NRL Tips & Preview – Round 6

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 6 matches.

Raiders Cowboys
Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad 1 Scott Drinkwater
Nick Cotric 2 Kyle Feldt
Matthew Timoko 3 Valentine Holmes
Semi Valemei 4 Peta Hiku
Jordan Rapana 5 Murray Taulagi
Jack Wighton 6 Tom Dearden
Brad Schneider 7 Chad Townsend
Josh Papalii 8 Jordan McLean
Tom Starling 9 Reece Robson
Joseph Tapine 10 Coen Hess
Corey Harawira-Naera 11 Tom Gilbert
Elliott Whitehead 12 Jeremiah Nanai
Ryan Sutton 13 Jason Taumalolo
Xavier Savage 14 Jake Granville
Emre Guler 15 Heilum Luki
Adam Elliott 16 Reuben Cotter
Corey Horsburgh 17 Connelly Lemuelu


History:
Played 42, Raiders 21, Cowboys 21

Last Meeting: Round 2, 2022: Cowboys 26 def. Raiders 6

Final Thoughts: The Canberra Raiders took too long to get off the bus in Round 5 as they let the Storm run out to a huge lead on their way to a 30-16 win. Meanwhile, the North Queensland Cowboys only have themselves to blame after a handful of soft tries allowed the Warriors to take home the two competition points with a 25-24 win.

Xavier Savage is onto the Raiders bench for his first game of the 2022 NRL season. For the Cowboys, Coen Hess has been named to start with Reuben Cotter to the bench. Jamayne Taunoa-Brown and Griffin Neame will miss the game while in concussion protocols.

The rollercoaster continues for the Raiders as they struggle to form any consistency on either side of the ball. Fittingly, the Cowboys are similar. Both have plenty of points in them but putting it all together over an extended period is proving to be an issue. Neither are defending particularly well either. The Raiders leaked too many early points last week while the Cowboys allowed the Warriors to score a couple of terribly soft tries, costing them victory in the end. This could well be an ugly game which turns our focus to the middle. The Cowboys are 3rd in the NRL in yardage averaging 1,745 running metres per game. Tom Dearden and Chad Townsend aren’t the most creative of halves but they have found success when their middle gets downhill. The Raiders, on the other hand, run for the fewest metres per game of any team in the competition. Anticipating a lengthy arm-wrestle to start and a fairly ugly game overall, yardage is crucially important and it’s an area the Cowboys are likely to dominate.

Tip: Handicap – Cowboys +4.5 @ $1.90

Rabbitohs Bulldogs
Blake Taaffe 1 Matt Dufty
Alex Johnston 2 Brent Naden
Taane Milne 3 Braidon Burns
Campbell Graham 4 Jake Averillo
Josh Mansour 5 Josh Addo-Carr
Cody Walker 6 Matt Burton
Lachlan Ilias 7 Kyle Flanagan
Tevita Tatola 8 Luke Thompson
Damien Cook 9 Jeremy Marshall-King
Thomas Burgess 10 Paul Vaughan
Keaon Koloamatangi 11 Corey Waddell
Jai Arrow 12 Tevita Pangai Junior
Cameron Murray 13 Josh Jackson
Hame Sele 14 Brandon Wakeham
Jacob Host 15 Chris Patolo
Davvy Moale 16 Max King
Liam Knight 17 Joe Stimson


History:
Played 42, Rabbitohs 18, Bulldogs 23

Last Meeting: Round 18, 2021: Rabbitohs 32 def. Bulldogs 24

Final Thoughts: The 24-12 scoreline doesn’t do the South Sydney Rabbitohs dominance over the Dragons justice last week. Again, they’re close to clicking. As for the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs, they’re still struggling to score points despite scoring 12 to the Panthers’ 32.

The Rabbitohs have lost Latrell Mitchell for an extended period with Blake Taaffe named as his replacement. Trent Barrett has named what is mostly an unchanged side with Chris Patolo swapping with Ava Seumanufagai.

