Wed, Mar 7, 12:28pm by Staff Writer
The NRL is back. The world’s best rugby league tournament resumes with reigning Premiers, Melbourne Storm looking for back to back titles. Whilst the rest will all be aiming to knock the Victorians off their pedestal.
St George Illawarra Dragons v Brisbane Broncos, Thursday 8th March 2018, 7.50pm
The Dragons missed out on Finals on the last weekend of the regular season in 2017. Something that will have hurt the club and they will need to improve if they are to make Finals this year. The addition of English prop James Graham has added a wealth of experience up front alongside his ball carrying ability. At home in the opening Round, St George should be able to squeeze past the Broncos at $1.80.
With few stand out players signed in the off-season, it will be a familiar line up for the Broncos. As always, the Brisbane outfit will be a threat to the Premiership with the winning culture established by coach Wayne Bennett. Priced at $2 they will need to match the Dragons up the middle against their pack.
Bet of the Match – St George to Win by 1-12 at $3.10
Newcastle Knights v Manly Sea Eagles, Friday 9th March 2018, 6pm
Newcastle were the beneficiaries of the half back merry-go-round that occurred over the off season, as they landed the current NSW State of Origin halfback Mitchell Pearce. It is hoped his presence will help guide the club from the bottom of the table to the top eight. This match will set the tone for the year and they need a win at home before they face six of the next seven games away from home.
On the northern beaches, all of the pressure this season will be on Daly Cherry-Evans as Manly look to continue their improvement in recent years. A first Finals appearance since 2014 last season brought the good times back to Brookvale and they will be aiming to kick start their year against the much-fancied Knights.
These two can’t be separated at $1.90.
Bet of the Match – Manly to Win by 1-12 at $3.25
Nth Queensland Cowboys v Cronulla Sharks, Friday 9th March 2018, 7.50pm
Last season’s beaten Grand Finalists will want to go one better in 2018. An injury ravaged season did not stop them from performing when it mattered the most. The return to fitness of several of their key players including Johnathan Thurston should boost the Cowboys squad. At $1.50 they will be looking to start their year on a high.
2016 Premiers Cronulla, experienced a tough year in their defence of the Premiership. They struggled to match the heights of their winning season. The addition of Matt Moylan and Josh Dugan should give them a new dynamic on attack but they look off the pace for the season opener at $2.60.
Bet of the Match – Nth Queensland to Win by 13+ points at $2.88
Wests Tigers v Sydney Roosters, Saturday 10th March 2018, 4.30pm
The loss of several key players for Wests will raise questions as to how they can improve on recent seasons. Yet, they have recruited wisely in the off-season with the return once again of club icon Benji Marshall backing up the potential new halves combo of Josh Reynolds and Luke Brookes. A tough season opener against the Roosters sees them up against it though at $3.50.
Sydney are shaping up to be the team to beat in 2018. The acquisition of Cooper Cronk has been heralded as the missing piece of the puzzle as they go in search of another Premiership. Add to that the attacking threat of former Tiger James Tedesco from full back and the Roosters look especially dangerous. At $1.30 they should start the year with a win.
Bet of the Match – Sydney to Win by 13+ points at $2
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