Cowboys v Roosters
Thursday, 8.05pm,1300SMILES Stadium
Plays of the Week
From bicycle kicks to round ball rockets, these are the most exciting, silly and downright crazy plays in the sport world this week.
Cowboys: 1 Lachlan Coote 2 Kyle Feldt 3 Justin O'Neill 4 Kane Linnett 5 Antonio Winterstein 6 Michael Morgan 7 Johnathan Thurston (c) 8 Matthew Scott (c) 9 Jake Granville 10 James Tamou 11 Gavin Cooper 12 Ethan Lowe 13 Jason Taumalolo Interchange: 14 Rory Kostjasyn 15 John Asiata 16 Scott Bolton 17 Ben Hannant
Roosters: 1 Latrell Mitchell 2 Shaun Kenny-Dowall 3 Blake Ferguson 4 Dale Copley 5 Daniel Tupou 6 Jayden Nikorima 7 Jackson Hastings 8 Kane Evans 9 Jake Friend (c) 10 Dylan Napa 11 Aidan Guerra 12 Mitchell Aubusson 14 Sio Siua Taukeiaho Interchange: 13 Isaac Liu 15 Sam Moa 16 Ian Henderson 17 Mitchell Frei 18 Eloni Vunakece 21 Brendan Elliott
Chris Boulous writes: The Roosters improved in week two and keep the same combination with Latrell Mitchell (fullback) and Blake Ferguson (centre) in their more traditional roles. Travelling to Canberra and Townsville in consecutive weeks is a big test for the tricolours and they will need Dylan Napa and Kane Evans to at least match Cowboys props Matt Scott and James Tamou if they are to have any chance of winning. The Cowboys literally fumbled their way to their first loss last week and ball control will be priority No.1 this week. The class of Johnathan Thurston could be the difference against the young Roosters outfit.
Key match-ups: James Tamou v Dylan Napa , Johnathan Thurston v Jackson Hastings, Latrell Mitchell v Lachlan Coote
Did you know: The Roosters smashed the Cowboys 28-4 in round one last year.
Tip: Cowboys by 8
UBET: Cowboys $1.25, Roosters $4.35
Bulldogs v Eels
Friday, 8.05pm, ANZ Stadium
Where there's a Will: Will Hopoate plays his former team on Friday night. Photo: Matt King
Bulldogs: 1 Will Hopoate 2 Curtis Rona 3 Josh Morris 4 Chase Stanley 5 Sam Perrett 6 Josh Reynolds 7 Moses Mbye 8 Aiden Tolman 9 Craig Garvey 10 James Graham (c) 11 Josh Jackson 12 Tony Williams 13 Greg Eastwood Interchange: 14 Sam Kasiano 15 Tim Browne 16 David Klemmer 17 Adam Elliott 19 Lloyd Perrett 20 Shaun Lane
Eels: 1. Michael Gordon 2. Semi Radradra 3. Michael Jennings 4. Brad Takairangi 5. Clint Gutherson 6. Corey Norman 7. Kieran Foran (c) 8. Junior Paulo 9. Isaac De Gois 10. Tim Mannah 11. Kenny Edwards 12. Beau Scott 13. Tepai Moeroa. Interchange: 14. Kaysa Pritchard 15. Peni Terepo 16. Danny Wicks 17. David Gower
Chris Boulous writes: Two of the most impressive teams from round two face off in an old fashioned rivalry stoush. The Eels sit a handy 1-1 after facing both grand finalists from last year and will be confident after knocking off the premiers last week. The loss of Manu Ma'u and Nathan Peats is a blow for the blue and gold, who will have to wait until kick-off to see if skipper Kieran Foran is available. The Bulldogs did everything to lose last week and still won, enhancing their credentials as a team to watch in 2016. They will no doubt look to their forwards to provide Moses Mbye room to work his magic alongside former Eel Will Hopoate.
Key match-ups: Will Hopoate v Michael Gordon, James Graham v Tim Mannah, Moses Mbye v Kieran Foran
Did you know: The Bulldogs have won nine of the past 10 clashes between the two teams.
