Just like that, the 2020 NRL regular season is a quarter done – and there’s already clear lines divided on the NRL ladder between the premiership contenders, the middling top-eight hopefuls and the underwhelming also-rans.
NRL round 6 features three top-eight blockbusters, a pair of crucial mid-table clashes and two bottom-four showdowns. NRL round 6 odds are tight across the board, but Sportsbet’s NRL round 6 tips are here to provide punters with a helping hand.
NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS V BRISBANE BRONCOS: NRL ROUND 6 PREVIEW
THURSDAY 18 JUNE – 7:50PM
Brisbane Broncos line up for their fourth straight Thursday-night fixture since the restart, aiming to avoid a fourth consecutive defeat. But after doing their best impression of the cardboard cut-outs in the grandstands by haemorrhaging 93 points and scoring just one try in back-to-back beat downs from Parramatta and Sydney Roosters, the besieged Broncos restored some credibility in a 20–18 heartbreaker against Manly last week.
The Broncos’ luckless run with injuries continues with strike centre Kotoni Staggs ruled out for a month, forcing another reshuffle. David Fifita remains sidelined, but Tevita Pangai Jr returns from suspension, and veteran hooker Issac Luke could come straight into the side after joining midweek from St George Illawarra.
Newcastle Knights suffered their first loss of the season in round 5, when they were slow out of the blocks against Melbourne in a 26–12 loss – although they showed some resolve to claw back into the contest.
The Knights’ stunning win over Canberra a week earlier gave a clearer indication of the progress this club has made – they’re definite top-four material. Back-rower Lachlan Fitzgibbon is a handy in to face the Broncos.
After chalking up just one win in 12 clashes with the Broncos from 2011–17, the Knights have prevailed in teams’ last two encounters – including a 26–12 result in Newcastle in 2019.
Knights game breakers Kalyn Ponga and Bradman Best should find plenty of room to move against a shaky Broncos defence, guiding the NRL round 6 odds favourites to a high-scoring win.
1. Kalyn Ponga 2. Edrick Lee 3. Enari Tuala 4. Bradman Best 5. Hymel Hunt 6. Kurt Mann 7. Mitchell Pearce 8. David Klemmer 9. Andrew McCullough 10. Daniel Saifiti 11. Lachlan Fitzgibbon 12. Sione Mata’utia 13. Herman Ese’ese 14. Tex Hoy 15. Jacob Saifiti 16. Tim Glasby 17. Aidan Guerra 18. Gehamat Shibasaki 19. Pasami Saulo 20. Phoenix Crossland 21. Starford To’a
1. Jamayne Isaako 2. Corey Oates 3. Herbie Farnworth 4. Darius Boyd 5. Xavier Coates 6. Anthony Milford 7. Brodie Croft 8. Matthew Lodge 9. Cory Paix 10. Payne Haas 11. Alex Glenn 12. Tevita Pangai Junior 13. Patrick Carrigan 14. Tesi Niu 15. Ben Te’o 16. Joe Ofahengaue 17. Thomas Flegler 18. Issac Luke 19. Rhys Kennedy 20. Tom Dearden 21. Jamil Hopoate
NRL expert tips: round 6
Head-to-head: Newcastle Knights
Best bet: Total match points – over 36.5
SOUTH SYDNEY RABBITOHS V NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS: NRL ROUND 6 PREVIEW
FRIDAY 19 JUNE – 6:00PM
The Friday-night schedule gets underway with two teams with 2–3 records striving to stay in touch with the top eight.
Overpowered by Sydney Roosters and Melbourne in their first two post-restart assignments, South Sydney Rabbitohs eased some pressure with a Latrell Mitchell–inspired 32–12 thrashing of lowly Gold Coast.
With centre James Roberts set to return this week, the Rabbitohs are back at full strength – but Mitchell settling into the fullback role seems to be the factor on which their campaign will hinge.
Everyone’s second-favourite team, the nomadic Warriors have proved as inscrutable as ever since the NRL’s restart. A stunning 18–0 win over St George Illawarra – in which they set a new NRL record for completions – was negated by a 26–0 shut-out at the hands of Penrith, before the Warriors rolled North Queensland 37–26 in an uncharacteristic high-scorer last Friday.
The Warriors ran in seven tries after notching just four in total across the previous four rounds, and it represented just the second time in four years the club has racked up more than 36 points in a game. It would be foolish to get too carried away with the win, however – three of their tries came from kicks, the Cowboys were appalling defensively, and the Warriors let in several soft tries themselves.
