By Stephen Gallagher
Thursday, March 15
Sharks v Dragons, Southern Cross Group Stadium, 22.05NZT
First up losers versus first up winners, and add in the fact these two are rivals, means this opening round two clash will be interesting.
The Dragons looked really strong last week, and I can imagine they’ll want to do the same to the Sharks as they did to Brisbane.
Cronulla need to play smarter football, with some rust and poor decision making letting them down last week.
This game should be close.
TIP: Dragons 1-12
Friday, March 16
Roosters v Bulldogs, Allianz Stadium, 20.00NZT
The Roosters were bitterly disappointing last week, with all the hype. They get to play the Doggies who also went down last week.
Both sides have upgraded their rosters, and will need their big names to actually perform in order to get the two points.
The Roosters need to spread the ball wide earlier, while the Bulldogs need to focus on getting quick metres around the ruck through the middle.
Can see it being a scratchy game.
TIP: Roosters 1-12
Broncos v Cowboys, Suncorp Stadium, 21.50NZT
Brisbane won’t want to go in to 2018 losing their first two games, but as they go against their northern rivals, it will make for a very tense affair.
The Broncos looked out of sorts last week, but that could also be because it was week one.
North Queensland bolstered forward pack will look to run riot, and if they tire the Broncos out early, they could put a lot of points on.
This game will make for entertaining viewing.
TIP: Cowboys 1-12
Saturday, March 17
Warriors v Titans, Mt Smart Stadium, 17.00NZT
Both surprise winners last week, the New Zealand Warriors did look very sharp, but don’t fall in to the trap of thinking they’ve changed. Still take them week by week, otherwise the bandwagon will overload.
The Titans finished very strong last week, proving they won’t be easy beats this year.
If they can start faster, they can well and truly win this.
The Warriors will be looking to win their first two games since 2009.
TIP: Warriors 1-12
Panthers v Rabbitohs, Panthers Stadium, 19.30NZT
Penrith’s grit to put on 24 unanswered points last weeks showed to me that they’re going to be competitive once again.
The Rabbitohs let themselves down with basics. They dropped too many balls, and looked buggered by half time.
The Panthers can definitely exploit that. You won’t want to drop anything, because the Panthers will pounce.
Hopefully the Rabbits improve from week one.
TIP: Panthers 1-12
Storm v Wests Tigers, AAMI Park, 21.30NZT
Again the front runners for the season, the Storm looked very good at times last week. It’s going to be hard to run this side down, especially with momentum.
The Tigers are the team who will want to continue to throw caution to the wind. A win here would very much set them up for a strong season.
Though, this is the Storm. At home. That’s going to be a hard ask.
Melbourne will do enough to win it.
TIP: Storm 1-12
Sunday, March 18
Sea Eagles v Eels, Lottoland, 18.10NZT
Manly were the first side this season to go down in Golden Point, despite a good game by them.
They play Parramatta, who looked good for 35 minutes, and that was it.
Manly are good at home on a Sunday, and will look to apply pressure to the Eels where they fell short last week.
The Eels just have to focus on playing their footy. They panicked a little bit last week, and it was not a good end.
TIP: Eels 1-12
Raiders v Knights, GIO Stadium, 20.30NZ
If the Raiders can finish as strongly as they start, they’ll be hard to stop this year, but it was a poor second half that saw them lose in the last two minutes.
The Knights are looking to improve to 2/2 after a great win in front of a packed house in round one.
Canberra get their first home game of the season, and play a tough Knights side who won’t back down for 80 minutes.
This could be the game of the round.
TIP: Raiders 1-12
Follow Stephen Gallagher on Twitter