The Early Line: Round 1

Filed in NRL, The Early Line by on February 29, 2012

An absolute crackerjack to open the season with Wayne Bennett's Newcastle hosting the supercoach's former team St George Illawarra with the Knights opening up 3.5 to 4 point favourites. The Dragons have won seven straight against the Knights in Newcastle and the Knights went 3-8 ATS in night/twilight matches. The Dragons were 2-1 ATS when a road underdog. A small lean on St George Illawarra +4 for 1 unit.

Big three unit play on the under is likely though if the line is 35.5 or bigger. These two combined to go 33-18 under last year, Wayne Bennett teams are traditionally strong defensively and early season matches tend to skew under due to timing issues. Love the under in this.

2011 COVER FORM: Newcastle 13-12, St George Illawarra 13-13
2011 OVER-UNDER FORM: Newcastle 9-16, St George Illawarra 9-17

Parramatta host Brisbane in the first Friday night clash of the year with the Broncos favoured by 2.5 points on the road. Parramatta are 7-2 ATS as a home underdog over the last two years while Brisbane were 11-6 as a favourite and 4-2 as a road elect in 2011. Off a long backup last year the Broncos went 6-1 ATS while the Eels were just 1-3 ATS. No bet here.

No natural total play but look for a big under bet if the rains come, as forecast. The Broncos were 8-1 under in the wet in 2011 while the Eels were 6-0 under when the rains were around. Remember that a 2 unit standing bet exists for the under in any wet conditions.

2011 COVER FORM: Parramatta 11-13, Brisbane 17-10
2011 OVER-UNDER FORM: Parramatta 12-12. Brisbane 12-15

Canberra and Melbourne will fight it out on Saturday night with Melbourne 4 to 4.5 point favourites. This one shapes as one of the easier contests to figure out. Melbourne have won 17 of 19 against the Raiders including 9 of 10 in Canberra. The Storm have gone 16-5 ATS as a favourite of less than 6 points over the last two years and have gone 26-17 ATS when favourite over the same time frame. Canberra were 3-11 ATS in 2011 and a horrid 2-6 ATS when favoured by less than a converted try. Bet 2 units on Melbourne giving only 4 points.

There is no total points play here. Melbourne are a big under team but went 6-4 over as a road favourite last year while the Raiders were 2-2 as a home underdog.  Canberra are 20-11 under at night so a lean under but not quite a bet.

2011 COVER FORM: Canberra 6-18, Melbourne 15-11
2011 OVER-UNDER FORM: Canberra 12-12, Melbourne 9-17

Penrith have won 9 of 12 against Canterbury and 4 of 5 at Penrith but go in 2 to 3.5 point home underdogs. Penrith were 7-2 ATS when given up to 6 points while the Bulldogs were 7-1 ATS when favoured by up to a converted try in 2011. There is a slight lean on Penrith here but not quite a play.

There is a 1 unit under play here. Canterbury were 4-2 under last year as a road favourite while Penrith were 4-2 under as a home underdog. The Bulldogs were 10-8 under in night games last season with the Panthers 11-6 under in the evening. Take the under if the line is 38.5 or larger.

2011 COVER FORM: Penrith 13-11, Canterbury 14-10
2011 OVER-UNDER FORM: Penrith 12-12, Canterbury 11-13

North Queensland meet the Gold Coast in the first Queensland derby of the year with the Cowboys 4.5 to 5.5 point favourites. The Cowboys have won 4 of 5 against the Titans and are 10-4 ATS as a home favourite over the last two years while the Titans went 3-9 ATS when on the road in 2011. In night matches last year, the Titans went 8-12 ATS while the Cowboys went 13-9 ATS. A 1 unit play on North Queensland.

No total points plays present themselves.

2011 COVER FORM: North Queensland 14-11, Gold Coast 8-16
2011 OVER-UNDER FORM: North Queensland 14-11, Gold Coast 12-12

The replay of last year's Grand Final at Eden Park should be an interesting affair with both New Zealand and Manly having new coaches. The Warriors have opened up 2.5 to 3.5 point favourites. Both teams are traditionally poor starters with the Sea Eagles 3-6 in their first match of the year since the Northern Eagles were disbanded while the Warriors have gone 3-7 over the last decade. Manly have been a poor road underdog over the last two years, going 4-7 ATS while the Warriors went 9-5 ATS as a favourite and 6-3 ATS as a home favourite in 2011. Manly went 0-3 ATS last year when given a converted try or less start but were 7-2 ATS in day matches. This one is just a little too tough to call though I do lean to the Warriors.

Both the Warriors and Eagles were heavy under teams in 2011 and shape up again as defence-oriented outfits. The Warriors were 8-4 under at home and 6-3 under as a home favourite while Manly were 4-1 under as a road underdog in 2011. Both were over teams in the day last year, which tempers this bet notably, but with only 1 of the last 7 totalling 38 or more, a recommended play of 1 unit on the under if the total is 38 or larger is a bet.

2011 COVER FORM: New Zealand 16-12, Manly 16-11
2011 OVER-UNDER FORM: New Zealand 10-18, Manly 12-15

The Wests Tigers and Cronulla meet at Leichhardt Oval on Sunday afternoon with the Tigers opening the biggest favourites of the week at 6 to 6.5 points.  The Tigers have won 12 of 13 against Cronulla while the Sharks were 1-6 ATS as a road underdog. The Tigers have only average numbers in this situation: 7-10 ATS as a favourite, 5-5 ATS as a home favourite, 2-5 ATS as a favourite of a converted try or less, 3-3 ATS in the day. The Sharks went 5-2 ATS in day games. The Tigers have won 8 of their last 9 at Leichhardt but only one of those wins was by more than two converted tries. No bet with a lean on the Tigers.

No total play. Cronulla were 10-2 over last year when on the road while the Tigers were 10-4 under. The Tigers were 4-2 over in day games though.

2011 COVER FORM: Wests Tigers 13-13, Cronulla 11-13
2011 OVER-UNDER FORM: Wests Tigers 11-15, Cronulla 14-10

Arch-rivals South Sydney and the Sydney Roosters do battle on the first Monday Night Football of the year with betting going from pick 'em to Souths as a 1-point favourite. The Roosters have won 21 of 26 against Souths but only 1 of 8 at ANZ and 11 of 30 all-time at the venue. Souths are 18-11 ATS at night over the last two years while punters should be wary of the wet with the Roosters 0-7 ATS over the last two years in poor conditions. Rain is forecast for Monday. No bet.

Souths were an over team in 2011 but have worked hard on their defence under new coach Michael Maguire. With the Roosters going 11-1 under away from the SFS, we will have a 1 unit bet on the under if the line is 40.5 or bigger though be careful as 10 of the last 12 between these two has totalled more than 40.

2011 COVER FORM: South Sydney 11-13, Sydney Roosters 10-14
2011 OVER-UNDER FORM: South Sydney 14-10, Sydney Roosters 8-16

*Remember, a 2 unit under bet at any line stands for games in the wet.

Tipping: St George Illawarra, Brisbane, Melbourne, Penrith, North Queensland, New Zealand, Wests Tigers, South Sydney

1 unit on St George-Illawarra +4 at $1.92 (Luxbet)
3 units on Under (New-Stg) if line is 35.5 or bigger
2 units on Melbourne -4 at $1.91 (Sportsbet)
1 unit on Under (Pen-Bul) if line is 38.5 or bigger
1 unit on North Queensland -4.5 at $1.92 (Luxbet)
1 unit on Under (NZ-Man) if line is 38 or bigger
1 unit on Under (Sou-Roo) if line is 40.5 or bigger



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