But the key to the result was a sublime collective forward-pack display – a glaring weakness throughout 2019 – and enigmatic five-eighth Kodi Nikorima’s high level of involvement.
South Sydney has dominated this rivalry in recent years, winning nine of the clubs’ last 10 matches – including seven by margins of 16-plus points. Meanwhile, the Warriors have won just one of their last nine games against any team in Sydney.
Souths will view this as must-win, but the underdog Warriors hold the value here with a handy start.
1. Latrell Mitchell 2. Dane Gagai 3. Campbell Graham 4. Braidon Burns 5. Alex Johnston 6. Cody Walker 7. Adam Reynolds 8. Tevita Tatola 9. Damien Cook 10. Thomas Burgess 11. Jaydn Su’A 12. Ethan Lowe 13. Cameron Murray 14. Liam Knight 15. Patrick Mago 16. Tom Amone 17. Bayley Sironen 18. Mark Nicholls 19. Corey Allan 20. James Roberts 21. Keaon Koloamatangi
1. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck 2. Patrick Herbert 3. Peta Hiku 4. Gerard Beale 5. Adam Pompey 6. Kodi Nikorima 7. Blake Green 8. Jamayne Taunoa-Brown 9. Wayde Egan 10. Lachlan Burr 11. Eliesa Katoa 12. Tohu Harris 13. Adam Blair 14. Karl Lawton 15. Poasa Faamausili 16. King Vuniyayawa 17. Jack Murchie 18. David Fusitu’a 20. Agnatius Paasi 21. Chanel Harris-Tavita 22. Isaiah Papali’i
NRL expert tips: round 6
Head-to-head: New Zealand Warriors
Best bet: Line – New Zealand Warriors +6.5
PENRITH PANTHERS V MELBOURNE STORM: NRL ROUND 6 PREVIEW
FRIDAY 19 JUNE – 7:55PM
Penrith Panthers have been the NRL’s early-season surprise packet and could so easily be the only unbeaten side in the competition. They were on course for an upset last Friday when they led Parramatta 10–0 with 20 minutes remaining, but were overrun 16–10 in one of the best games of 2020 so far.
The Panthers’ consistent start has been underpinned by long-absent defensive steel. There’s good and bad injury news for the mountain men – fullback Dylan Edwards is set to return, but versatile back-row recruit Kurt Capewell has been ruled out until September.
Melbourne Storm responded to their convincing round 3 loss to Canberra with consecutive 14-point victories over South Sydney and Newcastle, returning to their clinical, grinding best.
Halfback Jahrome Hughes is tipped to remain sidelined with a hand injury, but the blue-chip class of Cameron Smith and Cameron Munster, along with Ryan Papenhuyzen’s progress at fullback, provides the Storm with more than enough direction.
The Storm have won 18 of the last 20 between the sides, with the Panthers held to 10 points or less in 13 of the last 15 encounters. Expect the Panthers to put up an admirable fight before falling just short again.
1. Dylan Edwards 2. Josh Mansour 3. Dean Whare 4. Stephen Crichton 5. Brian To’o 6. Jarome Luai 7. Nathan Cleary 8. James Tamou 9. Apisai Koroisau 10. James Fisher-Harris 11. Viliame Kikau 12. Liam Martin 13. Isaah Yeo 14. Matt Burton 15. Zane Tetevano 16. Moses Leota 17. Billy Burns 18. Mitch Kenny 19. Brent Naden 20. Jack Hetherington 21. Caleb Aekins
1. Ryan Papenhuyzen 2. Suliasi Vunivalu 3. Justin Olam 4. Brenko Lee 5. Josh Addo-Carr 6. Cameron Munster 7. Ryley Jacks 8. Jesse Bromwich 9. Cameron Smith 10. Christian Welch 11. Felise Kaufusi 12. Kenneath Bromwich 13. Dale Finucane 14. Brandon Smith 15. Tino Fa’asuamaleaui 16. Tom Eisenhuth 17. Nelson Asofa-Solomona 18. Max King 19. Marion Seve 20. Jahrome Hughes 21. Paul Momirovski
NRL expert tips: round 6
Head-to-head: Melbourne Storm
Best bet: Margin – Melbourne Storm 1 to 12
GOLD COAST TITANS V ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS: NRL ROUND 6 PREVIEW
SATURDAY 20 JUNE – 3:00PM
Gold Coast Titans plummeted back to earth after their drought-breaking round 4 win over Wests Tigers, pumped 32–12 by South Sydney last weekend. Conversely, embattled St George Illawarra Dragons bounced back from try-less losses to the Warriors and Canterbury with their first win of 2020 in round 5, a spirited 30–16 defeat of Cronulla.
