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The Roar’s NRL expert tips and predictions: Round 4

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Expert
31st March, 2021
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COVID has forced changes to the NRL for the first time in 2020 as we head into Round 4, but how will it impact this weekend’s games? Let’s find out with The Roar’s NRL expert tipping panel.

Brisbane’s snap lockdown has seen the snap relocation of the Broncos and Titans to Sydney. It won’t change the Broncos trip to Melbourne for Friday’s Good Friday clash, although spending a few days in Sydney without being able to leave their hotel room won’t do them any good.

The Titans were due to play the Raiders on the Gold Coast, but that game has now been shuffled to Kogarah in a double-header with the Sharks and Cowboys on Saturday, which was originally supposed to be on the Sunshine Coast.

Elsewhere, Manly host an understrength Penrith in the opener, the Rabbitohs will look to heap more misery on the Bulldogs in the traditional Good Friday clash.

The Dragons then make the trek to the other side of Sydney from their Wollongong base to play the Knights in a game which has suddenly become rather intriguing thanks to Newcastle’s shock loss to the Tigers last week, as well as the Red V being two from three, before the severely understrength Roosters host the Warriors in a danger game.

Round 4 finishes with the traditional Easter Monday clash between the Tigers and Eels at Bankwest, with another difficult week of tipping on the way.

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That is exactly what Round 3 proved to be as AJ, David, The Barry and The Crowd topped the charts with five. Mary had four, while I had just the three, a major let down from Round 2s eight out of eight.

It all leaves The Barry and me tied at the top on 18, The Crowd on 17, David and Mary on 16, and AJ still bringing up the rear on 14.

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 4.

With The Barry equal first and topping the charts last week, that is where we start for Round 4.

The Barry

Tips: Panthers, Rabbitohs, Storm, Sharks, Raiders, Knights, Roosters, Eels

The upside to the Bulldogs dire form is that the yoke of misplaced loyalty has been removed early and as a result, I’ve surged to joint leadership in this tipping competition.

A win will come at some stage for the Sea Eagles and it will be unexpected when it does (or against the Bulldogs, whichever comes first). But it’s hard to see how it’s this week, even at home and against a reshuffled Panthers.

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Bulldogs supporters have started a petition to change Good Friday to Meh Friday. Little do Bennett’s Bunnies know an ambush awaits at Homebush. Trent Barrett has pulled off a Kasparov-like move of swapping Nick Meaney and Corey Allan between fullback and wing. Look out!

Brisbane don’t play the Bulldogs again until 2022 (unless both teams make the semi… And pigs start flying) so it’s difficult to see where their next win is coming from. Not the Storm.

The Sharks have been decimated by injuries but Jason Taumalolo being out still tips the scales their way.

John Morris, Cronulla Sharks coach

Sharks coach John Morris (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

What to make of the Titans? Much hyped in the offseason. Some pretty impressive performances against some pretty poor opposition. The Raiders will be stinging coming off a loss. Biggest coin flip of the weekend. Raiders?

Newcastle looks desperate to get Kalyn Ponga back to get some real creativity into this side. While 50 per cent of their tries have been scored by forwards, they should still be too good against a resurgent Dragons.

The whole “we promise to really, really, really look after Joseph Suaalii and we won’t even think of naming him until after his really, really, really important exams” lasted all of a fortnight and two injuries. Intriguing to see how the Roosters and Sam Walker go. Tipping Robinson as much as the Roosters

The Tigers showed the rest of the bottom eight that it is possible to bounce back from a horrid performance with their win last week. It was good for the competition. Can’t see it continuing against the Eels.

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David Holden

Tips: Panthers, Rabbitohs, Storm, Sharks, Raiders, Knights, Roosters, Eels

One of my pet hates is tipping wrong on a Thursday night. It’s frustrating, normally an omen of a bad round to come and it came to pass last Thursday.

If only Justin Olam had passed the ball, I would have been up the tipping charts with a bullet. As it was, I made slight inroads which has me moving in the right direction.

