Melbourne are in the perfect spot to open Round 3 in winning style in the Grand Final rematch. Here are The Wolf’s tips for Round 3 of the NRL season.
Melbourne/Sydney Roosters/Newcastle -9.5 ($5.78)
Storm Off a Loss Always Hard To Beat
There is no worse time to meet the Melbourne Storm than when they are off a loss but that is exactly the situation Penrith are facing in a replay of last year’s Grand Final.
The Storm have covered seven of their last nine off a loss and they are an excellent 10-5 against the number when playing at night off a loss. They are particularly strong off a poor attacking performance where they were restricted to 12 points or fewer. They are 12-6 against the number in that spot and have topped 30 in eight of those matches.
The Storm have a tremendous record against the Panthers. They won the Grand Final relatively comfortably despite the final score and have now won 19 of the last 22 meetings. They have saluted in six of the last seven at Panthers Stadium.
Both sides will be without key players with Panthers star Nathan Cleary to miss with concussion and Ryan Papenhuyzen out with a neck injury. Melbourne have also lost Felise Kaufusi to suspension.
Remarkably, the Panthers have not conceded a point through two games and are clearly among the top echelon of teams but this is Melbourne off a loss and that might be a bridge too far for Penrith.
Same Game Multi: Melbourne Win/Under 38.5 Total Points/Justin Olam Try ($10.25)
Dragons Ready To Burn Busted Eagles
Manly went all in on building a roster like the Melbourne Storm, investing in three big players and surrounding them with rising young talent and optimising the right journeyman.
That is three strikes.
Tom Trbojevic is hurt again. His brother is playing an unsuitable role and he is doing it poorly. Daly Chery-Evans cannot get out of his own way. There is very little young talent coming through. The roster is both poorly constructed at the lower tiers with very little contribution coming from the bit players.
This is before injuries and Des Hasler’s madness are factored in. Dylan Walker at fullback, Lachlan Croker at hooker and now Josh Schuster in the back row are just the latest iterations.
St George Illawarra may have been flattered by the win in Townsville against the Cowboys but this is not a team on its knees like Manly. If anything, they may well be seeing some light following Ben Hunt’s best performance as a Dragon.
The Dragons have dominated the Sea Eagles, winning 18 of 26 including seven on end in Wollongong. Five of those wins have been by more than three converted tries.
A real Dragons rout would not surprise in the slightest. They have more punch and are playing better football than a Sea Eagles team that has seemingly imploded.
Same Game Multi: St George Illawarra Win/Matt Dufty Try/Cody Ramsey Try ($5.25)
The Roosters don’t have to look too far back for inspiration to drive them in 2021. They will simply look back to that fateful night in the final round of the regular season last year when arch-rivals South Sydney put 60 on them in what was a complete humiliation for a club used to so much success.
They have wasted no time trying to atone. They have absolutely decimated Manly and the Wests Tigers in their opening two games, posting 40-plus in each. Brett Morris has scored a hat-trick in each. Luke Keary and James Tedesco are arguably the two form players of the competition. They are playing with a slickness rarely seen this time of year.
It has all been laser-focused on ensuring they win this and win it with a statement.
Souths have lost no admirers through two rounds but they are not playing at the level of the Roosters at present.
The Roosters get a massive boost this week with Angus Crichton returning from suspension and Victor Radley making his comeback from injury. Souths have Adam Reynolds in doubt while Jaxson Paulo is out.
The Roosters have covered 7 of the last 11 against the Rabbitohs and most importantly they are a team that holds form. They have covered 7 of 8 off scoring 40-plus and 9 of 13 off conceding six or fewer.
Confidence is high on the Roosters this week.
Same Game Multi: Sydney Roosters Win/Brett Morris Try/James Tedesco Try ($4.00)
Wounded Warriors To Keep It Close
The Warriors proved in 2020 they are, if nothing else, resilient. That will keep them going for much of 2021 with a legitimate hope of playing finals football.
They are going to need all of that character this week when they travel to Canberra to meet the Raiders as big outsiders without their halfback Chanel Harris-Tavita and outstanding young prop Jamayne Taunoa-Brown.
It is a tough ask but the Warriors are up to it and can absolutely cover the big start. They have covered 9 of 10 as an underdog while they are a very good 8-3 against the number off a loss. They have also covered five straight when getting a start of 8-plus points.
