There are plenty of big home underdogs in Round 2 and Cronulla are certainly the best of them. Here are The Wolf’s tips for Round 2 of the NRL season.
Melbourne/New Zealand +1.5/Canterbury +16.5 ($5.05)
Grinder To Open Round 2
Melbourne were without question the most impressive team in Round 1, overcoming the departure of Cameron Smith and a number of key injuries to blow the highly-credentialed South Sydney team out of the water.
It was a far different story for Parramatta. They were downright awful in the first half against defending wooden spooners Brisbane, heading to the break 0-16 before a second half comeback saw the Eels run out victors 24-16.
Neither team has any notable injury concerns. The Storm will send out the same 17 as last week while the Eels are boosted by Marate Niukore returning in place of new recruit Keegan Hipgrave.
Early season home underdogs have an excellent record. Those getting more than a try have covered 49 of 70 dating back to 2008. That is somewhat offset, somewhat, by the Eels’ dreadful record against the Storm and their poor showing as outsiders.
Melbourne have won 10 of the last 13 against Parramatta and that domination has seen the Storm hit 32 in three of their last four. In their last 13 meetings, Melbourne have astonishingly scored 64 on two occasions.
The Eels have been particularly poor as an underdog, covering just 8 of 23 when getting a try or more since 2017. In Sydney in such a spot, Parramatta have failed to cover their last five.
The strong angle though is the under in this one. It has hit in six of the last eight Storm-Eels games with Parramatta, in particular, struggling to score in these clashes. The under is 16-10 when Melbourne are off conceding 18-plus points while it has hit in 8 of 12 Eels games at Bankwest.
Same Game Multi: Melbourne Win/Under 19.5 2nd Half Points/Ryan Papenhuyzen Try ($6.50)
Warriors No Worries
The Nathan Brown era has gotten off to a fine start at the Warriors with a tremendous showing in their season opener, knocking off the Gold Coast as a small underdog.
Remarkably, the Warriors have opened this week against the Knights as a small outsider. They will likely jump favourite.
Newcastle ran away with it against Canterbury but were patchy and enter this with a number of injury concerns with centre Bradman Best and five-eighth Kurt Mann needing to pass late-week fitness tests after picking up injuries. Both are in significant doubt.
The Warriors should absolutely be favoured in this one. The Warriors have an outstanding record against the Knights, winning 17 of the last 24 with 16 covers in that stretch. They have an outstanding record at Gosford, covering 10 of 11 including 7 of 8 as an underdog. They have covered seven on the trot in afternoon/twilight games and they have covered five on end off a win.
The Knights, by contrast, are poor away from McDonald Jones Stadium and have covered just one of nine off a win.
New Zealand are going to be extremely hard to beat.
Same Game Multi: New Zealand Win/David Fusitua 2+ Tries ($10.75)
Unders the Play in Low-Scoring Derby
In what is an exceptionally rare scenario, the Gold Coast Titans enter the South East Queensland Derby as not only a favourite but a heavy one and shortening further. Such is the state of Rugby League in 2021.
The Titans opened by 6.5 point favourite against the Broncos and the line has already moved to 7.5.
It is starting to look a touch big. Brisbane showed some spirit in jumping to an early lead against the Eels before being run down. The Titans really struggled against a Warriors team that showed plenty of resilience.
The numbers are not overly kind to the Broncos but they have dominated this rivalry and have never lost three on the trot in its 15-year history. They are also a big underdog not undertaking serious travel. The Titans just cannot be take as a big favourite though with just four covers in their last 11 as a home favourite.
The under looks to offer some value though. It is 45-31 when there is a non-interstate underdog of more than a converted try in the first four round. It has hit in 8 of 12 night games on the Gold Coast. It has also lobbed in four of the last six Broncos-Titans games. At a high number the under looks the play.
Same Game Multi: Under 41.5/Brisbane +7.5/Time of Last Try 8 mins or Later ($5.50)
Baz Inside Knowledge to Help Dogs
Former Penrith assistant Trent Barrett took over the head coaching job at Canterbury this season and it may be enough to help Canterbury to an above-expectation performance against his former team.
The Panthers decimated the Bulldogs 42-0 when the teams met last but that was at the backend of last year when Penrith were flying and the Bulldogs were consigned to purgatory. These are very different circumstances and Barrett’s understanding of the Panthers and their strengths looks key here.
