can’t see them helping.
The Cowboys put on their most dominant display of the season last weekend in a sublime 26-12 victory over the Sea Eagles and need to continue winning if they’re to keep any flicker of finals hope burning.
North Queensland has won nine of its last 12 against the Eels and we believe they’ll take control of this match from the outset and lead throughout.
Tip: North Queensland Cowboys halftime/fulltime @ $1.87
Cronulla Sharks v Wests Tigers
After winning six consecutive matches, the Sharks were brought back to earth with a thud when an understrength South Sydney defeated them in Round 13.
Meanwhile, the Tigers were unlucky to lose by two against the Roosters and have now slipped outside the top eight for the first time this season.
Both teams were virtually unaffected by Origin – the Tigers had no players involved while only Valentine Holmes took part for the Sharks.
The Tigers haven’t conceded more than 16 points in any of their last four games and are the second-best defensive side in the NRL – but also rank third-last for points scored.
Cronulla only averages 18.3 points per game at Southern Cross Group Stadium in 2018, with all signs pointing towards a low-scorer on Sunday.
Tip: Under 38.5 @ $1.84 (Sportsbet)
Melbourne Storm v Brisbane Broncos
Despite being heavy favourites, Melbourne looks vulnerable in this fixture.
Fullback Billy Slater is missing with the same troublesome hamstring complaint that ruled him out of Origin I, while four crucial Storm players – Cameron Munster, Josh Addo-Carr, Will Chambers and Felise Kaufusi – are all backing up after playing for their states.
The Broncos also have four players returning from Origin but gain international back-rower Alex Glenn who is coming off an injury lay-off.
These teams met in Round 7 with the Storm eventually running out 34-20 winners – but only after a dogged effort from Brisbane. We’re sensing this match might be even closer due to the Origin disruption and think the Broncos might edge the Storm with a 7.5-point start.
Tip: Brisbane Broncos +7.5 @ $1.87 (Centrebet)
Canterbury Bulldogs v St George Illawarra Dragons
St George Illawarra has four stars backing up after Origin (Ben Hunt, Jack De Belin, Tyson Frizell and Paul Vaughan) but we don’t think it will be a factor given the long five-day turnaround.
While they had the bye last round, the Dragons were disappointing in Round 12 against the Panthers in a 28-2 loss. However, a number of Saints players were carrying niggling injuries – something that should no longer be an issue thanks to the week off.
Canterbury has struggled all season to score points, and their attacking woes were glaringly obvious last start against the Tigers in a 14-10 defeat.
The Dragons should be refreshed and raring to go for this match. St George Illawarra is ranked second for points scored at an average of just over 25 per game, while the Dogs are only producing 15.
We’re ready to chalk up another comfortable win for the Dragons, as we don’t believe the Dogs have nearly enough points in them to match the Red V.
Tip: St George Illawarra Dragons -6 @ $1.95 (Unibet)