NRL Bunker Review – Round 13

While it was only four games, Round 13 of the 2022 NRL season still produced plenty of talking points as the Panthers and Cowboys impressed, in particular.

Statement Game of Round 13:

Statements are made every round in the NRL. In Round 12 it was the Sydney Roosters. This week it’s the North Queensland Cowboys.

The top teams in the NRL find ways to work around State of Origin. Somewhat unexpected this year, the North Queensland Cowboys are one of those teams dealing with players in Origin camp. Still, all of the work Todd Payten has done with this side paid dividends on Thursday night as they beat the Gold Coast Titans 32-6 at Cbus Super Stadium.

As has been the case most weeks, the Cowboys played patient football to start. They wore some defensive pressure early but the line remained in tact outside of a Toby Sexton try. However, once the Titans ran out of ideas with the ball and the Cowboys started to work themselves into the game, the floodgates opened up. Three tries in five minutes from the 25th minute of the match all but put this one to bed.

The Titans crumble at the slightest sign of difficulty while the Cowboys play with the second-best defence in the NRL. As expected, the Cowboys cruised once they were in front to register their ninth win of the 2022 season. Had you asked whether or not the Cowboys would win nine games in total this year, most footy fans would have walked away laughing.

Panthers Continue To Firm For Premiership

The Penrith Panthers came into Round 13 without Nathan Cleary, Jarome Luai, Brian To’o, Liam Martin, Stephen Crichton and Brian To’o. Still, they beat the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs with relative ease to win 30-18 and remain at the top of the NRL ladder.

Being able to send out a second-string side must fill Ivan Cleary with confidence. The Panthers stumbled a little bit after the State of Origin period last year but Cleary knows he can afford to reintroduce his star players slowly with the backup options capable of doing the job.

With the option to ease through this portion of the season and towards the NRL Finals, the Panthers are appealing $2.50 favourites to win the premiership. The Melbourne Storm ($3.75) are the only team within touching distance of the Panthers in the premiership winner market with the Sydney Roosters and Cowboys on the third line of betting at $12.

Brown + Warriors = Loss

Another week, another loss for the New Zealand Warriors. This time, they barely threw a punch at an undermanned Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles side. Despite playing without Tom Trbojevic and Daly Cherry-Evans, the Sea Eagles cruised to a 44-12 win.

While the Warriors have claimed that Nathan Brown will remain as head coach until the end of the 2022 NRL season, it feels more and more like his time at the club will come to an end sooner rather than later.

The Warriors looked like a team that isn’t interested in playing for their coach right now. He conceded after the defeat that sometimes they would just like to compete in games. When the man in charge doesn’t think the game can be won before kickoff, why would the players?

With the Sharks and Panthers to come over the next fortnight, there is every chance the Warriors make their long-awaited return to New Zealand in Round 16 having lost seven on the bounce and nine of their previous ten games. Brown must be weighing up whether or not he wants to make that trip across the Tasman…

As it stands, the Warriors are on the third line of betting to end the 2022 NRL season holding the wooden spoon.


State of Origin I

It’s State of Origin week and the New South Wales Blues enter as $1.60 favourites. Much has been made over Freddy Fittler’s selections but the proof will be in the pudding when he eats it on Wednesday and the market suggests his side will come out on top. However, we know better than to rule the Queensland Maroons ($2.35) out of a Game I win. While the Blues ripped through the Maroons to win 50-0 in the series opener last year, we’re unlikely to see anything close to a repeat this time around.

Billy Slater has named a strong Queensland side, and while there is some inexperience on the edges, they profile well through the middle and their spine is capable of piling up points if given the chance. If the pack dominate the middle and generate tackles inside the opposition’s 20-metre line, Cameron Munster, Harry Grant and Kalyn Ponga are more than capable of ticking Queensland well over their 16.5 points total ($2.01).

The Blues have been the better side in recent years and come into this one as deserving favourites, but the Maroons always bounce back. Expect this one to be close and set the standard for the series.