Fasten your seatbelts, Round 4 is bringing us a Friday night double-header featuring two rising teams, and a Grand Final rematch. At 6pm the Cronulla Sharks (2-1) host the Newcastle Knights (2-1) at PointsBeat stadium, with both teams looking like they’ve recruited well for a strong 2022 season. Then at 8:05pm the Penrith Panthers (3-0) welcome the South Sydney Rabbitohs (1-2) to BlueBet Stadium, with the stage set for another tight tussle as we saw in early October. It looks like a wet day in Sydney, so expect things to get a bit messy in these games.

Draftstars has a $5000 contest with $679 to first place. The single game contests are set at $12,000 and $15,000 respectively. There are also several other contests including the Mini, Micro, and the High Roller. 



Team News

Two changes for the Sharks, with Connor Tracey (groin) and Matt Ikuvalu dropping out of the side. Ronaldo Mulitalo returns on the left wing, while Teig Wilton is back at second-row after his suspension. Siosifa Talakai moves to left centre to fill the gap left by Tracey. The addition of Nicho Hynes and Dale Finucane has been huge for the Sharks, and their fantasy scores reflect that.

Kalyn Ponga returns for the Knights, with Tex Hoy sliding back to the reserves after the best game of his career so far. Mitch Barnett is out with his high-profile suspension, with Brodie Jones named to play his first game of the season in the second-row. Sauaso Sue is also named for the first time, replacing Matt Croker on the bench. The form of Gagai, Clifford, Mann and even Clune and Randall has been good. If they can form a combination with Ponga then the Knights will be dangerous every week.

One massive change for the Panthers, with Nathan Cleary fit to play his first game for 2022, meaning Sean O’Sullivan drops out of the team. Chris Smith is also out after his concussion, with Scott Sorensen moving to a starting second-row spot and Lindsay Smith coming onto the bench. The competition leading reigning premiers regaining the best player in the NRL is very concerning for everyone else!

The Rabbitohs are unchanged after alleviating everyones fears for their post Reynolds and Bennett prospects. A really nice performance against the Roosters last week saw less reliance on Cody Walker. Instead Cam Murray, Damien Cook and the likes of Arrow and Koloamatangi stepped up and found ways to deceive the defensive line. 


Sharks $1.45 v Knights $2.75

Panthers $1.39 v Rabbitohs $3.00


On paper I don’t see a huge amount of difference in either game. Both home teams deserve to be favourites, but I think it’s much closer to 50/50 than the odds suggest. With the wet weather adding to an expectation of close games, I think it’s fine to play balanced lineups rather than focusing on stacking any particular team. 

Love It- Brodie Jones $10,980 / Scott Sorensen $11,070

Here we have two quality backrowers who are down the pecking order at their clubs, but get an opportunity to start thanks to injuries and suspensions. Both have averaged in the mid 40s in these opportunities in the past, which makes them easy value at these prices. There is a slight concern for Sorensen in particular because Liam Martin is lurking in the reserves and he could end up being moved back to the bench before the game. For that reason I’m leaning towards Jones if you can only choose one.


Love It- Dylan Edwards $11,850

After looking like a world-beater in Round 1 when running for 300+ metres, it’s been a couple of quiet weeks for Edwards. As a result his price is even lower than it already was (after some injuries in 2021), and he looks about as safe as it comes for OB plays. With both games looking like tight affairs in the wet weather, I want to lean on a player who takes a lot of hits and can find holes in the middle of the field when the forwards start to tire. 


Love It- Jake Clifford $16,830

With a lot of form players available in the HH spot on this slate, we’re spoiled for choice. The likes of Hynes and Cook have been priced up, while players like Luai, Clune and Randall remain relatively cheap. That might create a vacuum where we can get Clifford (and Walker/Koroisau) at lower ownership, and I see the Knights controlling half as someone to continue investing in. A new focus on running the ball this season, along with some massive kicking totals, has given him a much more consistent scoring profile than we’ve previously seen. Add in a solid defensive game and some goals, and we have a pretty complete fantasy player just a tier below the elite in his position. I still see some value in a game that the Knights can win, and expect another massive kicking performance after last weeks 640 metres!


Hate It- Blayke Brailey $17,350

My Brailey fade didn’t quite work out last week with 58 points, although it was his lowest score of the season! The young hooker is thriving in a much improved Sharks team, but still has Braydon Trindall lurking on the bench as a utility. My suspicion is that his minutes were not impacted last week because of the injury to Connor Tracey causing a reshuffle, but eventually I expect him to see less than the 78 minutes he’s averaged so far. With a big price tag and a tough matchup, I’m happy to give him a miss this week.


Hate It- Dale Finucane $17,230

Another Shark off to a strong start to the season, the veteran is also punching above his weight in Fantasy. More of a mid 40s scorer throughout his career, his average of 54 so far does not feel sustainable. With a history of soft tissue injuries (old man calves) and surrounded on the board by younger, more dynamic players (Arrow, Kikau, Yeo, Wilton), I won’t be chasing his scores so far until the price calms down a little.


Who Knows- Nathan Cleary $23,950

As the best player in Fantasy for a couple of years now, Cleary is a big decision to make on this slate. In the past we’ve seen some players return from shoulder reconstructions and take a while to find their confidence, but it feels like the Panthers have been patient and made sure he’s at 100% before playing. The price tag is obviously enormous, but when placed against Nicho Hynes it doesn’t look so bad. Can he come back in and get right back to his 80+ average, or should we wait and see for a week or two? I think the answer likely lies in between, with an attempt to match the field ownership somewhere in the 30% range.

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