St George Illawarra Dragons vs South Sydney Rabbitohs – Thursday night – Netstrata Jubilee Stadium
Tyson Frizell has been busting his balls for years, but he really pushed the limits in round one and he'll be sidelined for quite some time (it hurts to even write that). Not a lot of the 'new' coaches got their seasons underway with a victory, but the wily old master did and few thought he would. Wayne Bennett is smart enough to know that his side will have an edge in the forwards on Thursday. The Dragons are without Frizell, de Belin and Korbin Sims, while the Bunnies have the Burgess brethren in full swing. The Rabbits pack will rumble up the park, and Damien Cook will make the most of it. The risk is the Bunnies don't get themselves up for this game after being up for the Roosters clash. It's a risk, but I'm tipping them.
Verdict – Rabbitohs by 4
Result – Rabbitohs 34 defeated Dragons 18
Canberra Raiders vs Melbourne Storm – Friday night – GIO Stadium
Here's two teams I got wrong in round one, and if I get this tip wrong, I'll get them both wrong in round two as well. Only the Raiders kept their opponents scoreless last weekend but there were a few mitigating factors at play. The Storm were, not surprisingly, clinical in defence against the Broncos. I'm going to assume that's the better form line, but whatever happens this looks like a tight low scoring contest. The Storm are pretty hard to beat under those circumstances...and any circumstances to be fair. Watch Cameron Smith slip into the halfback role while Brandon Smith is on the field – it's a good watch.
Verdict – Storm by 4
Result – Storm 22 defeated Raiders 10
Brisbane Broncos vs North Queensland Cowboys – Friday night – Suncorp Stadium
It's a contest that rarely disappoints. The Cowboys did most things right against the Dragons while the Broncos showed enough positive signs to suggest they'll be a force this season. The suspension of Matt Lodge is significant, because few forwards get through as much work as he does. Furthermore, one of the Broncos former toilers, Josh McGuire, lines up against his old club. He'll have plenty to say should the Cowboys run away with this one. In round one Taumalolo clocked up an astonishing 300+ metres with the ball in hand, three other Cowboys forwards cracked the century, and Matt Scott was just shy of 100 metres despite spending less than half an hour on the park. A repeat of figures like that and the Broncos will be trapped in their own half for much of the contest as they were against the Storm. Even without Lodge, I'm expecting an even contest in the middle this time around. If it's close, and I expect it will be, the goal-kicking of Isaako could prove the difference.
Verdict – Broncos by 2
Result – Broncos 29 defeated Cowboys 10
Cronulla Sharks vs Gold Coast Titans – Saturday afternoon – Shark Park
Another two teams I got wrong in round one (Thinker shakes head). These two sides have scored just one try for the year thus far. As Kanye would say "I couldn't get much wronger". That one try was for the Sharks, it took them 72 minutes to get there (and there was an element of dodgytown about it when they did). The Titans had some excuses last week, with their halfback withdrawing before the game and their five-eighth coming off injured shortly thereafter. At least the playmaking combination of Peachey and Brimson can spend some time preparing this time around. They'll be better, but a win over the Sharks at their dreadful home ground looks unlikely.
Verdict – Sharks by 4
Result – Sharks 20 defeated Titans 6
Newcastle Knights vs Penrith Panthers – Saturday afternoon – McDonald Jones Stadium
I can't believe it folks, but another embarrassing video has been leaked involving players from the Penrith Panthers. Here is the link:
The Knights impressed me last week. The Panthers not so much.
Verdict – Knights by 4
Result – Panthers 16 defeated Knights 14
Manly Sea Eagles vs Sydney Roosters – Saturday night – Lottoland
Another pair of losers hoping to get their seasons off the mark this weekend. While the Roosters were unimpressive they saved their best for the last ten minutes (when the game was over). At least they finished well. It's hard to see where the Sea Eagles have any edge over their opponents this weekend. About the only positive I can find is the venue, but Brookvale isn't the fortress it once was. Turbo Tom isn't due back until round four at the earliest – it's going to be a long month.
Verdict – Roosters by 8
Result – Roosters 26 defeated Sea Eagles 18
Canterbury Bulldogs vs Parramatta Eels – Sunday afternoon – ANZ Stadium
If I went to a restaurant and ordered the chowder surprise, then spent the next fourteen hours talking to the toilet, you wouldn't think I would back up at the same restaurant the following weekend and order it again. But that's exactly what Dean Pay is doing with his unchanged Bulldogs line-up on Sunday. At what point does loyalty become stupidity? Perhaps Pay doesn't have a lot of dining options. I've never eaten Eel in my life – there's always a first.
Verdict – Eels by 4
Result – Eels 36 defeated Bulldogs 16
Wests Tigers vs New Zealand Warriors – Sunday night – Campbelltown Stadium
One of just two games this round involving teams that both won last weekend – it's the first-placed Warriors vs the third-placed Tigers. Sounds weird right? The Warriors, perhaps lifted by circumstances, comprehensively outplayed a poor opponent, while the Tigers eventually wore down a very poor Sea Eagles. With Issac Luke named for the Warriors, and Moses Mbye in some doubt for the Tigers, I'll tip the Warriors to rack up a rare win in Sydney.
Verdict – Warriors by 8
Result – Tigers 34 defeated Warriors 6
Wally Lewis - round two selections (in bold)
Note: tips from Wally will be published on Wednesday night or early Thursday morning.
- Dragons vs RABBITOHS
- Raiders vs STORM
- Broncos vs COWBOYS
- SHARKS vs Titans
- Knights vs PANTHERS
- Sea Eagles vs ROOSTERS
- Bulldogs vs EELS
- TIGERS vs Warriors