NRL Round 5 Preview

Five rounds into the NRL season and we have witnessed plenty of upsets over the opening weeks of the competition.

The Green Machine will look to get their season on track when they tackle the Bulldogs in the Thursday night game. The Raiders have struggled, and another loss could place some real pressure on Raiders coach Ricky Stuart.

After getting the result last week, the Sharks will be looking to grind out another win against the Sydney Roosters.

Currently on top of the NRL ladder, the Dragons have every opportunity of extending their lead when they face-off against the South Sydney.

The Tigers will be looking for the double against the Storm and the Warriors are good value to continue their winning start to the season.

Newcastle will be hoping to turn around their poor form when they host former coach Wayne Bennett and the Broncos. The Titans take on the Sea Eagles and the Eels will come up against the Panthers to finish the round.

 

Canterbury Bulldogs v Canberra Raiders
Canterbury to win ($2.10)

The Raiders are languishing at the bottom of the NRL ladder after 0-4 start to the season.

Ricky Stuart has drawn a line in the sand by dropping Queensland Origin forward Josh Papalii from the starting line-up and the if the Raiders lose here it will be difficult for them to feature in the finals.

Canterbury have struggled in the opening rounds, with a round three win over the high-flying Panthers their only joy so far this season.

The Bulldogs are starting to click with Kieran Foran in the halves and Aaron Woods beginning to enjoy his partnership with David Klemmer in the forward pack.

The Bulldogs have won three of their last four games in Canberra and with the Raider’s confidence at an all-time low following last week’s dismal performance, the Bulldogs will be looking to close out this game.

Expect the Bulldogs to have enough in the tank to grind out a win and extend the Green Machine’s poor start to the season.

Cronulla Sharks v Sydney Roosters
Sharks to win ($2.15)

The Sharks will be able to call upon the services of Josh Dugan and Matt Moylan after the injured duo sat out last week’s controversial win over the Melbourne Storm.

The Sharks will be looking to lower their penalty count this week, as the Roosters are a side capable of taking advantage of the smallest error. The Sydney side were shocked by the rampaging Warriors last week and will be desperate to make amends Cronulla

The Roosters have built a culture of consistency and there is no doubting that Sydney coach Trent Robson will be disappointed with the effort his troops have displayed this season.

The Sharks need to find a way to repeat their performance against the Storm and Matt Moylan will need to step-up against his opposite number. Luke Keary is already benefiting from his experience outside of Cooper Cronk, with the pivot already being talked about for a NSW Blues jersey.

This will be a physical encounter and the Sharks have history on their side, winning six of their last seven meetings with the Roosters. Sydney has played once away from their home ground this season, going down to the Wests Tigers in the opening round. The Sharks are good value for the upset win over one of the premiership favourites.

St George Illawarra v South Sydney
Dragons to beat the line (-9.5 points)

The Dragons are in irresistible form right now and will be hot favourites to continue their winning run against one of their arch-rivals.

South Sydney will be without Sam Burgess, who was suspended for two weeks for an indiscretion against the Bulldogs.

Souths will face a real battle against a dominant Dragons pack being led by James Graham.

South Sydney welcome halfback Adam Reynolds back into the line-up after a prolonged injury layoff.

The Saints have been impressive with victories over the Broncos, Sharks and Newcastle. While South Sydney have a superior record against St George, it’s difficult to argue with the Dragon’s form right now and they should be able to record a comfortable victory at Kogarah Oval.

West Tigers v Melbourne Storm
Melbourne to win ($1.40)

The Tigers have been the major surprise of 2018 with wins over the Storm and the Roosters within the first few rounds of the season.

Benji Marshall has been the architect of the Tigers renaissance and the Tigers maestro will be wanting to pull out another masterclass against Cameron Munster. The Tigers have shifted their home game across the Tasman to Auckland and will be relying on the locals to make life uncomfortable for the Storm.

The Storm lost a close contest with the Sharks last round and will be wanting to avenge their shock defeat to the Tigers and they’ll have to make do without Will Chambers and Dale Finucane, who are both missing through injury and suspension.

The Tigers have been brilliant defensively this year but if Cameron Munster can rediscover his running game then the Storm could be headed for a double-digit win.

New Zealand Warriors v North Queensland Cowboys
Warriors to win ($1.90)

The Warriors have had a perfect start to the competition and their chances against the Cowboys will be helped by the return of Shaun Johnson and Simon Mannering.

The signing of Blake Green has proven to be a masterstroke for the Warriors, with the former Manly half in contention for a maiden appearance for the NSW State of Origin team.

The Cowboys will be stinging from their loss at home to the Panthers and are staring down the barrel of four straight defeats.

The Cowboys have won their last four clashes with the New Zealand, including a 50-16 win at the same venue last season.

If New Zealand plays to their potential then it could be a long day at the office for the Cowboys, with the Warriors attack one of the best in the competition over the early rounds.

The Cowboys may have history on their side, but New Zealand seems intent on proving the doubters wrong this season and should be able to roll on with another victory.

Brisbane Broncos v Newcastle Knights
Broncos to win ($1.95)

The Broncos will be desperate to turn around their fortunes when they clash with Knights in Newcastle.

Broncos coach Wayne Bennett is under real pressure to turn around his side’s fortunes following the midweek resignation of Kevin Walters and a dismal performance against the Titans.

The Broncos were embarrassed at home by a Titans side who were desperate to prove a point against Brisbane.

Brisbane will need to go back to basics and will take some comfort in knowing that they haven’t been troubled by the Knights since 2010.

The Knights lost Tautau Moga for the season with another ACL injury and will rely on fullback Kalyn Ponga to provide the attacking spark.

The former Cowboy is in career best form and shown the competition why he was rated highly by Jonathan Thurston. Anthony Milford will be expected to provide more in attack along with new recruit Jack Bird.

The Broncos will be able to do enough get over the top of Newcastle, but another poor performance could put the spotlight on Wayne Bennett’s methods.

Gold Coast Titans v Manly Sea Eagles
Titans to win ($2.25)

After pulling off the upset of the round the Titans face the challenge of repeating the effort against the Sea Eagles.

Manly were able to outlast the Raiders and Dale Cherry Evans duel with Ash Taylor will be the highlight of the match.

The Titans have split their games so far this season and will need to win this clash to be considered a genuine chance of progressing to the finals this season.

Manly have struggled away from home this season and have failed to register a win on the road.

The Sea Eagles will be hoping that the attacking spark of Dylan Walker will be enough to get them over the line.

The Titans have named the same side that upset the Brisbane Broncos and with the home crowd on their side then there is value in the Titans causing another stunning upset.

Parramatta Eels v Penrith Panthers
Penrith to beat the line (-3.5 points)

The Eels have had a season to forget with poor form and injuries to key players leaving them at the foot of the NRL ladder.

The Panthers are flying high, coming off a breakthrough victory against the Cowboys in Townsville.

The Panthers are without Ivan Cleary and will again look to veteran James Maloney to steer them to victory against a Parramatta side under siege.

Mitchell Moses has struggled to fire over the early rounds of the competition and will need to start living up to the hype in a crucial clash against a Sydney rival

Parramatta are searching for their first win and they’ll have a tough time against a Penrith side that have both form and momentum on their side.

Penrith are looking good with Maloney controlling things and the veteran will have enough in his bag of tricks to grind out a close win for Penrith.