The Early Line: Round 3

Filed in NRL, The Early Line by on March 23, 2011

Parramatta host  South Sydney on Friday night with Souths 1-2 point favourites. I can’t back either of these two teams. Parramatta reverted to form on Friday night with an inept performance against Penrith. At least Stephen Kearney wielded the axe and ditched Whatuira and Hicks. South Sydney are just as worrisome. They are not clicking and their fitness is a major concern.

South Sydney have more upside so I’ll be tipping them but no line bet for me.

Flemington Sportsbet boss Jason Sylvester noted that Souths look "well underdone" and are vulnerable this week though will go on a  run at some point and "can be bet in futures markets soon" if their losing run continues.

Keep an eye out for total points. Seven of the last eight games between the two teams have finished below 40 points and Parramatta look like a big under team again this year.

So have 1 ½ units on the UNDER if the line is 40.5 or larger.

Cover Form:Parramatta: WL, South Sydney: LL

Over-Under Form:Parramatta: UU, South Sydney OO


The Gold Coast Titans will be looking to atone against  Brisbane after the most humiliating defeat in the club’s history against Melbourne. The two meet at Skilled with Brisbane rated 1 ½ to 3 ½ point favourites.

Both teams have some massive ins with Ben Hannant and Justin Hodges returning for the Broncos and Anthony Laffranchi in for the Titans.

I am giving the Titans another chance. If this game was played in round one, the Titans would likely have been 4 points favourites. I remain unconvinced about the Broncos as well. They were courageous in Canberra but were an abomination against North Queensland.

Brisbane have won five of their last six against the Titans but I think Cartwright will have hammered the Titans this week.

Bet 1 unit on the Gold Coast with 3 ½ points start.

Cover Form: Brisbane: LW, Gold Coast: LL

Over-Under Form: Brisbane: UU, Gold Coast: OO


Both Penrith and Cronulla bounced back from terrible losses in round one with big victories in round two. Penrith showed plenty of fight in rolling Parramatta while Cronulla stunned the Dragons in what may well be the biggest upset in five seasons. Penrith have come up 6 to 8 point favourites.

Penrith have won their last three against the Sharks and were 8-4 against the line as a home favourite. My gut says the Sharks will keep it close though and could pull off an upset.

No bet but I am tempted to take the 8 points and hope that the rains fall freely.

Flemington Sportsbet boss Jason Sylvester also thinks the Sharks are a chance and thinks the sharps will bet them into 6 by game time.

Cover Form: Penrith LW, Cronulla: LW

Over-Under Form: Penrith OU, Cronulla OU


The Wests Tigers and the Canberra Raiders should be a highly entertaining affair with these two traditionally staging close, dramatic matches. Perhaps it is a legacy of the '89 decider. The Tigers have come up 4 to 4 ½ point favourites.

The Tigers have won five straight against the Raiders including all three matches played in 2010.

Canberra have a good situation here, having performed well as an underdog of less than 6 points, going 6-2 ATS in 2010. With these two staging such close battles over recent times, the points look good here. Confidence will further be enhanced if Josh Dugan is a late inclusion as he is critical to their structure, stopping the side-to-side rubbish we saw last week.

Bet 1 unit on Canberra + 4 ½ points.

This match also looks a great under situation. The Raiders went 8-4 under away in 2010, 11-6 under in night matches and 7-4 under as a road underdog. The Tigers, who have gone under in both matches and are now one of the top defensive teams in the NRL, went 16-11 under in 2010, 7-4 under as a home favourite and 12-6 under in night matches.

Bet 2 units on the UNDER if the total is 40 ½ or larger.

Cover Form: Wests Tigers: LW, Canberra: WL

Over-Under Form: Wests Tigers: UU, Canberra: OU


The St George-Illawarra Dragons are 12-4 all time against the New Zealand Warriors and have left New Zealand victorious on four of their last five trips. The Dragons are 2 ½ to 3 ½ point road favourites.