The Panthers almost certainly win this game but a line of 16.5 points is almost unprecedented. Only once since 2008 has a team in the first three rounds of the season received 16 points. The Tigers beat the Storm that night off the stick. The number is just too big.
Early season home underdogs provide a great edge. The Bulldogs are also 26-12 against the spread getting more than a converted try in Sydney. Penrith have covered just five of their last 15 as a favourite away from Penrith Stadium and just two of 10 when favoured by more than four points.
Canterbury’s defence will need to improve but they should be able to keep this within a roar.
Same Game Multi: Canterbury +16.5/Charlie Staines Try/Nick Cotric Try ($11.75)
Manly to Bounce Back at Brookie
Wayne Bennett wasted no time in wielding the axe. Despite losing to the premiers by only eight points, Bennett has dumped new recruits Josh Mansour and Jacob Host after just a single game. The Supercoach is not showing a lot of patience.
Bennett may be trying to set some notable standards. He may also have an itchy trigger finger.
Des Hasler has resisted the temptation to make wholesale changes after Manly were humiliated by the Roosters in Round 1. Cade Cust comes onto the bench and Andrew Davey is set to start but the team that was embarrassed mostly gets a crack at redemption. That is typically a formula for success. Home underdogs of 8 or more points off conceding 40-plus cover at a very respectable 61%.
The Sea Eagles are usually reliable home underdogs at Brookvale. They have covered 11 of 17 at the venue as an underdog. They have also covered all three since 2017 when an underdog at the ground off allowing 40 points.
Manly are a different team at Brookvale and off the back of a humiliation, significant improvement is on the cards.
Same Game Multi: Manly +10.5/Curtis Sironen Try ($8.50)
Saints To Clip Cows
Todd Payten certainly made headlines across Round 1 when he decided to both restrict Jason Taumalolo’s minutes and then call him out for setting a poor example. It is a highly risky proposition. Looking at how the Cowboys have responded to hard coaching in recent years, the smart money is that it will not work out.
Payten has stuck with the team that lost 24-0 to Penrith, a team that he thought could have been rolled by 50.
St George Illawarra welcome back Corey Norman while Cody Ramsey will need to pass a fitness test to play.
The Dragons certainly had patches of shoddiness in their opener against the Sharks in Round 1 but they have a side that can worry the Cowboys, particularly Matt Dufty, whose speed is a major threat to poor defensive outfits.
St George Illawarra cover at 57% as an underdog and are good travelers. The value in this one resides with the Saints.
Same Game Multi: St George Illawarra Win/Matt Dufty Try ($4.50)
Roosters Rampage Coming
There is arguably no bigger domination of one team over the other over the last 15 years than that of the Roosters over the Tigers.
It has been a completely one-sided affair. Trent Robinson’s team have won 18 of the last 20. Nine of those wins have been by 22-plus points. In the last 22 meetings, the Roosters have covered 19 of those. The average margin of victory over that time is 14.7 points.
Based on Round 1 showings, the gap between these two is not close. The Roosters downed Manly with a leg in the air. The Tigers were ill-disciplined and threw the towel in too easily against Canberra.
The Roosters have covered 9 of 13 away from the SCG and have covered six of their last seven off posting 40 points so they clearly hold form. The Tigers are notably poor in day games, covering just 13 of 33.
The stars are aligning for a big Roosters win.
Same Game Multi: Luke Keary Try/James Tedesco Try/Brett Morris Try ($14.50)
There are plenty of big home underdogs in Round 2 and Cronulla are certainly the best of them.
The Sharks have already shortened up after opening as 7.5-point underdogs against the Raiders. It would not be surprising if they jumped at shorter than a converted try.
The Raiders are unchanged. The Sharks have Mawene Hiroti coming in for the suspended Jesse Ramien.
Home underdogs of a try or more in the first four rounds of the year are 49-21 against the number dating back to 2008 and the Sharks cover at 58% when an underdog of four or more points.
Canberra are just 6-7 against the number when favoured on the road.
Cronulla are a veteran team with the size to match Canberra’s aggressive forwards. They should be able to keep this tight and can certainly win this one.
Same Game Multi: Cronulla Win/Ronaldo Mulitalo ($4.75)