NRL Tips & Preview – Round 2

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 1 matches.

Storm Rabbitohs
Ryan Papenhuyzen 1 Latrell Mitchell
Dean Ieremia 2 Alex Johnston
Reimis Smith 3 Jaxson Paulo
Justin Olam 4 Campbell Graham
Xavier Coates 5 Taane Milne
Cameron Munster 6 Cody Walker
Jahrome Hughes 7 Lachan Ilias
Jesse Bromwich 8 Tevita Tatola
Harry Grant 9 Damien Cook
Nelson Asofa-Solomona 10 Mark Nicholls
Felise Kaufusi 11 Keon Koloamatangi
Kenny Bromwich 12 Jai Arrow
Josh King 13 Cameron Murray
Tyran Wishart 14 Jacob Host
Alec MacDonalds 15 Siliva Havili
Trent Loiero 16 Thomas Burgess
Tepai Moeroa 17 Michael Chee-Kam

Played 35, Storm 30, Rabbitohs 5

Last Meeting: Round 9, 2021: Storm 50 def. Rabbitohs 0

Final Thoughts: The Melbourne Storm didn’t play their best football and suffered two season-ending injuries but managed to collect two competition points with a 26-16 win over the Tigers. The South Sydney Rabbitohs, on the other hand, suffered a shock 11-4 defeat at the hands of the Broncos.

Brandon Smith, Christian Welch and George Jennings are all gone but the Storm do welcome back Harry Grant, Jesse Bromwich and Cameron Munster. Latrell Mitchell is a big inclusion for the Rabbitohs which moves Alex Johnston to the wing and Josh Mansour out of the side.

It’s not the super-star laden, unbeaten Round 2 clash most anticipated a week ago. The Storm have lost a handful of key players while the Rabbitohs are looking to avoid a 0-2 start to the season. South Sydney’s middle is a slight concern after last week, too. Cody Walker is desperate for a solid platform as he works his way into a new role and he didn’t get it last week. It showed in how one-dimensional the Rabbitohs attack looked and the ease at which the Broncos defended it. Latrell Mitchell will help to add some variation, though. He instantly makes their left edge one of the most dangerous in the competition. However, the Storm are proven performers on both sides of the ball. Sure, they’re missing players. But they can be trusted to fill the spots more than any other club in the competition. With Harry Grant and Cameron Munster joining Ryan Papenhuyzen and Jahrome Hughes in the spine, Melbourne are the more dangerous side this week. They have the pack to get down the field, too.

Tip: Margin – Storm 1-12 @ $2.80

Dragons Panthers
Tyrell Sloan 1 Dylan Edwards
Cody Ramsey 2 Charlie Staines
Moses Suli 3 Izack Tago
Zac Lomax 4 Stephen Crichton
Mikaele Ravalawa 5 Brian To’o
Talatau Amone 6 Jarome Luai
Ben Hunt 7 Sean O’Sullivan
Francis Molo 8 Spencer Leniu
Andrew McCullough 9 Api Koroisau
Blake Lawrie 10 James Fisher-Harris
Jack Bird 11 Viliame Kikau
Jaydn Su’A 12 Liam Martin
Jack de Belin 13 Isaah Yeo
Moses Mbye 14 Mitch Kenny
Josh Kerr 15 Scott Sorensen
Jack Gosiewski 16 Matthew Eisenhuth
George Burgess 17 Jaeman Salmon

Played 36, Dragons 20, Panthers 16

Last Meeting: Round 22, 2021: Panthers 34 def. Dragons 16

Final Thoughts: The St. George-Illawarra Dragons were forced to work hard at times last week but outlasted the Warriors to win 28-16. No surprises from the Penrith Panthers in Round 1. They kicked off the 2022 NRL season in the same way they finished the first with a dominant defensive display.

Aaron Woods is out for the Dragons with Francis Molo in to replace him. George Burgess is onto the bench. The Panthers have lost Moses Leota for at least eight weeks with Spencer Leniu to start and Matthew Eisenhuth onto the bench.

