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NRL Fantasy teams analysis: Round 2
All the crucial NRL Fantasy news to come out of the official Round 2 NRL team lists.
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Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks v St George Illawarra Dragons
Thursday March 15, 8.05pm AEDT, Southern Cross Group Stadium
Sharks: Paul Gallen has been named to start after coming off the bench last week, while Aaron Gray replaces the injured Sione Katoa – the popular Fantasy cash cow who is set to miss a couple of month with a broken jaw. He's a trade, albeit not an urgent one at his price. Andrew Fifita (48) and Jayson Bukuya (44) were the only Sharks to pass 40 points last week, but the team in general should improve after a tough visit to the Cowboys first up.
Dragons: St George Illawarra have named the same starting side that got the win over Brisbane, with Jeremy Latimore and Hame Sele swapping between the bench and reserves in the only change. Fantasy gun Jack de Belin made a rock solid start to the season with 62 (including a try) against Brisbane while Euan Aitken (42) and Matt Dufty (41) also looked good, with Dufty racking up eight tackle breaks. Luciano Leilua won't be much of a cash cow off the bench if he doesn't get more than the 22 minutes he played last week.
Sydney Roosters v Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs
Friday March 16, 6pm AEDT, Allianz Stadium
Roosters: Luke Keary and Boyd Cordner are back in the starting side, with Keary's return from injury bumping Mitch Cornish out while Ryan Matterson returns to the bench for Cordner. Jake Friend and Blake Ferguson (both 54) were the Tricolours' best Fantasy performers in last week's loss to the Tigers, with Mitch Aubusson playing the full 80 minutes in the back row for 46 points. James Tedesco (29), Sio Siua Taukeiaho (28) and Latrell Mitchell (28) were all disappointing but should improve this week.
Bulldogs: Unchanged. Value buy Raymond Faitala-Mariner was terrific against Melbourne, playing the full 80 minutes and grabbing a try for 61 Fantasy points. He looks a better bet than fellow back-row cheapie Danny Fualalo, who made 31 in 54 minutes, while Michael Lichaa didn't manage a huge impact in attack or defence against the Storm with 33 points in a 64-minute stint.
Brisbane Broncos v North Queensland Cowboys
Friday March 16, 7.05pm AEST (8.05pm AEDT), Suncorp Stadium
Broncos: Jaydn Su'a has copped a one-week ban for a shoulder charge with Tom Opacic named to replace him on the bench, while Andrew McCullough has been named to start after Sam Thaiday started at hooker last week. James Roberts bagged a couple of tries against the Dragons for a solid 48 points while cash cow option Tevita Pangai Junior made 41 for an $18,000 price jump and rookie Jamayne Isaako scored 32 for a $21,000 boost. Otherwise, there weren't many highlights for Brisbane against the Dragons. Matt Lodge had a game to forget but still beat his break even with 30 points.
Cowboys: No changes, although Michael Morgan remains a chance of being a late inclusion. Jason Taumalolo picked up where he left off in 2017 with a monster performance against the Sharks, including 10 tackle busts, for 68 points. But otherwise it wasn't a high-scoring Fantasy fixture with Gavin Cooper the only other player in the match to pass 50 points and returning superstar Johnathan Thurston managing just 32 – including two try assists. JT had -10 points in demerits in that game but his base stats could be worrying for the 28% of Fantasy coaches who have him this year.
Warriors v Gold Coast Titans
Saturday March 17, 5.05pm NZ (3.05pm AEDT), Mt Smart Stadium
Warriors: Unchanged. Shaun Johnson weaved his magic against the Rabbitohs last week with a couple of line breaks and 66 Fantasy points, but cheapie Isaiah Papali'I was arguably the Warriors' biggest Fantasy success story with an 80-minute stint in the second row for 46 points. His job security remains under a bit of a cloud with Simon Mannering's return – likely on an edge – to come in a couple of weeks. Cash cow lock Ligi Sao only played 40 minutes but still earned some coin with a solid 33 points.
Titans: No changes. Kevin Proctor was the Titans' best last week with 65, and fellow try-scorer Konrad Hurrell made eight tackle breaks against the Raiders for 53. Cash cow hopefuls Jai Arrow (33) and Bryce Cartwright (30) were solid rather than spectacular while Leilani Latu will need to improve on his 19 if he is to be Fantasy-relevant this season.
