NRL Tips & Preview – Round 4

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 4 matches.

Titans Tigers
Jamayne Isaako 1 Daine Laurie
Corey Thompson 2 David Nofoaluma
Brian Kelly 3 James Roberts
Patrick Herbert 4 Oliver Gildart
Greg Marzhew 5 Ken Maumalo
AJ Brimson 6 Jock Madden
Toby Sexton 7 Luke Brooks
Moeaki Fotuaika 8 James Tamou
Erin Clark 9 Jacob Liddle
Isaac Liu 10 Zane Musgrove
David Fifita 11 Kelma Tuilagi
Beau Fermor 12 Luciano Leilua
Tino Fa’asuamaleaui 13 Joe Ofahangaue
Will Smith 14 Tyrone Peachey
Sam Lisone 15 Alex Twal
Jaimin Jolliffe 16 Luke Garner
Kevin Proctor 17 Alex Seyfarth


History:
Played 23, Titans 14, Tigers 9

Last Meeting: Round 9, 2021: Titans 36 def. Titans 28

Final Thoughts: Ah, the Gold Coast Titans… They Titans’d their way out of two competition points when throwing away a 22-0 lead to the Raiders last week. Meanwhile, the Tigers lost a game only the Tigers could lose while falling to an awful Warriors side 16-12.

Jamayne Isaako is making his Titans debut and replacing Jayden Campbell (ribs) while Corey Thompson returns from injury in the place of Phillip Sami. James Roberts, Ken Maumalo and Kelma Tuilagi are all back for the Tigers. Starford To’a, Jake Simpkin and Stefano Utoikamanu (ankle) are all out.

The Titans may have fumbled away the win last week but they at least put themselves in a position to take the two competition points. The Tigers, on the other hand, did everything they could to avoid them. A lack of execution and footy IQ when the Warriors were reduced to 12 men is a sticking point. While the Titans spine is young, inexperienced and unfamiliar with each other given Jamayne Isaako is playing his first game for the club, they’ve shown enough with the ball to be confident the points will come against a poor Tigers defence. There isn’t a lot to like about this Tigers 17. Stefano Utoikamanu – one of the few players that would walk into every other NRL team – isn’t available this week. He’s a huge loss as the Tigers prepare to face a Titans middle that can generate yardage and get up the field. The Tigers can’t play any worse than they did in Round 3 but the Titans have the blueprint for success if they can execute it over the full 80 minutes this week. Expect them to do so in front of their home crowd.

Tip: To Score Firat & Win – Titans @ $1.72

Sharks Knights
Will Kennedy 1 Kalyn Ponga
Sione Katoa 2 Dominic Young
Jesse Ramien 3 Dane Gagai
Siosifa Talakai 4 Bradman Best
Ronaldo Mulitalo 5 Enari Tuala
Matt Moylan 6 Jake Clifford
Nicho Hynes 7 Adam Clune
Toby Rudolf 8 Jacob Saifiti
Blayke Brailey 9 Chris Randall
Braden Hamlin-Uele 10 Daniel Saifiti
Briton Nikora 11 Tyson Frizell
Teig Wilton 12 Brodie Jones
Dale Finucane 13 Kurt Mann
Aiden Tolman 14 Phoenix Crossland
Cameron McInnes 15 Jirah Momoisea
Braydon Trindall 16 Leo Thompson
Andrew Fifita 17 Sauaso Sue


History:
Played 42, Sharks 18, Knights 24

Last Meeting: Round 22, 2021: Knights 16 def. Sharks 14

Final Thoughts: The Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks put on a clinic in terrible conditions to thrash the Dragons 36-12 in Wollongong. The Newcastle Knights, on the other hand, played half of the game with only 12 men last week. That’s never going to end well against the defending premiers as the Panthers ran out 38-20 winners.

Connor Tracey’s injury has forced a reshuffle for the Sharks. Siosifa Talakai is into the centres and Teig Wilton into the second row. For the Knights, Kalyn Ponga is back while Brodie Jones replaces Mitch Barnett ahead of his inevitable suspension.

