NRL Round 5 Tips & Preview

The NRL Premiership season is now in full flight and just two teams remain undefeated in 2021.

The Rabbitohs are not one of them, but you’d be forgiven for thinking that they were given their short-priced favouritism to beat the Broncos in Round 5’s opener on Thursday night.

The Panthers will seek to keep alive their unbeaten start at the expense of Canberra in Friday night’s primetime clash, while the Eels will attempt to maintain the pressure at the top of the table by beating the overachieving Dragons on Sunday.

South Sydney Rabbitohs vs Brisbane Broncos
Souths (-20.5)

Round 5 of the NRL Premiership season picks up where Round 4 left off, with yet another big mismatch between the Rabbitohs and the Broncos.

Souths enter this match off the back of a 38-0 thrashing of the Bulldogs; a result that always appeared likely, and a result that could very well be replicated on Thursday.

The Broncos meanwhile proved that their Round 3 win over the Bulldogs was actually just an exception to the rule, when they were brutalised by Ryan Papenhuyzen and the Melbourne Storm, and they face a similar prospect in Souths’ multi-dimensional attack.

Understandably, betting suggests that this will be the most one-sided match of the round, and I think that the Bunnies will comfortably cover 20.5 points.

New Zealand Warriors vs Manly Sea Eagles
Sea Eagles (+7.5)

An intriguing match between the Warriors and the Sea Eagles is first cab off the rank on Friday night.

On face value and on what each club has achieved in the early stages of the 2021 season, it looks to be an open and shut case – the Warriors will record a comfortable win and that is that.

I’m not so sure.

The Warriors have recorded two wins from their four matches, but it has once again been impossible to trust them, and that was underlined last week when they failed to go with a Roosters side that is plagued with injury.

The week prior, they were lucky to sneak home over the Raiders after trailing at the break, and they strike me as the sort of side that won’t give Manly the respect that they deserve this week.

The Sea Eagles do remain winless and it’s tough to trust a side that hasn’t tasted victory, but I think that they can be competitive against an opponent like this one.

Penrith Panthers vs Canberra Raiders
Panthers (-7.5)

Friday night’s primetime game will see a couple of competition heavyweights go toe-to-toe at the foot of the mountains.

The Panthers are flying, and they enter Round 5 on top of the ladder having won four of four, scoring 110 points and conceding just 16.

They understandably proved far too good for Manly last week, and they will be an extremely difficult prospect for every other NRL side in 2021.

The Raiders have been plodding long, winning three matches and losing one, but there is no doubt that they have been far less convincing than their Round 5 opponents – everyone has been.

I’m going to continue backing to Panthers until they give me a reason not to.

Gold Coast Titans vs Newcastle Knights
Brimson Anytime Try ($2.25)

The Neds Titans return home on Saturday afternoon and will be confident of reversing their fortunes against the seemingly down-and-out Knights.

The Titans will lament not taking advantage of their chances, albeit against a very impressive Raiders’ defence in Round 4, but with a fresh week, so too comes fresh prospects of winning.

I have absolutely no doubt that when the penny completely drops, the Titans will be a top six side, and they can begin their climb this week.

The Knights have lost Mitchell Pearce for the foreseeable future and after beginning the season impressively, they are now staring down the barrel off a third-consecutive loss.

I don’t think that there is a whole lot more to say, and the Titans are deserving of their firm favouritism.

Canterbury Bulldogs vs Melbourne Storm
Storm (-27.5)/Papenhuyzen Anytime ($2.50)

LOL.

Melbourne at the line is my best bet of the week, if not the season. I’m going to add Papenhuyzen to score a try at any time to increase my quote.

Sydney Roosters vs Cronulla Sharks
Roosters (-7.5)

The Roosters will look to strengthen their position in the Top 4 at the expense of the Sharks on Saturday evening.

When Luke Keary when down with a season-ending injury in Round 3, the race to the Premiership seemed all but done for the Roosters.

Fast forward a matter of days, and the emergence of young gun and NRL blueblood, Sam Walker. Walker stepped into the Roosters halves last weekend and steered the side around with the confidence of a 150 gamer.

A very exciting prospect for Australian rugby league indeed and seemingly, for the Roosters’ faithful in 2021.

The Sharks have probably overachieved, certainly for where I thought they’d be in 2021, and they made light work of the lowly Cowboys in Round 4.

This is a completely different kettle of fish though, and I think they’ll struggle to compete for the full eighty.

Wests Tigers vs North Queensland Cowboys
Tigers (-9.5)

A terrific opportunity awaits Wests Tigers (proudly sponsored by Neds) on Sunday afternoon when the winless Cowboys roll into Leichardt.

The Tigers have played with the fight and spirit that we have grown to love this season, they’ve merely run into plenty of high-quality opponents and haven’t been able to get the W more often than not.

In my opinion, they’ve actually been one of the better sides of the last two weeks – their impressive win over the Knights was franked with another competitive effort against the Eels on Monday, which saw them trailing by just 2 points with five minutes remaining.

The Cowboys, however, have been nothing short of awful, and barring the Bulldogs and perhaps the Sea Eagles, I’m really not sure who they will beat in 2021.

It certainly won’t be our Tigers.

Parramatta Eels vs St George Illawarra Dragons
Eels (-9.5)

Round 5 concludes in Sydney’s west on Sunday afternoon with what shapes as a great contest between the Parramatta Eels and the St George Illawarra Dragons.

The Eels have once again flown the barriers, and they are one of just two sides that are yet to taste defeat in 2021.

They were given a scare by the Tigers on Monday, but they ultimately iced the result and it’s onwards and upwards towards the Dragons.

St George have easily been the NRL’s surprise packets through the first four weeks of competition, and have recorded three impressive victories, each better than the last.

There’s no doubt that this is the real acid test for them, but I’m confident that they are still a step below the league’s top sides.