A Queensland Derby, early-season pressure cooked matches and questions that still need to be answered headline Round 2 of the 2019 NRL season.

St George Illawarra Dragons v South Sydney Rabbitohs @ Netstrata Jubilee Stadium
Thursday 21st March, 7:50pm

Gareth Widdop1Alex Johnston
Jordan Pereira2Dane Gagai
Euan Aitken3Greg Inglis
Timoteo Lafai4Braidon Burns
Mikaele Ravalawa5Campbell Graham
Corey Norman6Cody Walker
Ben Hunt7Adam Reynolds
James Graham8Tevita Tatola
Cameron McInnes9Damien Cook
Paul Vaughan10Thomas Burgess
Jacob Host11John Sutton
Tariq Sims12Sam Burgess
Blake Lawrie13Cameron Murray
Jeremy Latimore14Liam Knight
Matthew Dufty15Mark Nicholls
Josh Kerr16Ethan Lowe
Luciano Leilua17Kyle Turner

Played 48, Dragons 22, Rabbitohs 21

Last Meeting: Semi-Final, 2018: Rabbitohs 13 def. Sharks 12

Final Thoughts: It doesn’t get any easier for the Dragons this week. Already dealing with numerous issues on and off the field as well as a Round 1 loss, they now face a Rabbitohs side that beat the NRL premiers in their season opener. The Rabbitohs pack is already back to its best finding 1,631 metres on Friday night. With the Dragons already missing Jack de Belin and now Tyson Frizell, they’re going to struggle to keep a lid on the Rabbitohs’ middles. With points usually at a premium to start the season, it’s the teams that hold onto the ball and give themselves the most opportunities in scoring positions that find early wins. Signs point to that being the Bunnies in this one.

Tip: Handicap – Rabbitohs -4 @ $1.85

Canberra Raiders v Melbourne Storm @ GIO Stadium
Friday 22nd March, 6:00pm

Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad1Jahrome Hughes
Nick Cotric2Suliasi Vunivalu
Jarrod Croker3Will Chambers
Joseph Leilua4Curtis Scott
Jordan Rapana5Josh Addo-Carr
Jack Wighton6Cameron Munster
Aidan Sezer7Brodie Croft
Josh Papalii8Jesse Bromwich
Josh Hodgson9Cameron Smith
Dunamis Lui10Nelson Asofa-Solomona
Joseph Tapine11Felise Kaufusi
Elliott Whitehead12Kenneath Bromwich
John Bateman13Dale Finucane
Siliva Havili14Brandon Smith
Ryan Sutton15Christian Welch
Iosia Soliola16Tui Kamikamica
Corey Horsburgh17Patrick Kaufusi

Played 43, Raiders 11, Storm 30

Last Meeting: Round 20, 2018: Storm 44 def. Raiders 10

Final Thoughts: The Raiders impressed in keeping the Titans scoreless last week, but the Storm are a different challenge altogether. This monster Melbourne pack will ask a lot more questions this week, particularly if the rain stays away in Canberra. Anticipating the Storm to win the battle in the middle, Cameron Smith holds the edge in the mouthwatering head-to-head contest against Dally M Medal roughie Josh Hodgson. From there, the Storm looks good to pick apart this Raiders defence that was barely tested in Round 1.

Tip: Doubles – Storm Half-time/Full-time @ $2.20

Brisbane Broncos v North Queensland Cowboys @ Suncorp Stadium
Friday 22nd March, 7:55pm

Darius Boyd1Jordan Kahu
Corey Oates2Nene Macdonald
James Roberts3Justin O’Neill
Jack Bird4Tom Opacic
Jamayne Isaako5Javid Bowen
Anthony Milford6Te Maire Martin
Kodi Nikorima7Michael Morgan
Tevita Pangai Junior8Matthew Scott
Andrew McCullough9Jake Granville
Joe Ofahengaue10Jordan McLean
Alex Glenn11Gavin Cooper
David Fifita12Coen Hess
Matt Gillett13Jason Taumalolo
Kotoni Staggs14John Asiata
Jaydn Su’a15Josh McGuire
Thomas Flegler16Mitchell Dunn
Shaun Fensom17Francis Molo

Played 52, Broncos 32, Cowboys 16

Last Meeting: Round 22, 2018: Cowboys 34 def. Broncos 30

Final Thoughts: The Queensland Derby! It’s an early candidate for the game of the round and one of the most difficult to pick. Round 1 didn’t tell us much about the Broncos. Put on the back foot early, they were never able to get themselves into the match in Melbourne. What we know about the Cowboys is clear, though. Their pack is otherworldly. This game will be won in the middle, but don’t write the Broncos off after one poor showing last week. Tevita Pangai Jr and David Fifita starting could have a considerable impact on how the Broncos go early. The home side has won 11 of the last 13 games between these two clubs. The Suncorp effect gives the Broncos a slight edge.