The Sharks attack is on fire at the moment. The spine is linking up right across the field and Nicho Hynes looks every bit like one of the best halfbacks in the NRL right now. We can say the same for the Knights who are exceeding expectations to start the season on the back of Jake Clifford’s stellar play. Add Kalyn Ponga to the mix and we could be in for a high-scoring, back-and-forth contest. While the Knights ended up 18 points behind on the scoreboard against the Panthers last week, they gave a good account of themselves throughout the 32 minutes they played with 13 men. Their pack can hold up with that of the Sharks and Ponga’s return gives them a boost with the ball. The Sharks are deserving favourites on form; they dominated the Dragons last week. However, the Knights have shown enough throughout the opening three weeks to suggest they will at least keep this one close.

Tip: Handicap – Knights +7.5 @ $1.90

Panthers Rabbitohs
Dylan Edwards 1 Latrell Mitchell
Charlie Staines 2 Alex Johnston
Izack Tago 3 Taane Milne
Stephen Crichton 4 Campbell Graham
Taylan May 5 Jaxon Paulo
Jarome Luai 6 Cody Walker
Nathan Cleary 7 Lachlan Ilias
Matthew Eisenhuth 8 Tevita Tatola
Api Koroisau 9 Damien Cook
Spencer Leniu 10 Mark Nicholls
Viliame Kikau 11 Keaon Koloamatangi
Scott Sorensen 12 Jai Arrow
Isaah Yeo 13 Cameron Murray
Mitch Kenny 14 Jacob Host
J’maine Hopgood 15 Siliva Havili
Lindsay Smith 16 Thomas Burgess
Jaeman Salmon 17 Liam Knight


History:
Played 37, Panthers 21, Rabbitohs 16

Last Meeting: NRL Grand Final, 2021: Panthers 14 def. Rabbitohs 12

Final Thoughts: The Penrith Panthers continued to navigate the start of the NRL season without Nathan Cleary after picking up a valuable two points against the Knights despite a number of injuries. Meanwhile, the South Sydney Rabbitohs announced themselves as premiership contenders with a 28-16 win over the Roosters.

Nathan Cleary is back for the Panthers as the only major change for the defending premiers. As expected, the Rabbitohs will run out with the same 17 that beat the Roosters in Round 3.

We’re yet to see the best of the Panthers but they have still managed to kick the season off with three wins. As Cleary eases his way back into football and in a Panthers side dealing with a handful of injuries already, we’re not going to see the best of them this week either. Still, they enter this one as significant favourites over a Rabbitohs side that is starting to put it all together. Making it look that easy against the Roosters last week is no easy feat. They can dominate an understrength Panthers middle this week and the Rabbitohs attack is starting to click. Lachlan Ilias will be a target for Penrith. The rookie halfback has struggled to start his first full NRL season. However, the Rabbitohs managed to create points without Cody Walker last week while Latrell Mitchell is looking dangerous on both sides of the field as a ball-player and ball-carrier. The Panthers defence is elite; it has been the best in the NRL for the last two seasons and will be one of the best again in this one. But the Rabbitohs are coming into form. This has all of the makings of a tight contest that goes down to the wire.

Tip: Tri Bet (8.5) – Either Team by 8 or Less @ $2.25

Warriors Broncos
Reece Walsh 1 Tesi Niu
Adam Pompey 2 Corey Oates
Jesse Arthars 3 Kotoni Staggs
Rocco Berry 4 Herbie Farnworth
Marcelo Montoya 5 Selwyn Cobbo
Chanel Harris-Tavita 6 Albert Kelly
Kodi Nikorima 7 Adam Reynolds
Addin Fonua-Blake 8 Ryan James
Wayde Egan 9 Jake Turpin
Matthew Lodge 10 Payne Haas
Euan Aitken 11 Keenan Palasia
Eli Katoa 12 Jordan Riki
Josh Curran 13 Patrick Carrigan
Jazz Tevaga 14 Thomas Flegler
Bunty Afoa 15 Kobe Hetherington
Aaron Pene 16 Teui Rbati
Jack Murchie 17 Billy Walters


