Round 1 is in the history books and it’s onwards and upwards in the 2021 NRL Premiership season!
We were treated to some fine footy, some terrible performances and some individual brilliance last weekend and perhaps more importantly, we managed to dig out a few lucrative winners.
I’ve previewed all eight games and provided all of my NRL Round 2 tips below.
Week 1 winners the Eels and Storm will do battle in Sydney’s west on Thursday night.
The Eels were extremely slow from the blocks in Round 1, going into the sheds on the wrong end of a 16-0 score line represents an almost impossible task for any club to overcome, but when your opponent is the reigning wooden spooners, there’s still a glimmer.
That was the case for Brad Arthur’s men and ultimately, they made it count – scoring 24 unanswered points in the second 40, in what actually proved to be a pretty impressive performance.
I’m confident they’ll take improvement for that hit-out, but they face an enormous rise in class this week and they simply won’t be able to repeat their Round 1 mistakes.
The Storm returned almost the opposite performance to the Eels – they flew the gates and took the foot off the accelerator somewhat in the second half, but had already well and truly done enough.
Ryan Papenhuyzen probably couldn’t have been more impressive, and I am eager to slot him into my bet this week.
Another two Round 1 winners face off in Friday’s evening fixture when the Warriors host the Knights, in what is something of a derby in season 2021.
The Warriors’ forward pack very much could be the best in the league, and they were at full flight in Round 1 with a big and dominant display that ultimately sank our beloved Neds Titans.
For a long period of time, they’ve boasted a terrific side on paper and their fresh performance last week suggested that maybe, just maybe, they’ll begin to put it all together this season.
The Knights meanwhile proved too classy for a young Bulldogs side, and they too strip fitter for the run.
There is no doubt that this match will be decided in the forwards, because the Knights also boast one of the league’s better packs, and I simply cannot wait to watch all of this unfold.
Leaning towards the Gosford Warriors, particularly at their current price.
Friday night’s primetime slot has been allocated to a SEQ Derby and will see the pride and might of the Neds Gold Coast Titans host the Brisbane Broncos at Fortress Cbus.
It wasn’t the Round 1 performance or result that the boys were after, but I’m now confident that the Warriors are a Top 8 side in 2021, and I think that the Titans can and will bounce back in this contest.
There’s gelling to be had, combinations to develop and now all of the new boys have had a taste of the set-up, it could very well convert into a long night at the office for their ‘big brother’ in Round 2.
The Broncos returned a quality first half performance to lead the Eels into the break in Round 1, before ultimately remembering they are the Broncos and going to water in the second half.
This looms as a similarly tough task for them, and to repeat what I said about them last week, I’m going to have to see them win before I can trust them from a betting perspective.
Betting suggests that the most one-sided match of Round 2 will come up between the Bulldogs and the Panthers on Saturday afternoon, and it really isn’t difficult to see why.
The Bulldogs returned a spirited performance, but were simply outclassed and outlasted by the more experience Knights in Round 1, and they face a sizeable step up in class against last season’s runners up.
As expected, the Panthers smoked the Cowboys in Round 1 and I personally cannot find much of a difference in the abilities of that side with this week’s opponent, the Bulldogs.
A 16.5-point line seems more than fair, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Panthers have it covered after forty minutes.
Manly’s hopes of an improved performance in Round 2 will surely by boosted by a return to Brookvale Oval, but they are equally dented by the quality of their opponent, the South Sydney Rabbitohs.
The Sea Eagles returned arguably the most putrid performance in Round 1 and they rightfully enter the second week of the 2021 NRL Premiership season in a massive for-and-against hole.
They lacked size and go-forward up front, a hooker, and they are always behind the eight-ball whenever Tommy Turbo is unavailable.
Souths began slowly against the Storm, and while they ultimately failed to make up the difference, their performance was that of a side that will likely finish the regular season in the top four.
This is an open and shut case – it’s impossible to tip anything but a hefty Souths’ victory.
Last weekend’s match between the Bunnies and the Storm could very well have been a Grand Final preview, and this could very well be a preview of the race to 16th.
The Cowboys didn’t fire a shot in their season-opener against the Panthers, and while this does shape as the best-case scenario for them in terms of winning a match, I’m still finding it hard to make a case for them.
Similarly with the Dragons, they were outclassed by their Round 1 opponents, and that was a pretty ordinary Sharks outfit.
There really doesn’t look to be a lot in this one for the neutral supporter, and while I suppose the Cowboys deserve their favouritism in Townsville, I think that they are under the odds as $1.50 favourites.
The Roosters made a real statement in Round 1 and while it pains me to say it, I think that our beloved Wests Tigers face another big task on Sunday afternoon.
Alongside the Storm, the Roosters have been the league’s benchmark for quite a number of seasons now, and what they did to the Manly Sea Eagles last weekend suggested that they are the club to beat again in 2021.
They are spoiled for choice all over the field, almost every player is world class, and they will prove a difficult task for literally every other club this season, barring injury.
The Tigers always return a gutsy performance and for the most part, they have batted well above their weight.
They were overcome by a top four-worthy Raiders side last weekend, but there was a lot to like about what they did, and they will only improve for the hit-out.
Round 2 will draw with a close with what looks to be a reasonable mismatch between the Sharks and the Raiders.
The Sharks have 10th place written all over them.
They’ll very occasionally pull off an enormous performance, probably against the Storm, but they’ll also be wildly mediocre more often than not.
They won comfortably last week, but I’m confident in saying that any win over the Dragons this season won’t be much of an indicator of how well your team is going.
The Raiders meanwhile proved too good for Wests Tigers, and I personally think that this shapes as an easier task for them.