New Zealand Warriors v Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks @ Central Coast Stadium
First Try-Scorers: Kodi Nikorima – $29, Eli Katoa – $34
If there has been one shining light on this Warriors season, it’s the combination of Kodi Nikorima ($29 – BetEasy) and Eli Katoa ($34 – BetEasy) on the left side.
Nikorima is finally starting to earn his keep in the Warriors halves. Much of that has to do with Katoa being unearthed as one of the best young prospects in the NRL. Both return from injury for this one with the left side sure to be a focus for the Warriors attack. They had success down there last week with Tohu Harris floating over as a ball-player. Harris is now even more dangerous that he has Nikorima and Katoa to choose from in sweeping shifts.
Draftstars Suggested Plays: Braden Hamlin-Uele ($9,770), Toby Rudolf ($8,800)
The Sharks middle has been inconsistent all season with John Morris forced into changes. Braden Hamlin-Uele starts his fifth consecutive game at prop. With his side steamrolled by the Panthers, Hamlin-Uele managed just 15.7 points last week. However, scores of 43.6 and 59.2 across the fortnight prior inspire confidence. With this game expected to be a lot more competitive, Hamlin-Uele is a value play at $9,770 with a projected score of 41 points.
Beside Hamlin-Uele in the middle, Toby Rudolf has been elevated to the starting side. He replaces Jack Williams who was lucky to have lasted as long as he did. With far better hands, superior footwork and a motor that should see him go close to 60 minutes on Sunday, Rudolf is projected to score 40 points.
DFS Fade: Wayde Egan ($13,050)
As the Warriors start to get healthy, Wayde Egan’s role as an 80-minute hooker will begin to be questioned. Karl Lawton and Jazz Tevaga are both available to take over some of the dummy half duties in the coming weeks. While Egan has strung together a handful of promising DFS performances, he’s a somewhat risky option with his minutes a chance of being reduced.
Penrith Panthers v North Queensland Cowboys @ Panthers Stadium
First Try-Scorers: Brent Naden – $8
Brent Naden ($8 – BetEasy) knows how to find the line. He hasn’t always needed to do a lot to score the 12 tries he’s scored in 17 NRL appearances. Yet, he puts himself in good positions to make the most of his chances.
There are few better spots to plant yourself right now than out on the Panthers right wing. Charlie Staines scored four out there on debut last week. The Cowboys defence leaked five on that side to Matt Ikuvalu.
It feels like a case of ‘when’ Naden scores rather than ‘if’ this week.
Draftstars Suggested Plays: Viliame Kikau ($10,300)
As covered in the preview for this match, North Queensland’s right-side combination of Esan Marsters and Kyle Feldt have the most try causes in the NRL to their name with 12 each.
The Cowboys right-edge defence won’t be able to handle Viliame Kikau, and he knows it. He’s not seen too many touches of the ball in recent weeks. Expect him to demand more of the football this week, though.
With what looks to be a free pass down the field given North Queensland’s inept defence, our predictive model projects Kikau to score 44 points on Sunday afternoon.
DFS Fade: Apisai Koroisau ($15,430)
He’s one of the form players of the competition and the NRL’s Buy of the Year for 2020, but our predictive model is expressing caution on Api Koroisau as a DFS option this week. He’s projected to score just 53 points, which at $15,430, is enough to warrant a look elsewhere at this position.
Sydney Roosters v Canberra Raiders @ Sydney Cricket Ground
First Try-Scorers: Brett Morris – $8.50, Angus Crichton – $23
Brett Morris ($8.50 – Neds) returns to the side after his late withdrawal last week. Given that his replacement Matt Ikuvalu bagged five tries in his absence, Morris may find himself switched over to the left wing. Regardless, Morris is a professional try-scorer and will be a threat whether he’s outside his brother on the left wing, or hanging off the centre players have named as the NRL’s best in Joey Manu on the right.
Lesser known in the try-scoring department but sure to be presented with a chance, Angus Crichton ($23 – Neds) runs the lines for a dangerous right-edge attack. Crichton is perfecting his timing for running at a gap that has been opened up by a crabbing James Tedesco. Against a well-drilled Canberra Raiders attack, it’s going to be the ad-lib and off-the-cuff attacking plays that the Roosters score through.
