NRL Tips & Preview – Round 12

Palmerbet Blog

Sports writer, JASON OLIVER, looks over all 16 teams and previews this weekend’s Rugby League action with his NRL tips for all Round 12 matches.

Storm Sea Eagles
Nick Meaney 1 Reuben Garrick
Dean Ieremia 2 Jorge Taufua
Marion Seve 3 Morgan Harper
Justin Olam 4 Tolutau Koula
Xavier Coates 5 Christian Tuipulotu
Cameron Munster 6 Kieran Foran
Jahrome Hughes 7 Daly Cherry-Evans
Jesse Bromwich 8 Josh Aloiai
Harry Grant 9 Lachlan Croker
Tui Kamikamica 10 Toafofoa Sipley
Felise Kaufusi 11 Haumole Olakau’atu
Kenneath Bromwich 12 Andrew Davey
Josh King 13 Jake Trbojevic
Brandon Smith 14 Dylan Walker
Tyran Wishart 15 Josh Schuster
Trent Loiero 16 Ethan Bullemor
Alec MacDonald 17 Sean Keppie


History:
Played 40, Storm 24, Sea Eagles 15

Last Meeting: Finals Week 1, 2021: Storm 40 def. Sea Eagles 12

Final Thoughts: A trip to North Queensland to play the Cowboys is tough for any side at the moment but injuries or not, nobody saw the Melbourne Storm’s 36-6 loss coming. Meanwhile, the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 22-20 loss to the Eels wasn’t the worst loss for Des Hasler in Round 11.

Tom Trbojevic is unlikely to feature again for the Sea Eagles this season, replaced by Reuben Garrick at the back. Jorge Taufua takes Garrick’s spot on the wing while Ethan Bullemor is in for Marty Taupau. For the Storm, Jahrome Hughes returns which pushes Harry Grant back to hooker and Brandon Smith to the bench.

The Hughes inclusion is huge for the Storm. His influence on the attack is obvious. He’s one of the best halfbacks in the NRL and goes a long way to making up for the absence of Ryan Papenhuyzen. However, it’s defensively that he will have a significant impact given the issues they’ve faced on the right side in recent weeks. The Cowboys ripped through them on that side last week and it will surely be a target for the Sea Eagles in this one. Although, Manly’s strength without Trbojevic has been through the Daly Cherry-Evans/Haumole Olakau’atu combination on the right side. The pair have linked up well throughout the year and will be relied on heavily if the Sea Eagles are to keep up on the scoreboard this week. That seems unlikely, though. The Storm returns home following a poor fortnight and they’re not a side that engages in losing streaks. Craig Bellamy will be desperate to return to the winner’s circle and prepare accordingly. In Manly and with Trbojevic, you give the Sea Eagles a chance. However, it feels as though they’re walking into a storm this week.

Tip: Handicap – Storm -14.5 @ $1.90

Panthers Cowboys
Dylan Edwards 1 Scott Drinkwater
Taylan May 2 Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow
Izack Tago 3 Valentine Holmes
Stephen Crichton 4 Peta Hiku
Brian To’o 5 Murray Taulagi
Jarome Luai 6 Tom Dearden
Nathan Cleary 7 Chad Townsend
Moses Leota 8 Jordan McLean
Apisai Koroisau 9 Reece Robson
James Fisher-Harris 10 Reuben Cotter
Viliame Kikau 11 Tom Gilbert
Liam Martin 12 Jeremiah Nanai
Isaah Yeo 13 Coen Hess
Mitch Kenny 14 Jake Granville
Scott Sorensen 15 Heilum Luki
Spencer Leniu 16 Jamayne Taunoa-Brown
Jaeman Salmon 17 Griffin Neame


History:
Played 38, Panthers 20, Cowboys 18

Last Meeting: Round 1, 2021: Panthers 24 def. Cowboys 0

Final Thoughts: The Penrith Panthers continue to play in a tier above everybody else and come into this one off a 32-12 win over the Roosters. The fact this game is being played at 6pm on a Friday sums up how little was expected of the North Queensland Cowboys this season. They’ve won six in a row with their latest a 36-6 thrashing of the Storm.

