Penrith could heap further humiliation on Brisbane this week as the Broncos continue to flail. Here are The Wolf’s tips for Round 6 of the NRL season.
Penrith -27.5/South Sydney -17.5/Gold Coast ($5.25)
Panthers To Do a Job on Bad Broncos
Massacres have been all the talk in Rugby League this year and we are set for a doozy to kick off Round 6 when Penrith travel to Brisbane to tackle the Broncos.
These are two teams in two very different positions. The Panthers are a young team on the rise. They are playing with speed and plenty of it. Line speed is the best indicator of success and Penrith are as fast as any in the premiership. They play with relentless speed in attack. They are the best defensive team in the premiership. Brisbane by contrast are playing slow, confused and without impetus. They rank bottom five in both defence and scoring and that includes a comprehensive win over Canterbury.
We have highlighted the gap between the elite and the strugglers with the Top 6 teams from last year covering 12 of 14 when playing against Bottom 6 teams from last year with an average margin of 24.5. The Eels are the only ‘elite’ team not to cover and actually have a loss off the stick. Double digit favourites have covered 9 of 11 this year.
Kevin Walters has wielded the axe, dropping Anthony Milford and Tesi Niu. It hardly seems enough though against a Panthers team with so much firepower.
The Panthers hold their form off a big defensive showing. They have covered 17 of 25 off conceding 10 or fewer. They are also highly reliable as a big favourite, covering eight of nine when favoured by double digits. Brisbane have covered just 7 of 23 and just 3 of 9 getting double digits.
This has the potential to be highly embarrassing for the Broncos.
Same Game Multi: Brian To’o Try/Villiame Kikau Try/Jarome Luai Try ($8.75)
Knights To Give Sharks More Suffering
Weeks don’t come much more self-immolating than Cronulla’s, who have completely blown up their season in pursuit of a new coach. They got their man in Craig Fitzgibbon but the collateral damage has seen John Morris publicly humiliated before quitting. Josh Hannay will be the interim coach, who went 2-8 with the Cowboys last year.
It has been a disastrous week and could be about to get more disastrous when a Knights team desperate to get their season on track lines up at home as an underdog.
The Knights got Kalyn Ponga back last week and get a ton of talent back for Round 6 including Bradman Best, Jacob Saifiti and Kurt Mann, while Brayden Musgrove makes his debut on the wing.
The Sharks have lost Wade Graham and Josh Dugan with Briton Nikora the only notable inclusion.
Newcastle have won the last two against Cronulla and have covered four of the last six. They have covered 10 of 13 off a loss and are an excellent 11-4 against the spread at home off a double digit loss. They have covered six of seven off conceding 40-plus.
This is a big match for the Knights and back at home, they look excellent value.
Same Game Multi: Newcastle Win/Bradman Best Try/Kalyn Ponga Try ($8.75)
Depleted Roosters Won’t Be Roasted
The Roosters have been hit terribly hard by injury this year and they square up with a team that is masterful at exploiting weakness but the Chooks look a quality bet in what is an outstanding matchup on Friday night.
Trent Robinson’s team are getting a huge 8.5 points when travelling to Melbourne to tackle the Storm. To put that in context, the Roosters have been an outsider of more than a converted try just once in the last four seasons.
The Roosters have an outstanding record as an underdog. They have covered eight of nine as an outsider. They are also a team that really holds form. They have covered at 59% when off a win of more than one score.
There are obviously no knocks on Melbourne, who are almost at full strength and have an embarrassment of riches. The Roosters replacements though should not be underestimated. Sam Walker is a rising star, Drew Hutchinson is more than serviceable and Adam Keighran is an important man off the bench.
The start in this game is just too big for a team that possess the quality of the Roosters. These meetings have historically been low scoring – six of the last eight have not surpassed 30 combined points – so playing the big start is the way to bet this match.
Same Game Multi: Either Team 8 or Less/Brett Morris Try ($4.20)
Remember The Titans
Gold Coast have dominated the Sea Eagles in recent years and should be able to continue that record.
The Titans have won four of the last five against Manly including three straight at Brookvale. They have hit 32 points in four of those five and there is little question that this is the best Titans team to come to Brookvale, possibly ever.