Draftstars Suggested Plays: Hudson Young ($10,030), George Williams ($11,920)
Hudson Young has behaved himself since returning from his suspension and has played the full 80 minutes in each of the last three rounds. As the Raiders forwards stocks crumble around him, Young is taking his opportunity. That has translated into a 42.8 points three-game average with the young back rower projected to score another 47 points on Thursday night.
While Jack Wighton is sure to take some of the load left by Josh Hodgson’s season-ending injury, George Williams will also need to step up. He’s scored between 50.6 and 53.4 points over his last month of football and our predictive model projects him to hit that range again with 52 points on Thursday. He’s not been a particularly popular DFS option but his ceiling rises without Hodgson.
DFS Fade: Brett Morris ($13,430)
With scores of 70, 72 and 61.9 in three of his last four games, Brett Morris’ price has skyrocketed to $13,430. Projected to come back down to earth for 44 points this week, the veteran winger is a fade option.
Melbourne Storm v Gold Coast Titans @ Sunshine Coast Stadium
First Try-Scorers: Paul Momirovski – $8.5, Josh Addo-Carr – $7
Despite the dominance the Melbourne Storm are expected to display against the Gold Coast Titans on Friday night, value still lies in their wingers.
While the introduction of Phillip Sami and Brian Kelly into the centres offers a lot more confidence, this is still the third consecutive week the backline has seen a significant reshuffle. Defensive cohesion has so far been impossible to build for the Titans edges. With that, Paul Momirovski ($8.50 – SportsBet) and Josh Addo-Carr ($7 – Neds) are set to benefit.
Draftstars Suggested Plays: Paul Momirovski ($10,010), Beau Fermor ($9,620)
Paul Momirovski has had a knack for scoring tries since joining the Storm and moves out from the centres to the wing this week. With the increased chance of crossing the line and the extra running metres that come with playing on the wing, the 24-year-old presents as a value play at $10,010. Our predictive model projects him to make up for his poor 7.1 points last week with 41 points on Friday.
Draftstars players started to pick up on Beau Fermor last week but the low-quality game translated into a disappointing 26 points. Pushed into the back row for Friday, the young rookie is projected to score 42 points and deserves serious consideration as a value option.
DFS Fade: Jahrome Hughes ($13,380)
If only the 36% of players had checked in last week, they’d have known to steer clear of Jahrome Hughes who finished with just 26 points. He’s another fade option this week, too. With a projected score of 43 points, Hughes isn’t justifying his price tag.
Wests Tigers v Brisbane Broncos @ Leichhardt Oval
First Try-Scorers: David Nofoaluma – $8.50, Anthony Milford – $41
With both sides struggling in attack, the x-factor players are tasked with offering the line break, the tackle bust or finishing touch on a try to inspire improvements.
David Nofoaluma ($8.50 – BetEasy) is having a career year in 2020. He’s been able to create something out of nothing at regular intervals and will be aided by the return of Benji Marshall this week. With Tesi Niu in doubt and Jamayne Isaako possibly reverting to fullback, Nofoluma’s chances at crossing the line will only increase if Richard Kennar is put in front of him.
If the Broncos are to get anywhere this season, it will start with Anthony Milford ($41 – BetEasy). He exceeded his average touches per game (30.7) with 37 last week and the Broncos looked a lot better for it. His 32 running metres made for his second-fewest of the NRL season so far, but little steps…
If Milford can use his increase in touches to pick up more metres on the ground, he’s going to be a real try-scoring threat against this less than impressive Tigers right side defence.
Draftstars Suggested Plays: Ben Te’o ($8,700), Corey Oates ($8,270)
The Broncos back rowers shape as value options this week.
Ben Te’o earns his first start since returning to the NRL. He hasn’t offered a lot for Draftstars owners with four of his five scores so far in the teens. He is projected to score 45 points with the big bump in minutes this week, though. Meanwhile, Corey Oates’ two best DFS scores have come while playing in the back row this season. Playing there again this week and projected to score 46 points, he’s the pick of the two at $8,270.
DFS Fade: Tommy Talau ($9,110)
Tommy Talau hasn’t been a high-ownership player early on in his career and our predictive model’s projection of just 27 points suggests it should stay that way. He’s relying on a clunky attack inside him to create try-scoring opportunities.
