NRL: Round 8 Value Plays (Thursday & Friday)

NRL: Round 8 Value Plays (Thursday & Friday)

Injuries have taken some of the sting out of our Thursday night NRL blockbuster, but Storm v Roosters still makes for must-watch television. The Raiders taking on the lowly Dragons is all of a sudden interesting as the Green Machine looks to avoid three consecutive defeats. And the Eels begin their stint without Mitchell Moses when they host the Cowboys at a newly-turfed Bankwest Stadium.

Melbourne Storm v Sydney Roosters @ Suncorp Stadium

First Try-Scorer: Paul Momirovski – $21, Suliasi Vunivalu – $11, Felise Kaufusi – $29

The Roosters’ heavy favoritism on Thursday night has led to all of the value lying with the Storm. Their right edge, in particular.

With Cameron Munster missing for this one, Jahrome Hughes will need to assume more of the ball-playing duties. That opens things up on Melbourne’s right side where they’ve scored 14 of their 20 tries this season per Stats Insider’s ‘Try Location Analysis‘.

Paul Momirovski ($21 – Neds) was first across the line in his Storm debut last week and, as perhaps the least worrying of the right-side trio, could sneak across again. While Felise Kaufusi ($29 – BetEasy) has only scored one try this NRL season, he’s an excellent hole-runner and is sure to be a target for Hughes. If Cameron Smith takes more reps at first-receiver than normal, Kaufusi’s value increases further.

But it’s Suliasi Vunivalu ($11 – PointsBet) that is the big draw. Like the Storm as a club who have won 13 of their last 14 games at Suncorp Stadium, Vunivalu loves the venue. He’s scored seven tries in eight games in Brisbane and is a great option for Thursday night.

Draftstars Suggested Plays: Ryan Papenhuyzen ($8,400), Nat Butcher ($9,700)

Ryan Papenhuyzen and Nat Butcher are set to benefit most from Cameron Munster and Victor Radley sitting on the sideline.

While Papenhuyzen isn’t a direct replacement for Munster, it’s safe to assume the fullback will see more of the ball in the five-eighths absence. Like Munster, Papenhuyzen is excellent down the short-side and can use his lightning speed to get on the outside of his defender and open up space for a teammate on the outside. Our predictive model projects Papenhuyzen’s added influence in the Storm attack to translate into 43 Draftstars points. At $8,400, he’s a value play.

Butcher has been named to replace Radley at lock this week. A productive player averaging 28.3 points in only 25.3 minutes per game over the last three weeks, his bump in minutes has the model projecting Butcher to score 47 points.

DFS Fade: Jahrome Hughes ($11,660)

Jahrome Hughes becomes a fade option with all of the extra attention. He’s a fairly high-ownership player as it is, and will no doubt be in the eyes of many this week. Our predictive model projects him to score 39 points on Thursday night – considerably less than his 65.4 points in Round 7.

Canberra Raiders v St George-Illawarra Dragons @ GIO Stadium

First Try-Scorer: George Williams – $31

English import George Williams ($31 – Neds) has come under fire in recent weeks. Naturally, when a team plays poorly, the halfback feels the pressure. Expect him to keep doing what he does best and run the football this week.

Against a Dragons side that has leaked the fourth-most tries through the middle of the field this season, Williams will be presented with chances to expose lazy defenders. He has a brutal right-foot step – one we’ve not seen enough of early on in his NRL career. With the Raiders coming into this one following back-to-back defeats and Ricky Stuart surly imploring his side to do the little things well, expect Williams to run the ball. He will cause the Dragons defence all sorts of problems if he does.

Draftstars Suggested Plays: Elliott Whitehead ($11,150), Michael Oldfield ($7,000)

With George Williams joining the side, Josh Hodgson the captain and all of the drama surrounding John Bateman recently, Elliott Whitehead flies under the radar. Even NRL Dally M voters fail to pick up on his efforts with his try, 41 tackles and 138 running metres (65.8 Draftstars points) failing to get a mention.

Our predictive model is all over Whitehead, though. While not expected to extend his run of 65+ points to three weeks, his projected score of 47 points is enough to suggest the back-rower is a value play at $11,150.

So too is Michael Oldfield, although, he’s going to be a popular pick at $7,000. He replaces Curtis Scott who failed to use his chance to lock down the right-side centre role in the Green Machine. Reliable and hard-working, Oldfield shouldn’t have any problems slotting straight in. Our predictive model projects Oldfield to score 32 points on Friday – a must play at $7,000.

DFS Fade: Paul Vaughan ($14,500)

Paul Vaughan has been an exceptional DFS performer throughout the 2020 NRL season. Averaging 54.8 points in his last six games, he’s become a high-ownership player every week. It’s worth considering him as a fade option this week, though. With a projected score of 49 points, he’s getting up there in price per point at $14,500.

Parramatta Eels v North Queensland Cowboys @ Bankwest Stadium

First Try-Scorer: Tom Opacic – $23

Tom Opacic ($23 – Neds) was named on the wing but did his damage in the centres last week to hand out two try assists. This week, he’s a try-scoring option on North Queensland’s left edge.

Parramatta is a great defensive team overall, but their right-side could do with some work. A whopping 11 of the 14 tries the Eels have conceded this season came through their right edge. With a decent strike-rate of 11 tries in his 33 NRL games in the centres, Opacic is an option here in a Cowboys side not expected to score too many points.

Draftstars Suggested Plays: Shaun Lane ($11,950), Waqa Blake ($7,130)

An injury to Mitchell Moses opens up DFS scoring opportunities for others on both sides of the field. With more of Parramatta’s focus in attack expected to come down Dylan Brown’s left side, Shaun Lane shapes as a big beneficiary. He’s a powerful runner of the ball and averages 151.4 running metres per game. Lane can also hit a hole and throw an offload. As an edge back rower, he can do it all.

After scoring 32.5 points in Round 6 and 82.4 points in Round 7, our predictive model projects Lane to score roughly in the middle of the two for 52 points on Friday night.

On the other side of the field, it’s Waqa Blake that can benefit from Moses’ absence. While Moses’ replacement Jai Field may present as a decent option at $9,000, it’s unlikely that he is asked to do too much within the Parramatta attack. Instead, expect to see Field send early ball to his outside men. With room to wind up and in impressive form already, Blake is a key target on the right side. Our predictive model projects him to cash in with 31 points, which at $7,130, is a decent value option.

DFS Fade: Kyle Feldt ($9,500)

He’s the NRL’s leading try-scorer and has scored eight tries in the last four weeks, but Kyle Feldt can’t keep this up forever. Not in an inconsistent Cowboys team, or against an Eels outfit that has conceded the third-fewest points in the competition and only two tries down Feldt’s side of the field all season. All good things must come to an end. There is a good chance the try-scoring run ends this week for Feldt.

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