Thursday, March 3, 8.05pm. Pirtek Stadium.
The 2016 NRL season kicks off this Thursday night when the new and hopefully improved Parramatta Eels take on last year’s finalists, the Brisbane Broncos.
Parramatta made off-season waves with the signings of Kieran Foran, Michael Gordon and Michael Jennings. All three players will add some much-needed toughness to this Eels team, which has the talent to beat any other NRL team on their day.
The Broncos are the current premiership favourites and rightfully so. Not much has changed for them in the way of players, and the finals experience from last year will benefit all involved. They did lose Justin Hodges to injury, which is a big loss, but with Anthony Milford and Ben Hunt coming into their own, they look good across the park this season.
Bookmakers are favouring Brisbane, which isn’t surprising, but the Eels have won an even split of 17 from 34 games against the Broncos and playing at home in front of a roaring crowd will give them a boost in the NRL 2016 opener.
Take any head-to-head bet in rounds 1-4 and if your team loses by eight points or less Sportsbet.com.au will refund your bet up to $50.
NRL Round 1 betting – Eels vs. Broncos
Eels – $2.30
Broncos – $1.65
The bookmakers have set their line to where we thought it would be. The Broncos are the more well-rounded side and they would be paying around $1.40 if they were playing at Suncorp Stadium, but playing away from home after a travel-logged pre-season could reward the Eels.
Brisbane went to England and played very well in the World Club Challenge, but how much that travel took out of them is yet to be known.
The Eels don’t have an easy start to the season, having to play both Brisbane and North Queensland in consecutive weeks, and they will be looking for a win against the Broncos to get them off on the right note. Lose this Thursday and they could find themselves 0-2 down after two games – a situation the Eels can’t afford so early in the season.
Betting on early NRL games can be tough as teams haven’t clicked yet, but the Eels thrive on their home crowd and bigger things are expected of them this season.
The current points start line of +3.5 doesn’t interest us for either team, but luckily Sportsbet.com.au are offering ‘Pick your own line’ so punters can choose their own line for Thursday’s game.
It’s not easy to back against the Broncos and we expect them to make the final again this year, but we do respect the Eels and we just want a few more points than the 3.5 being offered. If you don’t mind laying a bit of juice, taking the Eels at +7.5 ($1.55 at Sportsbet) isn’t the worst way to go.
Both teams will likely come out rusty and the new pairing of Kieran Foran and Corey Norman will take some time to gel, but Norman showed in the NRL Nines that he’s a much-improved player and Foran is as gutsy as they come.
They have try-scoring threats with Jennings and Semi Radradra so some clean ball to the wings will make them dangerous later in the game.
If you’re leaning towards a Broncos victory and find the $1.65 a touch short, taking Broncos -1.5 at $1.70 gives a little bit more value for very little risk.
Big Win Little Win market:
Eels 1-12 – $3.60
Eels 13+ – $5.75
Draw – $23
Broncos 1-12 – $3.10
Broncos 13+ – $3.40
You’ll often see is suggest taking both teams 1-12 which generally results in a good profit, and we’re sticking with our guns again. Taking both Eels and Broncos 1-12 doesn’t make the game exciting with an all-or-nothing bet, but it is a good way to make money betting early games in the NRL.
Both teams will come out rusty and there might not be many points in this game. That all leads to a closely-fought contest and with both teams paying more than $3 for this option, it looks a good betting strategy.
Eels vs. Broncos team line ups and first tryscorer bets
1. Michael Gordon – $17
2. Semi Radradra – $9.00
3. Michael Jennings – $11
4. Brad Takairangi – $26
5. Clinton Gutherson – $12 at Bet365.com.au
6. Corey Norman – $18
7. Kieran Foran (C) – $23
8. Tim Mannah – $91
9. Nathan Peats – $26
10. Junior Paulo – $61
11. Beau Scott – $26
12. Manu Ma’u – $26
13. Tepai Moeroa – $34
Interchange: Isaac De Gois, David Gower, Danny Wicks, Daniel Alvaro
1. Darius Boyd – $20
2. Corey Oates – $10 at CrownBet.com.au
3. Jordan Kahu – $17
4. James Roberts – $9.00
5. Greg Eden – $10
6. Anthony Milford – $15
7. Ben Hunt – $15
8. Adam Blair – $46
9. Andrew McCullough – $26
10. Sam Thaiday – $46
11. Alex Glenn – $26
12. Matthew Gillett – $18
13. Corey Parker – $46
Interchange: Kodi Nikorima, Josh McGuire, Joe Ofahengaue, Jarrod Wallace
Parramatta are without Anthony Watmough who will miss the early rounds through injury and Brisbane are without Jack Reed and Lachlan Maranta through injury.
The Eels backline looks steady with their new inclusions, but they are lacking in the forwards compared to Brisbane. Manu Ma’u is a big hitting type who has the ability to turn the game on its head, but a more intelligent game plan for him will be needed if the Eels are to succeed this season.
We like Semi Radradra to be the top tryscorer this season and he could start the season with a bang. Sportsbet are offering $5.00 for Radradra to score two or more tries against the Broncos and we think he could do it.
Brisbane’s new recruit James Roberts is their top fancy at $5.50 in the betting.
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