The Early Line: Round 2

Filed in NRL, The Early Line by on March 16, 2011

Parramatta have opened up 4 ½ point favourites against arch-rivals Penrith. My numbers provide a slight push towards Penrith with the points. Penrith are traditionally strong starters, as are Matt Elliott teams, so the Panthers should bounce back from their humiliating first round loss. Parramatta went 0-8 against the spread (ATS) as a favourite of under six points in 2010 and were 3-13 ATS as a favourite and 2-8 ATS as a home favourite.

Penrith weren’t great as a road underdog though, going 5-8 ATS and 3-5 ATS as an underdog of less than six points. The Panthers did win both games off a five-day backup in 2010 and were 3-1 ATS on a Friday night.

I am loathe to get too heavily involved with Penrith after such a horrid opening round performance but they do seem to be a ½ unit play.


The Canberra Raiders are shaping as the best play of the round after opening up 5 ½ to 6 point favourites over the Brisbane Broncos in their first Friday night game in the nation's capital since 2008.

Canberra have won four straight against the Broncos at Canberra Stadium, the winning margin over that time averaging 25.2.  The situational betting analysis is good for Brisbane- Canberra were 3-8 ATS as a favourite, were 5-8 ATS at home and were poor coming off a quick backup while the Broncos were 14-10 ATS last season, were 5-2 ATS as an underdog getting a converted try or less and were 9-6 ATS when coming off a seven day backup- but the class disparity between the two teams is significant and six points does not seem enough even with Dugan, Orford, Tongue and White missing for Canberra.

Bet 1 ½ units on the Canberra minus.


The Gold Coast Titans have a good record against the Melbourne Storm, having won three from five all-time. Those two losses, however, were hidings of 44 and 40 points, both in Melbourne.

Melbourne usually take a while to warm into the season and it looks as if that will be the case again in 2011. The Storm struggled to put away an injury ravaged Manly last Saturday in what was only a fair performance.

Some bookmakers are giving the Titans 7 ½ points. That is a very good play though there are concerns about the Titans pack missing Friend, Laffranchi and Meyers.  The Titans covered every game in 2010 as an interstate dog (8-0) and were 3-0 ATS when favoured by more than a converted try.

In what should be a low scoring affair (look for the unders), the 7 ½ with the Titans looks a 1 ½ unit play.


The New Zealand Warriors have won 9 of their last 13 against the Wests Tigers including two of the last three in Australia.

The Warriors were belted 50-6 by the Tigers last time out but the Tigers were well into the season and much sharper at that stage.  At an outstanding 16-9 ATS, 6-2 ATS as an underdog getting more than 6 points and 8-4 ATS in Australia, the Warriors were a fine team to follow in 2010.  The Tigers, meanwhile, were a losing home favourite proposition and tended to play close games to open the season up.

Flemington Sportsbet boss Jason Sylvester says "Sheens wlll put a rocket up their backside this week" after a first-up loss and at Leichardt, they will be ready. Perhaps, but I am prepared to wager on the Warriors keeping it close.

A 1 unit play on the Warriors getting 7 points is a play.


The North Queensland Cowboys-Newcastle Knights match in Townsville looks the worst of the weekend. The Knights have won 6 of 10 against the Cows but have lost two straight in Townsville.  The Cowboys only positive betting situation was as a home favourite (3-2 ATS) while Newcastle were a poor 4-8 ATS on the road (but 2-3 ATS interstate).

Bookies have the Cowboys 3 ½ to 4 point favourites. A marginal lean towards the Knights because I think they have more heart and more talent but no bet.


The Canterbury Bulldogs  have lost only four times to South Sydneyin their last 23 encounters dating back to 1992.

Souths were a great underdog play last year while Canterbury were a bad play all round. Things are different at Canterbury this year, however, and Trent Hodkinson will be the Blues halfback if he plays like he did on Monday night on a consistent basis.

Bookmakers have the Dogs as 3 ½ to 4 ½ point favourites.

A ½ unit play on Canterbury -3 ½ is good though don't bet if all that is available is 4 ½ or more. This line will rise so get in early.


Manlyhave the wood on the Sydney Roosters in recent years, the Eagles winning 8 of 10. Manly start as big outsiders in this one though, the injury ravaged Manly outfit receiving between 10 ½ and 11 ½ points from the books.

The Roosters were good bets last season but they were not well performed when favoured by more than 6 points, going only 2-4 against the line.  Manly, meanwhile, were just a terrible underdog play.

I am very, very tempted to make Manly a play but there are just too many queries in terms of their ability to score and their toughness up the middle. No bet.


The St George-Illawarra Dragons and the Cronulla Sharks round out the weekend at Shark Park with the Dragons set to go in the biggest favourites of the year to date with bookies making the Red V 13 ½ to 14 ½ point faves.

The Dragons have held the Sharks to 8 total points in their last three encounters while piling on 86 of their own. Favourites went 5-4 ATS when favoured by more than 12 ½ points in 2010 while Cronulla were 4-13 ATS when coming off a rest of seven days or more.

After an embarrassing display in Canberra where they were thumped by 28 points, it is hard to see Cronulla getting close to the Dragons. They certainly won't be putting on any points.

Play 1 unit on the Dragons -13 ½ points and look to bet the under and in particular, the under Cronulla total points.


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

1.5 units on Canberra -5 ½ at Flemington Sportsbet at $1.91

1.5 units on Gold Coast +7 ½ at Sports Alive at $1.92

1 unit on New Zealand  +7 at Flemington Sportsbet at $1.91

0.5 units on Canterbury –3 ½ at Sports Alive at $1.92

1 unit on St George-Illawarra -13 ½ points at Sportingbet at $1.91


Round          Bets     Units Bet       Units Returned             +/-

1                      3          1.5                   0.95                             -0.45

Total             Bets     Units Bet       Units Returned              +/-

                        3          1.5                   0.95                             -0.45


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