Okay MyBookie rugby betting faithful, with the start of the 2021 NRL season here, it’s time to find out who’s in action and which teams are offering the best rugby betting value in their respective regular season openers. The defending Grand Finals champion Melbourne Storm host the South Sydney Rabbitohs in a matchup of elite title contenders in the 2021 regular season opener on Thursday. On Friday night, the Newcastle Knights will host the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs in another matchup. Now, let’s find out which two teams look like they’re going to come out on top this coming weekend so you can make your bets and cash in against their Rugby odds.
NRL Round 1 Matches Preview, Odds and Picks | Rugby Betting
Melbourne Storm Vs South Sydney Rabbitohs
- When: Thursday, March 11 at 4:05 AM ET
- Where: Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne
- Rugby Odds: South Sydney -1/2
- Money Lines: South Sydney Rabbitohs -120 / Melbourne Storm -114
- Total: 41.5
Melbourne went 16-0-4 a year ago to finish second in the NRL ladder to Penrith with 32 points. The Storm put 534 points on the board while conceding 276 defensively.
Melbourne will start the season without both Cameron Smith and Harry Grant. The two were scheduled to split time at dummy-half this season, but Grant’s MCL injury will make way for young Tyson Smoothy. Nelson Asofa-Solomona has been named at lock to cover for Dale Finucane, who will be out of the lineup for approximately six weeks with a calf injury. Brenko Lee (hamstring) is out after only getting through limited training on Monday. Former Canterbury Bulldog Reimis Smith is set to replace Lee.
South Sydney went 12-0-8 to finish sixth in the NRL standings with 24 points. The Rabbitohs put 521 points on the scoreboard while allowing 352 points defensively. New recruits Josh Mansour and Jacob Host have been named to start in their club debuts while Jai Arrow and Benji Marshall will come off the bench. Bench forward Hame Sele is out for approximately two weeks with a rib injury and center Braidon Burns (knee) and Brock Gardner (Achilles) are both on the shelf indefinitely. The Rabbitohs face Melbourne without Cameron Smith for the first time in 17 years.
Prediction: South Sydney finished fourth in scoring in the regular season a year ago, but Melbourne finished third. The Storm have won four straight in this rivalry including a hard-fought 22-16 road win on Sept. 4 the last time these two met. Even without the legendary Cameron Smith, the defending champs are the smart pick to take care of business at home in this matchup of elite title contenders. Back the Storm minus the half-point to win outright!
Pick: Melbourne 24 South Sydney 18
Newcastle Knights Vs Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs
- When: Friday, March 12, 2021 at 2:00 AM ET
- Where: McDonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle
- Rugby Odds: Newcastle -5.5
- Money Lines: Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs +152 / Newcastle Knights -217
- Total: 39.5
Newcastle went 11-1-8 last year to finish seventh in the NRL ladder with 23 points. The Knights put 421 points on the board while conceding 374 points defensively. The bad news is that Newcastle will be without star fullback Kalyn Ponga who could be out for a month with a knee injury. Winger Edrick Lee (foot) and outside back Hymel Hunt are both out of the lineup as well. Utility Kurt Mann will play five-eighth in the absence of Blake Green (knee). Prized youngster Tyson Frizell will launch his Knights career in the second row while Jayden Brailey is back at hooker following knee reconstruction. The Knights have opened the season with a win for the past three years.
Canterbury went a pitiful 3-0-17 last season to finish 15th in the 16-team ladder with six points. The Bulldogs were limited to 282 points while conceding 504 points defensively. For their regular season opener, prop Dylan Napa (knee), five-eighth Jake Averillo (elbow), back-rower Raymond Faitala-Mariner (ankle) and winger Nick Cotric (ankle) have all been cleared to go in the opener but Jeremy Marshall-King (foot) is another week away. Hooker Bradley Deitz has been named on the bench in Marshall-King’s absence.
Prediction: Canterbury has won two straight and four of five in this rivalry, including a low-scoring 18-12 road win the last time these two met on July 26. Still, I’m fully expecting Newcastle to take care of business on its home pitch to get their 2021 campaign started off on the right foot.
Pick: Newcastle 20 Canterbury 16