History:
Played 40, Warriors 19, Broncos 20

Last Meeting: Round 23, 2021: Broncos 24 def. Warriors 22

Final Thoughts: While the New Zealand Warriors took two competition points away from Campbelltown Stadium, there was little else to take out of their 16-12 win over the Tigers. The Brisbane Broncos also had a round to forget as they fell to the Cowboys 38-12.

Jack Murchie has been called into the Warriors 17 with Bayley Sironen ruled out. Shaun Johnson has been named in the reserves and could make a return. Thomas Flegler is making his season debut off the Broncos bench, Ryan James is into the starting side.

It’s never easy to put your faith into the Warriors and their Round 3 performance is why. Shocking for 80 minutes, they would have been thrashed by any other team in the NRL. Remarkably, the Broncos couldn’t keep close to the Cowboys in their Queensland Derby but displayed more positive signs in a heavy defeat than the Warriors did in a win. This contest is one Adam Reynolds can really make his mark. The Broncos don’t need an expansive style or to pile up points to take the victory on Saturday afternoon. If they can get into the grind as they did across the first two rounds of the season, this Warriors defence will break down. Unless Shaun Johnson makes a surprise early return from his injury, the Kiwi club will struggle for points as they juggle regular changes to key playmaking positions. We’ve got two inconsistent teams going head-to-head in this one. However, the Broncos have displayed signs of improvement to start the season and unless Johnson can return and provide the Warriors with a much-needed spark, Reynolds should be able to get enough out of this group to take the chocolates.

Tip: Handicap – Broncos -4.5 @ $2

Sea Eagles Raiders
Tom Trbojevic 1 Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad
Jason Saab 2 Nick Cotric
Brad Parker 3 Matthew Timoko
Morgan Harper 4 Semi Valemei
Reuben Garrick 5 Jordan Rapana
Kieran Foran 6 Jack Wighton
Daly Cherry-Evans 7 Brad Schneider
Sean Keppie 8 Josh Papalii
Lachlan Croker 9 Tom Starling
Marty Taupau 10 Joseph Tapine
Haumole Olakau’atu 11 Hudson Young
Andrew Davey 12 Corey Harawira-Naera
Jake Trbojevic 13 Elliott Whitehead
Dylan Walker 14 Matt Frawley
Karl Lawton 15 Emre Guler
Ethan Bullemor 16 Adam Elliott
Taniela Paseka 17 Corey Horsburgh


History:
Played 34, Sea Eagles 20, Raiders 14

Last Meeting: Round 12, 2021: Sea Eagles 19, Raiders 18

Final Thoughts: It wasn’t easy but the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles picked up their first win of the 2022 NRL season after beating the Bulldogs 13-12 at 4 Pines Park. Even more difficult was the Canberra Raiders 24-22 win over the Titans after Ricky Stuart’s side gave up a 22-0 lead in the first half.

Josh Aloiai has served his suspension but can’t crack an unchanged Sea Eagles 17 this week. It’s much of the same for the Raiders with Nick Cotric the only change to the 17 that beat the Titans last week.

Are we finally going to see the Sea Eagles take flight? While they didn’t look the slightest bit like premiership contenders last week, the monkey is off their back with the win. For better or worse, Tom Trbojevic was heavily involved, touching the ball a season-high 36 times. They were too reliant on him last season. Manly won’t climb higher up the NRL ladder in 2022 if they can’t find ways to win games without Trbojevic needing to play such a big role. However, desperate times call for desperate measures the Sea Eagles need wins now if they’re to keep up with the top teams. Meanwhile, the Raiders are proving they can be anything on the day. Spectacularly inconsistent from week-to-week and half-to-half, who knows what Ricky Stuart’s side will produce in this one. It shapes as an even battle in the centre-third; both are fielding big bodies through the middle that play straight and direct. But the Sea Eagles have an advantage in their ball-playing across the field which should provide them with enough opportunities to find points down the edges.

