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The Roar’s NRL expert tips and predictions: Round 2

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Expert
18th March, 2020
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Coronavirus has gripped the world, but try telling that to the NRL. It’s all systems go, minus fans, for Round 2 of the season and that means The Roar’s NRL expert tipping panel are back on deck to tell you who is winning what this weekend.

Frankly, I’m struggling to believe that we are here on Thursday morning with a round kicking off this evening, given everything going on in the world at the moment.

Just about every sport on the planet is suspended, postponed or cancelled, and while punters will finally have something other than Russian volleyball, e-sports and table tennis to watch, it’ll be a welcome break for fans to focus on something other than the depressing news cycle.

Unfortunately, it’s not a thriller to kick us off, but the North Queensland Cowboys need to show something when they face the Canterbury Bulldogs, who will search for their first try of the year.

Then it’s off to Kogarah as the Dragons play the Panthers on Friday, before the Broncos play Souths in what shapes as a ding-dong battle, with a young forward pack slugging it out against one of the potential competition heavyweights.

Saturday takes us to the Gold Coast for the Warriors and Raiders, before Leichhardt plays host to a huge battle between two first-round losers in the Roosters and Manly, then back to Kogarah for Cronulla and Melbourne.

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Sunday’s prime-time game brings us the Tigers and Knights, before the Eels travel to the Gold Coast to close it out against the Titans.

While some of these games shape as ordinary, it doesn’t matter, because footy will be played, which is more than the majority were expecting earlier in the week.

Remember to you get your tips into the form below by 6pm (AEDT) on Thursday to join The Roar’s NRL tipping competition for 2020 and be featured as part of The Crowd’s tips for Round 2.

AJ Mithen

Tips: Bulldogs, Panthers, Broncos, Raiders, Roosters, Storm, Tigers, Eels
I have built an unassailable lead (Scott’s six doesn’t count) and I’ll pull even further ahead should we get any play this weekend.

(Scott’s note: My six doesn’t count in AJ’s dreams.)

Canterbury will beat the Cowboys who were incredibly disappointing last start. Dean Pay’s mob have the defence but don’t have the attack, the Cowboys have the attack but not the defence. I’ll take the Doggies.

Penrith will knock over the Dragons who threw away a win against Wests last week. St George Illawarra are better than that, but unfortunately for them, Penrith are better than them. Here come the ‘Mary out’ calls.

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The Broncos will do over the Bunnies and we’ll have weeks of ‘Seibold is better than Bennett’ garbage to endure. Brisbane were good value last week.

My beautiful Raiders are going to tear the hapless Warriors limb from limb on the Gold Coast. Ricky Stuart’s men would be much happier not having to play New Zealand across the ditch and it has been a horrible week for Stephen Kearney and his men, not knowing what was going to happen, if they get to see their families at all or if they’re basically NRL prisoners. To be honest I hope they go home after this game. Life is too important.

The Roosters and Manly will be played at Leichardt, the spiritual home of football which always draws a dud crowd. Roosters will win a horrible defensive grinder.

Melbourne will absolutely rout the Sharks early, then the Sharks will score a try or two late to get some scoreboard closeness. The Storm looked great last week in a good game with Manly.

The Knights should do the job against the Tigers but this tip is with zero confidence that it’ll happen, or that the Sunday games will go ahead at all. Tigers have a decent squad but got lucky last week.

Finally, Parramatta might try to open the throttle a bit against the Titans who were shocked early but not bad in the second 40 against the Raiders. If Justin Holbrook’s team is awake at the start, it could be a whole new ballgame.

There are your winners – come and get me!

NZ Warriors

It could be a nightmare season for the Warriors. (Photo by Ashley Feder/Getty Images)

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Mary Konstantopoulos

Tips: Bulldogs, Panthers, Rabbitohs, Raiders, Roosters, Storm, Tigers, Eels

The Cowboys did little last week to absolve me of my concerns about their attack this year so I’m tipping the Bulldogs in what will no doubt be a scrappy, low-scoring affair.

The Dragons should have won last week after bombing several opportunities late in the second half, but I don’t see them beating the Panthers who will be ripe with enthusiasm after getting over the Sydney Roosters last weekend.

In the Seibold versus Bennett showdown at ANZ Stadium, I see the old master getting one up on his former team. The loss of Tevita Pangai Junior will be costly for the Broncos and with concerns about COVID-19 continuing to grow, who knows how long his actual suspension will last.

The Warriors were appalling last weekend and I don’t expect much better this weekend given the pressure the team has been under to keep the competition going and the isolation they have had from friends and families. The Raiders should beat them.

The Roosters against the Sea Eagles should be game of the round. It’s not often the Chooks lose two in a row, so I’m tipping them. The Storm taking on the Sharks should also have fireworks, because we have come to expect physical games between these two teams. Cronulla were better than expected last week, but Melbourne will be too classy.

Benji Marshall magic will get Wests Tigers home against the Knights and the Eels should beat the Titans.

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Kalyn Ponga runs the ball for the Knights.

Kalyn Ponga (Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images)

David Holden

Tips: Cowboys, Panthers, Broncos, Raiders, Roosters, Sharks, Tigers, Eels
Last week was not great. As the new kid, you don’t want to be sitting at the bottom of the pile. The only way is up and that’s where I’m heading this week.

The big problem this week is deciding how much home-ground advantage is lost when you don’t have fans there to ensure the referees are enforcing the 10-metre rule for your opposition. My guess is a lot but we will see.

The Dogs muscled up in defence last week but looked devoid of attacking options, while the Cowboys have plenty of attacking options but looked shaky in defence. These two teams should merge because, as Paula Abdul says, opposites attract. North Queensland will bounce and get the win.

