Our first Super Saturday in over two months looks like a ripper.
As fan favourites right now, the Warriors will have plenty of support when they take on the Dragons. The Sharks and Tigers are both expected to float around the middle of the table this season – to beat the other offers a massive boost. Then it’s the main course: Storm vs Raiders. Two of the best teams in the competition play out a finals rematch in Melbourne.
Here, we take a look at who will score the first try and where the DFS value lies for all three games.
New Zealand Warriors vs St George-Illawarra Dragons @ Central Coast Stadium
First Try-Scorers: Kodi Nikorima – $26, Mikaele Ravalawa – $11, Cameron McInnes – $51
The New Zealand Warriors are yet to register a line break in 160 minutes of action this season. Their only points have come through a penalty try in Round 2. It’s a big ask for them to score first. Nonetheless, our predictive model fancies Kodi Nikorima ($26 – BetEasy) at his price on Saturday afternoon. Potentially the beneficiary of the new six-again rule and the flow-on effect to running little men, the longer this game goes without a try, the bigger factor Nikorima becomes.
More likely, Mikaele Ravalawa ($11 – PointsBet) is another option. He’s running at yet another new Warriors combination on the right-side of Gerard Beale and Patrick Herbert. If Ben Hunt can get Ravalawa lined up close to Beale’s outside shoulder, it’s all over.
Despite not being known for his scoring prowess managing just six tries in his last two seasons (49 games), our predictive model has identified Cameron McInnes ($51 – PointsBet) as the smokey option in this one.
Draftstars Suggested Plays: Jamayne Taunoa-Brown ($8,630), Korbin Sims ($9,830), Zac Lomax ($8,590)
The depleted stocks of the Warriors middle make Jamayne Taunoa-Brown the obvious pick at his $8,630 price. Named to start and with only one true prop on the bench, our predictive model has JTB finishing up with 36.95 points. Similarly, Korbin Sims has been named to make his return to the Dragons in the front row. He’s projected to score 42.11 points and appeals at his $9,830 price. Although, ownership will be high for both players.
With the points total set at a lofty 44.5 points for this one, the expectation is for a high-scoring match. With that, Zac Lomax is not only a try-scoring threat himself, but will be kicking goals for any tries the Dragons do score. He’s projected to score 38.27 points.
DFS Fade: Kodi Nikorima ($10,150)
Many will assume Kodi Nikorima’s move from bench utility into the starting line up translates into an increase in DFS production. However, our model doesn’t see value in his $10,150 price. Playing behind a beaten-up forward pack and within an attack that is yet to score a try, Nikorima is projected to score just 26.13 points. Likely a popular pick, fading him could be a great move.
Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks vs Wests Tigers @ Bankwest Stadium
First Try-Scorers: Ronaldo Mulitalo $10, Briton Nikora – $26, Luciano Leilua – $31
Shaun Johnson has commanded the best right-side attack for two consecutive NRL seasons (Warriors in 2018 and Sharks in 2019). An excellent ball runner that has a knack for hitting the right player on the chest close to the line, Johnson has Ronaldo Mulitalo ($10 – BestEasy) and Briton Nikora ($26 – BetEasy) amongst the predictive model’s bet plays in the first try-scorer market.
On the opposite side of the field, Benji Marshall offers much of the same for his right-side attack. He’s sent Luciano Leilua ($31 – BetEasy) over the line once already this season and is a good chance to do so again on Saturday.
Draftstars Suggested Plays: Harry Grant ($10,200), Andrew Fifita ($13,610), Luciano Leilua ($14,300)
For those unfamiliar with Harry Grant – strap yourself in. The 22-year-old is the truth, and had he not been stuck behind Cameron Smith at the Storm, you’d have seen him in the NRL two years ago. Even with Billy Walters on the bench, our predictive model projects Grant to score 45.55 points in his Tigers debut.
Grant’s quick feet out of dummy half can get the Tigers rolling up the field. With the Tigers showing willingness to shift the ball early when getting downhill, Luciano Leilua should see plenty of action. He’s projected to score 50+ (56.41) for a third consecutive game
Following a slow start to the season, Andrew Fifita might be a big winner of the two-month break. He’s been struggling with injuries over the last 12 months, and after scores of 29.1 and 48.8 in Round 1 and 2, our predictive model projects a healthier Fifita to climb up to 58.7 points.
DFS Fade: Blayke Brailey ($12,920)
Blayke Brailey could be considered the safe option at hooker given he will play 80 minutes and has first-grade experience. However, our predictive model projects the Sharks rake to score 40.1 points. Grant comes in cheaper and has the higher ceiling.
Melbourne Storm vs Canberra Raiders @ AAMI Park
First Try-Scorers: Elliot Whitehead – $31, Suliasi Vunivalu – $9, Jahrome Hughes – $26
While it is Round 3, we can treat this as a season-opener. No team starts an NRL season better than the Storm. They come flying out of the blocks and have a little bit extra to play for here after falling to the Raiders in the 2019 finals. Anticipating a fast start, Suliasi Vunivalu ($9 – BetEasy) is an obvious option. He scores the first try at a 16.6% clip and our predictive model likes him here. If the ball doesn’t get out to Vunivalu, Jahrome Hughes ($26 – Sportsbet) will have had something to do with that.
Hughes will be running at Jack Wighton who, while a strong defender overall, has been known to shoot out of the line. The Storm half has the composure and footwork to expose and error like that, should Wighton mistime his run.
Given Wighton’s form and George Williams playing in just the third game of his NRL career, expect the Raiders to lean heavily towards their left edge to start. Wighton is a strong runner of the football; Craig Bellamy has a habit of removing his opposition’s strongest weapon. That will bring Elliot Whitehead ($31 – BetEasy) into play on Wighton’s outside shoulder.
Draftstars Suggested Plays: Cameron Smith ($16,200), Nelson Asofa-Solomona ($11,580), Joseph Tapine ($12,470)
Our predictive model hasn’t spied any value out wide in this one – that isn’t a surprise. Expected to be a slug-fest, a lot of this game will be played in the centre third. Cameron Smith will be asked to do a lot of work defensively and is projected to score 62.79 points. So too is Joseph Tapine who made 37 tackles in 65 minutes against the Warriors. His projected 56.54 points is considerably higher than the 44.1 and 47.3 he scored in Round 1 and 2.
As a certain video in Bali suggests, Nelson Asofa-Solomona isn’t afraid to get himself involved in a slug-fest. Disappointing in his 30.9-point average across the first two rounds, our predictive model has NAS as a big player in this arm-wrestle. The two-metre tall Kiwi international is projected to finish up with 51.86 points on Saturday night.
DFS Fade: George Williams ($13,390)
While George Williams has impressed throughout his opening two NRL games, he has been blessed with sub-par opponents. An introduction into the NRL doesn’t get much easier than the Titans (64.73 points) and Warriors (34.11 points). Projected to score 38.2 points in this one, we need to see more from Williams against quality opposition before he can be relied upon.