The Early Line: Round 5

Filed in NRL, The Early Line by on April 6, 2011

The Wests Tigers and South Sydney open the round at the Sydney Football Stadium with South Sydney 4 to 4 ½ point favourites.

This match is tough to get a grip on with the Tigers suffering so many injuries, a factor that won’t be helped by their quick back-up. My natural inclination is to take the plus as the Tigers showed plenty of grit last week. But with a rusty Moltzen at half, an unrecognisable three-quarter line and two outstanding backrowers still sidelined, I simply can’t get excited about them.

South Sydney, really, have too much class and if they put it together, as they are apt to against the Tigers, they will probably run away with it. I’ll be tipping the Bunnies after two reasonably impressive wins but won’t be outlaying any cash.

In terms of over-under, South Sydney are 4-0 over this year, averaging 57 points per match. Play 1 unit the over if the total is 44 or lower.

Cover Form: Wests Tigers LWWL, South Sydney LLWW
Over-Under Form: Wests Tiger UUOU, South Sydney OOOO

North Queensland host the Gold Coast on the Friday night and to my shock, the Cowboys are 5 ½ to 6 point favourites.

Despite the Cowboys recent display of form, I can’t trust them and the simple fact is, they couldn’t beat even a hapless Parramatta. The Gold Coast, meanwhile, see Scott Prince and Nathan Friend (a critical in) to the team that rolled the Raiders in Canberra.

The Titans have a 4-3 all-time record against the Cowboys including two of three in Townsville. John Cartwright’s men at 10-6 ATS in their last 16 as an underdog.

Bet 2 units on the Titans with 6 points.

Each of these teams have gone over in their last three matches and 5 of the last 6 between the two have totalled 46 points or more. If the weather is dry, play 2 ½ units on the over if the total is 46 or lower.

Cover Form: North Queensland WLWW, Gold Coast LLLW
Over-Under Form: North Queensland UOOO, Gold Coast UOOO

The New Zealand Warriors have absolutely owned the Sydney Roosters in recent times, the Roosters winning only 1 of the last 9 encounters between the two dating back to 2005. The Warriors won on the bell last year after some Kevin Locke heroics.

The Warriors were outstanding betting propositions last year, going 16-9 ATS and 7-5 ATS at home. After a slow start this year, the Warriors are now starting to be undervalued with bookmakers giving the Warriors between 2 ½ to 4 points at home.

The Roosters have covered three straight but were only 1-2 ATS as an interstate favourite in 2010.

In 2010, underdogs of less than 6 points went 55-45 ATS and home dogs went 36-25 ATS.

I’ll be betting the Warriors with the 4 points to the tune of 1 ½ units. I would be more confident if I had faith in the Warriors halves but I don’t.

Cover Form: New Zealand LLLW, Sydney Roosters WLWW
Over-Under Form: New Zealand UUUO, Sydney Roosters OUUU

Cronulla host Manly in the Battle of the Beaches on Saturday night with Manly coming off a loss as the better team and Cronulla losing to the Warriors in a tough effort.

Cronulla are 2 ½ to 3 ½ point home underdogs, which seems a touch low.

Manly have won their last five against the Sharks by an average of 18.8 points and they do look to be a better side, particularly in the backs. This line suggests there is something to the Sharks and I’m not sure there is. Manly will be hurt by the suspension of Watmough though and that gives me fright, to a certain degree.

Manly were 6-3 ATS as a favourite of under 6 points while the Sharks were 2-4 ATS as a dog of less than a converted try.

1 unit on Manly -2 ½ but be wary of any forward outs for Manly.

Also look for an over play. Cronulla are 3-1 over this year while 4 of the last 5 between the last two at Shark Park have totalled more than 50 points . Play 1 ½ units on the over if the line is 44 or lower.

Cover Form: Cronulla LWWL, Manly LWWL
Over-Under Form: Cronulla OUOO, Manly UOUO

The life has been taken out of the Penrith-Canberra affair with major injuries impacting both teams as the Panthers go in sans Coote and Lewis while the Raiders are missing Dugan and Tongue.

Unfortunately for Canberra, they are not missing Orford.

Canberra have won 8 of 12 against Penrith and did go 6-2 ATS as an underdog of less than six points in 2010 while Penrith went 4-5 ATS in the same situation.

The Raiders are the better team and really, if they play anywhere to their capability, will blow Penrith away.