Unsurprisingly, the Panthers have named the same 17 for the fourth consecutive week. The Cowboys haven’t been so lucky. Kyle Feldt is out for six weeks and replaced by Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow. Jason Taumalolo is also sidelined with Coen Hess to start at lock.

We all thought that the Panthers taking on the Storm in Magic Round would be one of the games of the season, but this might be it. The defending premiers taking on a Cowboys side that has surprised almost everybody and is looking to add the Panthers to that list on Friday. Todd Payten’s side is on fire with the ball. They’ve scored 36 points in each of the last three games and 35 points in the game prior to average 26.1 points per game this season.  The Panthers aren’t too shabby themselves to be second in the NRL in scoring at 29.3 points per game. However, this game is all about defence. The Panthers and Cowboys rank 1st and 2nd in the competition in points conceded per game. Their current numbers of 11.6 points conceded and 11.9 points conceded rank in the top six in NRL history. While all of the build-up will be centred around high-powered attacks and sweeping shifts out wide, we’ve got two coaches with an eye for detail without the ball who will prepare their sides to handle whatever is thrown at them. It might not be a pretty match. Anticipate an early grind, few errors and long kicks to start. From there, the result will likely be decided by one or two missteps in defence.

Tip: Tri Bet (10.5) – Either Team by 10 or Less @ $2.45

Broncos Titans
Te Maire Martin 1 Jayden Campbell
Corey Oates 2 Corey Thompson
Kotoni Staggs 3 Brian Kelly
Herbie Farnworth 4 Esan Marsters
Selwyn Cobbo 5 Jamayne Isaako
Tyson Gamble 6 AJ Brimson
Ezra Mam 7 Toby Sexton
Corey Jensen 8 Moeaki Fotuaika
Billy Walters 9 Erin Clark
Payne Haas 10 Jarrod Wallace
Kurt Capewell 11 Isaac Liu
Jordan Riki 12 Beau Fermor
Patrick Carrigan 13 Tino Fa’asuamaleaui
Cory Paix 14 Tanah Boyd
Kobe Hetherington 15 Jaimin Jolliffe
Thomas Flegler 16 Sam McIntyre
Keenan Palasia 17 Sam Lisone


History:
Played 31, Broncos 21, Titans 10

Last Meeting: Round 8, 2021: Broncos 36 def. Titans 28

Final Thoughts: The Brisbane Broncos have won five on the bounce as they continue to surprise to start the 2022 NRL season. Their 36-12 win over the Knights last week was never in doubt. The Gold Coast Titans, on the other hand, scrambled late but ultimately fell to the Sharks 25-18.

Unfortunately for the Broncos, there are no changes to the 17 this week. Adam Reynolds is still sidelined with a hamstring injury. For the Titans, Brian Kelly replaces Phillip Sami while Jaimin Jolliffe takes Herman Ese’ese’s spot on the bench.

The Broncos continue to surprise this season and while Reynolds isn’t available this week, they’ve proven themselves to be capable of playing at a level that should handle the Titans relatively comfortably. Their middle is performing well and laying a solid platform to attack from. Even without their first-choice halfback their backline remains dangerous and is laden with individual talent that will be provided with plenty of opportunities close to the line. The Titans have the squad to compete. They have done all season, really. Their issue is doing it across the full 80 minutes and making the most of the opportunities their inconsistent spine creates. AJ Brimson and Jayden Campbell are still working out their combination and Toby Sexton isn’t a halfback that will drag a team to victory. It’s been a long time since the Broncos have been in such a dominant position against their little brother club but they should be far too strong at home on Friday night.

Tip: Doubles – Broncos Half-time/Full-time @ $1.80

Warriors Knights
Reece Walsh 1 Kalyn Ponga
Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 2 Edrick Lee
Viliami Vailea 3 Dane Gagai
Adam Pompey 4 Enari Tuala
Marcelo Montoya 5 Dominic Young
Chanel Harris-Tavita 6 Anthony Milford
Shaun Johnson 7 Jake Clifford
Ben Murdoch-Masila 8 David Klemmer
Freddy Lussick 9 Chris Randall
Jazz Tevaga 10 Daniel Saifiti
Euan Aitken 11 Tyson Frizell
Tohu Harris 12 Lachlan Fitzgibbon
Jack Murchie 13 Mitch Barnett
Taniela Otukolo 14 Phoenix Crossland
Aaron Pene 15 Jacob Saifiti
Bunty Afoa 16 Leo Thompson
Eliesa Katoa 17 Mat Croker


