The Dragons put in one of the top performances of the week last round, while the Sharks are back home from a tough away trip to North Queensland. The Sharks proved what many of us suspected, it’s going to take some time for their spine and in particular who plays fullback to be sorted. Dugan is expected to share the roll with Holmes, though I wouldn’t be surprised if he plays a large majority of the game there.
While the Dragons looked great, we feel they were somewhat flattered by a very poor Broncos. Playing the Sharks pack at home will be a much tougher assignment and give us all a better indication of where the Dragons are really at.
This is a local derby for these two teams. We expect the Sharks to bounce back and improve greatly, though expect a tight encounter which could fall either way.
The Roosters are coming off a shock loss to the Tigers in their season opener. The team looked flat and struggled with their new halves combination and fullback. We expect a much-improved performance, greatly boosted by Luke Keary at five-eighth who will add speed on the left side and a sense of familiarity to the halves.
The Bulldogs were somewhat impressive, scoring 18 points against the Storm, yet were ultimately unsuccessful. They will draw positives from that game and look to come out hard against the more fancied Roosters. We expect this to be a tough battle and potentially a low scoring affair between two teams both looking to settle under new systems.
A massive Qld derby for these two clubs, with four of their last six matches having gone to golden point, and one other being decided by a single point.
The Cowboys come into the clash as favourites having seen off the Sharks last week while the Broncos were basically the dud team of round 1. The Broncos were atrocious trying to maintain possession of the ball and were made to look pretty ordinary by a strong Dragons pack.
The Broncos play at home for the first time in 2018 and will be fired up for this game. The Cowboys though, look to be the much better team and should be able to pull away.
The Warriors play their first home game of the season after coming off a rampaging win all the way over in Perth. This was a fit, determined and enthusiastic Warriors like we haven’t seen for some time. The Titans showed great distain for goal line defence last week, allowing three easy and early tries to the Raiders. The Titans did hit back however, ultimately winning with a try from the last play of the game.
The latest news indicates that the Titans will be without their key playmaker Ash Taylor. If the Warriors bring any of the form they showed last week, we should see them easily clear the line.
South Sydney face a tough away match in Penrith without halfback Adam Reynolds. While Penrith’s forward pack looked brutal last week in their come-from-behind victory over the Eels.
The Rabbitohs will be looking to bounce back after a tough opening round against the Warriors, though history shows they have won only 8 of 9 matches the weeks after playing in Perth. If this is a battle through the middle Penrith will win easily, attack the edges and we might have an interesting match.
Billy Slater is back for the Storm and playing his 300th game in the Premiers first home game this season. Storm turn it on for big occasions like no other team. Not only do they always win big milestone matches, but they normally win big. The Tigers will be encouraged after their upset victory over the Roosters and looking to show it was no fluke. Tigers will look to stay in the grind and get up and in the face of the Storm.
Tigers have been an unders team ever since Ivan Cleary took over, improving their defence dramatically. We expect this game to be 4 or 5 Storm tries to 1 or 2 Tigers, and as such like the points total at under 44.5.
Two teams who are both looking to record their first win this week and would very much feel they should have won their respective matches last week. On paper these two teams looking evenly matched. We expect Manly will be wanting to see more of Tom Trbojevic running around the ruck, while Eels will be wanting to give some of their star backline players more room.
A tight contest, in which we think the Eels should be just a little better.
The Raiders looked strong last week, crashing over for three easy tries before showing that not much has changed and letting an 18-nil lead slip away. The Knights were tough at home, though we have questions over whether they can produce this form every week, particularly away from home.
We like the Raiders here.