Tip: Margin – Sea Eagles 1 to 12 @ $3

Cowboys Roosters
Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow 1 James Tedesco
Kyle Feldt 2 Daniel Tupou
Valentine Holmes 3 Paul Momirovski
Peta Hiku 4 Joseph Manu
Murray Taulagi 5 Billy Smith
Tom Dearden 6 Sam Walker
Chad Townsend 7 Luke Keary
Jordan McLean 8 Lindsay Collins
Reece Robson 9 Connor Watson
Coen Hess 10 Siosiua Taukeiaho
Tom Gilbert 11 Nat Butcher
Jeremiah Nanai 12 Sitili Tupouniua
Jason Taumalolo 13 Victor Radley
Jake Granville 14 Drew Hutchison
Heilum Luki 15 Daniel Suluka-Fifita
Reuben Cotter 16 Angus Crichton
Griffin Neame 17 Jared Waerea-Hargreaves


History:
Played 37, Cowboys 12, Roosters 25

Last Meeting: Round 18, 2021: Roosters 34 def. Cowboys 18

Final Thoughts: The North Queensland Cowboys have been one of the surprise packets across the opening three rounds of the NRL season. They did it easy to beat the Broncos 38-12 last week. Meanwhile, the Sydney Roosters are still getting into their work in 2022. They struggled to keep up with the Rabbitohs in Round 3.

Todd Payten is happy with his Cowboys side and has named an unchanged 17 for this week. The Roosters have made only one change; Daniel Suluka-Fifita is onto the bench for Fletcher Baker.

We’re going to learn a lot about the Cowboys on Saturday. They’ve taken the NRL by surprise to win back-to-back games, winning them relatively comfortably in the end. The Cowboys are first in running metres, first in possession, fourth in set completion, fifth in points scored and first in points conceded. By the numbers, they’re one of the best teams in the NRL right now. Of further concern for the Roosters is how easily the Rabbitohs got up the field in Round 3. For every set the Roosters appeared to be getting back into the game, the Rabbitohs returned serve shortly after – and often better. It’s strange to see the Roosters lack starch in the middle and it’s something we can expect to see improve in the coming weeks. So too is the combination between Luke Keary and Sam Walker. Full of potential, that’s all it is at the moment – potential. Until the halves can string things together, James Tedesco’s impact on a game will be limited. We don’t know what is real and what isn’t about the Cowboys at the moment, but this week, they match up well against a Roosters side struggling for go-forward in the middle and execution out wide.

Tip: Tri Bet (10.5) – Either Team by 10 or Less @ $1.91

Storm Bulldogs
Ryan Papenhuyzen 1 Matt Dufty
Dean Ieremia 2 Braidon Burns
Reimis Smith 3 Aaron Schoupp
Justin Olam 4 Brent Naden
Xavier Coates 5 Josh Addo-Carr
Cameron Munster 6 Matt Burton
Jahrome Hughes 7 Brandon Wakeham
Jesse Bromwich 8 Luke Thompson
Harry Grant 9 Jeremy Marshall-King
Nelson Asofa-Solomona 10 Paul Vaughan
Felise Kaufusi 11 Corey Wadell
Kenny Bromwich 12 Tevita Pangai Jr.
Josh King 13 Josh Jackson
Brandon Smith 14 Bailey Biondi-Odo
Alec MacDonald 15 Chris Patolo
Trent Loiero 16 Max King
Tepai Moeroa 17 Ava Seumanufagai


History:
Played 43, Storm 22, Bulldogs 21

Last Meeting: Round 5, 2021: Storm 52 def. Bulldogs 18

Final Thoughts: The Melbourne Storm won’t be too disheartened by their 28-24 loss to the Eels in Golden Point. They played out some good periods with a depleted team and the bounce of the ball hurt them dearly in the end. As for the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs, their attack is still the worst in the NRL after falling to the Sea Eagles 13-12.

