GRAND FINAL DAY LOCKED IN | Three big fixtures next Sunday at Sydney's ANZ Stadium! Burleigh and Ill...
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Paul Mitry is back for Round 2 to share his previews on the weekend ahead... although even he must be questioning why after netting just ONE from eight tips last week.
Check out the full teamlists for Round 2 right HERE.
Below, Paul runs his eye over a huge second round of NRL action. It all kicks off Friday night on the NSW Central Coast...
Manly Warringah Sea Eagles v South Sydney Rabbitohs
Friday 7:40pm, Central Coast Stadium, Gosford
Round 2 of season 2014 kicks off from the Central Coast and already we've had heartbreak, controversy, judiciary issues and some abject failure in tipping competitions across the land. Granted, that last issue might only be my problem, but nonetheless we should get back on the horse and go all in on the home side here. And by we, I mean me. The Sea Eagles ‘host' South Sydney in Friday night footy from Gosford.
This is your match of the round and another big test for the Bunnies. They made a mess of the Roosters first round title defence last week after being set as outsiders and now, they travel up the M1 as heavy favourites here. Manly will be seething after letting one slip at Brookvale last week and they will again start fast. Souths five eighth Dylan Walker should get a heavy dose of traffic coming his way and Manly will go on from there.
Both last start winners and both eagerly looking forward to another Queensland derby from Suncorp Stadium. The Broncos fought hard last week to beat Canterbury and register their first win on NSW soil since beating the Tigers at Campbelltown in round 7 last year. Considering the horrible eye-watering stench that was their 2013 tilt, this is a good sign; as were the performances of their spine. Josh Hoffman in particular looked dangerous and Ben Barba also showed signs.
This Friday, they'll need all signs pointing their way again. The Cowboys showed plenty of gumption to beat Canberra in round 1 and with Jonathan Thurston healthy and as good as he has ever been, it's tough to tip against North Queensland here. Matt Scott sets the tone early with help from the mighty veteran that is Gavin Cooper. Cooper continues to outperform his younger and more heralded back row partners from Townsville and he leads this pack to victory.
Saturday afternoon Rugby League from Eden Park and why the hell not. If Saints can reproduce their great form from last week, it could be a run-and-gun affair across the Tasman to open your Saturday triple header. The run could come from the visitors, after scoring 44 points against Wests last week, whilst the gun will most certainly come from the Warriors. They will be out to atone from a miserable showing at Parramatta Stadium last week.
And what better way to kick start your season than in front of a rabid pack of kiwis who may or not have been drinking all day and don't have to go to work the next day. That's right; my new tipping system is based on whose crowd is the drunkest and by jobe, any travelling red V fans probably can't afford an ale after flying that far. Moving on, Sam Williams makes his debut for Saints but it's his opposite number in Shaun Johnson who steals the day.
The Melbourne Storm haven't changed a bit. Only this club could start a halves pairing of Hampton and Roberts up against the mighty duo of Foran and Cherry-Evans and come away with the most unlikely of victories. In driving rain and with a mountain to climb at Brookvale, they somehow manufactured a victory and now, celebrating Billy Slater's 250th first grade match and their captain's new contract, it could be bad news for the visitors.
Penrith are methodical, entertaining, talented and are primed for a very bright future and it's this kind of logic that leads me to tip against them. Logic might not be the right word to use - this ‘columns' tips are more akin to a virgin trying to feel their way in the dark. That's me. So here's to you Billy Slater and whilst the Panthers will give this an almighty crack and no doubt scare the Storm some, Cooper Cronk's return should lead to another win for Melbourne.
Your Saturday evening night-cap comes from Allianz Stadium in Moore Park as the best team of 2013 hosts the worst. Speaking of worse, the Roosters can't play any worse than they did last week, right? Granted they defended well but could not stop coughing up posession to a disciplined opponent. They won't dwell on this for too long; rather they will simply enjoy the 10 days' rest in between games, get over a loss to their most bitter rivals and come out ready.
If the chooks have indeed gotten rid of their hangover, Parramatta could be in trouble here. The Eels failed to win a single away game last year and will be hard-pressed to turn that form around. Let's just try that again for the cheap seats - Parra were 0 from 12 on the road. Speaking of cheap seats, fingers crossed that Roosters fans fill up plenty of them and remove the bad taste in our mouths from round 1 crowd figures. Chooks get off the mark here.
The Wests Tigers embarked on their first season without Benji Marshall in 11 years by marching right into ANZ stadium against the team under the most pressure in the comp - the team who averaged 15 points per game in 2013 - and gave up 44 points. Not great. And it won't get any better this Sunday afternoon when they travel to some place called Cbus Super Stadium to face a Titans team who showed plenty of good signs last week.
Albert Kelly and Aidan Sezer have another year in 1st grade under their belt and John Cartwright's patience might be paying off. They'll prove too much for the Tigers here, especially late in the game when the 32 degree temperatures might cause a bit of damage to their constitution. A tired visitor's pack won't be able to keep up with speed and talent of the Titans halves and speedy wingers. Kelly the standout.
A tough start to the season for Ricky Stuart and his Raiders. On the road last week in Townsville and now at Newcastle on a Sunday night for round 2, they are a long way from home. They've been diabolical on the road in recent years and this week, they are heavy outsiders and rightly so. The Knights may be missing their two most influential attacking players in Jarrod Mullen and Darius Boyd but you can bet that Wayne Bennett won't be keen to lose two in a row.
And it will take all of Bennett's defensive nous to stop Anthony Milford and the Green Machine. They looked downright spectacular at times last week and if given enough room, they'll go well again here. Unfortunately for the Raiders, they'll see some home town refereeing and some rotten old ruck tactics from the likes of Beau Scott and Jeremy Smith. In fact, when this starts to get under the skin of the likes of Joel Edwards and Brett White, we might see some fireworks. If only.
Round 2 comes to a close from Sydney Olympic Park on Monday night as the Bulldogs host the Sharks from ANZ. Both round 1 losers and both struggling with their attack, it's tough times for these two Sydney clubs. The Sharks may have had an excuse though, missing Todd Carney and Jeff Robson last week to go along with a number of other injuries. The Dogs? Well, they started slow last week and never really recovered.
Led by Josh Reynolds and an inspirational performance from newly minted captain, Frank Pritchard, they fought back well, but something about their attack still seems stalled. They were unpolished in this department and against an undermanned opponent this week, after 10 days rest; they should look a bit better. And they'd want to because Todd Carney has been named. Canterbury win with muscle first and Josh Reynolds later.