NRL Round 4 Preview

The long weekend will see the Cowboys host the Panthers in the traditional Thursday night clash in Townsville and the Cowboys will be happy to be back in front of their own fans after consecutive weeks on the road in Brisbane and Melbourne.

The Rabbitohs clash with the Bulldogs and the Sharks go up against the Storm in a rematch of the 2016 Grand Final.

The Roosters host the rejuvenated New Zealand Warriors and the Broncos will play the Titans in the Queensland derby.

The Eels will be looking to improve their fortunes coming up against an enthusiastic Tigers side that has claimed the scalps of two premiership favourites.

 

North Qld Cowboys v Penrith Panthers
Cowboys to beat the line (-10.5 points)

The Cowboys will be happy to be home after consecutive matches against the Broncos and Storm on the road. After a promising start to the season against Cronulla, North Queensland have lost their last two matches to marquee opposition.

The Panthers were devastated by the news that playmaker Nathan Cleary is set to miss up to 10 weeks of the season with a serious knee injury.

Penrith will look to use the experience of James Maloney and Peter Wallace to steer the Panthers around the park against Jonathan Thurston.

Thurston has been in the thick of the action for the Cowboys and has already had a hand in six tries this year.

North Queensland have won five consecutive games against Penrith in Townsville and will be determined to punish the Panthers who have struggled to have an impact in North Queensland.

South Sydney v Canterbury
South Sydney to win ($1.80)

The traditional clash between these two rivals promises to be an exciting affair with both sides turning around their form to record wins.

South Sydney dug deep to get their first win of the season with an outstanding 34-6 effort against Manly.

The Bulldogs have struggled to adjust to life under new coach Dean Pay but were able to turn things around to get the win against the Panthers.

Kieran Foran hasn’t recaptured the form that made him a superstar at Manly, but the half will have gained some confidence with his first win in the Bulldogs jersey last week.

Greg Inglis has started to fire and the Rabbitohs look like they are enjoying life under Anthony Seibold.

With Adam Reynolds on the mend, South Sydney will be able to position themselves in the top half of the league with a solid win over the Bulldogs.

Cronulla Sharks v Melbourne Storm
Storm to beat the line (-3.5 points)

The 2016 NRL champions come up against the current title holders who will be looking to assert their credentials and get some payback in the process.

Matt Moylan slots straight back into the halves for the grudge match and Jos Dugan’s match-up with Billy Slater will be a highlight.

Cronulla have struggled with new combinations and went down to the Cowboys and the Dragons.

The Storm dominated the Cowboys last week on the back of the perfect performance from their forward pack.

Melbourne youngster Brodie Croft has seamlessly slotted into the side in place of Cooper Cronk and if Croft gets the better of Chad Townsend then the Sharks could be in for a long night at the office.

Sydney Roosters v New Zealand Warriors
NZ Warriors to win ($3.35)

The Roosters have re-established themselves as a genuine title threat and Luke Keary was outstanding in the win over the Knights.

Cooper Cronk will need to get the better of Warriors halfback Shaun Johnson as the Kiwi halfback has been reinvigorated by the stability of Blake Green.

The former Manly player has taken the pressure of Johnston and allowed the Warriors star to play with a bit more freedom.

The Roosters flexed their premiership muscles with a dominant performance against the Knights and it will be up to the likes of James Tedesco and Cooper Cronk to fire against one of the most talented line-ups in the NRL.

The Warriors are back to their best so far this season and have shown a willingness to fight for each other under pressure.

If the Kiwis can score a couple of early tries, then they will be difficult to stop. Sydney have one of the toughest defensive lines in the competition and have won three of their last four games against the Warriors.

New Zealand may be on the verge of something special this season and they’re good value to win this clash by a single try.

Manly Sea Eagles v Canberra Raiders
Manly to beat the line (-5.5 points)

The Sea Eagles forgot to show up last week and were comprehensively outplayed by South Sydney.

It’s been a tough week for Manly fans with the league coming down on Manly’s salary cap indiscretions and the news that promising winger Jorge Taufua will be sidelined for eight weeks with an injury.

The Raiders have been dreadfully unlucky over the opening weeks of the competition letting leads slip to the Titans and the Warriors.

The Raiders are low on confidence at the moment and uncertain over the make-up of their side. The Sea Eagles will be back this week with a vengeance and Dale Cherry Evans will be at the centre of the carnage.

The Sea Eagles won’t let lightning strike twice and look to heap more pressure on the Green Machine.

St George Illawarra v Newcastle Knights
Dragons to beat the line (-8.5 points)

It’s amazing what a side can do with a recognised half-back and the Dragons are now in red-hot form.

The investment in Ben Hunt has already paid off with St George scoring wins over the Broncos and Titans.

Newcastle are coming off a tough clash with the Roosters and Mitchell Pearce will need to prove he can handle the pressure coming up against another quality side.

The Dragons are the only side in the competition to have cracked the 100-point barrier and the Knights are still licking their wounds from their trip to Sydney.

Kalyn Ponga looms as the danger man for the Knights, with the fullback showing that he will be a superstar for years to come.

The Knights will need to find a way to stop Bent Hunt and Gareth Widdop as the duo have been at the heart of Dragons stellar start to the season.

The Dragons will be too strong in Wollongong and the Knights will have to wait for another week to bounce back.

Brisbane Broncos v Gold Coast Titans
Broncos to beat the line (-12.5 points)

After a fairy tale start to the season the Titans are already starting to justify their favouritism for the wooden spoon.

The Titans already begin to have the makings of a sinking ship after being hammered by their opposition over the last two weeks.

The Gold Coast were embarrassed by the Dragons and things don’t get easier with the Broncos coming to town.

Brisbane will relish the opportunity to put some points on the board as the Titans are the first side in the competition to concede more than 100 points.

The last time these two sides clashed the Broncos put on nine tries and kept the Titans scoreless. Expect a similar result at Suncorp Stadium as the season is about to get ugly for the Gold Coast.

Wests Tigers v Parramatta Eels
Tigers to win ($1.90)

The Tigers were extremely unlucky to be blindsided by a poor decision from officials in their clash with the Broncos last week.

The Tigers could have been sitting at the top of the NRL ladder after upset wins over the Roosters and Melbourne Storm over the opening two rounds.

The Eels are set to be without Jarryd Hayne for the next four weeks as the superstar fullback recovers from a hip injury.

It hasn’t been a happy return for the State of Origin star with the unable to mount a serious challenge over the opening rounds of the competition.

The Tigers have the best defence in the competition and no side has been able to score more than two tries against them.

If the Tigers can find some points, then Parramatta could be on the verge of a 0-4 start to the season.