The 2021 Rugby League premiership season is finally here!
It all starts with the reigning champion Melbourne Storm taking on the South Sydney Rabbitohs in the season opener.
The BetDeluxe team has festered its way through each game in Round 1 and zoned in on the best bets.
Melbourne Storm vs. South Sydney Rabbitohs
march 11th 8.05pm
There is no better way to start the season than two NRL powerhouses in the form of the Melbourne Storm and the South Sydney Rabbitohs butting heads on a Thursday night.
In a season filled with trials and tribulations, the Storm put aside the quarrels of a quarantine ravaged 2020 season to come away with arguably its most famous premiership victory.
They will have to do it without their champion and club legend Cameron Smith who, despite rumors floating about of a return, retired after the premiership triumph of last year.
For the Rabbitohs, it was left to deal with the heartbreak of an agonizing end to the 2020 season after falling short in the preliminary final.
The Rabbitohs were a converted try away from a grand final berth against the Melbourne Storm but would eventually succumb to a 20-16 loss to the minor premiers Penrith.
Now, refreshed off a break and following big pre-season trial victories, both sides will be looking to find some early season momentum.
Melbourne Storm registered a comfortable 30-10 victory over the Sydney Roosters in its sole pre-season trial but it came at a cost with vice-captain Dale Finucane (calf) and hooker Harry Grant (knee) ruled out of this game.
Meanwhile, the Rabbitohs also have their own injury concerns and will be without Liam Knight, who suffered concussion at training, but a 48-16 pummelling of the Dragons in its pre-season trial should relieve Wayne Bennett of any worry.
There is a real sense of optimism about the Rabbitohs coming into this season and they will sense the opportunity to start their campaign in a big way with the Storm having to deal without Smith as its general and playmaker for the first time in nearly two decades.
Expecting the Rabbitohs to reverse the result of the last season in a low-scoring affair.
Suggested Bet: South Sydney Rabbitohs head to head at $1.95
Suggested Same Game Multi:
Leg 1: South Sydney Rabbitohs head to head
Leg 2: Total points under -41.5
Leg 3: Dane Gagai Anytime Try Scorer
Combined odds = $7.5
newcastle knights vs. canterbury bulldogs
march 12th 6:00pm
2020 finalists the Newcastle Knights host last season’s second last placed Bulldogs at McDonald Jones Stadium for a Friday night prime time round one clash.
New Knights recruit Tyson Frizzell will make his debut after signing from the St George Illawarra Dragons in the off-season but a huge injury blow to gun fullback Kalyn Ponga will see him miss the season opener.
The Bulldogs, meanwhile, are looking to improve after a disastrous 2020 saw it finish only points differential away from being awarded the dreaded wooden spoon.
However, a come from behind 16-12 pre-season trial victory over the Cronulla Sharks and a relatively fit squad will have the Bulldogs buoyant against a Knights team who was well beaten in its pre-season trial against the Melbourne Storm.
Suggested Bet: Canterbury Bulldogs to cover the +5.5 line at $1.91
Brisbane Broncos vs. Parramatta Eels
march 11th 8.05pm
Last year’s wooden spooner, the Brisbane Broncos, does battle against the Parramatta Eels on Friday night from Suncorp Stadium.
Having only posted three wins in 2020, the Broncos will be seeking to atone for its worst ever record in an NRL history but face a stern test with the Eels.
Despite being smashed 40-0 in its pre-season trial loss against 2020 grand finalists and minor premiers Penrith the Eels showed some nice passages of play.
Under new coach Kevin Walters, the Broncos looked slick in the first-half of its pre-season trial against North Queensland but it all went wrong after half time.
The Broncos defence would concede 28 unanswered points and ultimately go down 34-18 in a game that highlighted all the shortcomings of last season.
In the most recent fixture between the two squads it was a 26-12 victory to the Eels after starting the $1.07 favourites in the second last round of 2020.
A new season and a new coach will motivate the Broncos in front of its home crowd, but we are expecting the Eels to get the job done here despite being without Michael Jennings, Bryce Cartwright and Marata Niukore.
Suggested Bet: Parramatta Eels -8.5 at $1.89
Suggested Same Game Multi:
Leg 1: Maiko Sivo Anytime Try Scorer (2nd half)
Leg 2: Parramatta Eels 13+ Winning Margin
Combined Odds: $4.33
New Zealand Warriors vs. Gold Coast Titans
march 12th 3:00pm
The New Zealand Warriors begin their stint on Australian soil with a ‘home away from’ season opener against the Gold Coast Titans at Central Coast Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Nathan Brown will coach his first game for the Warriors as they look to improve on their tenth-placed finish in 2020.
The Titans, much like the Warriors, have their sights set on a finals berth this year after recruiting heavily in the off-season.