History:
Played 43, Warriors 22, Knights 20

Last Meeting: Round 15, 2021: Knights 10 def. Warriors 6

Final Thoughts: Things keep going from bad to worse for the New Zealand Warriors who again struggled throughout their 24-18 loss to the Dragons. While the Newcastle Knights kept things close in the first half, the Broncos ran away to win 36-12 in Round 11.

Chanel Harris-Tavita is back and straight into five-eighth. Addin Fonua-Blake is out for a lengthy period with Jazz Tevaga to start at prop and Freddy Lussick at hooker. Taniela Otukolo is onto the bench. The Knights have lost Bradman Best for a few weeks with Enari Tuala coming into the centres. Jake Clifford returned to footy through reserve grade last week and replaces Adam Clune for this one.

Nathan Brown faces his former club this week and is under huge pressure not to make the Warriors another former club in the not too distant future. He has some injury excuses to fall back on and Fonua-Blake adds to the list this week, but this side is somehow getting worse every week and is grossly underperforming their preseason expectations regardless of how low Brown talks them down with every loss. Terrible in yardage, the Warriors put themselves under constant pressure defensively. They’re beaten up in the middle every week, and while the Knights aren’t particularly strong in yardage overall, their middle can lay a platform this week. We’ve seen Kalyn Ponga produce some nice moments when on the front foot in recent weeks. He will run at a poor Warriors right edge defence on Saturday afternoon, too. With how bad the Warriors attack is right now, it will only take two moments of Ponga magic for the Knights to put themselves in a position to win this one.

Tip: Total Points – Warriors Under 19.5 Points @ $1.99

Rabbitohs Tigers
Blake Taaffe 1 Daine Laurie
Alex Johnston 2 Asu Kepaoa
Jaxson Paulo 3 Starford To’a
Campbell Graham 4 Brent Naden
Taane Milne 5 Ken Maumalo
Cody Walker 6 Luke Brooks
Lachlan Ilias 7 Jackson Hastings
Tevita Tatola 8 James Tamou
Damien Cook 9 Jake Simpkin
Thomas Burgess 10 Zane Musgrove
Keaon Koloamatangi 11 Luke Garner
Jai Arrow 12 Luciano Leilua
Hame Sele 13 Joe Ofahengaue
Liam Knight 14 Kelma Tuilagi
Mark Nicholls 15 Alex Twal
Siliva Havili 16 Fa’amanu Brown
Kodi Nikorima 17 Stefano Utoikamanu


History:
Played 39, Rabbitohs 22, Tigers 17

Last Meeting: Round 7, 2022: Tigers 23 def. Rabbitohs 22

Final Thoughts: It still isn’t clicking for the South Sydney Rabbitohs. Another slow start saw them fall to the Raiders 32-12 in Dubbo. Meanwhile, the Wests Tigers did what they needed to do to beat the Bulldogs 36-22 at Leichhardt.

Mark Nicholls returns from injury as the only change for the Rabbitohs. Although, Cameron Murray has been named in the reserves and is a chance at returning. The Tigers welcome back Daine Laurie and Luke Brooks this week; Starford To’a moves to the centres while Tyrone Peachey and Jock Madden drop out of the side. Asu Kepaoa replaces Junior Tupou on the wing and Jake Simpkin is into hooker for Jacob Liddle.

The Rabbitohs are still a tough team to read at the moment. One moment they seem to be on the right track, the next they’re being dominated by a fairly inconsistent Raiders side. It’s no coincidence that those moments on the right track coincide with the rare occasions they’re able to hold onto the ball. South Sydney’s NRL-high 13.5 errors per game continue to act as a handbrake on their 2022 season. One area they typically perform well in is yardage. Despite coughing the ball up so often, the Rabbitohs earn 33.7 tackles inside the opposition’s 20-metre line per game – the 2nd most in the NRL. It’s only a matter of time before the butter is wiped off their fingers and they start to put teams away. The Tigers are improving and look like a different team with Jackson Hastings organising the attack but they still concede a lot of points and score just 14.7 points of their own per game. Wests are a good chance at keeping it close early. A few Rabbitohs errors may even provide them with a lead. However, the Tigers still struggle to get through a full game and when the Rabbitohs run, they run. One period of piling on points will do it for Souths on Saturday.

