General Big League preview



Knights v Bulldogs
EnergyAustralia Stadium
Friday night 7.30pm
This match not only pits the two biggest winners of round two, but two of the greatest pointscorers of the modern era. Between them Andrew Johns and Hazem El Masri collected 64 points last weekend.

Form: The Knights have been so impressive in their opening matches against Parramatta and Canberra, they have been installed as equal competition favourites. The Bulldogs looked to be back to their belligerent best in their mauling of the Wests Tigers.

History: Newcastle won the last meeting, but it was one of just three victories in their last nine clashes against the ’Dogs.

Danger sign: A short week for the Knights, who played in steamy conditions in Canberra last Sunday, while the Bulldogs have had a whole week to prepare.

Best Bet? Bulldogs to build on their success at Telstra Stadium and take this one by a 1-12 margin.

Money-spinner: A fired-up Willie Mason or Mark O’Meley to score the first try.

Tigers v Warriors
Jade Stadium, Christchurch
Saturday night 6.30pm

It’s looking painfully evident the Tigers are in the grip of a grand final curse. They fielded only 10 members of their premiership-winning side last week and now Robbie Farah is out with a broken hand and Bryce Gibbs suspended.

Form: The confidence of the Tigers was rocked by the loss of champion five-eighth Benji Marshall as they succumbed to the Bulldogs, while for the second week running, the Warriors contributed to their own downfall with a spate of handling errors.

History: The Tigers have won both clashes in Christchurch, while the Warriors continue to search for their first victory in New Zealand south of Ericsson.

Danger sign: Young prop Evarn Tuimavave has proven a key impact player for Warriors coach Ivan Cleary and he has the ability threaten the Tigers’ defence close to their line.

Best Bet? Tigers to continue to the Warriors’ run of narrow losses with a 1-12 win in Margins betting.

Money-spinner: A Warriors/Tigers result in the Half/Full double.

Sea Eagles v Sharks
Brookvale Oval
Saturday night 7.30pm

It’s shaping as a key battle between two of the most sought after halfbacks of the modern game. Matt Orford is still finding his feet at Manly, while Brett Kimmorley is striving to lift the Sharks to greater heights.

Form: The Sea Eagles troubled North Queensland, who were the most impressive winners of round one, when they met in Townsville last Saturday night, while the Sharks dropped the ball, repeatedly, in a 16-12 loss to the Broncos.

History: Manly have long dominated the Sharks at Brookvale. Cronulla have the uninspiring record of five wins in 38 years at the northern beaches venue.

Danger sign: Manly’s record under lights. It stands at three wins from their last 12 games at night.

Best Bet? The Sea Eagles to break through for their first win of the season. Take Manly at the 13+ margin.

Money-spinner: Brett Stewart or Steve Bell to score the first try. Between them, the fleet-footed duo has scored all six Manly tries so far.

Cowboys v Storm
Dairy Farmers Stadium
Saturday night 7.30pm

Don’t expect any niceties when these sides face up on Saturday night. A spiteful and controversial clash at Townsville in round 26 last year was followed by a war of words in the build-up to their semi-final a fortnight later.

Form: Both sides are undefeated after two rounds but the Cowboys have been the more impressive in defeating Brisbane and Manly. The Storm failed to put away the Warriors and the Roosters after building substantial leads.

History: The Cowboys have won only four out of 13 clashes since 1998, but importantly, they prevailed in both meetings last season.

Danger sign: A neck injury to hooker Aaron Payne is bad news for the home side. His early form had Queensland State of Origin written all over it and he will be missed.

Best Bet? Melbourne to take advantage of injury concerns among the Cowboys to snatch victory. Take the Storm at the head-to-head or handicap.

Money-spinner: Melbourne’s Greg Inglis to score the first try. He scored first against the Warriors and first against the Roosters, both times in the ninth minute of play.

Rabbitohs v Dragons
Telstra Stadium
Sunday 2.30pm
Injuries and their now traditional slow start make the Dragons, at one time outright premiership favourites, no sure things to beat the Rabbitohs on Sunday.

Form: The Dragons are out of sorts, they’re missing key players and don’t look ready to play their best football for some time yet. Souths crashed after leading the Roosters in round one and missed last weekend with the bye.

History: Since 1999 the Dragons have won eight games straight, but the Rabbitohs achieved a 14-12 Charity Shield win in February.

Danger sign: Beware of a pumped up South Sydney. Last Sunday’s history-making vote and the possibility of a huge turnout by Souths fans could send red and green spirits soaring.

Best Bet? The loss of Luke Bailey tips the scales in favour of the Rabbitohs. Take Souths at the 1-12 Margin.

Money-spinner: These teams average more than 50 points per match. Try the 51-60 points range in Total Match Points betting.

Roosters v Raiders
Aussie Stadium
Sunday 3pm

Outside of a few hard-headed veterans, the Raiders are a team short on big-match experience and they were exposed embarrassingly in front of their home crowd last Sunday.

Form: Slow starts have meant the Roosters have been forced to play from behind in matches against Souths and Melbourne. The Raiders beat Manly away from home before their woeful effort against Newcastle last Sunday. One of those performances was an aberration.

History: The Roosters have won eight of the last nine meetings and the last nine in succession against the Raiders at Aussie Stadium.

Danger sign: Given the opportunity, the Roosters’ backline has the capacity to carry on the demolition work of the Knights.

Best Bet? Sydney Roosters 13+ at the Margins.

Money-spinner: Amos Roberts to score the first try. He has scored at least once in eight successive games for the Roosters.

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