NRL Tips & Preview – Round 15

Palmerbet Blog

Sports writer, JASON OLIVER, looks over all 8 teams and previews this weekend’s Rugby League action with his NRL tips for all Round 15 matches.

Dragons Rabbitohs
Cody Ramsey 1 Kodi Nikorima
Mathew Feagai 2 Alex Johnston
Moses Suli 3 Taane Milne
Zac Lomax 4 Campbel Graham
Mikaele Ravalawa 5 Jaxson Paulo
Talatau Amone 6 Cody Walker
Ben Hunt 7 Lachlan Ilias
Jack de Belin 8 Tevita Tatola
Andrew McCullough 9 Damien Cook
Blake Lawrie 10 Thomas Burgess
Jack Bird 11 Keaon Koloamatagi
Jaydn Su’A 12 Jai Arrow
Tariq Sims 13 Cameron Murray
Moses Mbye 14 Blake Taaffe
Francis Molo 15 Mark Nicholls
Aaron Woods 16 Siliva Havili
Michael Molo 17 Hame Sele


History:
Played 37, Dragons 17, Rabbitohs 20

Last Meeting: Round 5, 2022: Rabbitohs 24 def. Dragons 12

Final Thoughts: Making the tough trip to North Queensland in Round 14, the St. George-Illawarra Dragons were never close to the Cowboys in the 31-12 defeat. Meanwhile, the South Sydney Rabbitohs made light work of the Titans to win 30-16.

Mikaele Ravalawa and Mat Feagai return for the Dragons this week. Josh McGuire’s injury has forced a reshuffle in the pack with Jaydn Su’A to start, Jack de Belin to prop and Francis Molo to the bench. The Rabbitohs are keeping with most of the side that beat the Titans last week. Blake Taffee takes Peter Mamouzelos’ spot as the only change.

The Dragons are a decidedly average football team but the Rabbitohs have shown a tendency to play down to their opposition at times this year. This should be relatively comfortable for the Bunnies. They’re far superior in attack and it starts with a middle that will do it easy through the middle if they turn up. South Sydney’s 1,594 running metres per game (5th) dwarfs St. George-Illawarra’s 1,414 metres per game (13th). However, the Rabbitohs repeatedly give their opposition chances to play themselves into games through an NRL-high 11.9 errors per game. Jason Demetriou’s side is starting to look better while Anthony Griffin’s is starting to slide following a promising start to the year. With the direction the two teams are going and their ceilings should both be at their best, the Rabbitohs are deserving favourites.

Tip: Handicap – Rabbitohs -5.5 @ $1.90

Sea Eagles Cowboys
Reuben Garrick 1 Scott Drinkwater
Jason Saab 2 Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow
Morgan Harper 3 Valentine Holmes
Tolutau Koula 4 Peta Hiku
Christian Tuipulotu 5 Murray Taulagi
Kieran Foran 6 Tom Dearden
Daly Cherry-Evans 7 Chad Townsend
Josh Aloiai 8 Jordan McLean
Lachlan Croker 9 Reece Robson
Toafofoa Sipley 10 Reuben Cotter
Haumole Olakau’atu 11 Connelly Lemuelu
Andrew Davey 12 Jeremiah Nanai
Jake Trbojevic 13 Jason Taumalolo
Dylan Walker 14 Jake Granville
Josh Schuster 15 Coen Hess
Martin Taupau 16 Jamayne Taunoa-Brown
Sean Keppie 17 Griffin Neame


History:
Played 31, Sea Eagles 18, Cowboys 13

Last Meeting: Round 25, 2021: Sea Eagles 46 def. Cowboys 18

Final Thoughts: The Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles continue to perform relatively well in the wake of Tom Trbojevic’s injury. They made it two in a row with a 30-8 win over the Tigers. As for the Cowboys, they were able to take it easy over the Dragons in the second half on their way to a 31-12 win.

Daly Cherry-Evans is back for the Sea Eagles which pushes Kieran Foran to five-eighth and Josh Schuster to the bench. Meanwhile, the Cowboys welcome back Reuben Cotter and Jeremiah Nanai. Tom Gilbert and Heilum Luki miss this one, though.

We’re going to learn a lot about the Sea Eagles in this one. They’ve played some decent football in recent weeks but did so against two of the worst teams in the NRL. This week, they play a high-flying Cowboys side with key players returning from Origin and injury. Home ground advantage is a key consideration here. This is only the third time the Cowboys have travelled outside of Queensland and they’ve not performed particularly well in Sydney in recent years. While a different team with a better coach these days, it’s another hurdle they need to clear before being considered premiership contenders. Meanwhile, the Sea Eagles have learned how to score points without Tom Trbojevic and match up relatively well in this one. They’re decent enough in yardage, improved defensively and are scoring points on across the field. A lot needs to go right for Manly to take the chocolates, but they should be able to keep this one close enough for long enough to be in with a sniff late.