Penrith Panthers v South Sydney Rabbitohs
Saturday March 17, 5.30pm AEDT, Panthers Stadium
Panthers: Viliame Kikau was round one's best cash cow, despite being relegated to the bench before kick-off, jumping $59,000 in value after smashing out 63 points in 36 minutes. He won't score a try every week but he's hard to leave out of your side now. He's been named to start along with Reagan Campbell-Gillard, but the same thing happened last week and both ended up playing off the bench. Meanwhile Waqa Blake scored a double for 72 points, Dylan Edwards was terrific at the back for 60 despite a couple of errors, and Nathan Cleary (69) and Trent Merrin (53) look like keepers again this year.
Rabbitohs: Adam Reynolds will miss up to a month with a knee injury, with young gun Adam Doueihi replacing him at halfback. He could be a quality cash cow although he won't have time to hit his peak price unless he gets more than three weeks in the top grade. There's good news for Cameron Murray who gets a start at lock with Sam Burgess shifting to prop, but bad news for potential cash cow Mark Nicholls who is bumped back to the bench. Damien Cook lived up to the pre-season hype with 57 points from 80 minutes at hooker while established guns Angus Crichton (58), Sam Burgess (55) and Dane Gagai (48) all scored well in a losing effort the Warriors. Cody Walker (54 including two tries) was also excellent while cash cow Richie Kennar (49 including two tries) jumped $41,000 in value after a super start to the season.
Melbourne Storm v Wests Tigers
Saturday March 17, 7.35pm AEDT, AAMI Park
Storm: Billy Slater's return for his 300th game means Ryley Jacks drops out of the side, with Cameron Munster returning to his usual five-eighth role. Cameron Smith scored 61 points last week because he's Cameron Smith, while Munster blitzed 62 at fullback and Nelson Asofa-Solomona backed up an impressive pre-season with 46 points in 35 minutes. Jesse Bromwich isn't quite back to his dominant form of old just yet but scored a respectable 41, while Brodie Croft had a woeful first half Fantasy-wise before eking out 21 points, including seven missed tackles and two errors.
Wests Tigers: The Tigers have named the same 17 that beat the Roosters, albeit with Matt Eisenhuth named on the bench and Ben Matulino named to start. Cash cow Corey Thompson exceeded all expectations with a stunning 60 points in his first NRL clash in Tigers colours, with the former Bulldog scoring a try and making a couple of line breaks and five tackle breaks against the highly-rated Roosters. Elijah Taylor made 53 tackles for 54 points in 66 minutes while Robbie Rochow played the full 80 for 46 points and a $31,000 price increase.
Manly Warringah Sea Eagles v Parramatta Eels
Sunday March 18, 4.10pm AEDT, Lottoland
Sea Eagles: A few changes for Manly this week with Brad Parker into the starting side and Jackson Hastings and Lloyd Perrett joining the bench, with Matthew Wright, Lewis Brown and Frank Winterstein making way. Apisai Koroisau made 66 tackles in 90 minutes against Newcastle for 65 points (he also had seven missed tackles and an error) but he was just one of half a dozen impressive Fantasy scorers for Manly in that game. Martin Taupau (59), Jake Trbojevic (55) and Daly Cherry-Evans (55) all made the most of the extra-time bonus minutes, while Jorge Taufua (55), Brian Kelly (47) and Shaun Lane (46) all scored tries.
Eels: Unchanged. Nathan Brown (55), Corey Norman (52) and two-try star Josh Hoffman (55) were Parramatta's best against Penrith last week, with Jarryd Hayne scoring a very solid 38 despite a lack of tries or assists. Kane Evans doesn't look like a money-maker just yet with 17 points in 29 minutes from the bench.
Canberra Raiders v Newcastle Knights
Sunday March 18, 6.30pm AEDT, GIO Stadium
Raiders: Joseph Tapine's broken finger means Luke Bateman starts at lock, with Elliott Whitehead shifting to an edge. Jordan Rapana will probably be Fantasy's best winger again in 2018 after starting the season with 51 points without a try against the Titans, edging out Elliott Whitehead and Junior Paulo (both 49) as Canberra's best in round one. Sam Williams could be a surprise cash cow after getting a starting spot at halfback and scoring 48, with two try assists, while Jarrod Croker managed just 11 points.
Knights: Unchanged. Newcastle get a long break after their Friday night win over Manly first up and will be itching to get back on the field, with a string of impressive Fantasy performers on the night. Value buys Kalyn Ponga (75) and Slade Griffin (63) were outstanding, Aidan Guerra (59) could be a cut-price keeper this season, and Herman Ese'ese (53) was one of the round's best Fantasy front-rowers.
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