The following are previews with betting tips for Round 2 of the 2020 NRL season.
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Bulldogs v Cowboys
Thursday, Mar 19, 8.05pm AEDT
North Queensland will be looking to bounce back from their round one loss to Brisbane last week in what was to be the christening of their new stadium in Townsville. They will face a Bulldogs squad who showed enormous grit in defense against a star-studded Eels outfit last week and both teams will be looking to improve key areas of their performances leading into this match.
North Queensland will sound the alarm for reinforcements with Josh McGuire returning from suspension in a big boost. While named, Justin O’Neill will need to pass a medical test after he was concussed last week. Canterbury have similarly named only one change as Jake Averillo joins the bench for his NRL debut in place of Kerrod Holland.
While they displayed plenty of character, the Bulldogs were unable to capitalize on their many opportunities in the Eels’ 20-metre zone last week. With an inexperienced spine, Dean Pay’s troops should be looking to build more pressure given they already have fantastic defensive discipline. For the Cowboys, mentor Paul Green will be looking for a fast-start from his troops after they looked sluggish in the first quarter against the Broncos. Canterbury won’t make it easy for the Cowboys, but the class in North Queensland’s back-line should see them out-score their opposition. Cowboys to get the win.
Betting Tip: Cowboys -2.0 @ $1.90 (Beteasy)
Dragons v Panthers
Friday, Mar 20, 6:00pm AEDT
Netstrata Jubilee Stadium
The Panthers produced a stunning upset victory over the reigning premiers last week as the Penrith club look for consecutive wins coming up against the Dragons, who under-performed against the Tigers in round one in a disappointing showing. With pressure mounting on coach Paul McGregor, his team should be eager to perform to buy their embattled coach some breathing room.
Matt Dufty will return at fullback for St George as Jacob Host joins the interchange to cover the suspended Tariq Sims in an otherwise unchanged squad. For the Panthers, man-mountain Viliame Kikau will return to the second-row after playing off the bench last week with Billy Burns also set to join the interchange.
Fans and critics were unsure how Penrith would fare without star five-eighth James Maloney. While Nathan Cleary has performed well at halfback in the veteran’s absence, it is the inclusion of Apisai Korisau at dummy-half that has given the Panthers some much-needed creativity through the ruck. St George were below their best last week and missing Tariq Sims and Mikaele Ravalawa their job this week has not been made any easier. Penrith to get the win.
Betting Tip: Panthers -3.5 @ $1.90 (Sportsbet)
Broncos v Rabbitohs
Friday, Mar 20, 8.05pm AEDT
After spoiling the opening of North Queensland’s new stadium in an encouraging performance last week, Brisbane will now look to former coach Wayne Bennett’s Rabbitohs outfit. Souths produced an impressive win over Cronulla last week and given there is no love lost between these two clubs this match shapes as a brutal contest.
The suspension of Tevita Pangai Jr will mean Ethan Bullemor joins the bench in his NRL debut in the Broncos only change from last week. South Sydney have the luxury of naming an unchanged 17 this week in positive signs for the club.
Souths’ short kicking game featured prominently in their victory over Cronulla last week and Brisbane should be wary of conceding points from kicks with the form Adam Reynolds is in at the moment. For the Broncos, their focus will be on consistent effort over the 80 minutes after experiencing a number of fade-outs last season. This match could go either way but expect Brisbane to get the points in a tight contest.
Betting Tip: Broncos H2H @ $1.97 (Bet365)
Warriors v Raiders
Saturday, Mar 21, 3:00pm AEDT
Cbus Super Stadium
Canberra started their premiership campaign in style with a dominant performance against the Titans in round one. They will face an under-strength Warriors outfit who have been adversely impacted by the travel restrictions imposed following the Corona virus scare, missing a number of key players in their squad.
Adam Pompey and Adam Keighran will join the Kiwis’ backline to cover the absence of Patrick Herbert and Peta Hiku in the Warriors’ only changes, while the Raiders have named an unchanged outfit from their victory last week.
There were many question marks on the Raiders’ premiership chances in 2020, given the loss of the likes of Jordan Rapana, Aiden Sezer and Joey Leilua but the club’s new recruits stood tall to put any doubt this team will be in premiership contention to bed. Expect the Warriors to struggle without a number of top-line stars. Raiders to get the points.