The Rabbitohs are threatening. At least, they were threatening before Latrell Mitchell went down with his latest injury. Blake Taaffe is a capable replacement but brings down the ceiling of the Rabbitohs attack which plays into the hands of the Bulldogs this week. Awful to start the year, the Bulldogs rank 16th in the NRL in points scored at only eight points per game. Kyle Flanagan did look better in the #7 jersey last week and Matt Burton will benefit the longer he is there. However, the Dogs still have a long way to go if they’re to start creating points. Similarly, their defence, while improved, still has a lot of holes in it. Matt Dufty is one hole in particular. He’s a target around the ruck in good ball and the Rabbitohs love to crash big bodies into that area. They will look left to find points through Cody Walker and company, but it’s Cameron Murray and the forwards that will be licking their lips at a possible meat pie on Friday night. The Bulldogs leak tries in the middle and it’s not difficult to imagine Murray playing Thomas Burgess short to crash over the line at some stage throughout the match.

Tip: Anytime Tryscorer – Thomas Burgess @ $10

Panthers Broncos
Dylan Edwards 1 Tesi Niu
Charlie Staines 2 Corey Oates
Izack Tago 3 Kotoni Staggs
Stephen Crichton 4 Herbie Farnworth
Taylan May 5 Selwyn Cobbo
Jarome Luai 6 Billy Walters
Nathan Cleary 7 Adam Reynolds
Matthew Eisenhuth 8 Keenan Palasia
Apisai Koroisau 9 Jake Turpin
James Fisher-Harris 10 Corey Jensen
Viliame Kikau 11 Kurt Capewell
Liam Martin 12 Jordan Riki
Isaah Yeo 13 Kobe Hetherington
Mitch Kenny 14 Ryan James
Scott Sorensen 15 Rhys Kennedy
Spencer Leniu 16 TC Robati
Jaeman Salmon 17 Cory Paix


History:
Played 39, Panthers 15, Broncos 23

Last Meeting: Round 19, 2021: Panthers 18 def. Broncos 12

Final Thoughts: The Penrith Panthers remain as the only unbeaten team in the NRL following their 32-12 win over the Bulldogs. It looked as though the Brisbane Broncos had recaptured some form but fell behind the Roosters to lose 24-20.

Ivan Cleary has the pleasure of naming an unchanged Panthers 17 for the third consecutive week. Kevin Walters doesn’t have the same luxury with Payne Haas ruled out. Corey Jensen is into the starting side and Rhys Kennedy onto the bench.

The Panthers aren’t playing their best football across the full 80 minutes just yet, but when they string it all together for periods, they look unbeatable. With Nathan Cleary and Isaah Yeo reading the defence and passing teammates into position, the Panthers rarely miss an opportunity to strike. As the ball goes left, Cleary and Yeo are plotting their next strike on the return shift and the Bulldogs couldn’t handle it last week. The Broncos are unlikely to have much more success. While they started the season well and showed some starch in their defence, in particular, it has all been downhill for Kevin Walters’ side recently. Adam Reynolds has his moments but can only do so much within a game. Not having Payne Haas in front of him to lay the platform will only make things more difficult in this one. However, there have been enough promising periods of edge defence to be hopeful of the visitors keeping this one close. Kotoni Staggs will shoot out and cause Jarome Luai some trouble while Kurt Capewell’s influence on the edge is always a positive factor. The Panthers are only too willing to be patient and get into the grind of a game. There is no better team in the NRL at playing to the right points and applying pressure. The Broncos aren’t likely to cause an upset, but they can keep the game close by getting into the grind early and playing simple footy – something Reynolds can manage if the players around him buy in.

Tip: Handicap – Broncos +21.5 @ $1.90

Sea Eagles Titans
Reuben Garrick 1 Jamayne Isaako
Jason Saab 2 Phillip Sami
Brad Parker 3 Brian Kelly
Tolutau Koula 4 Patrick Herbert
Christian Tuipulotu 5 Greg Marzhew
Kieran Foran 6 AJ Brimson
Daly Cherry-Evans 7 Toby Sexton
Josh Aloiai 8 Moeaki Fotuaika
Lachlan Croker 9 Erin Clark
Martin Taupau 10 Isaac Liu
Haumole Olakau’atu 11 David Fifita
Andrew Davey 12 Beau Fermor
Jake Trbojevic 13 Tino Fa’asuamaleaui
Dylan Walker 14 Will Smith
Karl Lawton 15 Sam Lisone
Sean Keppie 16 Jaimin Jolliffe
Taniela Paseka 17 Jarrod Wallace


History:
Played 23, Sea Eagles 13, Titans 10

Last Meeting: Round 15, 2021: Sea Eagles 56 def. Titans 24

Final Thoughts: Plenty doubted a Tom Trbojevic-less Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles heading into Round 5 but they did it easy to beat the Knights 30-6 in terrible conditions. Meanwhile, the Gold Coast Titans started too slowly and let the Eels pull out to an early lead ahead of their 26-20 win.