Tipping this week has got really tough, primarily because we don’t know who is going to rock up to play. NRL players are going down like flies. If Cronulla keep losing four players per match, I will get the call up by the end of the year. I’m not worried about lateral movement, more just movement generally, but I will get in and have a crack.

First up, we head to Lottoland for the Sea Eagles and the Panthers. I’m not one to feel sorry for Manly, but their silvertails tag seems long gone. Des will be questioning his desire to get an extended contract, and the Panthers will continue to roll along.

We always look forward to the Easter clash between the Bulldogs and Rabbitohs, but it’s likely to be carnage this year. Brisbane put 24 unanswered points on the Bulldogs. Souths will be looking to score 50.

Josh Mansour of the Rabbitohs runs

Cometh the hour, cometh the Mansour. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

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The Broncos were an improved side last weekend, but I just don’t see the Storm losing three in a row. Craig Bellamy would likely explode if they did, but the Storm will be back in the winner’s circle.

The Sharks will be down on troops against the Cowboys late Saturday afternoon, but they won’t be down on desire. After the Cowboys surrender to the Titans on Sunday night, there’s something wrong in Townsville. Sharks to win.

The Titans vs Raiders clash is arguably match of the round. I’m going with the Raiders as Ricky will adopt a siege mentality going into this one and because AJ will tip them.

The Knights were only minutes away from three wins straight, but I’m not convinced on them. Of course, not tipping them means I need to tip the Dragons, which is also burdened with a fair bit of risk. I’ll pick the Knights, because losing two in a row at home would be ringing alarm bells in the Hunter.

We’ve read a lot in recent days that the Roosters are gone for the year. Sure, losing Luke Keary is massive but the Roosters’ sombrero stretches wide. It won’t be pretty, but they will edge out the Warriors in a grind.

We finish up on Easter Monday with the Tigers and Eels. Wests’ win over Newcastle will give that team plenty of confidence and some of that will rub off on the fans. We know how this works. The Eels will trounce them.

AJ Mithen

Tips: Panthers, Rabbitohs, Storm, Sharks, Raiders, Dragons, Warriors, Tigers

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I’m on the way back, baby. Picking up tips left, right and centre and before too long I’ll resume my rightful place at the top of the table. This weekend, we’re going to see four feral games, two mega blowouts and two belters. Which game is which? I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised!

Panthers over Manly in a mega blowout. If Manly score two tries it’s an indictment on Penrith.

Bunnies will destroy the hapless Bulldogs. If Canterbury score two tries it’s an indictment on South Sydney.

Storm will whup the Broncos but this still might be a sneakily entertaining game.

Sharks over Cowboys ‘cos they’re better. Feel for Todd Payten, the latest victim of the NRL’s complete absence of patience.

Your premiership favourites, the beautiful Canberra Raiders, will shake off the injustice and blatant cheating they suffered in Round 3 to put at least 56 on the Titans.

I’m on the Dragons to beat Newcastle. One team got grit, one team got none. Dragons will make it a wrestle then win.

Maybe it’s the lack of sleep, but I’m on the Warriors over the Roosters. Injury dramas for the Chooks but they were found most wanting against an NRL standard defence against the Bunnies. Warriors are sneaky good and might pinch this.

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Finally, I like the Tigers to upset the Eels. Wests aren’t fantastic but they’re good enough to cause dramas for teams like Parramatta. Critical for them to hang in there like they did versus Newcastle though, or they’ll get pasted.

Mary Konstantopoulos

Tips: Panthers, Rabbitohs, Storm, Sharks, Titans, Knights, Warriors, Eels

The less said about the first three games this weekend the better. Even with some of the Panthers injury concerns, I can’t see Manly having enough in attack or defence to defeat the Panthers. Even without Nathan Cleary last week, the Panthers were able to beat Melbourne while Manly continued to disappoint against the Dragons.

Wacky things have been known to happen in the Good Friday showdown between the Bulldogs and Rabbitohs. But the Rabbitohs, if they are serious contenders, should put a big score on. My only question is, will the Bulldogs score any points?