Tip: Eels by 2
UBET: Bulldogs $1.63, Eels $2.30
Knights v Raiders
Saturday, 5.30pm, Hunter Stadium
All smiles: The Raiders have started 2016 in perfect fashion. Photo: Graham Tidy
Knights: 1 Jaelen Feeney 2 Nathan Ross 3 Dane Gagai 4 Pat Mata'utia 5 Akuila Uate 6 Jarrod Mullen 7 Trent Hodkinson 8 Sam Mataora 9 Tyler Randell 10 Korbin Sims 11 Jacob Safiti 12 Robbie Rochow 13 Jeremy Smith. Interchange: 14 Danny Levi 15 Sione Mata'Utia 16 Lachlan Fitzgibbon 17 Daniel Safiti 18 Pauli Pauli
Raiders: 1 Jack Wighton 2 Edrick Lee 3 Jarrod Croker (c) 4 Brenko Lee 5 Jordan Rapana 6 Lachlan Croker 7 Sam Williams 8 Shannon Boyd 9 Josh Hodgson 10 Frank-Paul Nuuausala 11 Josh Papalii 12 Elliot Whitehead 13 Shaun Fensom. Interchange: 14 Kurt Baptiste 15 Iosia Soliola 16 Paul Vaughan 17 Jeff Lima
Chris Boulous writes: Not much to write home about for the Knights in the opening two rounds but they do return to Hunter Stadium, which they will relish. It's hard to see where their points will come from. Trent Hodkinson and Jarrod Mullen are playing behind a forward pack that has shown little in their two big losses. The Raiders snuck home against the Roosters without Blake Austin and Aidan Sezer and have a real chance to start the year 4-0 with games against the Knights and Titans in the next fortnight. Forget their class and speed out wide, it's their forwards who have been the stars to start 2016, and Josh Papalii has put his hand up for a Queensland jersey with two strong outings.
Key match-ups: Trent Hodkinson v Sam Williams, Jeremy Smith v Shaun Fensom, Robbie Rochow v Elliot Whitehead
Did you know: Edrick Lee celebrates game 50 alongside cousin Brenko, who has been named to replace Joey Leilua.
Tip: Raiders by 10
UBET: Raiders $1.57, Knights $2.45
Panthers v Broncos
Saturday, 7.30pm, Pepper Stadium
Boyd done good: Darius Boyd takes the congratulations of his Broncos teammates after scoring a try. Photo: Getty Images
Panthers: 1 Will Smith 2 Josh Mansour 3 Waqa Blake 4 Peta Hiku 5 Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 6 Tyrone Peachey 7 Jamie Soward 8 Sam McKendry 9 Peter Wallace 10 Reagan Campbell-Gillard 11 Bryce Cartwright 12 Isaah Yeo 13 Trent Merrin Interchange: 14 Sitaleki Akauola 15 Jeremy Latimore 16 Suaia Matagi 17 Elijah Taylor
Broncos: 1 Darius Boyd 2 Greg Eden 3 Jack Reed 4 James Roberts 5 Jordan Kahu 6 Anthony Milford 7 Ben Hunt 8 Josh McGuire 9 Andrew McCullough 10 Adam Blair 11 Alex Glenn 12 Matt Gillett 13 Corey Parker (c) Interchange: 14 Jarrod Wallace 15 Sam Thaiday 16 Joe Ofahengaue 17 Kodi Nikorima
Chris Boulous writes: The Panthers did everything but win last week and the Broncos just seem to find a way to grind out wins. Could that be the difference as Anthony Griffin coaches against his former team for the first time? The Broncos have been somewhat predictable in their simplicity as is typical with Wayne Bennett-coached teams and are yet to really unleash attacking weapons James Roberts and Anthony Milford. The Panthers muscled up last week and will need a repeat dose from Reagan Campbell-Gillard and Sam McKendry if they are a chance to knock off the Broncos. Missing Matt Moylan and James Segeyaro, the mountain men will need Bryce Cartwright to be at his attacking best to trouble the best defence in the league.