Tolutau Koula will run out this week in the Sea Eagles centres with Morgan Harper ruled out with COVID. For the Titans, Brian Kelly is back into the centres which pushes Phil Sami to the wing and Corey Thompson out of the side. Sam Lisone is taking Kevin Proctor’s spot on the bench.

Tom Trbojevic significantly raises the ceiling of this Sea Eagles side – of that there is no doubt. However, the floor when he’s not available isn’t quite the issue it was in the past. They executed an excellent game plan in the wet last week and appear to have learned to cope without Trbojevic to the point they should continue to beat teams below them on the NRL ladder. In Daly Cherry-Evans and Kieran Foran, Manly have two key playmakers who can create points and manage a game with or without their superstar fullback. The Titans, on the other hand, are still heavily reliant on individual play and are adjusting to a new spine to start this season. While they play out some dangerous periods, they’re winning or hanging in games on the back of a piece of individual brilliance more often than not. Those dangerous periods often coincide with a mid-game nap costing them points and putting them on the back foot, too. Round 5 is a promising indication of Manly’s ability to produce across a full game with the ball and their defence is improving on the back of it. Provided they’re patient with the ball and make the most of the inevitable moments the Titans fall asleep, the Sea Eagles have more than enough points in them to keep a streaky Titans side at arms length.

Tip: Handicap – Sea Eagles -5.5 @ $1.90

Storm Sharks
Ryan Papenhuyzen 1 William Kennedy
Nick Meaney 2 Sione Katoa
Reimis Smith 3 Jesse Ramien
Justin Olam 4 Siosifa Talakai
Xavier Coates 5 Ronaldo Mulitalo
Cameron Munster 6 Matt Moylan
Jahrome Hughes 7 Nicho Hynes
Jesse Bromwich 8 Toby Rudolf
Harry Grant 9 Blayke Brailey
Nelson Asofa-Solomona 10 Braden Hamlin-Uele
Felise Kaufusi 11 Briton Nikora
Kenneath Bromwich 12 Teig Wilton
Josh King 13 Dale Finucane
Brandon Smith 14 Aiden Tolman
Tyran Wishart 15 Cameron McInnes
Trent Loiero 16 Jack Williams
Tepai Moeroa 17 Andrew Fifita


History:
Played 42, Storm 27, Sharks 15

Last Meeting: Round 25, 2021: Storm 28 def. Sharks 16

Final Thoughts: The Melbourne Storm are growing into the 2022 NRL season and started to look particularly dangerous throughout their 30-16 win over the Raiders. The Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks have also played themselves into super form as they continued their hot start with a 30-4 win over the Tigers.

The Storm are bringing back Tyran Wishart this week with Alec MacDonald out of the side. Similarly, the Sharks have only made one change with Aiden Tolman replacing Royce Hunt on the bench.

This is perhaps the most unexpected Game of the Season contender so far following the Sharks’ hot start to the year. Their attack is one of the prettiest in the NRL at the moment with former Storm utility Nicho Hynes steering the ship. Hynes is linking up well with Matt Moylan and Will Kennedy for the Sharks to be among the best-attacking teams through five rounds, and the sense is they will only get better as Hynes continues to grow into his new halfback role. Meanwhile, the Storm are one of the few that are better. Jahrome Hughes, Cameron Munster, Harry Grant and Ryan Papenhuyzen are all in superb form and scoring plenty of points behind a pack that is improving every week. There isn’t a lot to split these two sides on form. Where the split starts to come is in Melbourne’s home ground advantage and the fact they have been doing all of this for years. This game will take on some extra publicity which won’t faze the home side. The Sharks, on the other hand, might start to feel some of the pressure heading into a game that will act as a true measuring stick for their start to the 2022 NRL season. Despite both teams playing with wide-ranging attacks, this one looks set to be played through the centre-third early. Yardage and possession will be key to victory in this one and neither side will want to provide the other with easy passage up the field throughout the opening stages.