Tip: Tri Bet – Either Team by 10 or Less @ $1.93

Storm Broncos
Nick Meaney 1 Te Maire Martin
Dean Ieremia 2 Corey Oates
Marion Seve 3 Kotoni Staggs
Justin Olam 4 Brenko Lee
Grant Anderson 5 Selwyn Cobbo
Cameron Munster 6 Ezra Mam
Jahrome Hughes 7 Tyrone Roberts
Jesse Bromwich 8 Corey Jensen
Harry Grant 9 Billy Walters
Nelson Asofa-Solomona 10 Payne Haas
Felise Kaufusi 11 Kurt Capewell
Kenny Bromwich 12 Jordan Riki
Josh King 13 Patrick Carrigan
Brandon Smith 14 Jake Turpin
Tui Kamikamica 15 Kobe Hetherington
Trent Loiero 16 Thomas Flagler
Chris Lewis 17 Keenan Palasia


History:
Played 50, Storm 36, Broncos 13

Last Meeting: Round 12, 2021: Storm 40 def. Broncos 12

Final Thoughts: They’re still not quite at their best but the Melbourne Storm did enough to beat the Roosters 26-18 in Round 14. The Brisbane Broncos, on the other hand, are playing their best football in years to have won seven on the bounce following their 24-18 victory over the Raiders.

Nick Meaney has been named at fullback but the expectation is for Ryan Papenhuyzen to make his return for the Storm from the reserves. It’s a bit different for the Broncos. Adam Reynolds is out with Tyrone Roberts to start at halfback. Kotoni Staggs is back but Herbie Farnworth is out. Selwyn Cobbo and Kurt Capewell also return while Jake Turpin joins the bench for the injured Cory Paix.

It’s a real shame that Reynolds isn’t available this week. The Broncos are in spectacular form but this game would have acted as a real measuring stick for their hopes in 2022. Instead, they’ll do well to keep it close. While the Broncos have played well without Reynolds recently, this is a different challenge. The Storm are set to welcome back Ryan Papenhuyzen who despite not playing since Round 9, still leads the NRL in points scored with 127 in nine games. Melbourne has struggled relative to their best in recent weeks as they navigate injuries and State of Origin. However, they’re close to full strength for this one. Brisbane have done a lot of their good work through the middle but Melbourne can beat them there. Without that dominance, it’s difficult to see the Broncos spine creating enough points to keep up with the Storm.

Tip: Handicap – Broncos +17.5 @ $1.90

Sharks Titans
Will Kennedy 1 AJ Brimson
Sione Katoa 2 Greg Marzhew
Jesse Ramien 3 Brian Kelly
Siosifa Talakai 4 Patrick Herbert
Ronaldo Mulitalo 5 Jamayne Isaako
Matt Moylan 6 Paul Turner
Nicho Hynes 7 Toby Sexton
Toby Rudolf 8 Jarrod Wallace
Blayke Brailey 9 Erin Clark
Royce Hunt 10 Isaac Liu
Briton Nikora 11 Sam McIntyre
Wade Graham 12 Beau Fermor
Cameron McInnes 13 Tino Fa’asuamaleaui
Aiden Tolman 14 Tanah Boyd
Braydon Trindal 15 Moeaki Fotuaika
Teig Wilton 16 Jaimin Jolliffe
Andrew Fifita 17 Sam Lisone


History:
Played 23, Sharks 14, Titans 8

Last Meeting: Round 12, 2021: Sharks 38 def. Titans 10

Final Thoughts: The Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks responded to an early scare from the Warriors before cruising to a 38-16 win last week. Meanwhile, another loss, this time 30-16 to the Rabbitohs, has seen the Gold Coast Titans fall to 16th on the NRL ladder. They don’t look out of place down there given their recent form either.

Dale Finucane has been named in the reserves but the Sharks will otherwise run out with the same 17 this week. For the Titans, AJ Brimson is back which pushes Jamayne Isaako to the wing. Tino Fa’asuamaleaui starts at lock with Moeaki Fotuaika to the bench.

The Sharks have switched off against a couple of bad teams throughout the 2022 NRL season and did so again to start last week. However, with a good start surely in the front of their mind on Saturday, they should make easy work of the Titans in this one. Now at the bottom of the NRL ladder, the Titans look every bit like a wooden spoon side. They’re poor through the middle, incapable of stringing together a full 80 minutes, offer little with the ball, and rely heavily on David Fifita who isn’t available this week. It’s any wonder where they find enough to keep up with a high-powered Sharks attack. The Titans have their moments. Piling up points in a hurry has been a feature of this side over the last three years. However, more often than not, they allow points to be scored through them just as quick shortly after. Some of the best defences struggle to handle the Sharks when they’re flying. One 20-minute period is all they need to win this one.