The Dragons are sure to bounce back strongly after a disappointing effort against Cronulla. They certainly won’t be as bad again. Wayne Bennett teams simply don’t drop two on the trot early in the season. No Bennett team has dropped two straight in the first six weeks since he was at the Broncos in 2007.

No situation arises here other than the away favourite play against from 2010 with home underdogs going 36-25 ATS. The Warriors were good bets as an outsider last season while the Dragons were solid as small favourites.

No bet though I am very close to spotting the 2 ½ points as I think it is a little low.

Cover Form: New ZealandLL, St George-Illawarra WL

Over-Under Form: New ZealandUU, St George-Illawarra OU


My, the ManlyNewcastle clash looks much more interesting now than it did a fortnight ago with the Knights putting on two big road victories and Manly digging deep against the Roosters to win as 11 ½ point underdogs.

This shapes as an emotional game for Manly with Brett Stewart returning to Brookvale for the first time in two years while Newcastle face their third straight road game and their second straight match without Kurt Gidley.

These two have not played at Brookvale since 2006 but Manly have won their last four “home” clashes in Gosford against Newcastle by an average of 22 points.

Pinnacle and Centrebet have Manly 4 point favourites while most books have 4 ½ up.

I think the length of this road trip, the toll from playing in hot conditions, the rise in class and the loss of Kurt Gidley are all counting against Newcastle here. Manly were also 6-3 ATS as a favourite of under 6 points while the Knights struggled as short dogs, though they have won both this games in such a situation this year. The Knights were 3-6 ATS in day matches.

Bet 2 units on Manly -4 points.

Cover Form: Manly: LW, Newcastle: WW

Over-Under Form: Manly: UO, Newcastle: OO


All indications are the Sydney Roosters are a team ready to implode and against a tough and mean team like Canterbury, they could get taught a rather valuable and memorable lesson.

Punters can get 2 points start on the Bulldogs at Luxbet and 1 ½ points start on the Roosters at Sportingbet.

David Stagg is a big return for the Bulldogs and they are flying at present and were the punters pal when a try after the siren covered against Souths.

Canterbury have won four of their last five against the Roosters at ANZ and the Roosters seem a team that is showing a lot poor signs: of ill discipline, of arrogance, of entitlement.

Canterbury getting 2 points is a steal. Bet 2 units on the Canterbury plus.

Cover Form: Canterbury: WW, Roosters WL

Over-Under Form: Canterbury: UO, Roosters OU


The North Queensland Cowboys look like they are a team well on their way to another wooden spoon while the Melbourne Storm are the real deal. Even though this game is in Townsville, this could get mighty ugly. The Storm are giving up only 4 ½ points and that is a play.

The Cowboys were solid enough as a home proposition in 2010, going 7-5 against the line but they rarely met a team as ruthless as this Storm outfit. They are playing with a mean glint in their eye and kids like Gareth Widdop seem to really be ready to step up.

Lay the points. There is a huge gulf of talent here and the Cowboys home advantage is really very little.

Punters should also play the under if the line comes up at 40 or less. The Storm were 11-1 under on the road in 2010 and are traditionally very strong defensively as a road team. Bet 1 ½ units on the under.

Cover Form: North Queensland: WL, Melbourne WW

Over-Under Form: North Queensland: UO, Melbourne UO


1 ½ units on Under (Souths-Parramatta) if line 40 ½

1 unit on Gold Coast + 3 ½ at Centrebet at $1.92

1 unit on Canberra + 4 ½ at various at $1.92

2 units on Under (Tigers-Canberra) if line 40 ½

2 units on Manly -4 at Centrebet at Pinnacle at $1.93

2 units on Canterbury +2 at Luxbet at $1.76

1 ½ units on Melbourne -4 ½ at various at $1.92

1 ½ units on Under (Cowboys-Melbourne) if 40



Round          Bets     Units Bet       Units Returned             +/-

1                      3          1.5                   0.95                             -0.45

2                      6          6                      0.92                             -5.08

Total             Bets     Units Bet       Units Returned              +/-

                        9          7.5                   1.87                             -5.53


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