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

Roosters Warriors
James Tedesco 1 Reece Walsh
Daniel Tupou 2 Dallin Watene-Zelezniak
Paul Momirovski 3 Jesse Arthars
Joseph Manu 4 Adam Pompey
Kevin Naiqama 5 Edward Kosi
Sam Walker 6 Chanel Harris-Tavita
Luke Keary 7 Shaun Johnson
Jared Waerea-Hargreaves 8 Addin Fonua-Blake
Sam Verrills 9 Wayde Egan
Lindsay Collins 10 Matthew Lodge
Nat Butcher 11 Euan Aitken
Sitili Tupouniua 12 Bayley Sironen
Victor Radley 13 Josh Curran
Connor Watson 14 Kodi Nikorima
Fletcher Baker 15 Bunty Afoa
Angus Crichton 16 Aaron Pene
Siosiua Taukeiaho 17 Eliesa Katoa


History:
Played 41, Roosters 19, Warriors 21

Last Meeting: Round 4, 2021: Roosters 32 def. Warriors 12

Final Thoughts: The Sydney Roosters made hard work of their 24-20 win over the Broncos after allowing them to pull out to a 10-0 lead last week. Meanwhile, the New Zealand Warriors waited until the very end to secure their 25-24 win over the Cowboys in Townsville.

In big news for the Roosters, Sam Verrills will make his first appearance of the NRL season while Sio Siua Taukeiaho also returns. Drew Hutchison and Daniel Suluka-Fifita make way. Jack Murchie and Marcelo Montoya are out for the Warriors, replaced by Eli Katoa and Dallin Watene-Zelezniak.

There is something about the Roosters right now. They don’t look themselves in the way relatively easy games are being made to look so difficult. A Warriors side high on confidence and with nothing to lose makes for a dangerous matchup with the Roosters continuing to struggle across 80 minutes. Sam Verrills is a huge addition to the Roosters side, though. They’ve lacked direction from behind the ruck and his service to pass players onto the ball will help the forward pack get up the field. Having a genuine #9 will allow James Tedesco to play wide and receive cleaner ball, too. Similar to the Rabbitohs, it feels as though it could all click for the Roosters any game now. Meanwhile, the Warriors have somewhat overachieved recently. Their Round 3 win remains as one of the worst ever. Marginally better to beat a poor Broncos side in Round 4, a handful of soft tries provided them with victory over the Cowboys in Round 5. They’re playing what is in front of them and taking the sort of chances they missed last season. However, they still look like a bottom eight side right now. Shaun Johnson and Chanel Harris-Tavita are linking up particularly well but face a Roosters side stacked with attacking talent this week. The Warriors will do well to keep it close on the scoreboard in the end.

Tip: Win Try Combo – James Tedesco/Roosters win @ $2.10

Dragons Knights
Moses Mbye 1 Kalyn Ponga
Mathew Feagai 2 Edrick Lee
Moses Suli 3 Dane Gagai
Zac Lomax 4 Bradman Best
Mikaele Ravalawa 5 Enari Tuala
Jack Bird 6 Jake Clifford
Ben Hunt 7 Adam Clune
Francis Molo 8 David Klemmer
Andrew McCullough 9 Chris Randall
Josh Kerr 10 Daniel Saifiti
Tariq Sims 11 Tyson Frizell
Jaydn Su’a 12 Brodie Jones
Jack de Belin 13 Kurt Mann
Talatau Amone 14 Phoenix Crossland
Blake Lawrie 15 Jacob Saifiti
Josh McGuire 16 Leo Thompson
George Burgess 17 Sauaso Sue


History:
Played 41, Dragons 28, Knights 13

Last Meeting: Round 4, 2021: Dragons 22 def. Knights 13

Final Thoughts: The St. George Illawarra Dragons are not a good rugby league side and their ‘Moneyball’ approach is playing out how most expected with another loss – this time 24-12 to the Rabbitohs. Not quite so bad but out of form, the Newcastle Knights never looked like beating the Sea Eagles throughout their 30-6 loss last week.

