Expert breakdown of NRL Round 3 matches

Sea Eagles (1) v Eels (16)

Thursday, 8pm, 4 Pines Park

Parramatta could have easily won both games to start the year, while a contentious sin-binning at a vital stage of the game paved the way for Manly’s opening win. But the Sea Eagles are fresh, Haumole Olakau’atu and Kelma Tuilagi will terrorise the Eels on the edges, Josh Schuster gets his chance to shine in the halves with Daly Cherry-Evans, and Brad Parker, a popular member of the squad, celebrates his 100th game. The Eels are lacking that touch of class and experience, especially on their bench. They will be in this for a long way, but not long enough. Sea Eagles by 7.

Christian Nicolussi

Knights (11) v Dolphins 2

Friday, 6pm, McDonald Jones Stadium

Can Wayne Bennett get the NRL newcomers to win three in a row? They meet Newcastle at the perfect time as they struggle to get a first-grade team on the park. The Knights were not great against the Tigers, and it was more a case of the Tigers being embarrassingly dreadful. Lock forward Leo Thompson has a bit of mongrel and will not back away from the consistent Dolphins pack, who lose Jeremy Marshall-King, but welcome handy dummy-half back-up option Kodi Nikorima. It is hard to tip against a team with confidence. Dolphins by 6.

Christian Nicolussi

Roosters (9) v Rabbitohs (6)

Friday, 8pm, Allianz Stadium

The most wonderful time of the year outside Origin and finals, and intrigue aplenty as always. The Roosters welcome back Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Victor Radley, coach Trent Robinson offering only a “you’ll just have to wait and see” when asked whether the pair would toe the line come kick-off. Radley is such a key inclusion for a Roosters attack that’s still warming up in terms of who is on the ball when. On the other side of the ledger, Latrell Mitchell has endured a rough week, often the catalyst for his best 80 minutes. Their bench shapes as a point of difference given the Tricolours’ stocks have been shortened by injury. The Roosters have only won one of their last six games in this rivalry, and that’ll continue come Friday. Rabbitohs by 4.

Dan Walsh

Titans (8) v Storm (12)

Saturday, 3pm, Cbus Super Stadium

Hard to run a form line through these teams at the moment. Both are coming off a loss and will be missing key personnel. Nelson Asofa-Solomona is out for up to two months, although Craig Bellamy’s side have a huge in with the return of Justin Olam, back just three weeks after suffering what was thought to be a six-week arm injury.

The Storm should be fired up after copping both barrels from Craig Bellamy last week.Credit:Getty Images

The loss of Titans hooker Sam Verrills (collarbone) is significant. Bellamy gave his troops an almighty bake after a listless display against the Bulldogs. Expect a response. Storm by 8.
Adrian Proszenko

Cowboys (13) v Warriors (7)

Saturday, 5.30pm, Queensland Country Bank Stadium

Still trying to work out if the Roosters were that bad last week in their unconvincing win or whether more credit should have gone to the Warriors. There have been some promising early signs under new coach Andrew Webster, although we’ll know more about his team after this one.

The Roosters accounted for the Warriors by eight points last week.Credit:NRL Photos

The Warriors have made more line breaks than any other team over the opening two rounds, but their inability to finish them off has been costly. Both teams will be without their first-choice fullbacks, with Taine Tuaupiki to make his NRL debut for the visitors. North Queensland to bounce back in a close one. Cowboys by 4.
Adrian Proszenko

Broncos (4) v Dragons (3)

Saturday, 7.35pm, Suncorp Stadium

A top-of-the-table clash? Funny game, rugby league. But the two teams who finished just outside the top eight last year square off trying to continue their positive starts to the season. Kevin Walters′ Broncos have looked rejuvenated taking the big scalps of the Panthers and Cowboys, top four sides from last year.

They only have to make one change with Jesse Arthars replacing Corey Oates (broken jaw) on the wing. Anthony Griffin has named the same 17 for the Dragons which overpowered the Titans in their first game of the year, with Junior Amone part of the extended squad as he eyes his first game since having his no-fault stand-down ban lifted. The Dragons have won five of their last six against the Broncos, with Ben Hunt never having lost to his old team since joining the Red V in 2018. Broncos by 10.
Adam Pengilly

Bulldogs (14) v Tigers (17)

Sunday, 4.05pm, Belmore Sports Ground

As if the Tigers needed any more drama, they now have to ride into a hostile Belmore to take on the Bulldogs in a Sunday afternoon throwback. Tim Sheens has had to make myriad changes to the Tigers after their awful loss to the Knights with Isaiah Papali’i (suspension), Daine Laurie (knee), Tommy Talau (broken nose) and Jake Simpkin (concussion) all sidelined. Charlie Staines will play fullback with Starford To’a, Junior Tupou, Brandon Wakeham and Fonua Pole named in the 17.

John Bateman could turn out in Tigers colours for the first time this week.Credit:Getty

English international John Bateman is part of the extended 22-man squad and could play his first game for the club. Cameron Ciraldo has named the same Bulldogs squad which tore apart the Storm last week, coming head to head with the club which courted him aggressively last year. Bulldogs by 8.
Adam Pengilly

Raiders (15) v Sharks (10)

Sunday, 6.15pm, GIO Stadium

Canberra have won the last eight clashes with Cronulla and are no doubt stinging from a surprise 0-2 start to the year. The Raiders’ yardage game has been found wanting so far this season both with and without the ball, ranking in the bottom four for metres made and bottom two for metres conceded. The Sharks are still without Nicho Hynes but Braydon Trindall is just confirming what good judges already knew — he’s the best back-up half in the game. Matt Moylan has been in good touch too, though his defence was exploited by the Rabbitohs in round one and should be targeted the Raiders right edge. Canberra are too good a side to be winless after three weeks. Raiders by 6.
Dan Walsh

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