Round 1 of the NRL had all the highs and lows we expect from the great competition.
Some teams staked their claim for the premiership, whereas others are just looking to survive and get a win on the board in week two.
The second week of the seaons kicks off when the Bulldogs take on the highly-touted Parramatta Eels, which are coming off a strong win last week.
Other high profile games include the all-Sydney derby of Souths vs. Roosters and the always tough clash of the battle-ridden Manly vs. the Melbourne Storm.
With an in-depth look at each game, including match and exotic bet tips, you’ve got everything you need for the weekend ahead right here.
Bulldogs vs. Eels
Friday, March 13. 7:35pm AEST, ANZ Stadium, Sydney.
Bulldogs – $1.65 (-2.5)
Eels – $2.30 (+2.5)
The Bulldogs ended their loss to Penrith with three unanswered tries, but they won’t be happy letting in the first 24 points in what was a clear-cut win to the Panthers.
The Dogs seemed to suffer from rustiness but expect a much fitter team against the Eels in this Round 2 clash as the heavy Dogs forward pack with enjoy the battle against the smaller Eels pack.
The Eels kicked off Friday Night football with an almighty 42-12 win over the hapless Sea Eagles but take nothing away from the Eels performance. With a few new recruits and the exploits of Chris Sandow, the Eels were able to shock Manly into submission and their premiership odds have now been cut to $21 at BetEasy.com.au.
We’re expect a much tighter contest between these two teams in what should be contrasting styles.
Tip: Eels to win ($2.30) at WilliamHill.com.au
Exotic tip: Semi Radradra ($8.50) – First try scorer
Sharks vs. Broncos
Friday, March 13. 8:35pm AEST, Remondis Stadium, Cronulla.
Sharks – $1.92
Broncos – $1.92
Both teams needed a rev up from their coaches after poor outings in Round 1.
The Broncos got a Thursday night smoking at the hands of 2014 premiership winning Rabbitohs 6-36 and coach Wayne Bennett was not a happy camper.
The hall-of-fame coach put most of the blame on senior forward Sam Thaiday, who has been relegated to start on the bench, but expect the classy Broncos to come out firing against an under-performing Sharks side which is looking to find themselves.
The Sharks side looked good on paper but lost narrowly to Canberra at home – which is a bad loss considering the Raiders are $67 to win the premiership. They do get consecutive home games which is a positive but we’re expecting the tried and tested Broncos side to come away with the win.
Tip: Broncos to win ($1.92) at Sportsbet.com.au
Exotic bet: Broncos halftime/fulltime ($2.90)
Panthers vs. Titans
Saturday, March 14. 4:30pm AEST, Carrington Park, Penrith.
Panthers – $1.22 (-12.5)
Titans – $4.35 (+12.5)
The Panthers ($9 for the title) looked the goods for 60 minutes last week but they knew they had the victory in the bag, so let out some steam at the end of the game.
The men from Penrith weren’t overly well supported to beat the Bulldogs but they did it well and now they face a team with on and off-field troubles.
The Titans had every right to win against the Wests Tigers but a late field goal denied the Titans their first win of the season. With troubles within their organisation, the Titans are expected to fail this season ($151) and it doesn’t get any easier when they face a hot Panthers side away from home.
This should be a one-sided affair, especially if the Panthers score some early points.
Tip: Panthers (-12.5) – $1.90 at Sportsbet.com.au
Exotic Tip: Panthers (-17.5) at $2.49
Sea Eagles vs. Storm
Saturday, March 14. 7:05pm AEST, Brookvale Oval, Manly.
Sea Eagles – $2.12
Storm – $1.72
Another team with off-field troubles, the Manly Sea Eagles look to rebound after a Round 1 loss to the Eels 12-42.
The Sea Eagles will still play Daly Cherry-Evans but the playmaker has signed to another club which will play on the minds of his teammates. Keiran Foran is also tipped to be moving clubs at the end of this year so just how that plays on their mentality is unknown at this stage.