Tip: Margin – Broncos 1-12 @ $2.76

Cronulla Sharks v Gold Coast Titans @ Shark Park
Saturday 23rd March, 3:00pm

Matt Moylan1Michael Gordon
Sosaia Feki2Anthony Don
Josh Dugan3Tyrone Peachey
Josh Morris4Brian Kelly
Sione Katoa5Brenko Lee
Shaun Johnson6Alexander Brimson
Chad Townsend7Ryley Jacks
Andrew Fifita8Jarrod Wallace
Jayden Brailey9Nathan Peats
Matt Prior10Shannon Boyd
Briton Nikora11Kevin Proctor
Kurt Capewell12Ryan James
Paul Gallen13Jai Arrow
Blayke Brailey14Phillip Sami
Jayson Bukuya15Moeaki Fotuaika
Aaron Woods16Max King
Jack Williams17Bryce Cartwright

Played 20, Sharks 9, Titans 8

Last Meeting: Round 8, 2018: Sharks 10 def. Titans 9

Final Thoughts: Neither the Sharks nor the Titans played particularly well last week. A Sharks penalty try was the only four-pointer the two teams could muster between them in Round 1. With the Titans missing their halves and the Sharks managing a new-look spine, points will again be at a premium. Both strong in the middle when at their best, a lot of this game will be played between the two 20-metre lines. With opportunities inside the 20 likely to be few and far between, the Sharks get the nod head-to-head ($1.35) with superior ability to score from long-range. Don’t anticipate a try-fest, though.

Tip: Over/Under – Under 39.5 points @ $1.90

Newcastle Knights v Penrith Panthers @ McDonald Jones Stadium
Saturday 23rd March, 5:30pm

Connor Watson1Dylan Edwards
Edrick Lee2Josh Mansour
Hymel Hunt3Dean Whare
Jesse Ramien4Waqa Blake
Shaun Kenny-Dowall5Dallin Watene-Zelezniak
Kalyn Ponga6James Maloney
Mitchell Pearce7Nathan Cleary
David Klemmer8James Tamou
Danny Levi9Sione Katoa
James Gavet10Reagan Campbell-Gillard
Sione Mata’utia11James Fisher-Harris
Lachlan Fitzgibbon12Isaah Yeo
Tim Glasby13Hame Sele
Kurt Mann14Wayde Egan
Aidan Guerra15Frank Winterstein
Mitch Barnett16Moses Leota
Herman Ese’ese17Jack Hetherington

Played 49, Knights 24, Panthers 20

Last Meeting: Round 23, 2018: Knights 20 def. Panthers 12

Final Thoughts: Few would have picked it a week ago, but the Knights enter this one as -2 favourites. The Panthers were so poor in Round 1 that enough people are worried about them reaching their lofty expectations. Missing the Top 8 certainly isn’t out of the question. However, a convincing win in Newcastle will go a long way to quelling those early doubts. Penrith played themselves out of the game with 15 errors last week. Meanwhile, the Knights kept in theirs through a stringent defensive effort. Both struggled for points. Anticipating an arm-wrestle and an improvement from the Panthers, we’re a good chance at seeing an upset here.

Tip: Handicap – Panthers +2 @ $1.90

Manly Warringah Sea Eagles v Sydney Roosters @ Lottoland
Saturday 23rd March, 7:35pm

Sea EaglesRoosters
Brendan Elliot1James Tedesco
Jorge Taufua2Daniel Tupou
Moses Suli3Latrell Mitchell
Brad Parker4Joseph Manu
Reuben Garrick5Brett Morris
Kane Elgey6Luke Keary
Daly Cherry-Evans7Cooper Cronk
Toafofoa Sipley8Jared Waerea-Hargreaves
Apisai Koroisau9Jake Friend
Martin Taupau10Siosiua Taukeiaho
Joel Thompson11Boyd Cordner
Curtis Sironen12Mitchell Aubusson
Jake Trbojevic13Victor Radley
Manase Fainu14Isaac Liu
Jack Gosiewski15Zane Tetevano
Corey Waddell16Lindsay Collins
Kelepi Tanginoa17Angus Crichton