Addin Fonua-Blake, Euan Aitken, Ben Murdoch-Masila, Bayley Sironen and Kane Evans have all been signed to bolster the Warriors squad, while the Titans locked in the signings of David Fifita and Tino Fa’asuamaleaui plus Herman Ese’ese, Patrick Herbert and Sam McIntyre.
After a barnstorming finish to 2020, the Titans should be able to continue that form heading into 2021 and account for the Warriors yet again after a 16-12 triumph in 2020.
Gold Coast Titans head to head at $1.62
Total points scored under 45.5 points at $1.91
Sydney Roosters vs. Manly Sea Eagles
march 12th 5:30pm
Premiership fancies, the Sydney Roosters, welcome the Manly Sea Eagles to the SCG for a Saturday night round one battle.
The Roosters were attempting to make history last season by becoming the first team in over four decades to win three premierships in a row but were knocked out in straight sets of the 2020 finals.
Manly come into its season opener facing an injury crisis with fullback Tom Trbojevic suffering from another hamstring complaint.
With most of the Sea Eagles’ offence being reliant on Trbojevic, it will now be left to coach Des Hasler to manufacture a way of utilizing the likes of Daly Cherry-Evans and talented youngster Josh Schuster to tally up a winning score.
James Tedesco and Joey Manu will be the go to men for the Roosters when attempting to break down the Manly defence.
The pair combined for 224 tackle breaks last season and if the Sea Eagles are not on point in their defensive duties it could get ugly.
Suggested Bet: Sydney Rooster to cover the -9.5 line at $1.90
Penrith Panthers vs. North Queensland Cowboys
march 13th 7:35pm
Seeking to go one better this year following a gut wrenching grand final loss last season, the Penrith Panthers begin its 2021 campaign against the North Queensland Cowboys on Saturday night.
While the task may seem beyond reach for the Cowboys, they did show some good form in a 34-18 pre-season trial win over the Brisbane Broncos.
The Panthers, too, showed its class with a 40-0 demolition job in its regular pre-season trial match against the Parramatta Eels.
The gulf in class between the two sides was evident last season.
Nathan Cleary’s men easily accounted for the Cowboys to do the 2020 season double over them with 22-10 and 32-12 victories.
On both occasions the Panthers started the short-priced favourites and it’s hard to see anything other than a win in their favour here.
There is also good value in the highest scoring half markets.
Both games last season resulted in a flurry of scoring after half-time and we expected the same to occur here as both sides get back into the swing of playing for premiership points.
Penrith Panthers to cover the -9.5 line at $1.90
High scoring half to be the second half at $1.90
Canberra Raiders vs. Wests Tigers
march 14th 4:05pm
The Canberra Raiders play host to the Wests Tigers at GIO Stadium on Sunday afternoon with the home side expected to kick its season off with a victory.
However, the Wests Tigers showed brilliant form in its pre-season trial win over the Manly Sea Eagles.
Led by new signing Dane Laurie and gun second-rower Luciano Leilua the Tigers romped to a 52-18 victory at Leichhardt Oval.
The Raiders did manage to defeat the Wests Tigers in their only clash last year with a scrappy 14-6 success after starting the very similar odds to what we see in this season opener.
A halfback battle between George Williams and Luke Brooks will go a long way to defining which team comes out on top.
Brooks has been handed the task of filling the hole left by the departure of playmaker Benji Marshall.
This should be a victory to the Raiders as well as a cover of the -8.5 line on its home deck.
Suggested Bet: Canberra Raiders to cover the -9.5 line at $1.88
Suggested Same Game Multi:
Leg 1: George Williams Anytime Try Scorer
Leg 2: Total Points under 46.5
Leg 3: Canberra -9.5 Handicap
Combined Odds: $7
St George Illawarra Dragons vs. Cronulla Sharks
march 14th 6:15pm
Traditional rivals St George Illawarra and Cronulla resume hostilities at the Netstrata Jubilee Stadium on Sunday night.
Anthony Griffith takes the reigns of St George this season with the aim of hoisting the Dragons back into the finals after a 12th-placed finish in 2020, while the Sharks will seek to improve on its eighth spot finish.
Dragons winger Jordan Pereira is expected to be fit, as is prop Poasa Faamausili, after the pair copped head knocks in the Charity Shield defeat to South Sydney.
Tariq Sims will have to lump the load left by the departure of James Graham and Tyson Frizzel and his job is made no easier when he faces gun second-rower Wade Graham.
Cronulla did start the marginal $1.85 favourite when it played the Dragons at this very venue last season and were able to get the job done with a frantic 28-24 win in July 2020.
Despite losing its pre-season trial match to the Bulldogs, we are expecting the Sharks to bank the points.
Suggested Bet: Cronulla Sharks head to head at $1.60