The Early Line: Round 1

Filed in NRL, The Early Line by on March 8, 2011

The Sydney Roosters opened up 3 ½ point favourites over South Sydney but that line has been crunched into 1 ½ at most shops (Sportsbet still have a flat 2 as of writing) due to the injury enforced withdrawal of Roosters five-eighth Todd Carney.

I have a slight leaning towards the South Sydney plus with Souths 8-2 against the spread (ATS) when an underdog of less than 6 points and 11-4 as an underdog in 2010. Souths, however, have beaten their arch-rivals in only four of their last 24 encounters and I do not like this Bunnies team enough to play, particularly with a major query over the fitness of Greg Inglis. No bet.

The Brisbane Broncos are favoured by between 5 ½ and 6 points over the North Queensland Cowboys. The Broncos have won seven straight against the Cowboys by an average margin of 11 points.

The Cowboys failed to cover in both Queensland away matches in 2010 but Brisbane were only 7-6 ATS as a favourite. The Cowboys are traditionally poor starters so a very small play on the Brisbane minus exists. I expect this line to get out to in excess of a converted try by game time.

My first thoughts were that the 7 ½ points start for the Parramatta Eels was perhaps a little large in their clash with the New Zealand Warriors at Eden Park. The Eels were a horrid 8-16 ATS in 2010 though the Warriors were 16-9 ATS and 9-4 ATS when on the road. Parramatta have named a horrible team though and the Warriors have won five of their last six against Parramatta. No bet.

The St George-Illawarra Dragons opened up 4 point road favourites against the Gold Coast Titans with that line moving out to 5 ½. Before teams were announced, I was leaning towards the plus but no Laffranchi or Meyers and some questionable selections in the outside backs has me cooling to the idea.

The Titans, traditionally fast starters, have won only two of eight against the Dragons and while 9-4 ATS in 2010, they were 1-2 ATS as a home dog. The Dragons were solid as a road favourite in 2010, going 5-5 ATS. The Gold Coast are tempting but I’ll have to let them slide.

The Melbourne Storm host the Manly Sea Eagles on Saturday night with the line floating between 4 and 5 ½.

Manly have won four of their last six against the Storm, including two of three in Melbourne, and Melbourne rarely beat teams by big scores early in the season, winning only two of their nine round 1-3 matches over the last three years by more than six points. The Storm were 8-3 ATS at home while Manly were 2-6 ATS so enthusiasm is tempered but a small play exists for the Manly plus.

The Canberra Raiders are set to run around big home favourites against the Cronulla Sharks with bookmakers putting up a line between 8 and 9 ½.

My first inclination is to take the Raiders minus but I couldn’t take a minus that big at this time of the year, particularly as the Raiders were a poor 3-6 ATS as a home favourite in 2010. Cronulla have also won five of their last seven against Canberra and five of their last six at Canberra Stadium. No play even though the Raiders have a clear talent edge and the Sharks were 0-5 ATS in day matches.

The Penrith Panthers have opened between 2 ½ and 4 point favourites in their clash with Newcastle on Sunday. Betting data from 2010 suggests a play for Penrith while instinct suggests Newcastle. If a gun was held to my head, I’d take the points but it is not so I’ll be sitting out the match.

The most exciting affair of the opening round is the Canterbury Bulldogs-Wests Tigers Monday Night Football clash with Canterbury opening as a 2 point underdog.

Home underdogs went 36-25 ATS in 2010 and the Tigers were not reliable propositions as favourites last season. These two have split their last eight. Canterbury went 3-3 ATS as a home underdog in 2010. With all the drama surrounding the Tigers halves and Canterbury rejuvenated by some off-season player turnover, the points look the play.

In 2010, the underdogs went 5-3 ATS in the opening round with three dogs winning outright.


0.5 units on Brisbane -5 ½ at Sports Alive at $1.92

0.5 units on Manly + 5 ½ at Luxbet at $1.91

0.5 units on Canterbury + 2 at Centrebet/Sportsbet at $1.90




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