Neither side is a realistic top-eight chance, but the two leading contenders in the NRL wooden spoon market will view this as an opportunity to inch away from the foot of the NRL ladder.
The late switch of Matt Dufty to fullback, Corey Norman to five-eighth and million-dollar half Ben Hunt to the bench proved a winner for Dragons coach Paul McGregor. It’s clearly their best combination for this point in time.
The Titans have been forced into another backline reshuffle, with veteran centre Dale Copley suffering an ankle injury. Mid-season transfer Corey Thompson slots straight into fullback; the ex-Tiger shapes as a steadying addition to an erratic line-up.
The Dragons are on a four-match winning streak against the Titans, averaging 40 points in the process. The NRL round 6 odds comfortably favour the Dragons, but the standout angle for punters is the over, with St George Illawarra conceding 22.4 points per game and Gold Coast leaking 32.2.
1. Corey Thompson 2. Anthony Don 3. Brian Kelly 4. Young Tonumaipea 5. Phillip Sami 6. Ashley Taylor 7. Jamal Fogarty 8. Moeaki Fotuaika 9. Erin Clark 10. Sam Lisone 11. Kevin Proctor 12. Bryce Cartwright 13. Jai Arrow 14. Tanah Boyd 15. Jaimin Jolliffe 16. Keegan Hipgrave 17. Tyrone Peachey 18. Beau Fermor 19. Jarrod Wallace 20. Jai Whitbread 21. Tyrone Roberts
1. Matthew Dufty 2. Jordan Pereira 3. Euan Aitken 4. Zac Lomax 5. Mikaele Ravalawa 6. Corey Norman 7. Adam Clune 8. Josh Kerr 9. Cameron McInnes 10. Paul Vaughan 11. Tyson Frizell 12. Tyrell Fuimaono 13. James Graham 14. Ben Hunt 15. Trent Merrin 16. Blake Lawrie 17. Jacob Host 18. Jackson Ford 19. Jason Saab 20. Korbin Sims 21. Tristan Sailor
NRL expert tips: round 6
Head-to-head: St George Illawarra Dragons
Best bet: Total match points – over 41.5
WESTS TIGERS V NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS: NRL ROUND 6 PREVIEW
SATURDAY 20 JUNE – 5:30PM
Wests Tigers have recorded three agonising ninth-placed finishes in the past four seasons. And that’s the ladder position they find themselves in again after five rounds, as the club attempts to end the longest current finals drought in the NRL.
Back-to-back losses to battling Gold Coast and high-flying Canberra – with five-eighth talisman Benji Marshall sensationally dropped in-between – took the wind out of the Tigers’ relatively promising start to 2020.
North Queensland Cowboys sit eighth, despite also coming off two straight defeats where they were overwhelmed by Cronulla and the Warriors – modest opposition any team with finals aspirations should be putting away.
The Cowboys are missing authority in the halves with Michael Morgan still sidelined, while their turnstile-esque defence is letting them down badly. Teenage flyer Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow will start at fullback with Valentine Holmes injured, but the Cowboys will be looking to Jason Taumalolo for inspiration after a quiet return from the casualty ward against the Warriors.
The Tigers have won five of their last six against the Cowboys; a 28–4 victory in 2019 broke a five-match run of 1–12 margins between the rivals. The Cowboys took the spoils in their last two visits to Campbelltown Stadium.
This is the hardest game of NRL round 6 to get a read on, but it seems destined to go down to the wire.