Tip: 2nd Half Handicap – Rabbitohs -4.5 @ $2

Sharks Roosters
William Kennedy 1 James Tedesco
Sione Katoa 2 Daniel Tupou
Connor Tracey 3 Paul Momirovski
Siosifa Talakai 4 Joseph Manu
Ronaldo Mulitalo 5 Joseph Suaalii
Matt Moylan 6 Sam Walker
Nicho Hynes 7 Luke Keary
Toby Rudolf 8 Jared Waerea-Hargreaves
Blayke Brailey 9 Drew Hutchison
Royce Hunt 10 Lindsay Collins
Briton Nikora 11 Angus Crichton
Wade Graham 12 Nat Butcher
Cameron McInnes 13 Siosiua Taukeiaho
Aiden Tolman 14 Connor Watson
Braydon Trindall 15 Fletcher Baker
Teig Wilton 16 Sitili Tupouniua
Andrew Fifita 17 Terrell May


History:
Played 42, Sharks 16, Roosters 26

Last Meeting: Round 5, 2021: Roosters 26 def. Sharks 18

Final Thoughts: The Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks beat the Titans 25-18 but did it more comfortably than the scoreboard suggests. As for the Sydney Roosters, they weren’t able to keep close to the Panthers after going into the sheds down 18-0.

Will Kennedy is back for the Sharks with Lachlan Miller named as 18th man. Sitili Tupouniua makes his return for the Roosters off the bench in place of Egan Butcher.

This one shapes as a beauty. While the Roosters haven’t played their best football throughout 2022, the Sharks are somewhat inconsistent as they adjust to being one of the better teams in the NRL. The two teams match up relatively even. The Sharks average 22.2 points per game (5th) to the Roosters’ 21.2 points (6th). Similarly, the Sharks concede 16.9 points (5th) to the Roosters’ 18.2 points (6th). Yardage is always a consistent measure of rugby league and they line up there, too. Toby Rudolf, Royce Hunt, Cameron McInnes and company get the Sharks up the field for 1,692 running metres per game (4th) while Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Lindsay Collins and Siosiua Taukeiaho do the same for the Roosters and their 1,676 metres per game (5th). They match up in the right areas statistically but go about their business in attack differently. Where the Sharks set up their slingshot attack to shift the ball wide on long-side shifts, the Roosters search for advantages in the numbers and scheme for short sides. It’s a mouthwatering head-to-head battle with the ball. Both sides have stumbled once or twice this season but if they’re both on their game on Saturday night, this could be a sneaky contender for Game of the Season.

Tip: Margin – Sharks 1-12 @ $3.25

Bulldogs Dragons
Matt Dufty 1 Cody Ramsey
Jacob Kiraz 2 Mathew Feagai
Aaron Schoupp 3 Moses Suli
Jake Averillo 4 Zac Lomax
Josh Addo-Carr 5 Mikaele Ravalawa
Matt Burton 6 Talatau Amone
Kyle Flanagan 7 Ben Hunt
Luke Thompson 8 Francis Molo
Jeremy Marshall-King 9 Moses Mbye
Paul Vaughan 10 Blake Lawrie
Corey Waddell 11 Jack Bird
Max King 12 Tariq Sims
Josh Jackson 13 Jack de Belin
Zach Dockar-Clay 14 Andrew McCullough
Tevita Pangai Junior 15 Aaron Woods
Chris Patolo 16 Michael Molo
Raymond Faitala-Mariner 17 Tyrell Fuimaono


History:
Played 42, Bulldogs 26, Dragons 16

Last Meeting: Round 14, 2021: Bulldogs 28 def. Dragons 6

Final Thoughts: The myth of the new coach bounce has again been debunked as the Bulldogs lost to the Tigers 36-22 without ever looking likely of taking the two competition points. While it wasn’t pretty, the St. George-Illawarra Dragons hung on to beat the Warriors 24-18 last week.

