As will be the case with virtually every sport the world over, big changes await the NRL in Round 2 but at publish, a full complement of eight games remain on the schedule.
We’re underway behind closed doors in Sydney on Thursday night when the Bulldogs and Cowboys do battle, before another exciting Friday night clash between the Broncos and Rabbitohs.
NRL Round 2 tips and preview of each game can be found below.
Round 2 is underway in Sydney on Thursday night and an intriguing contest between the Bulldogs and Cowboys looms.
I really didn’t expect a lot from the Dogs in Round 1 and in retrospect, that was silly, because the Eels are always overrated, particularly early in the season. In a week dominated by absolutely appalling behaviour, there were actually some promising signs for the long-suffering Canterbury fans and ultimately, they did themselves proud.
Everything was expected of the Cows, meanwhile and it was not a good display. They left enormous holes in defence and were pretty one-dimensional at the other end of the field. I don’t have particularly high hopes for them, even this early in the season and we might be witnessing the last few months of life under Paul Green.
More than happy to be with the Dogs as the outsiders, particularly at home.
Friday’s first game will see the Dragons and Panthers step out at Kogarah.
The Dragons typically need a few to get going and that was proven to be the case in Round 1, when they were simply outplayed by Wests Tigers (proudly sponsored by Neds). I think it’ll still be a few weeks before we get a real gauge on them and there is no doubt that they face a bigger task this week against Penrith.
The Panthers were the surprise packets of Round 1, particularly given they trialled the back to back premiers by 12 points at the half. Apisai Koroisau was enormous at nine (congratulations to everyone who took him for peanuts in Fantasy Footy) and without getting ahead of myself, they look a genuine side in 2020.
3.5 points looks a very achievable line for the Panthers to cover as warm favourites.
Two impressive Round 1 performers will meet for the standout match of Round 2 on Friday night, in what would have been an outstanding atmosphere if doors were opened.
The Broncos were impressive in Townsville. They ruined the new stadium party, provided Queensland with another terrific Derby performance and most importantly, got the chocolates. In the grand scheme of things, I’m actually not too sure how good of a win it was. I really do not rate the Cows this season but at the end of the day, all you can do is win and that is indeed what they did.
The Rabbits were tasked with what looked like something of a soft kill in the Sharks and while they also won, it was far less than convincing and they are another club that will surely just enjoy good improvement for that competitive hit-out.
Understandably, absolutely nothing separates these two sides at publish – we’re faced with $1.90 each in match betting. It’ll be tight, but I think South Sydney will sneak home.
At first glance there doesn’t look like being much on offer for the neutral supporter when the Warriors and Raiders to battle on the Gold Coast on Saturday, but I actually think that it will be one of the more intriguing contests of Round 2.
There is no arguing with the fact that the Warriors weren’t good in Round 1, but they typically do enjoy some improvement early in the season and I think that will be the case here. They’ve been training on the coast all week as a result of COVID-19 and they are one club that does tend to get a few supporters along when they’re on the Goldie.
The Raiders picked up where they left off in 2019 with a handy first-up win at home, but it could prove to be a bit of a hollow victory. They flew the blocks against the Titans, but quickly lost their potency and actually only drew the second half 6-6. I don’t think there’s any doubt that they’ll need to be better for the full eighty if they are a certainty to beat the Warriors.
Two genuine top four prospects will do battle in Sydney on Saturday afternoon when the Roosters line up opposite the Sea Eagles on neutral ground – Leichardt Oval. Both clubs were Round 1 losers and both will be eager to atone with a win this week.
The back to back premiers looked to be in cruise control when they went to the break in their game with the Panthers 12-0 up, but they fell to pieces in the second half and were made to pay by the spirited Mountain Men. While they will surely tighten up with that one under their belt, they face a tougher opponent in the form of the Sea Eagles, with whom they’ve contested some excellent games with in recent years.
Manly led the Storm 4-2 at break of their Round 1 clash and seemed to suffer from that 60-syndrome that has undone their title claims for a few seasons now. Week 1 and against the club that is probably still the league’s benchmark however, I’m happy to forgive it and I think that they represent big overs this week as outsiders.
There’s no footy scheduled for the Shire in 2020 and instead, the Sharks will host the Storm at Kogarah on Saturday night.
The Sharks enter this game already on the back foot, having bungled an opportunity to beat South Sydney late in their Round 1 clash. There is no denying that this is a big step up in class for them and they’ll also look set to do it without young gun Bronson Xerri, who has been cleared of Coronavirus, but who is reportedly still crook.
The Storm are amongst the shortest priced favourites of the week and it’s probably not too hard to figure out why. They weathered what was (for the most part) a very competitive Manly side at Brookvale first-up and are quite clearly a Premiership threat for the billionth season in succession. Cam Smith is evergreen, their forward pack is excellent, and their young, quick and exciting backline can evidently mix it with anyone. I think they’ll be winning again and winning well.
Wests Tigers, proudly sponsored by Neds, put an unbeaten record on the line when the Newcastle Knights arrive at Leichardt Oval on Sunday afternoon.
I thought that they were over the odds at even money and boy, did it turn out to be a great watch. The Tigers could hardly have been more impressive in their comfortable win over the Dragons and I can’t find a reason why they won’t produce another bold showing at one of their historic homes.
The Knights proved too good for the Warriors as well, and they will be quietly confident of making it two in a row this week. Any form of bias aside, I think that they will be the big improvers in 2020 and genuinely, there is a case to be made for them to be winning here – they just aren’t for me, this week.
Sundays at Leichardt are what rugby league is all about and I am more than happy to be with our boys again.
The round concludes on the Gold Coast on Sunday afternoon and from where I’m sitting, a real opportunity to win awaits the Neds Gold Coast Titans.
For a club that managed only four wins in 2019, it was understandable to see the boys slow from the blocks, particularly against a club that nearly went the whole way. Justin Holbrook clearly had some words of wisdom at halftime, as the Titans managed to come out and match it with the Raiders and ultimately tie the second half 6-6. Confidence and improvement from that performance, as well as a return home will take them a long way towards winning.
Typically, an enormous amount was expected of the Eels first-up and while they did win, it was an enormous anti-climax. They should be competitive in 2020, but huge improvement will be needed if they are even to go close to this top four prediction that a lot of people seem to be making.
I understand why the market is so heavy skewed in favour of the away side, but I’ll be with the Titans to cover a line that I think is too generous of the Eels’ actual ability.