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The Roar’s NRL expert tips and predictions: Round 3

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Expert
24th March, 2021
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The grand final rematch, the book of feuds and a whole lot of desperation will highlight Round 3 in the NRL. Here to talk you through this week’s games are The Roar’s NRL expert tipping panel.

And before we go any further, the desperation won’t be just on-field, because in tipping universe, up has become down.

Defending champion AJ is dead last somehow. It’s a bleeding miracle I tell you, but I tipped a perfect round, meaning I have the overall lead on 15 out of 16 for the season.

Anyway, enough gloating. The Barry got six last week, meaning he is second two points a drift. The Crowd and Mary both sit another point back with five last week, while David is another point behind, also getting five. AJ, with his four for last week, is two behind David and six behind the lead.

So, as mentioned, desperation is an off-field pattern this week too.

Not that tipping is going to be simple in the slightest.

There are a mountain of tough games this week, made harder by the fact so many teams played in difficult conditions last week and anything less than a seven-day turnaround could make life difficult.

The grand final rematch gets us underway, but with no Apisai Koroisau, Nathan Cleary or Ryan Papenhuyzen, as well as Melbourne coming off a loss and the game being played at Penrith, it’s a case of shut your eyes and pick a team.

Friday is more of the same as the Dragons return from Townsville to play the Sea Eagles, before the Roosters, who haven’t played anyone good yet, take on the Rabbitohs.

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Saturday takes us on a road trip to Canberra, Brisbane and Parramatta as the Raiders, Broncos and Eels play the Warriors, Bulldogs and Sharks respectively. Of note, Brisbane’s difficult upcoming run means a loss here could realistically see them slump to zero and seven.

The Knights then host the Tigers in a bell-ringer of a prime time Sunday game, before the struggling Cowboys host the Titans in the round’s final contest.

Remember to get your tips into the form below by 6pm (AEDT) on Sunday to join The Roar’s NRL tipping competition for 2021 and be featured as part of the Crowd’s tips for Round 2.

Given my perfect round, I’ll take the chance to lead us off this week (and probably promptly get two out of eight).

Scott Pryde

Tips: Storm, Dragons, Roosters, Raiders, Bulldogs, Eels, Knights, Titans

This is a really difficult week of tipping, with plenty of games where you can find a reason for both teams to get up.

The grand final rematch is one of those. However, it’s pretty rare Melbourne lose two games in a row. Penrith could be very short on game management without Apisai Koroisau and Nathan Cleary, so even though Melbourne haven’t proved they can handle that bit without Cameron Smith yet, they should do a job here.

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Not only that, but the seven-day turnaround compared to the five-day turnaround for Penrith will play a part.

The Dragons are coming back from Townsville which is always a tough prospect. But Manly haven’t shown anything yet this year. Easier opposition, but same result for the men from the Northern Beaches.

Book of feuds on Friday. The Rabbitohs are about to show us how serious they are. I suspect the answer will be very, but with some work to do. Hard to get a read on the Roosters given who they have played, but they will win a close one.

Jake Friend of the Roosters passes

(Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Two out of three on Saturday are pretty straightforward. Raiders over the Warriors in something of a canter at home, while the Eels shouldn’t have any problems against the Sharks, who were gallant against the Raiders, but like plenty of other teams, have a lot of work to do.

The game in Brisbane is a tough one though. The Broncos will be absolutely desperate, because zero and three will become zero and seven. But they just haven’t shown enough to suggest the 2020 team is in the past. Canterbury will slowly improve as combinations gel, and they should take two points home with them here.

Sunday’s games are a lot more simple for mine. The Tigers and Cowboys are both destined for the bottom four. The Knights and Titans aren’t. End of story.

The Barry

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Tips: Panthers, Dragons, Roosters, Raiders, Broncos, Eels, Knights, Titans

Round 3 starts with the grand final rematch which should be a cracker. The Storm’s right edge has struggled defensively and their assignment won’t get easier trying to stop Jarome Luai, Viliame Kikau, Stephen Crichton and Brian To’o. That matchup will be enough to decide the game.