Josh Addo-Carr returns from his week off with Jayden Okunbor making way. Corey Waddell is also back and takes Joe Stimson’s place on the edge. Meanwhile, the Dragons welcome back Andrew McCullough via the bench. Cody Ramsey keeps his place at fullback.

It’s difficult to take positives out of any Bulldogs performance at the moment. Their attack is dire and the lack of impact they have with the ball translates into poor performances without it. Matt Burton is being asked to do too much in order for the Bulldogs to be competitive. At times, sending the ball into orbit with a 5th tackle kick is all the Bulldogs offer as a threat. The Dragons are only marginally better but are more consistent in defence and have Ben Hunt to orchestrate things in attack. Hunt is leading the Dragons around the field and only one point of the lead in the Dally M standings at the moment. He’s the lifeblood of the side and they’re sneaking past enough bad teams to keep arms distance from the wooden spoon many tipped them to win this season. After juggling his team and moving players in and out, Anthony Griffin may have finally landed on a first-choice 17. Cody Ramsey at the back is an interesting one. He will be exposed by the better teams with better halfbacks, but the Bulldogs aren’t one of them. Instead, we’re likely to see this limited but experienced Dragons pack tuck the ball under their arm and wait for the defence to crack. In Ramsey, Hunt, Zac Lomax and Moses Suli, the Dragons have the individual players to find points. Against a Bulldogs side scoring just 10.7 per game, the Dragons won’t need many.

Tip: Anytime Tryscorer – Jack Bird @ $4.75

Raiders Eels
Xavier Savage 1 Clinton Gutherson
Nick Cotric 2 Waqa Blake
Jarrod Croker 3 Will Penisini
Matthew Timoko 4 Tom Opacic
Jordan Rapana 5 Bailey Simonsson
Jack Wighton 6 Dylan Brown
Jamal Fogarty 7 Mitchell Moses
Josh Papalii 8 Reagan Campbell-Gillard
Zac Woolford 9 Reed Mahoney
Joseph Tapine 10 Junior Paulo
Hudson Young 11 Shaun Lane
Elliott Whitehead 12 Marata Niukore
Adam Elliott 13 Isaiah Papali’i
Tom Starling 14 Makahesi Makatoa
Ryan Sutton 15 Ryan Matterson
Sebastian Kris 16 Oregon Kaufusi
Corey Horsburgh 17 Nathan Brown


History:
Played 36, Raiders 21, Eels 15

Last Meeting: Round 19, 2021: Raiders 12 def. Eels 10

Final Thoughts: The Canberra Raiders have finally started to play half-decent football with their 32-12 win over the Rabbitohs their best of the season. The Parramatta Eels, on the other hand, were made to work hard for their 22-20 victory over the Sea Eagles.

Jamal Fogarty will make his Raiders debut while Jarrod Croker is also back from injury. Brad Schneider is out and Seb Kris drops to the bench. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, however, is out and replaced by Xavier Savage. The Eels welcome back Waqa Blake while Maika Sivo is also a chance of returning.

The Canberra Raiders have found some form and the return of Jamal Fogarty is a big positive. However, losing Nicoll-Klokstad is a bigger issue than most realise. He started the season poorly by his standards but has returned in fine form and is a major reason behind Canberra’s improved defence. They’ve conceded only 26 points since their capitulation against the Warriors in Round 8. They need to keep that level of defence up for this week against an Eels side that can pile up points in a hurry. When the Eels get up the field, plug the edges and play direct, they’re one of the best teams in the NRL. Their ball playing across the field can cause havoc for the Raiders who aren’t a particularly fast or mobile football side. We saw how the change of angles broke down the Panthers in Round 9 and the Eels should be looking to do the same here. Parramatta’s defence hasn’t been at the same level as their attack, though. They’ve conceded 20+ points in each of the last four games and in six of their last seven. The Raiders are returning to the grinding ways they’ve been most successful in recent years. It’s the best recipe to frustrate the Eels into swaying away from their game plan and causing an upset on Sunday.

Tip: Tri Bet (10.5) – Either Team by 10 or Less @ $1.96