Despite having their moments last week, the Dragons didn’t impress all that much against the Warriors. Concerns around being able to string consistent football together across 80 minutes appear to be justified at this stage, and only a complete 80 minutes will be enough to beat the Panthers. Penrith wasted no time in getting into their work in Round 1. The game plan remains the same: Get over the advantage line, compress the middle, fire a shot on the edges, kick well on the 5th tackle, and be patient. They peppered Jason Saab with kicks last week and Cody Ramsey can expect similar treatment on Friday evening. The Dragons pack is going to struggle to contain Isaah Yeo, in particular. When he gets downhill with the ball and starts to initiate the attack, it’s an area in which a fairly immobile Dragons middle will be put under pressure. It’s going to take something special for the Red V to keep this one close.

Tip: Handicap – Panthers -10.5 @ $1.93

Roosters Sea Eagles
James Tedesco 1 Tom Trbojevic
Daniel Tupou 2 Jason Saab
Billy Smith 3 Brad Parker
Joseph Manu 4 Morgan Harper
Paul Momirovski 5 Reuben Garrick
Sam Walker 6 Kieran Foran
Luke Keary 7 Daly Cherry-Evans
Jared Waerea-Hargreaves 8 Toafofoa Sipley
Connor Watson 9 Lachlan Croker
Lindsay Collins 10 Martin Taupau
Angus Crichton 11 Haumole Olakau’atu
Sitili Tupouniua 12 Ethan Bullemor
Victor Radley 13 Jake Trbojevic
Drew Hutchison 14 Dylan Walker
Fletcher Baker 15 Karl Lawton
Nat Butcher 16 Sean Keppie
Siosiua Taukeiaho 17 Taniela Paseka

Played 36, Roosters 16, Sea Eagles 20

Last Meeting: Finals, Week 2: Sea Eagles 42 def. Roosters 6

Final Thoughts: It didn’t all go to plan for the Sydney Roosters to start the NRL season. They looked nothing like the premiership contenders most expected in going down 20-6 to the Knights. The Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles are feeling similar following their 28-6 loss to the Panthers.

No changes for the Roosters this week. Although, Victor Radley and Billy Smith are being monitored after suffering head knocks. Dylan Walker is back for the Sea Eagles and replaces Tolutau Koula as Des Hasler’s only change.

It didn’t go to plan for the Roosters in attack last week but we can expect an improvement for Round 2. Perhaps firing in Round 1 was too much to ask for a spine that had never played together and a halves pairing, in particular, that will need time to gel? Ambushed through the middle, expect the Roosters pack to turn up better prepared, too. The Sea Eagles, on the other hand, while dealing with injuries, played with a relatively strong and cohesive side in Round 1. They rarely troubled the Panthers defence as Tom Trbojevic and the back three were kept in check. Dylan Edwards collected more running metres than the back-three and it’s an issue they could face again with James Tedesco at the back.

The two sides match up well in the middle and have plenty of strike out wide. The difference is in the setup and variation and the Roosters – at their best – have a significant advantage in that department. Expecting a better version of the Chooks this week.

Tip: Handicap – Roosters -1.5 @ $2.20

Titans Warriors
Jayden Campbell 1 Reece Walsh
Phillip Sami 2 Adam Pompey
Brain Kelly 3 Jesse Arthars
Patrick Herbert 4 Rocco Berry
Greg Marzhew 5 Marcelo Montoya
AJ Brimson 6 Chanel Harris-Tavita
Toby Sexton 7 Ash Taylor
Moeaki Fotuaika 8 Addin Fonua-Blake
Erin Clark 9 Wayde Egan
Isaac Liu 10 Matthew Lodge
David Fifita 11 Euan Aitken
Beau Fermor 12 Eli Katoa
Tino Fa’asuamaleaui 13 Josh Curran
Will Smith 14 Jazz Tevaga
Sam Lisone 15 Bunty Afoa
Jaimin Jolliffe 16 Aaron Pene
Kevin Proctor 17 Bayley Sironen

Played 29, Titans 10, Warriors 19

Last Meeting: Round 25, 2022: Titans 44 def. Warriors 0

Final Thoughts: The Gold Coast Titans put it all together with the ball in the first half but conceded too many points on their way to a 32-28 loss to the Eels last week. As for the New Zealand Warriors, they struggled throughout their 28-16 loss to the Dragons.

