Brisbane Broncos vs St George Illawarra Dragons – Thursday night – Suncorp Stadium
In recent years the Dragons have started the season well only to falter at the business end of proceedings. Not so in 2019, although they have faced two formidable opponents thus far. This opponent looks no less formidable. The Broncos pack stood up and delivered in the Queensland derby and the result was never in doubt. Korbin Sims adds some vigour in the middle for the Dragons. They still bring a powerful pack to Suncorp on Thursday, but with Frizell and de Belin unavailable I expect they'll be out-muscled again.
Verdict – Broncos by 10
Result – Dragons 25 defeated Broncos 24
Canberra Raiders vs Newcastle Knights – Friday night – GIO Stadium
Two former fullbacks come five-eighths face each other in Jack Wighton and Kalyn Ponga. The jury is still out on whether either of them can become the next Darren Lockyer, but thus far they've both made a pretty good fist of their new roles. The Raiders were competitive against the Storm last week and that's looking like reasonable form (as it has been for about 20 years now). Both teams have impressed me with their defence and I'm expecting a tight, low-scoring contest here. Home advantage and the steadying influence of Jarrod Croker can get the green machine over the line.
Verdict – Raiders by 2
Result – Raiders 17 defeated Knights 10
Parramatta Eels vs Sydney Roosters – Friday night – ANZ Stadium
The Eels remain undefeated but I'm leaping to the conclusion that the Roosters competitive loss to the Rabbits and a good win over the Sea Eagles at Brookvale is better form than Eels victories over the Panthers and Bulldogs. Mind you, it's very early in the season to be leaping to any conclusions. Luke Keary was outstanding for the Chooks last weekend and I expect he'll be even better with Jake Friend and Cooper Cronk set to return. Regardless the Eels are entitled to go into this game with confidence. The game of the round I say.
Verdict – Roosters by 7
Result – Roosters 32 defeated Eels 18
Manly Sea Eagles vs New Zealand Warriors – Saturday afternoon – Christchurch Stadium
Some guides have this game being played at Lottoland and it's pretty darn important for tipsters to know that it isn't – Manly are taking this game to Christchurch. How the Warriors respond to this is anyone's guess, but they were very impressive in their first game at Mt Smart in the aftermath of the Christchurch shootings. I'll assume they will respond positively again. The return of Tom Trbojevic for the Sea Eagles couldn't come soon enough...but I doubt it's enough.
Verdict – Warriors by 10
Result – Sea Eagles 46 defeated Warriors 12
North Queensland Cowboys vs Cronulla Sharks – Saturday afternoon – 1300SMILES Stadium
This is the game that has me scratching my enormous head more than any other in round three. The Cowboys pack will be desperate to prove they can deliver without Taumalolo, especially at home. That would normally give me reason enough to tip them, but not this time. Paul Gallen goes past Andrew Ettingshausen as the player to pull on the Sharks jersey more than any other player. As much as I don't like the bloke, it's an extraordinary achievement given the position he plays and the amount of games he couldn't play during his career due to suspensions and representative duties. The Sharks will be desperate to win for the cranky old buggar, and I expect ET will be there to wish him well before and after the game.
Verdict – Sharks by 4
Result – Sharks 42 defeated Cowboys 16
Penrith Panthers vs Melbourne Storm – Saturday night – Carrington Park
An improved performance from the Penrith Panthers in round two but consistency remains an issue. Not only do they need to perform week in week out but they need to perform throughout the 80 minutes of a match. The Panthers continue to drift in and out of games and you can't do that against the very good sides. Consistency has never been an issue for the purple machine.
Verdict – Storm by 8
Result – Storm 32 defeated Panthers 2
Wests Tigers vs Canterbury Bulldogs – Sunday afternoon – Campbelltown Stadium
The awkwardly named Wests Tigers have been in the NRL competition since the turn of this century. I'm advised by the stats gurus that this is the first time in their history they've been on top of the NRL ladder. After this game they will be on the top of the NRL ladder for the second time in their history.
Verdict – Tigers by 8
Result – Bulldogs 22 defeated Tigers 8
South Sydney Rabbitohs vs Gold Coast Titans – Sunday night – ANZ Stadium
Wayne Bennett, stubborn old buggar that he is, doesn't mind proving a point. Since his spectacularly unceremonious departure from the club he contributed so much to, he's settled into his new lodgings quite nicely thanks very much. The Rabbitohs haven't looked like losing, while their opponents this weekend haven't looked like winning. Someone out there will be bold enough to tip the Titans on Sunday...but it won't be me.
Verdict – Rabbitohs by 14
Result – Rabbitohs 28 defeated Titans 20
Wally Lewis - round three selections (in bold)
Note: tips from Wally will be published on Wednesday night or early Thursday morning.
- BRONCOS vs Dragons
- RAIDERS vs Knights
- EELS vs Roosters
- Sea Eagles vs WARRIORS
- Cowboys vs SHARKS
- Panthers vs STORM
- TIGERS vs Bulldogs
- RABBITOHS vs Titans