Coming off an impressive win in Townsville, the Dragons should be too strong for the Sieve-Eagles who’ve conceded 72 points in their first two games.

The local derby should be another belter of a game. The Roosters have looked in irresistible form so far this year albeit against some ordinary opposition. Souths will prove a much tougher test. Roosters in a coin flip.

Raiders in Canberra will be too good for the impressive Warriors. Club favourite Jarrod Croker returns but I’ve liked the look of Sebastian Kris.

Has spoonapalooza ’21 come early? As bad as the Broncos forwards were last weekend, the Bulldogs were worse. Most of them are struggling to run 60 metres and at times holding the ball seems like a skill set beyond their grasp. I look for any excuse to tip the Dogs but the Broncs will get them.

Eels fans will be appreciating how their team rolled their sleeves up against the Storm. It wasn’t always pretty but it was effective. King Gutho single-handedly saved four tries. Reed Mahoney has taken huge steps forward with his game and for mine is one of the most exciting players in the competition. Eels.

If Bradman Best couldn’t get an NRL exemption to play first grade when he was 17, then Joseph Suaalii must be one hell of a player. Two great plays from Best last week Newcastle the win. Rumours abound the Tigers are applying for an exemption of their own to stop Luke Brooks from playing.

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The Titans weren’t red hot against the Broncos last week, but it’s hard to see how a Jason Taumalolo-less Cowboys get the points.

Nathan Peats passing the ball

Nathan Peats. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Mary Konstantopoulos

Tips: Storm, Dragons, Roosters, Raiders, Broncos, Eels, Knights, Titans

It’s going to be a big test for Penrith this week without Apisai Koroisau and Nathan Cleary. The Storm don’t lose two weeks in a row and I’m expecting them to bounce back after their shock loss to Parramatta.

How incredible that after tipping them to win the spoon, the Dragons may finish this weekend two from three. The Sea Eagles have had a shocking run with injury, but that’s no excuse for their appalling performances.

As long as Dylan Walker continues to play fullback, there’s not a chance that I’ll tip them. As for the Dragons, they may not be exceptional, but it was good to see Ben Hunt and Zac Lomax put in strong performances.

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This next game will be a cracker. I can’t tip against the Roosters because of how excellent they have been. The battle of the fullbacks is something I’m looking forward to this weekend.

Latrell Mitchell just keeps getting better and looks the fittest he has ever been, but how will he match up against the best fullback in the competition?

The Raiders will beat the Warriors in Canberra and the Broncos will get their first win of the season when they play the Bulldogs at Suncorp. It’s still unclear to me what Tom Deardon needs to do to get into the Broncos run-on side, but even with the struggles that the Broncos halves are having, their forwards should be strong enough to roll through the Bulldogs.

The Eels will beat the Sharks at Bankwest Stadium and the Knights should do a number on the Wests Tigers. The Tigers must be a hard team to support – performances by some of their key players against the Roosters were appalling last week. This is a team that will struggle against the Knights who have had a really impressive start.

The Cowboys have also been really disappointing in the opening weeks of the competition and that will continue this weekend when they lose to the Titans who still don’t look their best, but have enough quality on the field to win.

David Holden

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Tips: Storm, Dragons, Rabbitohs, Raiders, Broncos, Eels, Knights, Titans

While everything old is new again in the NRL world, the same can’t be said for tipping. Scott first, AJ last, what on earth is happening? Of course, Scott may follow his team’s move of a few years ago and become April premiers, only to slip and slide to a place somewhere in the midfield.

There is a long way to go though and this week gives us a number of chances to eat into that lead.

Don’t we all love a grand final rematch? The media do for sure, the fans do but I think the players are probably more interested in the two points on offer. No amount of grand final rematch wins make up for a grand final loss.

I’m not sure I’m on board with the Storm without Cameron Smith, at least until Harry Grant is fit. However, Nathan Cleary is out. I’m leaning towards the Storm.

