NRL Round 7 Preview

The form guide continues to be turned on its head each week with the upsets continuing in the competition

Fresh off their rampage against the 2017 runners-up, the Bulldogs will look to continue their climb up the NRL ladder when they take on Sydney Roosters.

The clash of the round belongs to the Warriors who will headline Friday night when go up against the Dragons.

Master coach Wayne Bennett renews his rivalry with his former apprentice Craig Bellamy when the Storm takes on the Broncos.

North Queensland will be searching for redemption to their poor start to the season this week in the Queensland derby against the Titans.

James Maloney will be out to build on his good start to the season when he comes up against his former team Cronulla.

Back a team in the Bulldogs clash with the Roosters and get an early payout if they lead by 10 points or more.

Canterbury Bulldogs v Sydney Roosters
Bulldogs to win ($2.85)

The signs weren’t good for the Bulldogs when Aaron Woods turned up for the first match of the season looking like Dora the Explorer.

Canterbury have grossly underperformed this season and currently sit 14th on the NRL ladder.

The Bulldogs were able to find something special last week to notch a win against a tired North Queensland side and the match against the tri-colours will be a true barometer of their progress.

The Roosters are coming off a poor performance, losing to South Sydney last weekend and you have to question the wisdom of trading Mitchell Pearce for Cooper Cronk.

Dean Pay would have taken note of Cronk’s poor performance in defence last week and there’s an opportunity for Kieran Foran to exploit some real holes in the Roosters defence.

The Roosters have had the wood on the Bulldogs, winning nine of their last twelve meetings.

The Bulldogs clicked last week against the Cowboys and given the form of the competition to date, I think they can claim another major scalp this round.

New Zealand Warriors v St George Illawarra Dragons
Dragons to win ($1.80)

The Warriors suffered their first loss of the season last week going down to the Broncos at home.

Things don’t get easier for the Kiwi side coming up against a Dragons team that has yet to taste defeat this season.

The Warriors have lost key positional players Leivaha Pulu and Solomona Kata for the clash and have fallen to third on the ladder.

The Dragons are leading the competition in defence and attack, and half-back Ben Hunt is proving to be one of the buys of the season to date.

The Dragons won’t be fazed by the trip across the Tasman to Auckland, having won 21 of their 26 matches.

Winning is a habit in rugby league and the Dragons will have the edge in what could be the match of the round.

Injuries will hurt the Warriors and the Dragons have a fully fit roster to take across for the clash at Mt Smart Stadium.

Brisbane Broncos v Melbourne Storm
Storm to beat the line (+4.5 points)

The Broncos will feel they turned a corner with a surprising win against the Warriors last round in New Zealand.

Coach Wayne Bennett has been under-siege this season with back to back losses to the Titans and Knights starting to hurt the legacy of the master coach.

The Storm had a solid victory last week, re-asserting their authority over the competition with a dominant display over the Knights.

No one knows the Broncos better than Storm mentor Craig Bellamy and the former Broncos assistant will be looking to notch his 26th win against his former club.

The Storm have won their last seven games at Suncorp Stadium and the lack of support for Broncos half Anthony Milford could prove to be fatal for their chances this season.

The Storm will be too strong for the Broncos who are lacking direction at both ends of the field.

Back the Storm to beat the Broncos and if they win, you’ll double your winnings. Max Bet $20. 

South Sydney Rabbitohs v Canberra
South Sydney to beat the line (-4.5 points)

South Sydney were brilliant in topping the Sydney Roosters last week and there’s a feeling around Redfern that new coach Anthony Seibold is finally settling into the role. Greg Inglis is enjoying his football and Damian Cook has emerged as a serious contender for a NSW State of Origin jersey.

The Rabbitohs will be buoyed by the news that Sam Burgess will be returning to the side to take on a Raiders pack brimming with confidence.

The Green Machine have discovered their attacking mojo and were able to do enough last week to keep Parramatta winless for another round.

The Raiders have won their last three consecutive clashes with South Sydney and coach Ricky Stuart will be confident with the balance of his side.

The experience of Sam Burgess gives Souths the edge in what should be an entertaining affair and the Rabbitohs should be able to notch back to back wins if they show the same sense of urgency in attack as they did against the Roosters.

West Tigers v Newcastle Knights
Tigers to win ($1.55)

The West Tigers are punching above their weight this season and were outstanding putting Manly to the sword last round. Veteran half Benji Marshall is angling for a recall to the national side and it would be hard to argue against him, considering his performance to date.

The Knights were comprehensively outplayed by the Storm last week but there’s plenty of promise about their play this season. Kalyn Ponga could be playing for a Queensland State of Origin jersey this season and Mitchell Pearce is enjoying life in the Hunter Valley.

The Tigers have won their last two games and given the way they shredded the Manly defence it’s difficult to go against them this season.

The Tigers will be able to make it three wins from as many starts in what is sure to be an entertaining game.

North Qld Cowboys v Gold Coast Titans
Cowboys to beat the line (-4.5 points)

The Cowboys have struggled to reproduce the form that made them one of the surprise packets of 2017.

Jonathan Thurston has struggled since his return from injury and Michael Morgan has been unable to take the pressure off the champion halfback.

The Titans may have been put to the sword by Penrith last week, but they have well and truly emerged as a competitive team after defeating the Broncos this season at Suncorp Stadium.

The Cowboys have lost their last five games and while on paper they still boast one of the better line-ups in the competition, they need to start playing to their potential.

North Queensland have the goods to be able to turn around their run of poor form and find some redemption against the Gold Coast with a solid win.

Parramatta Eels v Manly Sea Eagles
Sea Eagles to win (-3.5 points)

The panic has well and truly set in for the Eels who will be playing for their season when they clash with Manly.

It’s difficult to know where things have gone wrong for coach Brad Arthur, but the Eels are simply not playing to their potential and it’s difficult to imagine them finding their way back into finals contention for season 2018.

Manly could not get out of first gear against the Tigers in round six and were duly put to the sword by Benji Marshall.

Manly half Dale Cherry-Evans won’t be winning the hearts and minds of Queensland State of Origin selectors another inconsistent display against a hapless Eels outfit that has simply forgotten how to win football games.

The Sea Eagles should be winning this clash by a comfortable margin and let’s not forget Manly were able to put nine tries on Parramatta the last time they clashed in round two.

Cronulla Sharks v Penrith Panthers
Penrith to beat the line (-5.5 points)

Penrith’s James Maloney would love nothing more to get one over his former side when the Panthers clash with the Sharks to finish off round seven.

The Penrith halfback was sensationally let go by the Sharks during the off-season and since then he has been in outstanding form for the Panthers.

Maloney has been a commanding presence on the field, leading the Panthers to a 5-1 record in their last six games, in the absence of star half Nathan Cleary.

The Sharks are struggling to work out their best combinations and will be without a number of key stars through injury.

Sharks spiritual leader Paul Gallen will miss the clash and there are injury question marks over Wade Graham, Luke Lewis and Andrew Fifita.

The Sharks have the superior record against the Panthers at Shark Park but their form over the early rounds has been patchy at best.

Penrith have been playing some good football and the experience of Maloney should be enough to help them get their win over their inconsistent opposition.