Betting Tip: Raiders 1-12 @ $3.30 (Sportsbet)
Roosters v Sea Eagles
Saturday, Mar 21, 5:30pm AEDT
Central Coast Stadium
The reigning premiers will be looking to bounce back from a shock round-one upset at the hands of the Panthers last week, but they face a tough challenge in a Manly outfit who recently pushed the Melbourne Storm to their limit in an impressive performance despite the loss.
Angus Crichton will return in the Roosters’ second-row in place of the injured Sitili Tupouniua in an otherwise unchanged squad. Meanwhile, Manly coach Des Hasler has named an unchanged squad for this clash in a welcome departure from their injury woes last year.
While the reigning premiers will enter this match as firm favourites, the result is anything but assured coming up against a Manly squad bursting with talent. After a strong start to the game, Roosters coach Trent Robinson will be disappointed with his squad’s slow finish last week and will be looking for a consistent, 80 minute performance. This match could go either way but expect the class of the reigning premiers to get them over the line.
Betting Tip: Sea Eagles +5.5 @ $1.90 (Pointsbet)
Sharks v Storm
Saturday, Mar 21, 7:35pm AEDT
Netstrata Jubilee Stadium
After a heart-breakingly narrow loss to Souths last week, Cronulla’s draw is not getting any easier as they come up against the Storm, particularly with Melbourne’s impressive victory against Manly continuing the round-one tradition of the Victorian outfit winning their opening match of the year.
Both teams have elected to make no changes to their squad from last week in some welcome continuity for both clubs as they look to build combinations.
Cronulla have been a difficult team for Melbourne in recent years and while there has been some significant departures from the club, the Sharks still boast the toughness and talent to bash their opposition out of the game. The Melbourne juggernaut showed few signs of slowing after their performance last week with rookie halfback Jahrome Hughes looking more comfortable as time passes. With both teams working on building new back-line combinations, expect this contest to be decided in the middle. While Cronulla certainly has the artillery to match their opposition in the middle, expect Melbourne’s experience in controlling the ruck to prove the difference.
Betting Tip: Storm -5.5 @ $1.90 (Unibet)
Tigers v Knights
Sunday, Mar 22, 4:05pm AEDT
Newcastle kicked-off life under new coach Adam O’Brien in style last week, holding the Warriors to nil in an impressive performance under their new coach. They will face a Wests outfit who were similarly impressive in their round-one victory against the Dragons with the joint-ventures new recruits performing admirably to give the club plenty of strike in their back-line.
Unsurprisingly, Newcastle have named an unchanged squad after their performance last week. For the Tigers, Paul Momirovski will join the bench in place of Michael Chee-Kam in coach Michael Maguire’s only alteration.
Fans and critics alike were both surprised and impressed by the defensive discipline former Storm and Roosters assistant Adam O’Brien has brought to the Knights. With a star-studded roster, Newcastle faithful will have high expectations after a disappointing 2019 campaign, but they face a Tigers outfit who refuse to stop improving under Michael Maguire. Maguire’s off-season roster additions have given his team some much-needed strike in their back-line, but with a number of players missing expect the Novacastrians to get the win.
Betting Tip: Knights H2H @ $1.97 (Unibet)
Titans v Eels
Sunday, Mar 22, 6:15pm AEDT
Cbus Super Stadium
Despite looking somewhat clunky at times with the ball in hand, Paramatta displayed plenty of energy and toughness in an impressive performance against a gritty Bulldogs outfit last week. They will face a Titans squad who were soundly beaten by the Raiders as new coach Justin Holbrook clearly has work to do in order to get his team performing against the competition’s best.
AJ Brimson and Shannon Boyd could return after they were included in the reserves in what would be a massive boost for the Gold Coast. Tyrone Peachey and Brian Kelly will swap between centre and the bench as Moeaki Fotuaika joins the interchange after missing last week.
Paramatta will head into this match as firm favourites against a Titans outfit who look destined to struggle against the top teams in the competitions this year. The Eels will be looking forward to stretching out with the ball in what shapes as a high-scoring affair, while the Titans will be looking to nail the opening exchanges after a sluggish start to their match last week.
Betting Tip: Eels -7.5 @ $1.90 (Beteasy)
Eels -7.5 @ $1.90 (Beteasy)
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