Thursday, April 1, 2010

Laurie Daley's Round 4 Review

Fox Sports commentator Laurie Daley offers his thoughts and predictions for round four of the NRL premiership
Friday, April 2
Melbourne Storm v St George Illwarra Dragons, Etihad Stadium, 2.10pm (EDT)

The Dragons attack at this time of the year is certainly going better than the Storm's, but the thing about Melbourne is that Inglis and Slater have been pretty quiet. They're big game players so if I’m Wayne Bennett I'd be really worried about the impact they can have on this game. Melbourne's right edge will be under a lot of pressure trying to contain Cooper, Boyd around the back and Josh Morris down that side of the field. Melbourne have been winning ugly but the thing that worries me is that Melbourne is a side that rises to the challenge. I'm tempted to go with them even though they're not at full strength, but I'll stick with the Dragons.

Sydney Roosters v Brisbane Broncos, Sydney Football Stadium, 8.35pm (EDT)

Both teams were heavy last-start losers so both will be looking to make defence a high priority. I think Carney, Anasta, Minichello add a bit more firepower than the Broncos, who are missing Folau and Kemp. Darren Lockyer said after the game last week that the Broncos gave up, which is something that hasn't been in their culture since they came into the competition, so that will motivate them to do well because Darren wouldn't have said that lightly. Brisbane have a good record in this fixture, but they're playing poorly and they haven't got their best players available so I'll pick the Roosters.

Saturday, April 3

Cronulla v Parramatta, Toyota Stadium, 5.30pm (EDT)

Obviously the big talking point in this match is Tim Smith's return. He can provide them with a bit of direction with his kicking, but they have to hold the football better if they want to apply pressure. If they fail to hold onto the ball like they did last week, it could be a cricket score for them. The Eels have underperformed in the first few weeks and I think they've been guilty of expecting their great form to continue on from last year. But if they go out there and actually make it happen, they can win with a big scoreline. I can't tip the Sharks after last Monday night, even though I’m expecting an improved performance.

North Queensland Cowboys v Gold Coast Titans, Dairy Farmers Stadium, 7.30pm (EDT)

The Cowboys have been disappointing considering their roster, even though Thurston has been playing some good football. The loss of Scott Prince is a big one for the Titans, although they handled things pretty well last year without him. I think they'll miss the ability to sustain pressure with his kicking game, so there's a big responsibility on Campbell, Bird and Friend. I think they can match the Cowboys set-for-set but I worry about the back end of their sets. I think the Cowboys can dominate field position on the back of Thurston and I think their forwards can certainly rev up and try and get on the top of the Titans. I'll tip the Cowboys.

Sunday, April 4

Warriors v Manly, Mt Smart Stadium, 2pm (EDT)

They were both big winners last game so this should be a belter. Both teams are very physical so it will come down to the battle of the collision I’ve been very impressed with Manly even though they’ve only won one game this season I think they were probably the dominant team in all three outings even though they've won only one of them. I think their form stacks up a little bit better than the Warriors, having said that the Warriors were impressive last weekend. But they’re losing Vatuvei and Mannering and there is still no Steve Price. I’m reluctant to tip against them because they are a different team at home but I like the mentality of manly to handle pressure a little bit better. They can defend their line for longer periods so I think they can handle what the Warriors throw at them and score a few more points

Canberra v Wests Tigers, Canberra Stadium, 3pm (EDT)

It always hurts me to tip against the Raiders, particularly at home but the Tigers on their day are just brilliant. I like the way the Tigers played last weekend, but the question is whether they can have the same attitude to defence that they had last week. If they have that, I'm sure they can frustrate the Raiders. We saw in round one when the Sea Eagles dominated the Tigers in the middle that they can struggle a little bit. So the Raiders, who have a big pack, will be looking to exploit them with their big men and create some good go forward for Campese, who's been a little bit quiet. But I think if the Tigers' forwards can break even, they've got more game breakers than the Raiders. It'll be tight but I think they'll win.

Monday, April 5

Newcastle Knights v Penrith, EnergyAustralia Stadium, 4pm (EDT)

I've been disappointed with Penrith - I really expected more from them this year. They never really looked like they were in the contest last week against Melbourne. I think Jennings is looking for the football a lot and I think he just needs to play with a bit of depth, get some early ball and then a he can beat his man one-on-one. The Knights were disappointing last week but they were pretty good in the first couple of weeks of the season. I think their forwards are quite tough, but Mullen's been a little bit quiet. They really like to attack their right edge, so I'd imagine MacDougall and Uate will get a lot of ball down that side. The Knights are always very hard to beat up there in Newcastle so I think they'll get the cash.

South Sydney v Canterbury-Bankstown, ANZ Stadium, 7pm (EDT)

Souths are still not playing as well as I'd like them too, but there were signs last week that they were improving. Sutton and Sandow have been up and down in terms of their composure and their ability to get some good kicks in, but this might be the game that kicks starts them and gels them. This is their big test against the Dogs, who were impressive last week. The Dogs have to lift their intensity and make sure they've forgotten about last week's big win and focus on this week. Morris is always a threat, Idris was very good last week and I think Ennis controls the ruck well. It wouldn't surprise me if the Dogs ran a bit from dummy half and used their more nimble footwork against the big Souths forwards. This game will give us an indication as to where both teams are, but on the strength of last week, I'll go with the Bulldogs.

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