Canberra gets one more chance. Take them with the 2 points for 1 unit but confidence is not high.

Cover Form: Penrith LWLW, Canberra WLLL
Over-Under Form: Penrith OUOU, Canberra OUOO

The Melbourne Storm shapes as the bet of the round against the 2-2 Parramatta Eels considering their outstanding home record.

The Storm extended their record at home to 60-8-1 in their last 69 on Monday night, also making it three straight covers at home after going 8-4 ATS at home in 2010.

The Eels, meanwhile, are only 1-3 ATS this year to go with their 8-16 ATS mark in 2010, making them the worst betting proposition in the NRL.

Parramatta have won three of their last four against Melbourne but have lost 5 of their last 6 in Melbourne and have not won there since 2005.

Bet 2 ½ units on the Storm giving 8 ½ points. My only concern is Melbourne in the daytime, where they are less effective than at night, going only 4-3 ATS in 2010.

The under should also be a play here. Only 1 of the last 7 has totalled 40 or above and that match only totalled 46. The Storm were 5-2 under in day matches in 2010 while the Eels were 10-14 under in 2010 and 2-2 under this year. Bet 2 units under if the line is 38 or above.

Cover Form: Melbourne WWLW, Parramatta WLLL
Over-Under Form: MelbourneUOOO, Parramatta UUOO

St George-Illawarra and Canterbury-Bankstown, the top two in premiership betting, meet on Sunday afternoon at the SCG in what is undoubtedly the most anticipated match of the year to date.

The Dragons go in 4 ½ to 5 ½ point favourites.

It is tough to fault the Dragons. Clearly leg-weary, they showed tremendous courage against an underrated Newcastle team. The return of Dean Young is also a major boost for Wayne Bennett’s men.

The Bulldogs, on the other hand, were disappointing on Monday. They had offered themselves to defeat the two weeks prior and again did so on Monday night. Unlike the Bunnies or the Roosters though, the Storm are the real deal and made Canterbury pay.

Canterbury have lost four straight to the Dragons and I can’t back them until they show a little bit more. No bet.

Cover Form: St George-Illawarra WLWL, Canterbury WWWL
Over-Under Form: St George-Illawarra OUUU, Canterbury UOUO

Round five wraps up with an interesting affair between Brisbane and Newcastle.

You are a tough marker if you haven’t been impressed by Brisbane’s toughness this year. Under Anthony Griffen, the Broncos have allowed only 9.5 points per game and have not allowed a second half try.

Newcastle shouldn’t be underestimated though. They won their first two in fine style before tough losses to Manly and the Dragons. They have competed in every match this year, even when cruelled by injury and outmatched in talent, Rick Stone has got his team playing honestly and with spirit.

Newcastle have played well against Brisbane in recent times, winning the last three including a 30-22 win at Lang Park last year.

I think this game should be pick ‘em so for 1 unit I’ll take the 3 ½ points to side with Newcastle.

Brisbane are also the premier under team this season, with all four matches going under. If the line is 40.5 or more, play 1 unit on the under.

Cover Form:Brisbane LWWL, Newcastle WWLW
Over-Under Form: BrisbaneUUUU, Newcastle OOUU

1 unit on Over (Wests Tigers-South Sydney) if line is 44 or lower
2 units on Gold Coast +6 at Pinnacle at $1.95
2.5 units on Over (North Queensland-Gold Coast) if line is 46 or lower
1.5 units on New Zealand +4 at Centrebet at $1.92
1 unit on Manly -2 ½ at Sportingbet at $1.91
1.5 units on Over (Cronulla-Manly) if line is 44 or lower
1 unit on Canberra +2 at Centrebet at $1.86.
2.5 units on Melbourne -8 ½ at most shops at $1.93
2 units on Under (Melbourne-Parramatta) if line is 38 or above
1 unit on Newcastle + 3 ½ at Pinnacle at $1.95
1 unit on Under (Brisbane-Newcastle) if line is 40.5 or above



Round          Bets     Units Bet       Units Returned             +/-

1                   3        1.5                    0.95                             -0.45
2                   6          6                     0.92                             -5.08
3                   7        11                     7.38                             -3.62
4                   8       13                     16.51                          +3.51       

Total             Bets     Units Bet       Units Returned              +/-

                        24         31.5               25.76                            -5.74


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