AJ Brimson will start in the Titans halves alongside Toby Sexton. Will Smith drops to the bench and Tanah Boyd is into reserve grade. Nathan “we don’t want to chop and change” Brown is chopping and changing. Many are forced: Shaun Johnson, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak and Viliame Vailea are all out injured with Ash Taylor, Adam Pompey and Jesse Arthars in to replace them. Strangely, Kodi Nikorima has been dropped already with Chanel Harris-Tavita taking his place and Reece Walsh back to fullback. Matt Lodge is also back dropping Ben Murdoch-Masila out of the 17.

It all looked easy for the Titans in the first half last week. To easy… While the Warriors are hardly a defensive powerhouse, the Gold Coast are unlikely to find the same success across 40 minutes that they did last week. Instead, their spine is going to be asked to create a lot more and it’s an area of concern with AJ Brimson now in the side. An excellent player at fullback, it remains to be seen how well that translates into the front line. Meanwhile, the Warriors will struggle to build on any of the positives from Round 1 with half of their side missing for this one. Shaun Johnson is a huge loss and the new halves pairing of Chanel Harris-Tavita and Ash Taylor is untested. Where the Warriors can dominate is through the middle. Best suited to playing the power game, Addin Fonua-Blake, Matt Lodge, Eli Katoa, Euan Aitken and Josh Curran should find success in the centre-third if the Warriors improve on their 69% completion rate from last week. From there, we know the Titans are susceptible to leaking points in bunches. The recipe is there for the Warriors. It’s whether or not they have the chef to put it all together that will go a long way to deciding this one.

Tip: Total Points – Titans Under 27.5 @ $1.90

Sharks Eels
William Kennedy 1 Clint Gutherson
Sione Katoa 2 Waqa Blake
Jesse Ramien 3 Will Penisini
Ronaldo Mulitalo 4 Tom Opacic
Matt Ikuvalu 5 Bailey Simonsson
Matt Moylan 6 Dylan Brown
Nicho Hynes 7 Mitchell Moses
Toby Rudolf 8 Reagan Campbell-Gillard
Blayke Brailey 9 Reed Mahoney
Braden Hamlin-Uele 10 Junior Paulo
Briton Nikora 11 Shaun Lane
Teig Wilton 12 Isaiah Papali’i
Dale Finucane 13 Oregon Kaufusi
Aiden Tolman 14 Makahesi Makatoa
Siosifa Talakai 15 Bryce Cartwright
Royce Hunt 16 Ray Stone
Andrew Fifita 17 Nathan Brown

Played 36, Sharks 18, Eels 18

Last Meeting: Round 3, 2021: Eels 28 def. Sharks 4

Final Thoughts: The Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks took 40 minutes to get going but things started to look promising after halftime. While they did take the lead, the Raiders clawed their way back to win 24-19. The Parramatta Eels, on the other hand, took no time to get going. They scored 26 points in the first 40 minutes and hung on to beat the Titans 32-28.

Craig Fitzgibbon is happy enough with how his Sharks team performed in Round 1 and named the same 17 for Round 2. Sean Russell scored three tries before ending up in the hospital last week with Waqa Blake named to replace him on the Eels wing and Tom Opacic into the centres. Unfortunately for the Eels after playing so well last week, Ryan Matterson is out.