1. Adam Doueihi 2. David Nofoaluma 3. Joseph Leilua 4. Moses Mbye 5. Robert Jennings 6. Josh Reynolds 7. Luke Brooks 8. Josh Aloiai 9. Harry Grant 10. Zane Musgrove 11. Luke Garner 12. Luciano Leilua 13. Alex Twal 14. Matt Eisenhuth 15. Thomas Mikaele 16. Sam McIntyre 17. Michael Chee-Kam 18. Benji Marshall 19. Chris Lawrence 20. Billy Walters 21. Reece Hoffman
1. Hamiso Tabuai-fidow 2. Kyle Feldt 3. Justin O’Neill 4. Esan Marsters 5. Connelly Lemuelu 6. Scott Drinkwater 7. Jake Clifford 8. Francis Molo 9. Reece Robson 10. Josh Mcguire 11. Mitchell Dunn 12. Coen Hess 13. Jason Taumalolo 14. Ben Hampton 15. Corey Jensen 16. Peter Hola 17. Gavin Cooper 18. Tom Opacic 19. Shane Wright 20. Reuben Cotter 21. Emry Pere
NRL expert tips: round 6
Head-to-head: Wests Tigers
Best bet: Tri bet – either team by 8 or less
SYDNEY ROOSTERS V PARRAMATTA EELS: NRL ROUND 6 PREVIEW
SATURDAY 20 JUNE – 7:35PM
The two-time defending champs take on the undefeated NRL ladder leaders in what shapes as one of the biggest showdowns of the season to date.
The 24-hour delay of Sydney Roosters’ clash with Canterbury means they are on a skinny five-day turnaround. Parramatta, meanwhile, will have enjoyed an eight-day rest after their gripping 16–10 comeback win over Penrith.
Some critics doubted the freewheeling Eels’ ability to win the tight, tough games against quality opposition. But any flat-track-bully notions have been dispelled, courtesy of the Blue-and-Golds’ hard-earned wins against the in-form Sea Eagles and Panthers in the past fortnight; the latter match saw them scoring three tries in seven minutes inside the last quarter.
Lock Nathan Brown’s outstanding return from suspension, and halfback Mitchell Moses’ new consistency and maturity, completes Brad Arthur’s line-up puzzle – there are very few discernible weaknesses in this team. The 5–0 Eels have shortened significantly in NRL betting for the premiership, joining Melbourne on the third line.
But it’s the Roosters who have edged ahead of the pack into title favouritism. Putting a tardy 0–2 start in the rear-view mirror, the Tricolours have punished Souths (28–12), Brisbane (59–0) and Canterbury (42–6). Josh Morris has already proved a valuable pick-up, Kyle Flanagan looks more comfortable in Cooper Cronk’s old number-seven jumper with every outing, and James Tedesco continues to live up to the ‘world’s best player’ tag.
Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Sam Verrills return to the Roosters’ 17 at the expense of Sitili Tupouniua and Mitch Aubusson – an illustration of their extraordinary depth – while Oregon Kaufusi comes onto the bench for Kane Evans in the Eels’ only change.
The Roosters have won 10 of their last 13 against the Eels, including the last three by margins of 14 points or more. The underdog Eels are more than capable of turning the majority of NRL round 6 tips on their head, however.
1. James Tedesco 2. Daniel Tupou 3. Josh Morris 4. Joseph Manu 5. Brett Morris 6. Luke Keary 7. Kyle Flanagan 8. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves 9. Jake Friend 10. Siosiua Taukeiaho 11. Boyd Cordner 12. Angus Crichton 13. Victor Radley 14. Sam Verrills 15. Isaac Liu 16. Nat Butcher 17. Lindsay Collins 18. Sitili Tupouniua 19. Mitchell Aubusson 20. Ryan Hall 21. Lachlan Lam
1. Clinton Gutherson 2. Maika Sivo 3. Michael Jennings 4. Waqa Blake 5. Blake Ferguson 6. Dylan Brown 7. Mitchell Moses 8. Reagan Campbell-Gillard 9. Reed Mahoney 10. Junior Paulo 11. Shaun Lane 12. Ryan Matterson 13. Nathan Brown 14. Ray Stone 15. Marata Niukore 16. Oregon Kaufusi 17. Peni Terepo 18. Brad Takairangi 19. David Gower 20. George Jennings 21. Jai Field
NRL expert tips: round 6
Head-to-head: Parramatta Eels
Best bet: Line – Parramatta Eels +4.5
CANBERRA RAIDERS V MANLY SEA EAGLES: NRL ROUND 6 PREVIEW
SUNDAY 21 JUNE – 4:05PM
Canberra Raiders’ 14–6 win over Wests Tigers in round 5 was short on entertainment value, but it was an important result after they were steamrolled by Newcastle a week earlier.
On the second line of NRL premiership betting, the Raiders have rarely got out of second gear in 2020. The sizzling form of halves Jack Wighton and George Williams is an obvious early-season positive, however.
Manly Sea Eagles bounced back from their excruciating 19–16 round 4 loss to Parramatta by showing their championship qualities in a 20–18 away win over Brisbane. The injury-hit Sea Eagles were caught on their heels and trailed 18–0 before rallying brilliantly.
