Round 9 gets underway on Thursday night with the defending premiers visiting North Queensland for the first time since 2016. The New Zealand Warriors play out of their second home on the Gold Coast where they’ve won eight of their last ten games on Friday before the South Sydney Rabbitohs host the Wests Tigers in an intriguing prime time contest.
North Queensland Cowboys v Sydney Roosters @ Queensland Country Bank Stadium
First Try-Scorers: Kyle Feldt – $14, Brett Morris – $8.5
Two of the great NRL wingers occupy the right flanks of the North Queensland Cowboys and Sydney Roosters on Thursday night.
Despite playing in a side most don’t expect to crack the Top 8 this season, Kyle Feldt ($14 – Neds) leads the NRL with nine tries through eight rounds. He’s long been a demon in the air and has developed as an elite finisher in the corner. With Jake Clifford kicking as though he has the ball on a string and Feldt matched up against a massive, but not a particularly soaring Ryan Hall on the wing, expect a few high balls to be sent in that direction.
The Roosters have, quite possibly, the most underappreciated winger in the NRL era out wide. Brett Morris ($8.50 – SportsBet) has scored 160 tries in 260 NRL matches including seven tries in eight games throughout 2020. The 33-year-old veteran is the perfect player to have on the end of these Roosters shifts. If the opportunity is there, Morris will take it.
Draftstars Suggested Plays: Francis Molo ($8,970), Shane Wright ($8,600)
The Cowboys are offering two bargain starters this week. For the first time in his 45-game NRL career, Francis Molo is starting in back-to-back games. He’s got there through some impressive form to start 2020. He’s cleared 100 running metres in seven of his eight games this season including three games playing fewer than 35 minutes. Molo is destructive in his runs and searches for the ball in North Queensland’s toughest sets. At $8,970 and projected to score 42 points, he’s a value play for this one.
Likewise, Shane Wright has found himself starting on the edge for the third-consecutive week. While not a prolific runner of the football, he’s a defensive work horse. He’s made 93 tackles over the last fortnight. If there is one thing we know about this game, it’s Wright will be asked to make a lot of tackles. As a result, our predictive model projects him to score 43 points on Thursday night.
DFS Fade: Siosiua Taukeiaho ($12,900)
The list of players truly capable of slowing down Siosiua Taukeiaho is short. It may only contain one name: Jason Taumalolo. Our predictive model projects Taukeiaho to score just 46 points this week, down from his 60+ in his last two games. He’s a fade option here.
Gold Coast Titans v New Zealand Warriors @ Cbus Super Stadium
First Try-Scorers: David Fusitu’a – $11, Patrick Herbert – $17
The Titans have two back rowers playing in the centres this week. While Ken Maumalo and Peta Hiku also shape a likely try-scorers, it’s the pair outside Tohu Harris that stick out.
Harris has spent a lot of time in the middle of the field recently. However, the return of Jazz Tevaga is likely to put an end to that. But as one of the best back rowers in the NRL himself, Harris will be salivating at the prospect of matching up against either Beau Fermer (a rookie) or Bryce Cartwright (poor defender) on the right edge. He plays with all the time a footballer can ask for and makes the right decision with the ball in his hands more often than not. Patrick Herbert ($17 – SportsBet) and David Fusitu’a ($11 – Neds) may not need to do anything more than fall over the line on Friday evening.
Draftstars Suggested Plays: Jamayne Taunoa-Brown
The value is back in Jamayne Taunoa-Brown.
After getting out to $11,880 on the back of a strong start to the season, our predictive model suggested the Warriors rookie as a fade play in Round 7. He’s averaged just 32 points since then – a poor result for a player at that price. But with a projected score of 39 points at $9,100, it’s time to go back to the well.
The Warriors don’t match up with many teams through the middle of the field for a variety of reasons. They can dominate the centre-third this week, though. Taunoa-Brown will play a key role on Friday as one of only three genuine props in the 17.
DFS Fade: Roger Tuivasa-Sheck ($13,100)
It’s an eyebrow-raiser, but Roger Tuivasa-Sheck hasn’t performed for DFS players this season. The Warriors have changed the way he plays and asked him to adopt a style that doesn’t translate into quite so many counting stats. He returns after a week off, but our predictive model projects him to score just 43 points. Fading him could be a key point of difference.
South Sydney Rabbitohs v West Tigers @ Bankwest Stadium
First Try-Scorers: Alex Johnson – $9, Campbell Graham – $17
Per Stats Insider’s Try Scoring Analysis, the South Sydney Rabbitohs have scored the third-most tries down the left side in the NRL this season. Wests Tigers, on the other hand, have allowed the third-most to be scored down their right side.
While the Tigers right-edge defence has improved in recent weeks, they come up against an attack that can score on anybody. Cody Walker is in fine form, Campbell Graham ($17 – SportsBet) is playing consistent footy for the first time in a long time, and Alex Johnston ($9 – BetEasy) has scored a try in each of his last five games. It’s taken a little while, but the Bunnies left edge is back to its best.
Expect them to cash in on a less than convincing Tigers right edge defence this week.
Draftstars Suggested Plays: Adam Doueihi ($8,520), Damien Cook ($15,800)
The Wests Tigers attack has struggled at times, but Adam Doueihi’s increased role is encouraging. He’s a future five-eighth at the club. His ball-playing is already good enough to play there and is evident in the three try assists and two line break assists over the last month. Doueihi has run for 182 metres per game in that time, too. In excellent form, our predictive model projects Doueihi to turn that into 37 points on Friday night. He’s a value play at an appealing $8,520.
At the opposite end of the price scale, Damien Cook is the most expensive player in this one at $15,800. The New South Wales hooker is starting to look a lot more dangerous around the ruck to clear 100 running metres in three of his last four games. Up against Harry Grant, who has already put himself into the Queensland hooker conversation, expect Cook to make a bit of a statement here. It has a master vs apprentice feel to it. The master is projected to finish up with 65 points.
DFS Fade: Thomas Burgess ($12,280)
He’s been one of the pleasant surprises of the 2020 NRL season, but our predictive model projects a slight downturn for Thomas Burgess this week. Averaging 51.2 points over the last month to bump his price up to $12,280, his projected score of 43 points this week is enough to consider him as a fade option. Particularly given his high ownership of late.