We’re a month into the new season and slowly, the NRL ladder is beginning to take a familiar shape.
The Panthers remain undefeated, the Storm and the Eels are beginning to look the goods, and the Roosters, Sea Eagles and co. are steadily beginning to work themselves into the picture.
I’ve run the rule over all eight matches this coming weekend, and you can find my complete NRL Round 5 Tips below.
Betting suggests the contest of the round will come up between the Knights and Sea Eagles on Thursday night.
The Knights’ smart start to the season appears to be a distant memory, and they are looking down the barrel of a third-consecutive loss this week. They were somewhat competitive against a Sharks side that looks to be pretty good in 2022, last week, but their inability to get on the board was concerning.
For the hype that surrounds their premiership credentials, the Sea Eagles have weather another slow start to that season. That did appear to be turning around, but the loss of star fullback and reigning Dally M Medallist Tom Trbojevic for at least a month is obviously an enormous blow.
Like the bookies, I can’t split them, so I’m staying away from match betting.
Betting also suggests that the first game of Friday will be an arm wrestle, and I tend to agree with the bookies again!
The Warriors don’t look like anything of a premiership threat this season, and they’ve lacked the flare and excitement that they have sometime been known for in recent season, but they have won two of four matches, and they were unlucky not to beat the Titans in Round 2.
The Cowboys were bad, then looked good, and then were really bad again in Round 4. Similarly to the Sea Eagles, they’ll be without a genuine gun in Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow for at least a few weeks, and that won’t be beneficial for what was a pretty one-dimensional attack last week.
Again, I’m going to stay away from match betting and the line.
The Broncos have come crashing back down to earth, and things won’t get any easier when the resurgent Roosters visit Suncorp Stadium on Friday night.
First, it was heavy loss to the Cowboys at home in Round 3, and that performance and result was compounded when they suffered another to an only fair Warriors outfit in Round 4. With all of their off-field problems this week, coupled with injuries to Albert Kelly and Pat Carrigan, it’s tough imagining how they can possibly turn it around in Round 5.
The Roosters weren’t great during the first couple of weeks of the new season, but they’ve improved noticeably with each hit-out, and they put paid to the Cowboys last week, who as previously mentioned, put paid to the Broncos the week prior.
That form all lines up to me, and the Roosters can win this one easily.
A mismatch looks like materialising on Saturday afternoon, when the Raiders host the Storm.
I personally don’t rate the Raiders in 2022, and I thought that all of their weaknesses were exposed by a Manly side who is yet to be anything near their best, in Round 4. This is a ‘home’ game for them, but it will actually be contested in Wagga, and that is another genuine hit to their chances.
For their abilities, I thought that the Storm were a little shaky through the first three Rounds, but they were nearly back to their best in a pleasing 44-0 thrashing of the Bulldogs in Round 4. They are flying high, and I am confident that they will dominate this match as well.
One of the league’s most historic rivalries reignites on Saturday when the Rabbitohs play host to the Dragons.
More than a century of games have been contested between these two clubs and recently, regardless of form, not a lot has separated them when they’ve gone toe-to-toe.
Neither side is yet to make an enormous impression in 2022, but the Bunnies did manage to topple the Roosters for their one win this season, and their draw has been reasonably difficult.
The Dragons are also 1-3, and they were given a real touch-up by the Eels in Round 4, leaking a total of 48 points – the most conceded in any one game in 2022.
I think that both will be eager to and can bounce back this week, and I don’t have as much between them head-to-head as the bookies seem to.
The Parramatta Eels can continue their resurgence at the expense of the Gold Coast Titans on Saturday night.
I’m still going to have to see it to believe it when we finally reach the finals this year, but the Eels have returned another competitive start to the season, and they just keep improving with each match. They returned a strong effort to sink the Storm in Round 3, and they absolutely thrashed the Dragons last week, who look to be on par with a club like the Titans this year.
The Titans did put 28 points on Parramatta in a losing Round 1 effort, and they’ve won two of three matches since, without looking particularly incredible. They enter this after playing their roll in the worst match of the year, perhaps of all time, and enormous improvement would be required for them to even challenge this week.
A lot has changed in a month, and I think that the Eels will absolutely cruise to victory in Round 5.
Akin to Comic Book Guy on The Simpsons, last Thursday night's game between the Titans and Tigers was the "WORST GAME EVER." according to @JaredTimms and @Jharalyowyeh5…or was it? #NRL pic.twitter.com/CaNiUDkRVx
— Neds (@NedsAus) April 4, 2022
The biggest mismatch of the round could very well come up in the Shire on Sunday afternoon, when a genuine top four threat, the Sharks, host a genuine wooden spoon threat, the Tigers.
They already look a vastly improved side under Craig Fitzgibbon, and the Sharks are unlucky not to step out in Round 5 undefeated. We’ll call the Week 1 loss to the Raiders rust, and they’ve continued to improve with each match, beating a couple of handy clubs in the wake.
Wests’ best chance of winning looked like coming up in Round 4, and despite being in the match and in a winning position against the Titans, they still managed to lose.
Simply put, the Tigers will not be turning it around against the Sharks.
In a Round that begins with a few matches that genuinely look like falling either way, the quality of contest drops off enormously on Sunday, and the Panthers will surely destroy the Bulldogs.
Penrith are the only team that remains undefeated in 2022, while the Bulldogs are one of only two clubs to have already leaked more than 40 points in a match.
That is all.