Mon, Mar 12, 11:24am by Staff Writer
Round 1 of the 2018 NRL brought all the big hits, incredible tries, shocks and surprises as is expected of the most competitive tournament in the world. The Rugby League World Cup gave fans a little entertainment in the off-season but there is nothing quite like the NRL for explosive rivalries on and off the field.
North Queensland began the in the mix as contenders for a possible Grand Final win in 2018, but hastily moved to the top of the pile on the back of an impressive win over Cronulla. The return of Johnathan Thurston and Matt Scott from injury highlighted just how dangerous this Cowboys side could be this year. They stand as favourites at $5.50. Cronulla’s task for the year simply gets harder as they dropped to $15.
Despite a shock loss to Wests Tigers, hopes remain high for the Sydney Roosters this season. They match the Cowboys on $5.50 but have plenty to work on heading into Round 2 if they are to match their potential. The Roosters failed to capitalise on the time Wests spent down to 12 men with Luke Brooks in the bin. A disappointing opening Round will have left Roosters fans with lots of questions surrounding their star-studded side.
Reigning Premiers, Melbourne, kicked off their year in Perth with 36-18 victory over the Bulldogs. A dominant performance in defence and attack saw the Storm build the pressure on Canterbury and take their chances when they arose. The loss of Cooper Cronk to the Roosters appeared not to have affected the squad as they look for back to back titles at $6.
It appears everybody else is playing a game of catch up with the top three. Five clubs all stand at $15, well off the pace but still the closest to possibly rival them.
Penrith Panthers turned around a half time deficiet to come out on top of their rivals, Parramatta. With both of those sides hoping to be in contention for the top eight, this was a crucial win to start the year. The Eels will rue their defensive lapses in the second half but showed enough in the first that they will pose difficulties for many teams this season.
The Dragons and Broncos also stand at $15 and fought it out on Thursday night. It was St George-Illawarra who came out on top as they dominated Brisbane throughout the match. Former Bronco Ben Hunt put in a man of the match performance to steer his new club to victory in the opening Round.
Surprise wins for the Titans and Warriors did little to affect their odds of winning a Premiership but they certainly signalled an intent not to be fighting for the wooden spoon this year. The Gold Coast produced an inspired second half performance to overcome the Raiders whilst the Warriors just had too much fire power for South Sydney.
NRL 2018 Outright Markets – Sportsbet
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