WE’VE only had two weeks of NRL action so far and already we’ve seen enough turmoil and excitement to fill a whole season.
The dramas at Manly seem to have dissipated after a strong win, while 2014 premiers South Sydney again look like a contender for silverware.
In the coming weeks, CupsBetting will begin to take a look at individual player markets and tell you who are the early value bets for all of the awards come September.
Round 3 kicks off with two epic Friday night clashes between the resurgent Manly Sea Eagles and Canterbury Bulldogs, followed by the all-Queensland game of Brisbane Broncos vs. North Queensland Cowboys.
The New Zealand Warriors host their first home game against the Eels and other highlight games include the Rabbitohs vs. Tigers and Roosters vs. Panthers on Monday night.
Sea Eagles vs. Bulldogs
Friday, March 20, 7:35pm, Brookvale Oval.
Sea Eagles – $2.13 (+2.0)
Bulldogs – $1.75 (-2.0)
After their public revving up from coach Geoff Toovey, the Manly Sea Eagles looked to rebound after a Round 1 loss and they did it in style by beating up the Melbourne Storm last week.
Daly Cherry-Evans is now favourite for the Daly M Medal and everything appears to be cherry ripe with the win under their belt, but the big Bulldogs pack will be looking to bully the home team into submission.
It’s rare that the away team would be favoured against Manly, but with the recent off-field troubles, the Bulldogs are in a good position to steal a vital away win.
Bet: Bulldogs to win ($1.75) at CrownBet.com.au
Exotic: Sam Perrett to score first – $11
Broncos vs. Cowboys
Friday, March 20, 8:35pm, Suncorp Stadium.
Broncos – $1.90
Cowboys – $1.94
The Brisbane Broncos were able to battle a narrow 10-2 against the Sharks last week, which got them their first win of the season, something the struggling North Queensland Cowboys have yet to do.
The Cowboys were highly touted to begin the season, but they have lost both home games to the Roosters in week one, followed by a shock loss to the Newcastle Knights last week.
That looms as a danger for any team coming up against the Cowboys in the near future. They will eventually get that win and winning against their interstate rival would certainly kick-start their season.
As the market suggests, there will be nothing between these two teams.
Bet: Draw at halftime or fulltime – $8
Exotic: Anthony Milford to score – $2.88 at CrownBet.com.au
Warriors vs. Eels
Saturday, March 21, 3:05pm, Mt Smart Stadium.
Warriors – $1.38 (-8)
Eels – $3.05 (+8)
Last week couldn’t have been more different for these two teams, with the Warriors smashing their way to their first season win and the Eels suffering their first loss of 2015.
The Eels came up against a gritty Sea Eagles team but they did look good in patches considering they lost plenty to injury throughout the game. Playmaker Chris Sandow went off the field due to a leg injury, but came back later in the game with very little effect.
The Warriors battled to a nice win against the Canberra Raiders and the home crowd in Auckland will be rocking, which will make a big difference. They are used to playing the Eels as their first home game and that familiarity should put them in the drivers seat for this clash.
Bet: Warriors (-8) at $1.91 with Sportsbet.com.au
Exotic: Warriors (-5.5) at $1.63
Raiders vs. Dragons
Saturday, March 21, 5:35pm, GIO Stadium.
Raiders – $1.58 (-4)
Dragons – $2.40 (+4)
The Raiders are 1-1 this season and will be looking to rebound after their first season loss to the Warriors. They looked good in Round 1 but they come up against a struggling Dragons team that will be eyeing this game as a must-win.
With Benji Marshall at the helm, the Dragons have been unable to put their “good on paper” team to anything useful on the field. The Dragons are -4 underdogs for this game which does represent good value as GIO Stadium is far from a home fortress for the Raiders.
Take the head-to-head value with the Dragons which will be looking for a quick turnover to get their season underway.
Bet: Dragons to win ($2.40) at CrownBet.com,au
Exotic: Dragons +5.5 at $1.82
Storm vs. Sharks
Saturday, March 21, 7:35pm, AAMI Park.
1. Storm – $1.29 (-10)
2. Sharks – $3.60 (+10)
The Storm were upset last week at the hands of Manly and they rarely lose two games straight, especially when one involves the Sharks.
The professional Storm outfit couldn’t match the Many Sea Eagles last week but they have had plenty of time to recover and the possess the ability to blow teams away. The tri-pairing of Smith, Slater and Cronk will always be tough to beat at home and that’s what the Sharks face.
The Sharks haven’t looked overly impressive in two rounds to date and their young team hasn’t quite gelled yet. Expect their struggles to continue against the might of the Storm here.
Bet: Storm (-10) – $1.91 at Sportsbet.com.au
Exotic: Koroibete to score first – $8.50
Rabbitohs vs. Tigers
Sunday, March 22, 4:05pm, ANZ Stadium.
Rabbitohs – $1.23 (-12)
Tigers – $4.20 (+12)
Someone slow the Rabbitohs down! Some say it can’t be done but the Tigers have looked good so far this season.
The Rabbitohs have had a stellar start to the season, capped by a stunning come-from-behind victory against the Roosters, the Rabbitohs overpowered their opponents with flair and class. Continuing on from last season, the Bunnies don’t appear to be slowing down at any rate and they should simply power through the Tigers.
The Tigers have looked good in patches this season and they have the natural talent to pull off a massive upset in this. Their young halves might struggle in a tense atmosphere at ANZ Stadium so we’re picking a Rabbitohs all-the-way win in this.
Bet: Rabbiohs HTFT – $1.50
Exotic: Rabbitohs (-20.5) – $3.14 at WilliamHill.com.au
Titans vs. Knights
Sunday, March 22, 6:35pm, Robina Stadium.
Titans – $2.15 (+2.0)
Knights – $1.70 (-2.0)
Early in the season most punters wouldn’t have expected the Knights to be away favourites, but after the Titans struggles and a win against the Cowboys last week, the Knights find themselves with a big expectation.
The Knights pulled off an almighty upset when coming from behind to beat the North Queensland Cowboys last week and that momentum should continue into Week 3 here.
The Titans are battling on and off the field but they do welcome back their players who were suspended on drug charges. Whether or not that makes a big difference is yet to be known, but we’re sticking with the solid Knights team which could put a few wins on the board this season.
Bet: Knights to win ($1.70) at Sportsbet.com.au
Exotic: Knights 1-12 at $3.10
Roosters vs. Panthers
Monday, March 23, 7:05pm, Allianz Stadium.
Roosters – $1.45 (-6.5)
Panthers – $2.75 (+6.5)
The Roosters suffered a bad loss to the Rabbitohs last week, but it was only bad because they led by 10 points on two occasions.
The Roosters will no doubt be in finals contention but they come up against a very hot Panthers team which is defying their NRL Premiership odds. Having firmed hard into $9 for the title, the Panthers have blown their opponents away in two games and notching a win against the Roosters would be a nice win for the C.V.
They won’t be taking the Roosters lightly at home which will be looking for a rebound win in this exciting Monday night game. Expect a very tight game which could be won in the last five minutes.
Bet: Panthers +6.5 – $1.91 at WilliamHill.com.au
Exotic: Draw at fulltime – $23