Both sides looked very good when at their best in their respective matches last week. The Eels scored with ease throughout the first half while the Sharks began to put it all together in the second. The inconsistency is an early-season concern but not unexpected. It’s just one more area where these two teams match up well. There is plenty of creativity in the halves for whichever team takes control of the middle-third in this one. Nicho Hynes v Mitchell Moses has Matchup of the Round potential while Will Kennedy v Clint Gutherson is one of the more underrated head-to-head matchups in Round 2. Again, it comes down to the foundations.

Ryan Matterson is a significant out for the Eels. He looked right at home at lock in Round 1 and his ball-playing is a big part of what the Eels want to do in attack. Without him, they’re at risk of getting stuck in bad habits – primarily, going wide too early and often. Parramatta are easy to defend when they simply shift the ball through the middle with little thought. While Cameron McInnes would help the Sharks, Dale Finucane is a proven performer at the position. Despite scoring plenty last week, points are at a premium on Saturday afternoon.

Tip: Total Points – Under 43.5 @ $1.90

Cowboys Raiders
Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow 1 Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad
Kyle Feldt 2 Nick Cotric
Valentine Holmes 3 Matthew Timoko
Peta Hiku 4 Semi Valemei
Murray Taulagi 5 James Schiller
Tom Dearden 6 Jack Wighton
Chad Townsend 7 Matt Frawley
Jordan McLean 8 Josh Papalii
Reece Robson 9 Tom Starling
Coen Hess 10 Joseph Tapine
Tom Gilbert 11 Hudson Young
Jeremiah Nanai 12 Corey Harawira-Naera
Jason Taumalolo 13 Elliott Whitehead
Jake Granville 14 Adrian Trevilyan
Heilum Luki 15 Emre Guler
Mitchell Dunn 16 Adam Elliott
Griffin Neame 17 Corey Horsburgh

Played 41, Cowboys 20, Raiders 21

Last Meeting: Round 7, 2021: Cowboys 26 def. Raiders 24

Final Thoughts: Todd Payten’s seat is heating up after his North Queensland Cowboys side scored only four points in their loss to the Bulldogs. It looked as though Ricky Stuart would also start with a loss before his Canberra Raiders scored a last-gasp try to beat the Sharks 24-19.

Jamayne Taunoa-Brown is out with a knee injury which brings Griffin Neame onto the Cowboys bench. Brad Schneider is out due to Covid isolation –  Matt Frawley joins the Raiders bench. Meanwhile, Tom Starling replaces the injured Josh Hodgson at hooker which allows Adrian Trevilyan to make his NRL debut in #14.

Payten wanted to put a focus on the Cowboys’ defence to start the 2022 NRL season. If we’re searching for positives from their ugly 6-4 loss to the Bulldogs, there is the defensive element. Sure, the Bulldogs are awful with the ball but North Queensland did what they wanted to do and kept their line relatively strong. It’s with the ball that they struggled. Although, it appeared to be down to execution more than a lack of creativity. As we saw with their game-winning try late last week, the Raiders got straight into their work with the ball. They executed down the stretch and it’s encouraging to see so early in the year. Most importantly, however, is the form of Jack Wighton. How he plays has such a massive bearing on the Raiders overall and he looked like 2020 Wighton out there in Round 1. If he turns up in the same mood on Saturday night, the Raiders will have too much with the ball for this possibly-improved Cowboys defence.

Tip: Win Try Combo – Timoko to score/Raiders to win @ $3.75

Knights Tigers
Kalyn Ponga 1 Daine Laurie
Dom Young 2 David Nofoaluma
Dane Gagai 3 James Roberts
Bradman Best 4 Oliver Gildart
Enari Tuala 5 Ken Maumalo
Jake Clifford 6 Jackson Hastings
Adam Clune 7 Luke Brooks
David Klemmer 8 James Tamou
Chris Randall 9 Jake Simpkin
Jacob Saifiti 10 Stefano Utoikamanu
Tyson Frizell 11 Kelma Tuilagi
Lachlan Fitzgibbon 12 Luciano Leilua
Kurt Mann 13 Joe Ofahengaue
Phoenix Crossland 14 Tyrone Peachey
Mitch Barnett 15 Alex Twal
Leo Thompson 16 Zane Musgrove
Jirah Momoisea 17 Alex Seyfarth