Key match-ups: Will Smith v Darius Boyd, Jamie Soward v Ben Hunt , Reagan Campbell-Gillard v Adam Blair
Did you know: Their namesakes Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos played in Super Bowl 50
Tip: Broncos by 4
UBET: Broncos $1.45, Panthers $2.80
Titans v Wests Tigers
Saturday, 9.30pm, CBus Super Stadium
Fired up: Teammates mob James Tedesco after his third try. Photo: Getty Images
Titans: 1 David Mead 2 Anthony Don 3 Josh Hoffman 4 Nathan Davis 5 Nene MacDonald 6 Tyrone Roberts 7 Ashley Taylor 8 David Shillington 9 Nathan Friend (c) 10 Agnatius Paasi 11 Zeb Taia 12 Chris McQueen 13 Greg Bird. Interchange: 14 Luke Douglas 15 Ryan James 16 Leivaha Pulu 17 Daniel Mortimer 18 Eddy Pettybourne.
Tigers: 1 James Tedesco 2 David Nofoaluma 3 Tim Simona 4 Kevin Naiqama 5 Jordan Rankin 6 Mitchell Moses 7 Luke Brooks 8 Aaron Woods (c) 9 Dene Halatau 10 Tim Grant 11 Kyle Lovett 12 Chris Lawrence 13 Sauaso Sue. Interchange: 14 Jack Buchanan 15 Joshua Aloiai 16 Ava Seumanufagai 17 Manaia Cherrington 18 Michael Chee Kam.
Chris Boulous writes: Two words: James Tedesco. If the No.1 can continue his red-hot, form the Wests Tigers will continue their unbeaten start to the year. Simple. However, it rarely is in the NRL. And even though the Tedesco, Mitchell Moses and Luke Brooks trio is all the rage, the Titans will fancy their chances at home after a good performance (albeit a loss) to Melbourne. The Titans have a pretty handy young half of their own in Ashley Taylor and a forward pack led by David Shillington and Greg Bird. If the Tigers begin to read their own press, the Titans will be theirs to swoop.
Key match-ups: Ashley Taylor v Luke Brooks, David Shillington v Aaron Woods, Greg Bird v Sauaso Sue
Did you know: The Titans have lost 21 of their past 24 games at home on a Saturday.
Tip: Wests Tigers by 4
UBET: Wests Tigers $1.68, Titans $2.20
Warriors v Storm
Sunday, 2pm, Mt Smart Stadium
Man to watch: Roger Tuivasa-Sheck. Photo: Mark Kolbe
Warriors: 1. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck 2. Tuimoala Lolohea 3. Blake Ayshford 4. Solomone Kata 5. Manu Vatuvei 6. Shaun Johnson 7. Jeff Robson 8. Jacob Lillyman 9. Issac Luke 10. Ben Matulino 11. Bodene Thompson 12. Ryan Hoffman 13. Simon Mannering. Interchange: 14. Nathaniel Roache 15. Charlie Gubb 16. James Gavet 17. Albert Vete 18. John Palavi 21. Jonathan Wright 23. Konrad Hurrell
Storm: 1 Cameron Munster 2 Young Tonumaipea 3 Will Chambers 4 Curtis Scott 5 Marika Koroibete 6 Blake Green 7 Cooper Cronk 8 Jesse Bromwich 9 Cameron Smith (c) 10 Jordan McLean 11 Kevin Proctor 12 Tohu Harris 13 Dale Finucane. Interchange: 14 Kenny Bromwich 15 Tim Glasby 16 Felise Kaufusi 17 Ben Hampton.
Chris Boulous writes: It wouldn't surprise if the Warriors kissed the tarmac on return to New Zealand as they prepare for their first home game of the year. Two losses isn't ideal for a team and a coach under pressure to perform, and all eyes will be on Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Shaun Johnson, and Issac Luke to recapture their attacking best. It's no real surprise the Storm are 2-0 to start the year and they will be better equipped to cover for the loss of Billy Slater this time around. The match-up of Australian hooker Cameron Smith against Kiwi rake Issac Luke looms as pivotal.
Key match-ups: Roger Tuivasa-Sheck v Cameron Munster, Jacob Lillyman v Jesse Bromwich, Issac Luke v Cameron Smith
Did you know: The Warriors will defend the Michael Moore Trophy after their 28-14 win against the Storm last year.