Only the Dragons could blow so many chances and then play Benji Marshall into form. To be succinct, the Red V stunk last week and the Panthers will win again.

The Rabbits were lucky to hold on against the Sharks, with only a forward pass call late saving the game. As much as it pains me to say, Brisbane were good last Friday night and will win, even just to upset their former super coach.

As concerning as the Warriors’ situation is, at least they get to stay in a place warmer than home. Still, the Raiders look good early and should win by plenty.

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The Roosters and Sea Eagles play at Leichhardt Oval, with both teams used to having no fans at this venue. They could open the gates, and still no one would turn up. I can’t believe the Chooks will lose two straight, so they are my tip.

Daryl Braithwaite and ‘Horses’ at halftime was the big attraction at Kogarah. I guess he’s not coming now unless the Sharks and Storm players want to touch elbows and belt it out instead of listening to their coaches. And where is Margaret Urlich in this phenomenon? She’s been dudded. Sharks to win in a boilover.

The Knights were clinical last weekend against the Warriors but the Tigers are specialists in early season form. Shame about their form at the end of the season but they will win this.

Finally, the Titans play hard. I’m not going to bag them. Eels by 1000.

Michael Jennings of the Eels.

Michael Jennings of the Eels. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

The Barry

Tips: Cowboys, Panthers, Broncos, Raiders, Roosters, Storm, Tigers, Eels

Three from eight! Why did I sign up for this again? Let’s cancel the season and call it a draw.

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Lockouts spare me the indignity of coming up with other excuses for why I’m not going to the Bulldogs game. Hate this but I’m tipping the Cowboys. Until I’m shown otherwise I just can’t see how the Dogs get to ten points and the Cows have at least that in them.

Nathan Cleary, Api Koroisau and Jarome Luai seemed to strike up an immediate combo and looked assured versus the Roosters. The Dragons have injuries and suspensions to deal with but are shuffling key positions like it’s still preseason. Panthers.

I really enjoy watching this young Broncos team go about their work, hopefully for years to come. The Souths pack looked good against the Sharks and this will be another big test. Friday night Broncos.

Home game for the Warriors on the Gold Coast. They were doing it tough anyway this season but it’s just getting worse by the week. The longer this goes, the closer to a Kiwi implosion. Raiders, even away from home, will be too strong.

Tough draw to start for the Sea Eagles. They were right in it against the Storm while the Roosters never looked to get into gear despite a good start. A difficult one to pick, I’m leaning to the Roosters.

When I look at their lineup and the clinical way they put Manly away, I can’t see the Storm losing too many this season, so I’m tipping them against the Sharks. Which makes the Sharks specials.

Tigers versus Knights is another tough one to tip with both coming off a Round 1 victory. Sunday arvo at Leichhardt gives the Tigers the edge.

The Eels looked clunky as hell last week and I guess that gives the Titans some hope but it will take a brave tipster to back them. You have to feel for the people of the Gold Coast with the Titans and now the Warriors calling the place home!

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Payne Haas of the Broncos

Payne Haas (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Scott Pryde

Tips: Cowboys, Dragons, Rabbitohs, Raiders, Roosters, Storm, Knights, Eels

Ah yes. Footy. The whole thing that could possibly be more important than stopping the spread of a pandemic. You can almost feel the government rolling their collective eyes.

And why don’t we start with the team most impacted – the Warriors? Unfortunately, they are going to get absolutely brained by the Raiders on the Gold Coast. I can only echo the thoughts of AJ above – head home fellas. It’s more important than whatever this is.

On to more pressing issues, and the Roosters, playing in front of their usual crowd, should get the job done against Manly in what should be the match of the ground, even if it does become a defensive grind between two sides who don’t give a single inch.

Melbourne and Cronulla is likely to be another physical grind. These sides have played some pretty good matches over the years, but this won’t be another one of them. The purple horde by plenty.

Back to the start of the round and I have no idea where the Bulldogs’ first try of the season is coming from. Blogging last week’s game against North Queensland left me searching for ways to write “lack of attacking options” or “ruined set there from the blue and white”.

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It truly was an abysmal effort with the footy, and I can’t see them getting close to the Cowboys, who should be better for a tough run against the Broncos.

Speaking of Brisbane, they will have a few flaws shown up under pressure this week when they fall to South Sydney in a close game, while blind faith leads me to tip the Dragons over Penrith.

Actually, it’s more than that. If they didn’t bomb tries, they would have picked up the win last week. Penrith will be coming down off the high of beating the Roosters too.

Will we even make Sunday’s games? Who knows. If we do get there, the Tigers will show where they are really at by falling to the Knights, before the Eels, up against a much less stout defence than last week, will discover their attacking class to smoke the Titans.

This week’s tipping

Round 1 AJ Mary David The Barry Scott Crowd
CBY v NQL CBY CBY NQL NQL NQL NQL
STI v PEN PEN PEN PEN PEN STI PEN
BRI v SOU BRI SOU BRI BRI SOU SOU
NZL v CAN CAN CAN CAN CAN CAN CAN
SYD v MAN SYD SYD SYD SYD SYD SYD
CRO v MEL MEL MEL CRO MEL MEL MEL
WST v NEW WST WST WST WST NEW WST
GCT v PAR PAR PAR PAR PAR PAR PAR
Last week 6 5 4 3 6 5
Total 6 5 4 3 6 5

Be sure to get your tips in on the form below by 6pm (AEDT) this evening, and we will publish the results of The Crowd’s tips before the first game of the round kicks off.

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