Played 32, Knights 15, Tigers 17

Last Meeting: Round 10, 2021: Tigers 36 def. Knights 18

Final Thoughts: The Newcastle Knights started the 2022 NRL season by making a statement and beating the Sydney Roosters 20-6 at the Sydney Cricket Ground. It didn’t come with two competition points, but the Wests Tigers gave a good account of themselves in their 26-16 loss to the Storm.

As expected, Adam O’Brien has named the same Knights 17 from Round 1. Michael Maguire has done much of the same with James Tamou’s inclusion the only major change to the Tigers for this week.

Well, the Knights will be eager to repeat their Round 1 efforts. They dominated the middle of the field which allowed Adam Clune and Jake Clifford to play on the front foot. Notably, Kalyn Ponga wasn’t all that effective throughout the match. He’s still finding his feet in a slightly different role and will be better for the run this week. While the Tigers impressed last week, their inability to back one good game up with another is an issue that has plagued them for years and that uncertainty makes it difficult to get behind them on Sunday. Luke Brooks, Jackson Hastings and Daine Laurie can expect to feel better playing beside each other with 80 minutes under their belt. However, questions still remain around their forward pack and the potency of the backline. We need to see the Tigers string together a few good weeks before trusting them in 2022. For now, the Knights are the form side and deserving favourites at home.

Tip: Half-time/Full-time – Knights/Knights @ $1.80

Bulldogs Broncos
Matt Dufty 1 Tesi Niu
Jayden Okunbor 2 Corey Oates
Braidon Burns 3 Kotoni Staggs
Brent Naden 4 Herbie Farnworth
Josh Addo-Carr 5 Selwyn Cobbo
Matt Burton 6 Albert Kelly
Jake Averillo 7 Adam Reynolds
Luke Thompson 8 Kennan Palasia
Jeremy Marshall-King 9 Jake Turpin
Paul Vaughan 10 Payne Haas
Jack Hetherington 11 Kurt Capewell
Tevita Pangai Jr. 12 Jordan Riki
Josh Jackson 13 Patrick Carrigan
Bailey Biondi-Odo 14 Ryan James
Corey Wadell 15 Kobe Hetherington
Max King 16 Teui Robati
Ava Seumanufagai 17 Billy Walters

Played 44, Bulldogs 18, Broncos 25

Last Meeting: Round 3, 2021: Broncos 24 def. Bulldogs 0

Final Thoughts: The Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs started the 2022 NRL season desperate for a win and clawed their way to a 6-4 victory over the Cowboys. Not many saw it coming without Adam Reynolds, but Kurt Capewell secured the Brisbane Broncos 11-4 win over the Rabbitohs with a late field goal.

Tevita Pangai Jr. will make his Bulldogs debut this week pushing Chris Patolo out of the side. Meanwhile, Adam Reynolds will do the same for the Broncos with Tesi Niu also returning from injury. Billy Walters moves to the bench and Tyrone Roberts to the reserves.

It’s difficult to get too excited about the Bulldogs’ win last week. While the result ended up a positive, the attack still failed to impress as the Doggies struggled to get on top of a Cowboys side equally ineffective with the ball. Matt Burton had his moments but it is clear that he can’t do it all on his own. The Broncos, on the other hand, should have finished up with more than 11 points last week. A handful of opportunities didn’t stick and tries were taken away throughout an encouraging performance with the ball, and without Adam Reynolds. His inclusion this week could make all the difference as Kevin Walters surely applies a game plan focusing on building pressure following 17 losses in Brisbane’s last 18 games on the road. Three tries should do it for Brisbane on Sunday night.

Tip: Total Points – Bulldogs Under 18.5 @ $1.89