A Top 8 clash headlines an exciting NRL Sunday as the Knights host the top of the table Eels at McDonald Jones Stadium. The Sea Eagles and Dragons wrap up Round 9 in a crucial match for both clubs as the middle of the ladder begins to tighten up as the halfway point of the season approaches.
Newcastle Knights v Parramatta Eels @ McDonald Jones Stadium
First Try-Scorer: Maika Sivo – $8.5, Michael Jennings – $13
There isn’t a better left-side attack in the NRL than Parramatta’s at the moment.
Dylan Brown’s development has accelerated, Shaun Lane is becoming a top-tier back rower, Michael Jennings ($13 – Neds) is a form centre of the competition at 32-years old, and Maika Sivo ($8.50 – SportsBet) is on track to score another 20 tries this season.
Up against a strong Knights defence that has proven a willingness to scramble, the Eels will be looking for their most potent weapon. Not to mention Mitchell Moses is still out due to injury and Newcastle has 80 minutes of film to review on an inexperienced Jai Field.
Sivo and Jennings combined for five tries in Round 8. Expect them to be in the mix again on Sunday.
Draftstars Suggested Plays: Nathan Brown ($11,600), Herman Ese’ese ($9,740)
The battle of the lock forwards is a mouthwatering prospect for Sunday and could pay dividends for DFS players.
Herman Ese’ese starts at lock again for this one and has produced promising results in the three games he’s run out there for kickoff since the season restarted. He’s averaged 47.1 points wearing the number 13 jersey. Managing just 38.1 points in 42 minutes last week, our predictive model projects Ese’ese to score 43 points on Sunday.
Nathan Brown, meanwhile, is a crazy man. Something happens to him when he runs out of the tunnel. For better or worse (he loves a spell on the sideline through suspension), he throws everything into the 80 minutes and it translates into the sort of counting stats that saw him score 63.4 Draftstars points last week. Not expected to score quite that much this week (52 points), Brown shapes as a value play at his appealing $11,600 price tag.
DFS Fade: Bradman Best ($8,950)
An incredible start to his NRL career has seen Bradman Best feature as a high-ownership DFS option. However, he’s projected to score just 31 points in this one. The Knights are tinkering their attack. Kalyn Ponga isn’t spending as much time on the left side as we’re used to seeing. Best’s DFS potential suffers as a result.
St George-Illawarra Dragons v Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles @ Netstrata Jubilee Stadium
First Try-Scorer: Ben Hunt – $51, Cameron McInnes – $56
Ben Hunt ($51 – BetEasy) returns to the starting lineup for the Dragons this week, but not in his preferred position. He will run out in the number nine jersey with Cameron McInnes ($56 – SportsBet) at lock.
Hunt has shown a willingness to run since being shifted to dummy half in Round 5. As a half, he’s always played his best football when digging into the line and being a little more selfish. With the Sea Eagles battling injuries and a few holes likely to expose themselves in the middle, Hunt is a great chance to score in what will be a statement game for the 30-year-old.
While McInnes hasn’t always been a regular runner of the ball, his 110 metres per game in 2020 is considerably more than any other season in his career to date. He could pose a real threat in the middle of the field and his effort around the ball lends itself to opportunities as a support player. He’s only scored 17 tries in 118 career games, but McInnes is a smokey chance here.
Draftstars Suggested Plays: Euan Aitken ($9,500), Taniela Paseka ($8,740)
Euan Aitken has taken his opportunity to cement his place in the centres. He ran for a monster 221 metres with 120 post-contact metres last week. He added ten tackle breaks, a line break and a try assist for his 69.1 Draftstars points. Albeit in great form, our predictive model projects a slight downturn in production this week with a projected score of 41 points. Still, Aitken is a value play at $9,500.
It’s now time for Taniela Paseka to take his opportunity in the middle for Manly. Addin Founa-Blake’s spray directed towards referee Grant Atkins has cost him a few weeks on the sideline with Paseka offered the first crack at filling the void. Preparing to start at prop for just the third time in his NRL career, the 197cm and 120kg behemoth is projected to score 43 points on Sunday evening.
DFS Fade: Corey Norman ($13,780)
Corey Norman has cashed in for 63.5 points and 62.3 points over the last fortnight. However, Ben Hunt’s elevation into the starting lineup and the ball-playing now on offer with Cameron McInnes at lock will more than likely take touches away from Norman. Projected to score 47 points, it’s worth considering other options in this spot.