Josh Maguire is back from his lengthy suspension and will join the Dragons bench. Aaron Woods will be there with him after Josh Kerr was elevated to the starting side. George Burgess is also back in the place of Jackson Ford. David Klemmer is back for the Knights which pushes Jacob Saifiti to the bench and Jirah Momoisea out of the side. Edrick Lee will also play his first NRL match in 18 months to replace the injured Dom Young.

Unsurprisingly, signing older players unwanted by other clubs hasn’t paid off for the Dragons to start the 2022 NRL season. Their attack is poor and their middle defence swings like a gate. Anthony Griffin is continuing to play a backrower at five-eighth and bench utility at fullback while leaving two of his best young talents out of the starting side. They’re doing the same things and expecting different results. Meanwhile, the Knights are the opposite. They’ve moved away from what worked to start the season and adjusted their attack upon Kalyn Ponga’s return. It is expected and does show the odd glimpse of promise but, for the most part, the Knights have looked worse since Ponga joined the side. Running against a slow middle and leaky edge defence is exactly what the Knights need to play themselves into form, though. They play hard through the middle and fast down the edges. With Ponga popping up around the ruck to exploit the Dragons slow middle, the Knights should find themselves playing on the front foot for long periods of this match. They haven’t been able to turn possession into points over the last few weeks, but face the worst defence in the NRL in this one.

Tip: Head-to-head – Knights @ $2.40

Eels Tigers
Clinton Gutherson 1 Daine Laurie
Will Penisini 2 David Nofoaluma
Tom Opacic 3 James Roberts
Marata Niukore 4 Luke Garner
Bailey Simonsson 5 Starford To’a
Dylan Brown 6 Luke Brooks
Mitchell Moses 7 Jackson Hastings
Reagan Campbell-Gillard 8 James Tamou
Reed Mahoney 9 Jake Simpkin
Oregon Kaufusi 10 Zane Musgrove
Shaun Lane 11 Kelma Tuilagi
Isaiah Papali’i 12 Luciano Leilua
Nathan Brown 13 Joe Ofahengaue
Makahesi Makatoa 14 Jock Madden
Ryan Matterson 15 Alex Twal
Hayze Perham 16 Thomas Mikaele
Mitch Rein 17 Alex Seyfarth


History:
Played 43, Eels 27, Tigers 15

Last Meeting: Round 14, 2021: Eels 40 def. Tigers 12

Final Thoughts: The Parramatta Eels are playing themselves into premiership contention to be one of the form teams of the NRL right now. They looked excellent throughout their 24-20 win over the Titans. Meanwhile, the Wests Tigers are the opposite. They are without a win following their 30-4 loss to the Sharks.

Brad Arthur is still struggling for consistency in his Eels outside backs. Waqa Blake is out which sees Will Penisini to the wing and Marata Niukore to the centres. Junior Paulo’s suspension brings Oregon Kaufusi into the starting side while Shaun Lane is also back. Strap yourselves in for the Tigers changes: Daine Laurie, Jackson Hastings, Jake Simpkin and James Roberts are all back; Tyrone Peachey, Jacob Liddle, Ken Maumalo and Oliver Gildart are all out. Luke Brooks has been moved to five-eighth in a desperate attempt to do… something.

Tigers coach Michael Maguire is desperate. He has moved players in, out and around his side this week in an attempt to land on the winning formula. That formula is unlikely to equal two competition points this week against an Eels side playing with confidence. Mitchell Moses and Dylan Brown are one of the form pairings in the NRL right now and are playing behind a pack that is flying up the field with relative ease. Worryingly for the Tigers who don’t do well holding up the other side in yardage, the Eels ran for 1,894 metres last week – almost 500 more metres than the Titans. They’re relentless in their carries while Moses and Brown cause havoc on the edges with the ball. Only a top tier defensive effort from the Tigers can keep this one close. Based on what we’ve see throughout the first five rounds of the season, that won’t happen. With the Eels home in front of a packed crowd against a side they love to beat up on, this one could get ugly.

Tip: To win to Nill – Eels @ $6.50