The Sharks and Panthers go head-to-head in what should be a ripper on Saturday afternoon while the Storm and Raiders meet for the second time already in 2020 later in the day. Those two matches sandwich another that could be anything as the Broncos look to end their six-game losing streak against the bottom of the table Bulldogs at Suncorp Stadium.
Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks v Penrith Panthers @ Netstrata Jubilee Stadium
First Try-Scorer: Briton Nikora – $29
We zeroed in on Briton Nikora ($29 – BetEasy) last week with the Sharks backrower crossing the line in exactly the way we anticipated:
“Nikora is yet to score a try by flying onto a Johnson short-ball in 2020, but this might be his best chance to end the drought.”
So, we’re going back to the well.
Shaun Johnson leads the NRL in try assists and his right side attack is the most potent in the competition. Now that Johnson and Nikora appear to have reinvigorated the connection that made them so dangerous in 2019, the Sharks right edge may improve further still.
Draftstars Suggested Plays: Isaah Yeo ($14,750), Josh Mansour ($9580)
The Panthers are in brilliant form and it comes down to two key factors. Their middle is dominating the centre-third of the field, and their left edge is turning possession into points in good ball sets.
Isaah Yeo is a significant part of Penrith’s roll up the field. He’s picking up regular yardage through his dangerous footwork and threat as a ball-player. While his DFS scores have dropped each week since he posted 66.6 points in Round 5, our predictive model projects him to rebound with 60 points on Saturday afternoon.
Meanwhile, Josh Mansour popped up as a suggested play last week before cashing in with 43.9 points. He’s on the end of an elite left edge attack and is projected to score another 39 points in this one. As a metre-eater in a game that may not produce too many points, Mansour is a strong option at $9,580.
DFS Fade: Sione Katoa ($10,940)
Sione Katoa has been the beneficiary of Shaun Johnson’s improved form, but the wheels started to fall off him as a DFS value play last week with only 29.1 points. While he’s projected to bump that up to 37 points on Saturday, it’s best to consider other options at the position given Katoa’s $10,940 price.
Brisbane Broncos v Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs @ Suncorp Stadium
First Try-Scorer: Marcelo Montoya – $23, Xavier Coates – $10
Marcelo Montoya ($23 – SportsBet) has made a habit out of breaking the line late in games. Only Josh Addo-Carr and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck have broken the line more in the last 20 minutes than Montoya’s six line breaks over the last two seasons. We’re looking for him to have an impact earlier in this one, though.
Playing as a left-side centre, Montoya is running up against the worst right-side defence in the NRL per Stats Insider’s Try Scoring Analysis. No team has conceded more tries down that side of the field than Brisbane’s 18. Desperate to get off to a good start and play some mind games with this fragile Broncos outfit, expect the Bulldogs to hit their biggest weakness early.
For the Broncos, they will be looking to their right-side attack. Kotoni Staggs returns for this one, but it’s Xavier Coates ($10 – BetEasy) that shapes as the most likely try-scorer. With so much of the attention sure to be on Staggs, Coates may become the forgotten man on the outside.
Draftstars Suggested Plays: Tesi Niu ($8,000), Josh Jackson ($10,310)
We anticipated an improvement from Tesi Niu last week and it came in the form of 28.6 points – up from 20.2 a week earlier. Our predictive model projects further improvement on Saturday for 31 points. The Broncos are a better side than what we’ve seen over the last six weeks. There is too much talent in this squad for the losing streak to extend much longer and we’re yet to see Niu play behind a dominant pack in the two matches he started at fullback. If this is the week, Niu’s ceiling raises beyond the 31 points he’s projected to score.
Regardless of whether or not the Bulldogs compete this week, Josh Jackson will be in the thick of it. He averages 40.4 points for the season but has seen a slight dip over the last three weeks. With his price down to $10,310 and with a projected score of 45 points, Jackson is an appealing value option in a stacked position .
DFS Fade: Luke Thompson ($11,000)
Don’t be mistaken if you’re unfamiliar with Luke Thompson. He is a very good footballer. There is little doubt that he will dominate in the NRL once he gets going. Our predictive model doesn’t think it will be this week, though. He’s projected to score just 37 points in his debut. Unsure on Canterbury’s rotation for him and his match fitness, it might be best to see how Thompson goes in this one before selecting him in lineups.
Canberra Raiders v Melbourne Storm @ GIO Stadium
First Try-Scorer: Elliott Whitehead – $29, Paul Momirovski – $17
Paul Momirovski ($17 – SportsBet) has a remarkable try-scoring record early into his NRL career. He’s scored 13 tries in just 15 games. Since joining the Storm on loan from the Tigers, the 23-year-old has scored three tries in the last fortnight. He has a habit of being in the right place at the right time – the perfect trait for a Melbourne outside back. With Jahrome Hughes coming into some excellent form while Cameron Munster sits on the sideline, expect Momirovski to be in the action again this week.
With quite the try-scoring haul himself this season, Elliott Whitehead has scored four already in 2020 (3 in 27 games in 2019) and threatens to bag another this week. The English back rower has broken the line four times in the last three weeks. He’s hitting holes, throwing dummies, and drawing a fullback to send his teammate over the line. Whitehead is underrated as an attacking weapon and will look to expose what is still a developing defensive combination on Melbourne’s right side.
Draftstars Suggested Plays: Bailey Simonsson ($7,000), Josh Papalii ($14,570)
The Raiders offer up a bargain-basement winger and a high-cost middle forward for DFS players this week.
There is still an element of risk given Jordan Rapana sits on the bench, but Bailey Simonsson played the full 80 minutes for 28.1 points last week. Our predictive model projects him to replicate that with another 29 points on Saturday night, which at $7,000, makes Simonsson a serious value option.
With Josh Papalii, on the other hand, there is next to no risk. He’s one of the best props in the NRL and it shows in his DFS game. Papalii’s 44.6 points last week is the first time he’s failed to crack 50 since the season restarted. Although, he did come off the bench. He has a habit of firing up against the Storm, too. Despite the disappointing DFS output last week, Papalii needs to be considered for Saturday night with a projected score of 58 points.
DFS Fade: Jahrome Hughes ($13,340)
Right, so Jahrome Hughes didn’t need fading last week. He improved on his 65.4 points in Round 7 to score a whopping 72.2 points in Round 8. His involvement has increased with Cameron Munster on the sideline, but the opposition know that now. The Kiwi international is projected to come back down to earth with 42 points on Saturday night.