The Storm receives a huge boost with the return Xavier Coates and Harry Grant. Nick Meaney and Chris Lewis drop to the bench. The Bulldogs will be without Jack Hetherington for the rest of the NRL season. Ava Seumanufagai takes his place in the 17 for this week.

It looks as though it will be the sort of NRL season that top teams lose a few games throughout the year so the Storm won’t be too disheartened by their Round 3 loss. Missing players others coming in underdone, there is a lot of improvement in this side. Grants return, in particular, adds another dimension to the Storm attack. He will pounce on anything from dummy half while Brandon Smith will add some ball-playing through the middle at lock. The Bulldogs, on the other hand, have offered little with the ball all season. If it isn’t Matt Burton stepping off his left foot in good ball or putting a ball into orbit from halfway, or Matt Dufty skipping to the outside on the right, they’ve barely made a dent in the defence. Trent Barrett’s side has improved defensively to start this season but they’re not going to be able to keep the Storm out for 80 minutes. Expect the flood gates to open in the second half and for the Storm to cruise to victory in the end.

Tip: Total Points Bands – Storm 21 to 30 Points @ $2.80

Eels Dragons
Clint Gutherson 1 Tyrell Sloan
Waqa Blake 2 Mathew Feagai
Will Penisini 3 Moses Suli
Tom Opacic 4 Zac Lomax
Bailey Simonsson 5 Mikaele Ravalawa
Dylan Brown 6 Talatau Amone
Mitchell Moses 7 Ben Hunt
Reagan Campbell-Gillard 8 Francis Molo
Reed Mahoney 9 Moses Mbye
Junior Paulo 10 Blake Lawrie
Shaun Lane 11 Jack Bird
Isaiah Papali’i 12 Jack Gosiewski
Nathan Brown 13 Tariq Sims
Makahesi Makatoa 14 Jack de Belin
Ryan Matterson 15 Josh Kerr
Bryce Cartwright 16 Jackson Ford
Oregon Kaufusi 17 Aaron Woods


History:
Played 39, Eels 20, Dragons 17

Last Meeting: Round 5, 2021: Dragons 26 def. Eels 12

Final Thoughts: The Parramatta Eels did what few teams in the NRL ever do and beat the Storm in Melbourne – in Golden Point, no less. The St. George Illawarra Dragons also struggled on their home ground in losing to the Sharks 36-12.

Ryan Matterson is back from his hamstring injury and joins the Eels bench with Bryce Cartwright. Round 3 hero Ray Stone is out for the season while Wiremu Greig also makes way for the returning duo. Anthony Griffin has been forced into a handful of changes to the Dragons 17; Mat Feagai replaces Cody Ramsey and Aaron Woods joins the side for Jaydn Su’A.

“We’ve been here before with the Eels. They can play out a shocker (last week against the Sharks) before putting together a blinder the following week. Consistency has been their issue for the last three seasons and 2022 looks no different at the moment.”NRL Bunker Review – Round 3

It’s the week Parramatta leaves you banging your head against the wall wondering how they produce that after putting together such an impressive performance a week earlier. They make it difficult to trust them despite the fact they shouldn’t have too much of a problem getting past the Dragons on Sunday. Parramatta plays with the superior middle. The return of Matterson will only add to the dominance with his ability to ball-play and expose a fairly average and immobile Dragons middle. Ben Hunt can only do so much for the Dragons attack, too. Talatau Amone has displayed promising moments, but you’re only getting moments from a rookie half with only 14 games of NRL experience. Everything points to an Eels victory in this one. They’re strong in the middle and the spine is playing well enough to make up for a disrupted backline. While the Dragons managed to keep things close with the Panthers in Round 2, their Round 3 loss to the Sharks is a more accurate reflection of where they are at right now.

Tip: Margin – Eels 13+ @ $2.10