NRL Round 4 tips and predictionsPosted on 27/03 by Joe Gann
The NZ Warriors 100% start to the season is under threat this week against an improving Sydney Roosters
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Cowboys v Panthers
The Cowboys are currently off the pace in twelfth position, with two defeats from three, and will be keen to get back on track against a depleted Panthers in Townsville. The return to action of Michael Morgan wasn’t enough to help his side past the Storm who ran out comfortable winners in their Round 3 clash - their seventh successive win over the Queenslanders - but the Cowboys will be boosted this week by the return of Lachlan Coote. Losing Nathan Cleary to a medial ligament injury is a hammer blow to the Panthers who will have to cope without their star man until round 14. Skipper Peter Wallace is expected to slip back into his old role as a replacement for the unfortunate Cleary and link up with fellow veteran James Maloney in what will be an experienced halfback partnership.
Prediction – Cowboys
Rabbitohs v Bulldogs
Both sides opened their accounts last week following a slow start to the campaign, with rookie coach Anthony Seibold claiming his first ever NRL win. Alex Johnston has excelled at full-back, allowing Greg Inglis the time to ease his way back into competitive footy in the centres as the Rabbitohs themselves slowly grow into the season. The Bulldogs are up and running after drawing a blank in the opening fortnight, courtesy of 20-18 victory over the Panthers with coach Dean Pay’s decision to move Moses Mbye to full-back vindicated with a match-winning display in which he crossed the stripe twice, made 3 line-breaks, 11 tackle busts and ran for 116 metres.
Prediction – Rabbitohs Cowboys
Sharks v Storm
Halfback Chad Townsend was the hero for the Sharks, scoring all of the team’s 14 points last week with a try and 5 goals - he has now kicked 12 goals straight this year. Matt Moylan, Josh Dugan and Jayson Bukuya are likely to return for this 2016 Grand Final rematch following their respective injury niggles. Storm returned to winning ways with a convincing win over title rivals the Cowboys last time out. The reigning Premiers are hoping Felise Kaufusi will return this week following a hamstring injury although Joe Stimson has proved an able deputy in his absence.
Prediction – Storm Cowboys
Roosters v Warriors
The partnership of Cooper Cronk and Luke Keary clicked into top gear in round 3, with the duo claiming a try each and having a hand in all seven of their teams tries in the resounding 38-8 win over the Knights. An excellent opening 2018 for the Warriors sees Stephen Kearney’s men sit astride the Dragons on 6 points courtesy of their 100% start, although this is the toughest test they have faced so far.
Prediction – Roosters Cowboys
Sea Eagles v Raiders
Sea Eagles chief Trent Barrett has welcomed an end to the protracted salary cap investigation that has been hanging over the club for the past four months and has admitted that the ongoing uncertainty has taken its toll. He was clear that the issue had nothing to do with the weekend’s 34-6 loss to the Rabbitohs but the decision to hand the club a $750,000 fine and restrict their spending to $330,000 under the cap in 2018 and 2019 has at least provided a resolution. The Raiders hit rock bottom with yet another close defeat on Saturday, with only the hapless Eels keeping them off the foot of the ladder. The total capitulation, in which 8 points were conceded in the final four minutes to hand Warriors victory, handed the match to the Warriors as the Vikings continue their miserable recent record; since the beginning of 2017, they’ve won just 2 of 13 games decided by 6 points or less. Their season already looks in peril, only nine teams in the NRL era have started with a 0-3 record and gone on to play finals football – they need to dig themselves out of the hole they find themselves in quickly.
Prediction – Sea Eagles Cowboys
Dragons v Knights
Even the disadvantage of being reduced to 12 men wasn’t enough to halt the Dragons’ charge as they Dragons destroyed the Titans last time out, delivering their greatest ever franchise away win to boot. Top of the Telstra Premiership with an unblemished record, things are looking rosy at present for Paul McGregor’s side. The Knights came crashing back to earth with a thud against the Roosters after opening the season with back to back wins. The 38-8 reversal was made worse by the dislocated shoulder sustained by Connor Watson; the ex-Chook may be left facing an extended spell on the sidelines.
Prediction – Dragons Cowboys
Broncos v Titans
The Broncos managed to avoid falling victim to this season’s surprise package the Tigers last week, prevailing 9-7 from in what was a dreadful spectacle. There are injury concerns over Corey Oates and Tevita Pangai Junior ahead of this week’s derby, although the Titans will need to improve markedly against their local rivals following Sunday’s shambolic display against the Dragons. Flimsy defence, excruciating errors allied with a lack of discipline conspired to hand the Titans their worst ever defeat to the Dragons.
Prediction – Broncos Cowboys
Tigers v Eels
The Tigers endured their first loss last week to a Broncos side that kicked their way to victory in a turgid encounter at Campbelltown. It was the narrowest of defeats, and the Tigers came desperately close to knocking another of last year’s top four over following shock wins over Storm and Roosters. The Eels’ miserable 2018 continues, and they remained anchored to the bottom of the ladder. The last time they opened with a trio of defeats was in 2012 – a year that they finished with the wooden spoon. Injuries to Jarryd Hayne, Bevan French and Kane Evans has compounded a miserable week for coach Brad Arthur who will be desperate to break their duck this round.
Prediction – Eels Cowboys
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