We move from a grand final rematch to, as per my language last round, a battle of the duds. Dragons fans shouldn’t get too excited about their second-round win. It was a case of the dropsy’s, with the Dragons winning because they held onto the ball more. At home, I will tip them, but not with any confidence.

Ben Hunt celebrates with Josh Kerr

Ben Hunt (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

We are lucky this round. Grand final rematch on Thursday night and Rabbits vs Roosters on Friday. The Roosters got beaten by 1000 the last time they met and I think there might be some skeletons in the closet. Rabbits will win this.

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The Raiders have won both their games without looking ultra-impressive and they run into a Warriors team best described as solid. That’s great if you want to be a wall but not great if you want to score points against a stingy defence. Raiders to win.

In possibly a wooden spoon preview, the Broncos take on the Bulldogs on a Saturday afternoon. Say what? The Broncos are in disarray but the shock of playing on a Saturday will spur them onto a win.

As a Sharks fan, the pain of losing games when the goal kicking is rubbish is all too common. We need to kick goals. Bring back Luke Covell. Eion Crossan even. It won’t matter against the Eels. They will win.

First up on Sunday we have the over-achieving Knights, without some injured big-name players, against the underachieving Tigers. The Knights should have no issue getting up for Mitchell Pearce’s 300th game in the NRL. They should win.

I can understand why Todd Payten went to coach North Queensland. Kiwis move to Queensland all the time, primarily to escape other Kiwis. But he must be having second thoughts. This team is strong on paper but weak everywhere else. Titans to win.

AJ Mithen

Tips: Panthers, Dragons, Roosters, Raiders, Broncos, Eels, Knights, Titans

Well, I’ve certainly learned who NOT to tip in season 2021. I’m a touch off the pace early, but as we all know, there are no Roar tipping championships handed out in March!

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It’s time to start the surge…

Firstly, Penrith versus Melbourne is not a grand final ‘rematch’. It’s only going to be a grand final rematch if Penrith and Melbourne meet in the 2021 decider.

So shove that talk to the side. Penrith will win because they’re going to take it more seriously than the Storm. Prepare for a week of ‘Melbourne are cooked’ analysis, just like last year, and the year before, and the year before…

St George versus Manly will be a filthy, filthy grinder that the Sea Eagles are not completely without a shot at winning. They’re not going to win, though.

Souths and the Roosters will put on a great game as the Chooks face an actual NRL standard defence for the first time. Never mind though, their invisible five-eighth will put on another great performance as the Bunnies go down to another top-four challenger.

The premiership-bound Canberra Raiders will put a minimum of 56 on the New Zealand Warriors, who are showing some grit but will find the Canberra pressure too much.

Brisbane versus Canterbury is an interesting one. Who is more hapless? Right now it’s the Doggies. Broncos to win.

Parramatta should get the Sharks but Cronulla have shown plenty of fight in the opening fortnight.

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I was tempted to back Wests in against Newcastle, because I don’t think they’re as bad as their own fans say they are. It’s a match against a fellow finals ‘contender’ but going on form you’ve got to back the Knights.

Finally, the Titans got some balance last week when challenged early to run away from Brisbane and they should be too good for the Cowboys, who are still learning how to play Payten-ball.

Round 3 AJ Mary David The Barry Scott Crowd
PEN v MEL PEN MEL MEL PEN MEL PEN
STI v MAN STI STI STI STI STI STI
SOU v SYD SYD SYD SOU SYD SYD SYD
CAN v NZL CAN CAN CAN CAN CAN CAN
BRI v CBY BRI BRI BRI BRI CBY BRI
PAR v CRO PAR PAR PAR PAR PAR PAR
NEW v WST NEW NEW NEW NEW NEW NEW
NQL v GCT GLD GLD GLD GLD GLD GLD
Last week 4 5 5 6 8 5
Total 9 12 11 13 15 12

Remember to get your tips in on the form below by 6pm tonight to be counted as part of The Crowd for this weekend.

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