The Storm showed good defensive skills to defeat St. George at home by 4-12. The always-classy Storm outfit doesn’t need to score many points to secure the win and the three player combination of Cameron Smith, Billy Slater and Cooper Cronk is all you need.
This game is always a huge one for both teams, but these two sides are going in different directions and we expect the Storm to pull away.
Tip: Storm to win ($1.72) at Crownbet.com.au
Exotic bet: Race to 20 points (neither team) at $3.60
Cowboys vs. Knights
Saturday, March 14. 9:05pm AEST, 1300Smiles Stadium, North Queensland.
Cowboys – $1.33 (-8.5)
Knights $3.35 (+8.5)
The Cowboys suffered a first round loss to the Sydney Roosters and they didn’t look like the same team we saw in 2014.
Led by Johnathan Thurston, the Cowboys were unable to keep up in the 4-28 loss and they will be expecting a much better performance at home again here.
They face the Knights which scored a come-from-behind win over the New Zealand Warriors. The Knights have a good team on paper, despite the fact that most people think they will struggle this season, but if they stay healthy, they will contest most of their games this season.
We’re going outside the consensus here and taking Knights with the points in what could be a tight struggle.
Tip: Knights (+8.5) at $1.90 with WilliamHill.com.au
Exotic bet: Knights (+12.5) at $1.58
Rabbitohs vs. Roosters
Sunday, March 15. 4:05pm AEST, ANZ Stadium, Sydney.
Rabbitohs – $1.75
Roosters – $2
Two extremely impressive Round 1 winners go to battle here in a cross-town rivalry.
The Rabbitohs put away the Broncos in easy fashion 36-6 and they continued their pre-season form which was very strong. They overpowered a tough Broncos outfit and they return to their home crowd which will nearing sell-out capacity.
The Roosters were equally impressive when beating the Cowboys 28-4 away from home. Led by Mitchell Pierce, the Roosters scored and scored quickly, with their mobile forward pack and speedy backline simply too much for the Cowboys.
This game should be very close and it could come down to the final possession. Both teams will be looking to establish dominance and golden point could be on the cards.
Tip: Roosters to win ($2) at Crownbet.com.au
Exotic tip: Normal time draw ($23)
Raiders vs. Warriors
Sunday, March 15. 6:35pm AEST, GIO Stadium, Canberra.
Raiders – $2.05
Warriors – $1.77
The underdog Raiders were not expected to win last week but the milk-men battled their way to a 24-20 win over the Sharks and they get to play at home against the Warriors which lost poorly in Round 1.
The Warriors led the Newcastle Knights by eight points at the half but were unable to post another score and questions were quickly asked about the play of Golden Boot winner Shaun Johnson.
The Warriors playmaker put in his worst career performance and many experts are expecting them to come out firing in this clash.
The Raiders have proved to be untrustworthy in past seasons so the home advantage doesn’t really factor much into this. Expect the Warriors to put in a more polished performance.
Tip: Warriors to win ($1.72) at Sportsbet.com.au
Exotic tip: Time of first try (before 14 minutes – $1.91)
Tigers vs. Dragons
Monday, March 16. 7:05pm AEST, Campbelltown Stadium, Sydney.
Tigers – $1.53 (-4.5)
Dragons – $2.50 (+4.5)
The Tigers have a knack of winning tight games with a field goal and that was again evident last week against the Titans.
The Tigers have a good team on paper and they are a streaky side which can put consecutive wins together. That’s what they’ll be trying to do against the Dragons which premiership price went out to $67 after the loss of their star fullback Josh Dugan.
The Dragons were unable to muster any offense against the Storm in what was a defensive struggle. The loss of Dugan at the back is huge and we’re expecting the Tigers to capitalise in this game.
Tip: Tigers to win ($1.53) at WilliamHill.com.au
Exotic tip: Pat Richards to score first – $9.50