St George-Illawarra Dragons v Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs @ WIN Stadium
First Try-Scorers: Zac Lomax – $13
The Dragons have finally figured it out…
Play Zac Lomax ($13 – Neds) in one position across an extended period and he will begin to live up to the expectations (and high-priced extension) we’ve been hearing about for years. The 20-year-old has scored a try in each of his last four games while running for over 98 metres in all of them.
This week, per Stats Insider’s Try Scoring Analysis, Lomax is running up against the worst left-edge defence in the NRL.
Draftstars Suggested Plays: Adam Clune ($8,410)
He’s had his ups and downs to start his first-grade NRL career, but Adam Clune is beginning to look comfortable in the Dragons number seven jersey. So comfortable that it has forced Paul McGregor into starting Ben Hunt at hooker.
With Lomax outside him and attacking a terrible Bulldogs left edge, Clune is projected to score a career-high 39 Draftstars points this week. He’s a value option at $8,410.
DFS Fade: Paul Vaughan ($14,560)
Paul Vaughan managed a season-high 63.7 points last week and has hit the 60 mark in three of his last five games. However, with that comes a bump in his price tag. Projected to score 50 points on Saturday, it’s worth considering other options given Vaughan’s $14,560.
South Sydney Rabbitohs v Newcastle Knights @ Bankwest Stadium
First Try-Scorers: Dane Gagai – $15
He’s moving in off the wing and into the centres, but the try scoring won’t necessarily stop for Dane Gagai ($15 – Bet Easy). He’s bagged four tries in the last fortnight and now shifts to the other side of the field to become part of a dangerous left-edge attack. With Cody Walker in encouraging form and Gagai’s taste for the try line at the moment, the left side will remain South Sydney’s target in attack despite the turnover in players filling the positions.
Draftstars Suggested Plays: Herman Ese’ese ($10,450), Aidan Guerra ($9,230)
We took Herman Ese’ese for 52.9 points last week and will go back to the well again on Saturday. He’s proved a consistent DFS performer when starting in the 13 jersey with our predictive model projecting him to score 46 points in this one. Ese’ese is a value play at $10,450.
With Newcastle’s exploring attack that sees them send the ball wide fairly early into their sets, Aidan Guerra deserves consideration on the edge. He’s managed 50 and 40 points across the last fortnight with our predictive model projecting him to split the two with 45 points here.
DFS Fade: Bradman Best ($9,780)
After suggesting Bradman Best as a fade option last week, his 8.2 points fell grossly short of an already small projected score. He’s a much better player than that and should see a lot more opportunities with the ball on Saturday. Still, his projected score of 31 points sees his fade value extend for another week.
Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles v Parramatta Eels @ Lottoland
First Try-Scorers: Cade Cust – $41, Dylan Brown – $21
The two five-eighths jump out as try-scoring options this week.
Cade Cust ($41 – SportsBet) has made a habit of scoring tries early into his NRL career. He’s a willing runner of the football and manages to find himself in the right place at the right time. With so much attention sure to be on Daly Cherry-Evans, Cust will be there to take any opportunities the defence affords him.
Meanwhile, Dylan Brown ($21 – PointsBet) has become the main man of the Eels attack. His left edge is one of the best in the competition with the young half growing in confidence every week. He’s so far translated that confidence into deft touches and putting teammates into holes (4 try assists, 2 line break assists). Averaging 118.9 running metres per game and applying his fancy footwork more and more, Brown is a good chance at sneaking through a gap himself this week.
Draftstars Suggested Plays: Taniela Paseka ($9,090), Jake Trbojevic ($14,000)
Injuries to the Manly middle presents us with two value plays this week.
Taniela Paseka played a season-high 36 minutes last week which translated into a season-high 44.7 points. Named to start on Saturday, our predictive model projects the man-mountain to score 42 points and is a must-play at $9,090 and just 12% ownership in Round 9.
While the Sea Eagles struggle as a team, Jake Trbojevic continues to be the picture of DFS consistency. Round 9’s 54.4 points marked the sixth consecutive week that Trbojevic has cleared the half-century. He’s up against a talented Eels middle which, at the very least, will demand a lot from the Sea Eagles defence. With that, our predictive model projects Trbojevic to keep the streak alive with another 59 points in this one.
DFS Fade: Jorge Taufua ($7,000)
Jorge Taufua relies on scoring tries to offer value in the DFS department. Up against the best defence in the NRL right now, it’s best to fade Taufua for another week with the Sea Eagles winger without a 30+ score in his last three matches.