Holden Cup Round 3 previews
The players to watch and predicted results from Round 3 of the National Youth Competition.
Titans v Eels
The Titans will be looking to build on last week's impressive 44-40 win over the Knights. The scoreline probably flattered Newcastle who grabbed a flurry of late tries to get so close. The Titans were irresistible in the first 20 minutes, with centre Daniel Brownbill scoring a double and setting one up in the opening quarter of the contest. Watch out for halves Ethan Roberts and AJ Brimson to continue their hot start to 2017.
Parramatta are still searching for their first win of the year after they were beaten by the Dragons at the death on Sunday evening. Their task has been made all the more difficult with star halfback Troy Dargan promoted to play for Wentworthville in the Intrust Super Premiership.
Tip: Titans by 12
Knights v Rabbitohs
The Knights will be smarting after scoring 40 points last week but still going down to the Titans. They looked like world beaters in Round 1 but were exposed defensively on the weekend. Fullback Matt Cooper has been on fire with three tries and 14 tackle breaks this year, while he's also averaging almost 150 metres per game.
Back-to-back losses have the Rabbitohs in desperate need of the two competition points. They were totally outclassed by Manly last week and will need to tighten up their defence after missing 87 tackles in two matches. Incredibly, they've only managed seven offloads in 2017 compared to Newcastle's 37.
Tip: Knights by 10
Bulldogs v Warriors
It's not panic stations yet, but the loser of this one will be 0-3 and behind the eight ball in terms of fighting for a finals finish. The Bulldogs looked good in patches on Thursday night but simply couldn't match it with the defending premiers.
What has happened to the Warriors? The traditional powerhouses of the NYC are 15th after two rounds and have managed just 22 points and four line breaks in 2017.
Tip: Bulldogs by 7
Storm v Broncos
The Thunderbolts will be feeling good after a couple of wins to start the season. Their outside backs were outstanding in atrocious conditions across the ditch, with Harlan Collins and Sale Finau grabbing doubles in the win while Cory Parker had plenty of good runs coming out of trouble.
It was a case of déjà vu for the Broncos who fell in heartbreaking circumstances to the Cowboys, just like their NRL counterparts did later that night. Lock forward Patrick Carrigan is coming off a monster performance where he ran for 195 metres, made 40 tackles and set up a try in the narrow loss.
Tip: Draw (Broncos by 2 if you're desperate for a result)
Panthers v Roosters
Expect plenty of fireworks on Saturday evening at Pepper Stadium in a replay of last year's NYC grand final. It will take something special to outdo that famous afternoon where the Roosters recovered from a 28-6 half-time deficit to snatch a miraculous two-point win.
The Panthers missed Jarome Luai that day trough suspension but he'll be there this time around and keen to build on his two try assists and four goals in the big win over the Wests Tigers.
Victor Radley was the hero last year and has started 2017 in even better touch with three tries, four assists and 372 running metres from the first two rounds.
Tip: Roosters by 8
Cowboys v Sea Eagles
The Cowboys might be 2-0 but they'll have to play without Kalyn Ponga for the next few weeks with the fullback promoted to the NRL side as cover for Lachlan Coote. Last year that might have been an issue, but he's had a quiet start to 2017 with the rest of his teammates picking up the slack.
Manly have been the surprise packets of the year and lead the competition after two rounds after finishing last in 2016. Tevita Funa is the form player of the NYC with a competition-high 42 points to go along with 18 tackle breaks, four line breaks and a try assist.
Tip: Sea Eagles by 14
Raiders v Wests Tigers
How will the Raiders respond after last week's humiliating 74-12 loss at home to the Sharks? They'll be hoping history repeats after they lost 78-12 to the Cowboys in 2015, but bounced back with a two-point win the following week against the Tigers.
It's been hard to get a read on the Tigers after they edged the Rabbitohs in a Round 1 thriller, only to be thrashed by the Panthers the following week. Look for livewire fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen to chip in with a couple of tries.
Tip: Wests Tigers by 12
Sharks v Dragons
Local bragging rights will be on the line when these two fierce rivals go head-to-head in the final game of the round.
The Sharks are the hottest attacking team in the competition with scores of 38 and 74 in the opening two rounds. Jesse Ramien has already scored five tries and broken 22 tackles after just two games in 2017!
They haven't been as attractive as their opponents, but the Dragons are unbeaten in 2017 following a couple of gritty wins over the Panthers and Eels. You get the feeling their luck might run out this weekend.
Tip: Sharks by 16
Last week's tipping results: 6/8
Season results: 11/16