Canberra welcome back skipper Jarrod Croker but his form has been in such decline he may actually be a downgrade on Sebastian Kris. The Raiders have really only played a single good half this year and this is not a spot that favours them. Canberra have covered just 19 of 46 at Canberra Stadium while they have covered just 8 of 22 day games at the ground.
This game will likely be played with a good deal of conservatism and through the middle, all of which suits the Warriors and should see them cover this big, big start.
Same Game Multi: New Zealand +10.5/Adam Pompey Try ($6.75)
Broncos To Sink Further
Bettors have the less-than-ideal prospect this week of taking the rock or the hard place when betting this one.
Brisbane and Canterbury both managed just three wins apiece last year and occupied the bottom two places on the ladder. It is hard to argue that either have improved significantly.
The Broncos have now lost 13 on the trot and were humiliated by the Gold Coast last week. The Bulldogs failed to post a point against the Panthers after being well beaten by Newcastle.
Brisbane coach Kevin Walters continues to belligerently refuse to drop one of the halves for the promising Tom Dearden while it is astonishing Corey Oates is not starting on a wing. Canterbury have lost Raymond Faitala-Mariner to a broken foot while Dallin Watene-Zelezniak has been suspended.
The Broncos have won just a single game in their last 20 matches, a truly astonishing run, yet they start favoured in this one. Canterbury have covered 10 of their last 16 off a loss of 20 or more. The outsider is the only way to bet this match.
Same Game Multi: Canterbury Win/Adam Elliot Try ($8.25)
Sharks No Pushover
The disrespect being shown to Cronulla this year continues with the Sharks massive outsiders against Parramatta. The Sharks have covered their first two games of the season and should make it three on the trot here.
Cronulla opened up 8-point outsiders against the Raiders last week but it was only some poor kicking from Chad Townsend that cost what would have been a famous win for the Sharks.
Parramatta certainly impressed last week, upsetting Melbourne at home in very wet conditions.
This does strike as a flat spot for the Eels, coming off such a bruising encounter on a heavy track with such emotion invested in the game. The Eels have also lost key forward Ryan Matterson, really stretching a roster that is not known for its depth.
The Sharks have a hefty list of outs but they have improved their side by playing Connor Tracey in the centres over Marwene Hiroti.
Cronulla have won and covered six of their last eight against the Eels and Parramatta have a downright horrific record as a big favourite, covering just 5 of 24 when favoured by a converted try or more. The number is too big and Cronulla have the side to win this off the stick.
Same Game Multi: Cronulla +7.5/Will Kennedy Try ($5.50)
Knights of The Big Win
The Wests Tigers have been utterly horrific through two weeks and coach Michael Maguire is scrambling for answers.
He has rightly dropped Joey Leilua after his disastrous lack of effort last week. It is surprising that more weren’t axed, including beleaguered half Luke Brooks.
This would typically be a spot that one would expect the Tigers to really dig in but it doesn’t look like that will be the case. The Tigers have been very poor as a big underdog, covering just three of 11 getting more than an 8-point start in NSW, while they have covered just 5 of 15 getting more than a try.
That is to say nothing of the widening gulf between the haves and the have nots in the NRL, along with Newcastle’s recent dominance where they posted 40-plus in both clashes last year.
The Knights have an aggressive pack and typically beat up on poor teams at home, making this a prime spot to jump all over Newcastle winning by a big number.
Same Game Multi: Bradman Best Try/Tex Hoy Try/Connor Watson Try ($30.50)
Queensland Derby Shapes as Low Scorer
The pressure is certainly heaping down on North Queensland. The team has failed miserably the last few years and Todd Payten has endured plenty of pain through two games. The vinegar has well and truly been applied. It would be surprising if the Cowboys, even without star Jason Taumalolo, were not up for this.
That most likely manifests itself in an improved defensive showing. The suspension of Kyle Feldt plugs one glaring defensive weakness for the Cowboys.
The Titans got the job done against the hapless Broncos but didn’t produce a lot other than more will. The loss of Ash Taylor this week will do nothing to improve their attack.
There is no interest in jumping on the Titans laying points. They have a poor record against the Cowboys and have covered just two of their last nine off a double digit win.
The top play in this game is the under. The under is 13-9 when the Cowboys are a home underdog including 7-3 when they are getting more than a try. The under is 9-6 when the Titans are favoured. The under has hit in three straight Cowboys-Titans games.
This has the hallmarks of a low-scoring game and the under can be played with confidence.
Same Game Multi: Valentine Holmes Try/David Fifita Try ($5.50)