THURSDAY: Brisbane Broncos V Parramatta Eels – Suncorp Stadium – 21.50NZT
The season restarts with this mouthwatering clash. The Broncos will still be stinging after the 58-0 thumping in the finals.
They’ll also miss enforcer David Fifita for the next month through injury.
Parramatta were clunky to start the year, but will no doubt have their mind ready for this one.
Brisbane playing at “home” but with no fans, that evens it up for me, I believe.
Parra have to do their best up front to match the Broncos, and if they can, they will get the win.
TIP: Eels 1-12
FRIDAY: North Queensland Cowboys V Gold Coast Titans – Queensland Country Bank Stadium – 20.00NZT
356 days without a win for the Titans, so yeah, the COVID-19 break didn’t help them in that instance.
The Cowboys are too classy across the park. A well-balanced line-up to take on the Titans.
Gold Coast have nothing to lose, once again, as they’ve already been touted wooden-spooners pre-season.
I like the way the Cowboys right edge will link up, Hess and Marsters will likely cause some headaches.
TIP: Cowboys 13+
– Sydney Roosters V South Sydney Rabbitohs – Bankwest Stadium – 21.55NZT
Not to make this all about Latrell Mitchell, but this is his first game against his old side.
The Roosters are the sort of team who would have benefitted greatly fro the break, but the Rabbitohs will still give them a run for their money.
The Morris brothers link up for the first time in the tri-colours, and rookie Rabbitohs half Troy Dargan gets his shot with Cody Walked kicked out for a two week suspension.
Will be a physical game.
TIP: Roosters 1-12
SATURDAY: New Zealand Warriors V Saint George Illawarra Dragons – Central Coast Stadium – 17.00NZT
While the Warriors are seemingly every Aussies second team this year, they still have work to do.
They come up underhanded through injury against a stacked Dragons side who will be ready to fire after their poor start.
Their focus has to be scoring points and scoring them early. The Dragons are the sort of team who if they are unsettled quickly, they can lose their way.
It will be tough for the Warriors to win this.
Also, Central Coast Stadium won’t be used to seeing such thrilling action.
TIP: Dragons 1-12
– Cronulla Sharks V Wests Tigers – Bankwest Stadium – 19.30NZT
It’s almost not NRL without the Sharks being involved in some sort of doping scandle, and on Tuesday another bombshell hit with Bronson Xerri testing positive.
That won’t through this Sharks side too much, they’re used to being on the backfoot and in the backpages.
The Tigers will have to pick up from where they left off eight weeks ago, but I believe they can do it.
Their structure of play was very composed, and they’ll need another performance like that to get the win against a big Sharks side.
TIP: Sharks 1-12
– Melbourne Storm V Canberra Raiders – AAMI Park – 21.30NZT
Could be the biggest game of the round, this one.
Melbourne will love the big challenge from the Raiders, and there’s certainly a lot of pride at stake.
Canberra will benefit from the ‘six again’ rule change, but then again, so will the Storm.
There’s plenty of quick and agile players in both sides, but I think it will come down to who can control the momentum in the halves.
Both sides love this sort of match-up.
TIP: Raiders 1-12
SUNDAY: Penrith Panthers V Newcastle Knights – Campbelltown Stadium – 18.00NZT
This is a game that can easily go both ways.
There’s two big outs, with Cleary and Ponga both suspended, but that gives a chance to Panthers young gun Matt Burton, and debutante Novacastrian Tex Hoy (who has the best name in rugby league).
Penrith want to get out the gates quickly, but the Knights bring a physical presence with them.
I feel this game could be a high scoring one, with plenty of attacking flair on offer.
TIP: Panthers 1-12
– Manly Warringah Sea Eagles V Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs – Central Coast Stadium – 20.30NZT
If Manly can start back up like they were going in the first two rounds, then that’s a big warning shot to the rest of the NRL.
The Bulldogs lacked confidence and attacking prowess, but that’s where Manly dominated in the opening two rounds.
There’s such a contract in the halves with Manly being experienced, and the Bulldogs not so much.
DCE will control this match, and keep the Bulldogs out of it and in their own half.
TIP: Sea Eagles 13+
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