Manly may have kept the Warriors to just 12 points last week but were conceding 39 points per game over the opening month. They get Tom Trbojevic back but it hardly looks enough as injuries take a significant toll.
The Sea Eagles have covered just three of nine off a win so aren’t renowned for holding form. Gold Coast have covered five of six as a favourite and are playing with their tails up. In their last three against non-elite teams, they have won by 12, 36 and 26.
Gold Coast should win and win well.
Same Game Multi: Gold Coast Win/Corey Thompson 2+ Tries/David Fifita Try ($12.00)
Bunnies to Blast Weak Wests
Elite teams have made a habit of thumping the struggling ones this season and this will be no exception. To the contrary, South Sydney laying just 18 points might be one of the better bets of the first six rounds.
This is a complete mismatch.
Top 6 teams against Bottom 6 teams are winning by an average of 24.5 points a game with 12 covers from 14 games. The Rabbitohs have covered 9 of 12 at ANZ and 20 of 31 when playing in Sydney off a double digit win. The Tigers have covered just 3 of 9 at ANZ and just 3 of 11 off a loss.
These teams are also operating in different spheres when it comes to form. Souths have won their last four by double digits, covering each. The Tigers have covered just once this year and are a bottom four defensive team. They come off one of the worst losses in club history, the team getting booed off the park by their home fans.
The numbers just don’t stack up for the Tigers.
Souths are only further strengthened by the return of Cody Walker. Michael Maguire is mercifully giving a debut to quality young rake Jake Simpkin but he is right into the fire here. The decision to play Asu Kepaoa in the centres is mind-boggling in its insanity.
The Bunnies and by plenty.
Same Game Multi: Cody Walker Try/Alex Johnston Try/Latrell Mitchell Try ($8.00)
Raiders Raring To Bounce Back
Canberra are just sliding under the radar this season but in need of a statement win, they should be ready to rumble with the Eels on Saturday night.
There are a lot of factors lining up for the Raiders here. Canberra have absolutely dominated Parramatta with 11 wins in the last 15 meetings. The Raiders have won nine straight against the Eels in Canberra with eight of those victories being by double digits.
Canberra have covered four straight at home off a double digit loss and this is a spot Ricky Stuart teams should bounce back in. Parramatta have covered just four of their last 14 interstate and just one of their last seven away from Bankwest. They have covered just five of 15 off a loss.
The loss of Dylan Brown for Parramatta should not be underestimated. He is the key playmaker for the Eels and one of the few Parramatta backs with legitimate firepower.
Anything short of a comfortable win would be a disappointment for the Raiders.
Same Game Multi: Canberra Win/Under 36.5/Jack Wighton Try ($9.75)
Warriors Primed for Saints Shock
It was not that long ago that St George Illawarra’s dominance of New Zealand was one of the great hoodoos in the NRL. That has all changed of late though with Warriors winning four of the last six. They can win again.
The Saints have been outstanding this year. No team has overachieved more with the preseason wooden spoon favourites winning four straight and now sitting in the Top 4. Three of those wins have come with the Dragons as big outsiders though. They now face the Warriors with the weight of expectation as the shortest favourites they have been in 2021.
The Dragons have not been very good when heavily favoured. They have covered just four of their last 12 when a favourite of more than a try. They have also covered just one of their last five at Kogarah.
The Warriors are in a spot they shine. They have covered 10 of their last 13 as an underdog and have covered 17 of 25 after being held to 13 or fewer.
This is a big test for both teams but more than comfortable taking the reliable outsider.
Same Game Multi: Adam Pompey Try/Matt Dufty Try ($6.00)
Bulldogs To Get Off Mark
Round 6 finishes off with what the purists would call a fizzer. The Bulldogs are winless. The Cowboys are firmly in the bottom four. This will not be one for the ages.
This is an excellent opportunity though for Canterbury to break their duck and get Trent Barrett his first win at Canterbury.
There are some very concerning numbers for the Cowboys. They have covered just one of their last 13 off scoring more than 26 points. They have covered just three of their last nine off a win. They have covered just three of 12 when favoured by more than a try.
North Queensland have had the best of Canterbury in recent years but the Bulldogs are arguably more desperate and it is impossible to consider laying more than a converted try for a team that has Ben Hampton at halfback.
Same Game Multi: Scott Drinkwater Try/Jake Averillo Try ($15.75)