Played 143, Sea Eagles 89, Roosters 51

Last Meeting: Round 19, 2018: Roosters 56 def. Sea Eagles 24

Final Thoughts: This could really get ugly for the Sea Eagles. Just look at that backline…Unless Marty Taupau puts the team on his back and Daly Cherry-Evans plays a blinder, it’s difficult to see the Sea Eagles keeping up with the NRL’s 2018 premiership winners. Learning from their slow start to the 2018 season, the Roosters will be well-equipped to bounce back from their Round 1 loss. With Angus Crichton still coming off the bench after only playing 19 minutes last week, the room for improvement is clear. Given James Tedesco was also disappointing last week, the Sea Eagles might end up on the wrong side of a beast that is just waking up for the 2019 season.

Tip: Margin – Roosters 13+ @ $2.20

Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs v Parramatta Eels @ ANZ Stadium
Sunday 24th March, 4:05pm

Will Hopoate1Clinton Gutherson
Christian Crichton2Maika Sivo
Kerrod Holland3Josh Hoffman
Marcelo Montoya4Brad Takairangi
Reimis Smith5Blake Ferguson
Kieran Foran6Dylan Brown
Lachlan Lewis7Mitchell Moses
Aiden Tolman8Daniel Alvaro
Michael Lichaa9Reed Mahoney
Dylan Napa10Junior Paulo
Josh Jackson11Shaun Lane
Raymond Faitala-Mariner12Marata Niukore
Adam Elliott13Tepai Moeroa
Jeremy Marshall-King14Jaeman Salmon
Danny Fualalo15Tim Mannah
Corey Harawira-Naera16Kane Evans
Sauaso Sue17David Gower

Played 156, Bulldogs 83, Eels 66

Last Meeting: Round 19, 2018: Eels 14 def. Bulldogs 8

Final Thoughts: Had the Eels not caused the upset over the Panthers last week, we’d have been calling this game as one between two wooden spoon candidates? The Bulldogs and their heavy defeat at the hands of the Warriors has seen them fly out to $3.20 favourites to finish the season with the fewest wins now, though. While the Eels looked the far better team in Round 1, an injury to Nathan Brown brings the two closer together. That really gives the Bulldogs a boost in the middle – their strongest area on the park. It may not have seemed like it last week, but the Bulldogs can compete with most packs in the competition. The Eels hardly boast the strongest. This should be another close one.

Tip: Handicap – Bulldogs +2.5 @ $1.85

Wests Tigers v New Zealand Warriors @ Campbelltown Stadium
Sunday 24th March, 6:10pm

Corey Thompson1Roger Tuivasa-Sheck
Mahe Fonua2David Fusitu’a
Paul Momirovski3Peta Hiku
Esan Marsters4Solomone Kata
Robert Jennings5Ken Maumalo
Benji Marshall6Adam Keighran
Luke Brooks7Blake Green
Ben Matulino8Agnatius Paasi
Robbie Farah9Nathaniel Roache
Alex Twal10Bunty Afoa
Ryan Matterson11Adam Blair
Luke Garner12Tohu Harris
Elijah Taylor13Lachlan Burr
Russell Packer14Jazz Tevaga
Thomas Mikaele15Sam Lisone
Josh Aloiai16Leeson Ah Mau
Michael Chee-Kam17Isaiah Papali’i

Played 30, Tigers 15, Warriors 14

Last Meeting: Round 9, 2018: Warriors 26 def. Tigers 4

Final Thoughts: Did the emotion the Warriors carried into Round 1 significantly help them, or are they actually pretty good. This visit to Campbelltown should give us a hint either way. Finishing 2018 with their best road record in club history, writing the Warriors of simply because they’re playing in Australia no longer holds water. They’re a strong team across the park with some of the best attacking weapons in the game scattered amongst them. That’s where they hold an edge in this one. Without Moses Mbye, the Tigers can’t deploy the new-look attack they spent the summer working on. As one of 2018’s worst attacking teams, they were already starting 2019 on the back foot in that area. Wests have proven to be capable defensively, but the Warriors looked too sharp last week.

Tip: Head-to-head – Warriors to win @ $2.08