Digging With The Mole

The Rugby League Week Mole gives us all the ins and outs ahead of Week 2 NRL Finals.

IS Sydney Roosters coach Trent Robinson pressing the panic button with his team in a sudden death situation tonight?

That’s the question punters have to weigh up when the Roosters host North Queensland at Allianz Stadium tonight as clear six point favourites on sportingbet.com.au

The Roosters are clear $1.46 favourites, with the Cowboys out at $2.80 – but the Roosters have major fitness doubts over two key forwards.

The mail is that Jake Friend (chest) and Boyd Cordner (knee) will both play – but that both are well below their best.

Friend was rushed to hospital and, according to reports, was in a grave condition after losing litres of blood when he suffered a serious chest injury just a few weeks ago, while Cordner has been hobbling at training this week.

Robinson has opted to play both – and the punters who take the Roosters will be hoping the move doesn’t back-fire on him.

The Cowboys have no injury worries but will be without hard-running forward Tariq Sims, who has been outed for the rest of the finals by the judiciary for THAT shoulder charge on Broncos star Justin Hodges up in Townsville last weekend.

On paper, the Roosters do look worthy favourites, and they will also have the home ground advantage.

But when you consider they have injury clouds over the two key forwards, and that the Cowboys boast arguably the best player in the league world in Johnathan Thurston – an upset isn’t out of the question.

Thurston will keep aiming his big, wide-running back-rowers Jason Taumalolo and Gavin Cooper at the Roosters’ little men, James Maloney and Mitchell Pearce, for two reasons.

Firstly to attempt to poke holes in the defensive line, but secondly, and just as importantly, to work the pair over doing tackling to blunt their effectiveness in attack.

Pearce has been in great touch for the Roosters in recent weeks and loves this time of year, as he showed last season, while Maloney has been short of his best but is still a danger man

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A few weeks ago the Bulldogs were around $40 to win the comp – now they are the team the punters all want to get behind.

After their great win in Melbourne last week, Dessie’s Doggies are $1.64 to beat Manly on sportingbet.com.au, with the Sea Eagles out at $2.30.

It’s amazing what one win can do – Canterbury headed to Melbourne looking like a team ready to exit the finals race but are now looking like men on a mission.

Adding to their favouritism is the fact that Manly have injury worries over hooker Matt Ballin (broken leg), his replacement Jayden Hodges (neck) and young forward James Hasson (thigh).

Ballin was hoping to make an early comeback from his injury but it is highly unlikely he will play.

Hodges was in the wars throughout last weekend’s loss to Souths but has recovered well, while Hasson also looks set to play.

There is also strong mail that Manly coach Geoff Toovey will drop out-of-form winger Jorge Taufua and replace him with the impressive Clint Gutheson.

Canterbury are giving just 3.5 points start and with all Manly’s problems, the Dogs look good value.

Happy punting!