The 2021 NRL season continues to produce the goods and we will be treated to eight intriguing games this weekend.
The Canterbury Bulldogs beating the Cronulla Sharks has proven that anything can happen in the NRL this season and we might still see some more upsets in round 8.
I’m confident that I can find a stack of winners this weekend and there is some serious value on offer!
How good are the South Sydney Rabbitohs?
There is no team in sport that I enjoy watching more at the moment.
They gave the Gold Coast Titans a big head start last Friday night after a poor first half and they were still able to run them down, while putting up a big score in the process.
In contrast, the Canberra Raiders now look like something of a club in crisis.
Even a spray from Ricky Stuart wasn’t enough to get them home against the North Queensland Cowboys and this is a much tougher challenge.
I’d love to see the Rabbitohs put up another big score and I think that they are a good bet to do exactly that.
Just when I thought that the Cronulla Sharks couldn’t sink any lower, they managed to lose to the Canterbury Bulldogs.
The Sharks board might have actually done John Morris a favour.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – the Sharks need to be sent to Perth ASAP.
This young Melbourne Storm outfit continue to produce the goods and the return of Harry Grant has been outstanding to see.
The Storm have won their past four games by 13 points or more and a repeat looks on the cards here, while the Over has amazingly saluted in 15 of the Shark’s last 16 away games.
Get on the Storm and get on the Over.
The mighty Neds Gold Coast Titans have been treated kindly to by the NRL draw this weekend and I am confident that we will be able to end our losing streak against the Brisbane Broncos.
The Titans may not have been able to come away with the two points against the South Sydney Rabbitohs, but there was still plenty to like about their performance and I remain convinced that they are a side heading places.
The Broncos were unable to replicate their tough defensive effort against the Penrith Panthers when they took on the Parramatta Eels in Darwin and they once again conceded plenty of points.
Their defence continues to be incredibly fragile on both edges and the likes of Corey Thompson, AJ Brimson and Anthony Don could have an absolute field day.
There is no player more important to his team’s week to week performance than Tom Trbojevic.
The Manly Sea Eagles looked like genuine wooden spoon contenders without him and potential premiership dark horses with him back in the side.
In saying that, the Penrith Panthers represent a completely different challenge than the Gold Coast Titans and the Wests Tigers.
The Panthers are playing within themselves and they are still unbeaten.
It is crazy to think how good they could be when they step it up and I wouldn’t be shocked if they were able to do that this weekend.
The Sea Eagles generally aren’t a good team when they go down early and I think this could end up being a heavy defeat if they are unable to go with the firing Panthers early.
I still can’t believe it.
The Canterbury Bulldogs actually won a game of Rugby League.
Does that mean Trent Barrett is actually a good coach and the Bulldogs are in the middle of a resurgence?
Say what you will about the Parramatta Eels, and I have done, but they generally win the games they should and they are deserving of their status as dominant favourites for this clash.
To be honest, this is the most uninspiring game of the round and I think it will be a dour affair.
The last nine night matches between these two sides have gone Under the Total Points line and that looks like a fairly safe bet here.
Are the Newcastle Knights actually any good?
The jury is still very much out.
Kalyn Ponga is a gun and Connor Watson might be the most underrated player in the NRL, but there just feels like there is something missing from this side.
They are able to go with teams for short periods, but they just don’t have the firepower to match it with the best sides in the competition over 80 minutes.
I was worried how the Sydney Roosters would respond to losing Luke Keary, but the emergence of Sam Walker means that they haven’t really missed a beat.
I still think they might be found wanting come finals time without Keary in the side, but I remain very confident they are a top four side and will have no problem putting away this Knights outfit.
The New Zealand Warriors and North Queensland Cowboys will do battle in the Todd Payten Derby.
I’ve been critical of Todd Payten this season but, just like they did with the Warriors, his methods do seem to be working with the Cowboys.
They showed plenty of character to come from behind against the Canberra Raiders last weekend and that is a victory that they will take plenty of confidence from.
It remains tough to know what to make of the New Zealand Warriors, but we’ve been saying that since they entered the competition in 1995.
They generally play well against the best teams in the NRL, but their record as favourites is a joke.
They have won only seven of their play nine games as favourites and punters who have taken them on in this scenario have had an absolute fill-up.
One thing we can expect from this game is plenty of points.
Whilst they have improved in attack, defence is still an issue for the Cowboys and you always fill confident backing the Over in a Warriors game.
The pressure is on both these teams heading into the final game of the round.
The gloss has come off the St George Illawarra Dragons somewhat following their strong start to the season, while Wests Tigers coach Michael Maguire is now in the hotseat.
I remain confident that the Tigers are a better side than their current record suggests and I think at one point this season they will go on a genuine run.
Whether that run starts this weekend I am not convinced, but there is still one bet I really like in this fixture.
The Under has saluted in six of the past seven games played between these two sides and I’m expecting to see another fairly sloppy affair in this clash.