Outside-backs Moses Suli and Jorge Taufua and forward leader Martin Taupau are out for another week at least, but Manly gets Curtis Sironen back. Engine-room tyros Corey Horsburgh and Hudson Young are back in Canberra’s 17.
These sides have produced a string of tight clashes in recent times, with five of the last six decided by four points or less. But Manly has been on top results-wise, winning five of those games.
The Raiders are NRL round 6 odds favourites but expect another cliffhanger between two clubs with genuine designs on the NRL premiership trophy.
1. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad 2. Jordan Rapana 3. Jarrod Croker 4. Curtis Scott 5. Nick Cotric 6. Jack Wighton 7. George Williams 8. Josh Papali’i 9. Josh Hodgson 10. Iosia Soliola 11. Joseph Tapine 12. Elliott Whitehead 13. Corey Horsburgh 14. Siliva Havili 15. Emre Guler 16. Ryan Sutton 17. Hudson Young 18. Dunamis Lui 19. Bailey Simonsson 20. Matt Frawley 21. Tom Starling
1. Tom Trbojevic 2. Tevita Funa 3. Brad Parker 4. Brendan Elliot 5. Reuben Garrick 6. Dylan Walker 7. Daly Cherry-Evans 8. Addin Fonua-Blake 9. Danny Levi 10. Taniela Paseka 11. Joel Thompson 12. Curtis Sironen 13. Jake Trbojevic 14. Lachlan Croker 15. Jack Gosiewski 16. Sean Keppie 17. Morgan Boyle 18. Toafofoa Sipley 19. Abbas Miski 20. Haumole
NRL expert tips: round 6
Head-to-head: Canberra Raiders
Best bet: Line – Manly Sea Eagles +4
CRONULLA SHARKS V CANTERBURY BULLDOGS: NRL ROUND 6 PREVIEW
SUNDAY 21 JUNE – 6:30PM
NRL round 6 winds down with a clash of the desperados as 13th-placed Cronulla Sharks face 15th-placed Canterbury Bulldogs. Both clubs have just one win on the board after five outings.
But the star-studded Sharks – finalists in each of the past five seasons – are the team under more pressure here. Their 26–16 win over the Cowboys in round 4 was negated by an insipid 30–16 loss to the strife-torn Dragons last Sunday.
Injuries continue to plague the Sharks, with Matt Moylan a late scratching last weekend. Veteran Bryson Goodwin has been named on the extended bench while there’s no sign yet of Nene MacDonald after both headed to the Shire in the past week.
The Bulldogs also broke their 2020 duck in round 4 by subduing the Saints 22–2 but offered little resistance in a 42–6 rout at the hands of the Roosters on Monday night. A lack of attacking strike remains a major bugbear, while the defensive resilience that marked a spirited finish to 2019 seems to have deserted Dean Pay’s side.
The club’s biosecurity scare is set to rob them of front-row stalwart Aiden Tolman for another three weeks, but dangerous three-quarter Reimis Smith’s return from suspension is a boost.
The Bulldogs snapped a five-match losing run against the Sharks with a 14–12 upset midway through 2019. Each of the clubs’ last six clashes were decided by 1–12 margins, while only one produced more than 38 points.
1. Will Kennedy 2. Sione Katoa 3. Josh Dugan 4. Jesse Ramien 5. Mawene Hiroti 6. Shaun Johnson 7. Chad Townsend 8. Andrew Fifita 9. Blayke Brailey 10. Aaron Woods 11. Briton Nikora 12. Wade Graham 13. Jack Williams 14. Toby Rudolf 15. Braden Hamlin-Uele 16. Siosifa Talakai 17. Royce Hunt 18. Scott Sorensen 19. Connor Tracey 20. Bryson Goodwin 21. Matt Moylan
1. Will Hopoate 2. Christian Crichton 3. Reimis Smith 4. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 5. Jake Averillo 6. Kieran Foran 7. Lachlan Lewis 8. Renouf To’omaga 9. Jeremy Marshall-King 10. Dylan Napa 11. Josh Jackson 12. Raymond Faitala-Mariner 13. Adam Elliott 14. Kerrod Holland 15. Dean Britt 16. Sauaso Sue 17. Ofahiki Ogden 19. Sione Katoa 20. Brandon Wakeham 21. Morgan Harper 22. Jack Cogger
NRL expert tips: round 6
Head-to-head: Cronulla Sharks