The Broncos were much better last week against the Bulldogs, particularly when Tom Deardon came on late in the second half. I’m of the view that Melbourne don’t tend to lose more than one game in a row, so I expect the Broncos to bear the full brunt of a Storm team coming off the back of two losses.

Ryan Papenhuyzen of the Storm scores a try

Ryan Papenhuyzen (Photo by Jono Searle/Getty Images)

Despite the Sharks’ injury woes, I am tipping them to beat the Cowboys who look absolutely diabolical on the field. The Sharks have not suffered from a lack of effort and I expect that they will get the two points this weekend.

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I’m tipping an upset with the Titans beating the Raiders. Last week the Raiders had an extremely tough loss and a lack of interchanges meant many players played 80 minutes or close to. I wonder what impact that will have on their performance this week. As for the Titans, this is a team continuing to go from strength to strength and they may just be good enough to topple the Green Machine.

I’m tipping the Knights to defeat the Dragons. Had Ben Hunt been fit, I think this game would have been close, but without Ben Hunt, the Dragons will really struggle. The Knights have injury woes of their own without Bradman Best and Kalyn Ponga.

I’m tipping another upset. With the Roosters significant injury concerns, the Warriors can beat them. The Warriors have been much better than I thought and the new rules really seem to be working for Kodi Nikorima. This would be a big win for the Warriors and given the quality of troops that the Roosters are missing, that they will do it.

Parramatta will remain undefeated at Bankwest Stadium this year and will beat the Tigers who last week finally started showing glimpses of the team we all thought they could be in 2021.

Scott Pryde

Tips: Panthers, Rabbitohs, Storm, Sharks, Titans, Dragons, Roosters, Eels

While on paper, this round seems to be pretty straight forward, there are numerous danger games for the tipster.

The first one shouldn’t be one of them though, and nor should the second. Manly and the Bulldogs have been probably the two worst starters this time, and neither look like they’ll be turning it around any time soon.

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Coming up against two of the hottest sides in the competition, even if the Panthers are without Dylan Edwards, should be far too great of a task for both teams.

Brisbane might have got their first win last week, but Canterbury counts for nothing. And Melbourne to lose three in a row? You’re having a laugh aren’t you? Next!

The Sharks and Cowboys is the first of those games which may not be as one-sided as it appears. While North Queensland have been woeful and aren’t tippable, the Sharks aren’t the hottest prospect, and you have to wonder whether their week has been thrown into turmoil a little by not actually having to go to the Sunshine Coast. They will still win, but I’m not sure it’ll be as convincing as people think.

I’ll take the upset in the next. I like the Raiders pack, their team is excellent, but not being able to play in Canberra has ramifications. The Titans are just starting to click too. This will be a challenge, but they might just sneak past the green machine.

David Fifita

David Fifita is a gun recruit for the Titans. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

The Knights were pretty poor last week, losing to the Tigers. They will want to bounce back on Easter Sunday, but their record against the Red V is pretty average if you ignore the last two (one of those when the Dragons had just lost had it confirmed Jack De Belin wouldn’t be playing for the foreseeable future).

I won’t lie, I have been looking for ways to tip the Dragons, but they have been far better than expected and could use this test to make some sit up and take notice.

The Roosters have barely 17 fit players. This is a banana skin, but they should be able to negotiate the Warriors.

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And finally, it’s difficult to go against the Eels. The Tigers impressed last week against an opposition more their speed, but won’t have what it takes to go toe to toe with Parramatta.

Round 4 AJ Mary David The Barry Scott Crowd
PEN v MAN PEN PEN PEN PEN PEN PEN
CBY v SOU SOU SOU SOU SOU SOU SOU
MEL v BRI MEL MEL MEL MEL MEL MEL
CRO v NQL CRO CRO CRO CRO CRO CRO
GCT v CAN CAN GLD CAN CAN GLD CAN
NEW v STI STI NEW NEW NEW STI NEW
SYD v NZL WAR WAR SYD SYD SYD SYD
WST v PAR WST PAR PAR PAR PAR PAR
Last week 5 4 5 5 3 5
Total 14 16 16 18 18 17

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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