NRL Round 3 Tips & Preview

Round 3 of the NRL boasts some truly mouth-watering contests, and it’s all set to begin with a Grand Final rematch between the Panthers and the Storm on Thursday night!

The Rabbitohs take on the Roosters and even a bunch of the NRL’s lowly sides have drawn to play one-another – we might not see such a good week of football contested again all year!

Check out my full preview and complete NRL Round 3 tips below.

Penrith Panthers vs Melbourne Storm
Storm (+1)

Round 3 hits its peak first-up on Thursday night when the Panthers and the Storm replay last season’s Grand Final.

The Panthers have been nothing short of outstanding in the first two weeks of the 2021 NRL Premiership season, scoring 52 points and not conceding one.

Impressive solo performances have taken place all over, but Jarome Luai was particularly impressive in Round 2, in his ability to effectively cover for Nathan Cleary when he was forced from the field.

The Storm were terrific in Round 1 but returned something of a flat effort, albeit against an impressive Parramatta last Thursday.

There is obviously a case to be made for both sides, but I am going to back the Storm to cover the line for $2, solely because they have been priced as slight outsiders.

St George Illawarra Dragons vs Manly Sea Eagles
Sea Eagles (+1.5)

Two of the NRL’s less impressive sides will go head-to-head in the first match on Friday night, but their mediocre abilities is likely to lead to a competitive contest.

The Dragons contested a similar match against the lowly Cowboys in Round 2 and recorded their first win of the season.

They boast plenty of good players and really should be better than what they are, but there’s at least some sort of credible base for Anthony Griffin to build on.

The Sea Eagles were utterly putrid in Round 1, and while they suffered another loss to the Bunnies in Round 2, there was a lot more to like about the effort, particularly in considering that opponent is a competition favourite.

There’s still a few weeks until Tom Trbojevic is available for selection, but I think that they’ll be winning this.

Given the Sea Eagles are available at even money to win (at publish), but also to cover a 1.5-point line as outsiders, I’ll be opting to take the latter.

South Sydney Rabbitohs vs Sydney Roosters
Roosters (-3.5)

If Thursday night’s game is the match of the round, then surely this is… a very good game as well.

In all seriousness, we’re going to be treated to an absolute bevvy of high-quality contests in Round 3 and this is going to be one of them.

The Rabbitohs have stamped themselves as genuine Premiership contenders with a competitive loss to the Storm and a comfortable win over Manly, and they enter this match with nearly every single one of their stars firing.

The Roosters have also been outstanding in delivering their Sea Eagles and Wests Tigers hefty defeats, and they enter Round 3 on top of the ladder with an enormously positive for and against.

I simply cannot see past how dominant the Roosters have been, and I think they’ll keep alive their unbeaten season.

best bet
Canberra Raiders vs New Zealand Warriors
Warriors (+10.5)

The Raiders remain undefeated and will start clear favourites against the Warriors on Saturday afternoon.

The Green Machine have so far proven too good for the Tigers and the Sharks, but they were lucky to sneak away with the points last week, owing largely to Chad Townsend’s inability to covert a try.

They have certainly improved their first in the first two weeks of the competition, but they strike a low-flying Warriors side this week who are probably unlucky not to have remained undefeated.

They were too strong for the Titans in Round 1, and only just missed beating a Knights side who genuinely look to be a top four threat in 2021.

Fitter third-up, I actually consider the Warriors to be a winning chance in this match, so I’m happy to take them at $2 lines as outsiders.

Brisbane Broncos vs Canterbury Bulldogs
Broncos (-2.5)

The well-matched contests continue on Saturday evening when the Broncos host the Bulldogs in Brisbane, in what could very well be a preview of the race to the 2021 wooden spoon.

The Broncos break plenty of unwanted records in 2020, and if their start to this season has been any indication, they might break a few more in 2021.

Their first half in Week 1 was good, but they haven’t gone close to replicating it in three subsequent halves, and were thoroughly done by the Neds Titans in Round 2.

The Bulldogs are just beginning a rebuild and while some of their young talent is positive, I’m not sure that Trent Barrett is the right man to coach any side.

Excuses are already being made at Belmore, and they simply haven’t been in either of their two matches, really at any point.

The Bulldogs were the only side that the Broncos managed to topple after we returned from the COVID break in 2020, and I think they’re about the only side they can beat again this year.

Parramatta Eels vs Cronulla Sharks
Eels (-7.5)

Parramatta and Cronulla will face off in Saturday night’s primetime slot.

I’m a big pot on the Eels, but they have been excellent in the first two weeks of the season and deserve all of the praise that is currently going their way.

Last week’s effort was tough and convincing, and it result in a well-deserved win over the league’s benchmark and reigning champions, the Melbourne Storm.

Clint Gutherson is in career-best form, and he couldn’t have done a better job from the front last week. A similar performance would see the classy fullback almost beating the Sharks single-handedly.

I’m also a bit of a pot on the Sharks in 2021, but they won in Week 1 and were really only done by a credible Raiders side on Townsend’s boot last week.

All of that being said, an impressive win over the Storm is simply impossible to ignore and I am backing the Eels.

Newcastle Knights vs Wests Tigers
Knights (-9.5)

The Knights will look to keep alive their unbeaten start to the season when they take on the Tigers in Newcastle on Sunday.

They were understandably too good for the lowly Dogs in Week 1, but their performance and result over what I think to be a good Warriors side last week was very impressive.

Is this the year they finally put it all together? Who knows, but they couldn’t have enjoyed a better start.

We love our Wests Tigers, but it is becoming increasingly difficult to argue with what the Newcastle Knights are doing, and I think they face another huge task in winning this week.

They lost to the Raiders in Week 1, while there really isn’t much shame in suffering a big defeat to the Roosters this season, because I’m confident that most teams will.

North Queensland Cowboys vs Gold Coast Titans
Titans (-6.5)

For the second time in as many weeks, the Neds Titans will contest a Queensland Derby and for the second time in as many weeks, I think they’ll be winning.

The Cowboys look to be one of, if not the NRL’s basket case in 2021, and that was well and truly underlined by their performance and loss to the Dragons in Townsville last week.

They are largely one-dimensional and without going to hard, coach Todd Payton looks well and truly out of his depth, and on the verge of losing the locker room. There are a lot of parallels to be drawn between them and the 2020 Broncos.

The Neds Titans meanwhile opened their season account with a comfortable win over the Broncos, and they’ll only improve for that effort and against an arguably weaker opponent.