Tip: Storm by 7
UBET: Storm $1.91, Warriors $1.91
Dragons v Rabbitohs
Sunday, 4pm, SCG
Centre of attention: Josh Dugan is back at fullback. Photo: Getty Images
Dragons: 1 Josh Dugan 2 Peter Mata'utia 3 Euan Aitken 4 Tim Lafai 5 Jason Nightingale 6 Gareth Widdop (c) 7 Benji Marshall 8 Leeson Ah Mau 9 Mitch Rein 10 Russell Packer 11 Tyson Frizell 12 Joel Thompson 13 Mike Cooper. Interchange: 14 Ben Creagh (c) 15 Jack de Belin 16 Will Matthews 17 Siliva Havili
Rabbitohs: 1 Greg Inglis (c) 2 Alex Johnston 3 Bryson Goodwin 4 Hymel Hunt 5 Aaron Gray 6 Cody Walker 7 Luke Keary 8 George Burgess 9 Cameron McInnes 10 David Tyrrell 11 Paul Carter 12 Kyle Turner 13 Sam Burgess. Interchange: 14 Damien Cook 15 Jason Clark 16 Nathan Brown 17 Kirisome Auva'a 18 Chris Grevsmuhl 19 Michael Oldfield.
Chris Boulous writes: Josh Dugan's return to fullback will hopefully spark the Dragons into action after a lacklustre start to the the season. Gareth Widdop and Benji Marshall have the edge in experience over the Rabbitohs halves but need a solid platform to do their thing. The Rabbitohs haven't missed a beat to start the season but will face an old-fashioned test of character at the historic SCG on Sunday. Despite running roughshod over the Roosters and Knights, we will get a better indication of how the Rabbitohs will fare in 2016 against a desperate Dragons outfit. Sam Burgess' progression is one to watch after his big strides last week.
Key match-ups: Josh Dugan v Greg Inglis, Benji Marshall v Luke Keary, Mike Cooper v Sam Burgess
Did you know: Jason Nightingale will make his 200th first-grade appearance against the South Sydney Rabbitohs
Tip: Rabbitohs by 4
UBET: Rabbitohs $1.35, Dragons $3.25
Sea Eagles v Sharks
Monday, 7pm, Brookvale Oval
Finding form: Ben Barba. Photo: Mark Kolbe
Sea Eagles: 1 Tom Trbojevic 2 Jorge Taufua 3 Jamie Lyon (c) 4 Steve Matai 5 Brayden Wiliame 6 Dylan Walker 7 Daly Cherry-Evans 8 Josh Starling 9 Apisai Koroisau 10 Nate Myles 11 Lewis Brown 12 Martin Taupau 13 Jake Trbojevic. Interchange: 14 Matt Parcell 15 Nathan Green 16 Brenton Lawrence 17 Siosaia Vave
Sharks: 1 Ben Barba 2 Sosaia Feki 3 Jack Bird 4 Ricky Leutele 5 Valentine Holmes 6 James Maloney 7 Chad Townsend 8 Andrew Fifita 9 Michael Ennis 10 Sam Tagataese 11 Luke Lewis 12 Wade Graham 13 Jayson Bukuya. Interchange: 14 Gerard Beale 15 Matt Prior 16 David Fifita 17 Chris Heighington 18 Joseph Paulo
Chris Boulous writes: The Sea Eagles have put together a combined 25 minutes worth of good footy in their two games. Stretching that out to 80 minutes this week might be a tough task against a ruthless Sharks team who held their rivals try-less last week. Missing skipper Paul Gallen, the Sharks were dominant in the middle, and explosive out wide, making for a winning formula. The Sea Eagles continue to struggle for rhythm, cohesion and timing, and looked lost at sea for a large part last week. They would be well advised to follow Martin Taupau's lead – run hard and straight.
Key match-ups: Tom Trbojevic v Ben Barba, Daly Cherry-Evans v Chad Townsend, Martin Taupau v Wade Graham
Did you know: Both teams are playing for the Steve Rogers Memorial Trophy.
Tip: Sharks by 12
UBET: Sea Eagles $1.91, Sharks $1.91