Tip: Handicap – Sharks -13.5 @ $1.90

Warriors Panthers
Reece Walsh 1 Dylan Edwards
Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 2 Taylan May
Jesse Arthars 3 Izack Tago
Adam Pompey 4 Stephen Crichton
Marcelo Montoya 5 Brian To’o
Ronald Volkman 6 Jarome Luai
Shaun Johnson 7 Nathan Cleary
Bunty Afoa 8 Moses Leota
Wayde Egan 9 Api Koroisau
Jazz Tevaga 10 James Fisher-Harris
Jack Murchie 11 Viliame Kikau
Tohu Harris 12 Liam Martin
Josh Curran 13 Isaah Yeo
Chanel Harris-Tavita 14 Mitch Kenny
Aaron Pene 15 Scott Sorensen
Dunamis Lui 16 Spencer Leniu
Bayley Sironen 17 Jaeman Salmon


History:
Played 43, Warriors 16, Panthers 26

Last Meeting: Round 18, 2021: Panthers 30 def. Warriors 16

Final Thoughts: The New Zealand Warriors started well to lead the Sharks 12-0 last week but fell into the same habits of the Nathan Brown era shortly after. The game ended as most of those in the Brown era did too as the Sharks ran away to win 38-16. Just the usual for the Penrith Panthers last week with another comfortable 42-6 win over the Knights.

Stacey Jones has made a number of changes for his second game in charge. Ronald Volkman makes his NRL debut in the halves with Chanel Harris-Tavita to the bench. Jesse Arthars replaces Rocco Berry in the centres. Euan Aitken misses this one with a concussion. Meanwhile, the Panthers welcome back Isaah Yeo as their only change.

It doesn’t show on the scoreboard, but the Warriors made slight improvements last week. They played better on both sides of the ball through the middle which is where their turnaround needs to start. However, any improvements made last week are likely to be wiped away on Saturday. The Penrith Panthers are a well-oiled machine and won’t think twice about putting the Warriors to the sword. They’re the best yardage team in the NRL and it’s an area that despite improving slightly, the Warriors aren’t in a position to compete. As we’ve seen already, the Kiwi club needs some go-forward if Shaun Johnson and Reece Walsh are to create anything with the ball. There is little chance of Penrith complacency in this one too. The best the Warriors faithful can hope for is a high-effort performance and one that possibly keeps this game close through to the end.

Tip: Handicap – Warriors +24.5 @ $1.90

Eels Roosters
Clint Gutherson 1 James Tedesco
Maika Sivo 2 Daniel Tupou
Will Penisini 3 Billy Smith
Waqa Blake 4 Joseph Manu
Bailey Simonsson 5 Joseph Suaalii
Dylan Brown 6 Sam Walker
Mitchell Moses 7 Luke Keary
Reagan Campbell-Gillard 8 Lindsay Collins
Reed Mahoney 9 Sam Verrills
Junior Paulo 10 Siosiua Taukeiaho
Shaun Lane 11 Angus Crighton
Marata Niukore 12 Sitili Tupouniua
Isaiah Papali’i 13 Nat Butcher
Makahesi Makatoa 14 Connor Watson
Ryan Matterson 15 Drew Hutchison
Oregon Kaufusi 16 Egan Butcher
Nathan Brown 17 Fletcher Baker


History:
Played 37, Eels 13, Roosters 23

Last Meeting: Round 20, 2021: Roosters 28 def. Eels

Final Thoughts: It was an all too familiar sight for the Parramatta Eels faithful last week as they were thumped by the then-16th-placed Bulldogs 34-4. Similarly for the Sydney Roosters at the moment, they looked a step behind the Strom all the way through their 26-18 loss to the Storm on Saturday night.

Strangely, Brad Arthur has stuck with the same 17 Eels that were embarrassed by the Bulldogs last week. The Roosters are hoping to have Luke Keary play this week after naming him to start. Sam Verrills is confirmed to return but Paul Momirovski has lost his place to Billy Smith.

It’s always risky to assume a team will bounce back from an exceptionally poor performance. As we’ve seen from the Warriors and Knights just this season, it doesn’t always happen. However, the Eels are a top side in the NRL at their best and while the loss to the Bulldogs is frustratingly familiar, they do have a tendency to lift against the best teams in the competition. The Roosters might not be playing that way right now, but they’re certainly capable. A lot depends on the health of Keary. He has struggled beside Walker in the halves but Verrills’ return to dummy half could play a big part in the combination. When Keary and Walker link up well, we catch a glimpse of the Roosters side many expected to see this season. The battle starts in the middle between the two sides ranked 3rd and 4th in yardage. We can expect an early grind as both sides look to work into the game and into form following disappointing Round 14 performances. The result is a bit of a coin toss; Eels enter as $1.80 favourites to the Roosters’ $2. The tough start and focus on the middle is something we can rely on, though.

Tip: Time of 1st Try – 8 Minutes or Later @ $1.85

Raiders Knights
Xavier Savage 1 Kalyn Ponga
Nick Cotric 2 Edrick Lee
Matthew Timoko 3 Dane Gagai
Seb Kris 4 Enari Tuala
Jordan Rapana 5 Dom Young
Jack Wighton 6 Anthony Milford
Jamal Fogarty 7 Jake Clifford
Josh Papalii 8 David Klemmer
Zac Woolford 9 Chris Randall
Joseph Tapine 10 Jacob Saifiti
Hudson Young 11 Tyson Frizell
Elliott Whitehead 12 Mitch Barnett
Adam Elliott 13 Kurt Mann
Tom Starling 14 Simi Sasagi
Ryan Sutton 15 Leo Thompson
Corey Harawira-Naera 16 Mat Croker
Corey Horsburgh 17 Pasami Saulo


History:
Played 41, Raiders 19, Knights 20

Last Meeting: Round 20, 2021: Knights 34 def. Raiders 24

Final Thoughts: While the Canberra Raiders are much-improved in recent weeks, the Broncos in Brisbane ended up a step too far as they fell 24-18 at Suncorp. It doesn’t matter where the Newcastle Knights play at the moment. Their 42-6 loss to the Panthers made it 22-167 across their last four games at McDonald Jones Stadium.

Jordan Rapana is back for the Raiders. His return to the wing is the only change to Ricky Stuart’s side. Kalyn Ponga has been named for the Knights but is in doubt. Kurt Mann will start at lock with Lachlan Fitzgibbon dropped.

The Raiders are an up-and-down team at the moment but face a Knights side on a downward spiral right now. Ricky Stuart’s group are on the cusp of the Top 8 and he will be pleading with them to pick up the two competition points against an opponent they should handle comfortably. The Knights are dead last in the NRL in yardage at only 1,312 metres per game. While the Raiders only rank 10th, they’re improving in that department and their NRL-high 13.1 offloads per game are starting to stick and will cause havoc to a Knights defence that is struggling all the way up the field. This would have been considered a much tighter game six weeks ago but the Raiders are much-improved since then. Expect them to continue with those improvements again on Sunday.

Tip: Margin – Raiders 13+ @ $2.15

Bulldogs Tigers
Jake Averillo 1 Daine Laurie
Jacob Kiraz 2 David Nofoaluma
Aaron Schoupp 3 Starford To’a
Corey Allan 4 Asu Kepaoa
Josh Addo-Carr 5 Ken Maumalo
Matt Burton 6 Luke Brooks
Kyle Flanagan 7 Jackson Hastings
Max King 8 James Tamou
Jeremy Marshall-King 9 Jacob Liddle
Paul Vaughan 10 Zane Musgrove
Josh Jackson 11 Luke Garner
Raymond Faitala-Mariner 12 Kelma Tuilagi
Tevita Pangai Jr. 13 Joe Ofahengaue
Zach Dockar-Clay 14 Fa’amanu Brown
Corey Waddell 15 Alex Twal
Joe Stimson 16 Adam Doueihi
Kurtis Morrin 17 Alex Seyfarth


History:
Played 40, Bulldogs 24, Tigers 16

Last Meeting: Round 25, 2021: Bulldogs 38 def. Tigers 0

Final Thoughts: The Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs pulled off an incredible 34-4 win over the Eels in Round 14 to lift themselves off the bottom of the NRL ladder. The Wests Tigers aren’t far from the bottom either following their 30-4 loss to the Sea Eagles on Sunday.

No major changes to a winning Bulldogs side with Chris Patolo’s head knock ruling him out and Kurtis Morrin joining the bench. Adam Doueihi is back for the Tigers, though. He will start on the bench but they will be without Luciano Leilua who has been released to join the Cowboys.

There is all of a sudden a lot riding on this one. The Bulldogs’ win has thrown the wooden spoon race wide open and the loser of this one will be in an uncomfortable position towards the bottom of the NRL ladder. Wests have produced some decent moments since Jackson Hastings returned but they can’t string it all together often enough for long enough to beat the good teams. The Bulldogs, however, are one Hastings can manage. If the Tigers players fold into place around him, they’ll dominate the middle and find points on the back of it. Mick Potter has inspired an improvement in the Bulldogs attack. Matt Burton and Josh Addo-Carr can create points on their own at the very least. However, their defence – like the Tigers – is still very much a work in progress. Neither side promotes a lot of confidence in completing a high-quality 80 minutes. Instead, this looks set to be a back-and-forth affair. One with questionable defence and plenty of points.

Tip: Total Points – Over 40.5 Points @ $1.90