Welcome to The Profits Round 10 2017 NRL kicks off on Thursday night from ANZ Stadium Bulldogs hosting the Cowboys and The Profits NRL expert Scooby previews all the matches and shares his best bets.
Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs (8th) v North Queensland Cowboys (9th)
The Bulldogs lifted last week to the level of their oppponents and in doing so, caused plenty of headaches for the Raiders; they have a unique ability to do this and the results are mixed, you only have to look at their seasons results thus far for evidence. It was a gallant display in the end with injuries to Reynolds and Graham ruling them out midway through the game. Reduced to 15 players, the Bulldogs still completed at 82% and their defence held strong as they kept the best attacking team in the competition to just 10-points. They have a relatively fresh squad for this match also, as the club opted for players to miss some representative fixtures. The Cowboys will be out for redemption following a 20-point upset by the Eels. Yet again, they came up short at home and were left disorganised in defence (missed 33 tackles) and unable to play with caution when needed; they committed 15 total errors for the match. Despite missing Thurston and a host of other key players, many thought that the remaining players had enough potential. It wasn’t to be though and they quickly found themselves chasing points. Going scoreless until the 63th minute highlighted the importance of the missing players and they will be counting down the time until they return. Things were looking up heading into the Representative Round and the respective players that would be returning the following week; the mood has subsided somewhat since the injury to Thurston, as it is just another challenge that this Cowboys team will need to overcome in 2017.
Bulldogs = Matt Frawley starts at 5/8 for Josh Reynolds (injured). Greg Eastwood (injury) starts in the second row, pushing Adam Elliot back to the bench, joining Raymond Faitala-Mariner.
Cowboys = Lachlan Coote (injury) is named at fullback, Jake Granville (injury) at hooker and Shaun Fensom (injury) on the bench. Ray Thompson will start at halfback for Johnathan Thurston (injured), while John Asiata is named to start at prop. Ethan Lowe is back in the starting team at second row, with Coen Hess shifting back to the bench.
Overall = Bulldogs 17 Cowboys 13
Last 5 matches = Bulldogs 1 Cowboys 4
At ANZ Stadium = Bulldogs 58% Cowboys 38%
Form = Bulldogs 1 win – Cowboys 1 loss
It appears as though you can make a case for both teams winning this match; the Bulldogs haven’t beaten the Cowboys since Round 13, 2014, while despite winning the Grand Final, the Cowboys have a terrible record at this ground; they have won just 8 matches in 21 attempts. That aside, winning for the visitors without Thurston guiding them will be difficult; they have just a 29% winning record without him. Missing Reynolds will hurt the Bulldogs also, he is often the man that provides the spark in attack or is backing up on a line break, although Frawley will offer plenty of stability within their team. The Cowboys have been lacking in several areas in recent weeks, most notably the production in their forwards. The inclusion of Granville lifts pressure in this area; nevertheless, the players will still have a job to do in order to break down the Bulldogs pack. The Cowboys games this year have been built around conceding points, but producing more in attack; regardless of what the forwards create in the middle, without JT at the helm they will struggle. They concede an average of 3.5 tries per game, compared with the Bulldogs 2.7, while missing an average of 30.7 tackles compared with the Bulldogs 23.6 misses per game. Based on the withdrawal of Thurston, it is no surprise to see the home team as favorites, yet hope is growing for the visitors. Both teams chose to stand players down from some matches over the weekend with a focus on this match and the intensity is expected to be high for the entire 80 minutes. As for the winner, the Bulldogs are not at their peak yet and have plenty of work ahead of them, but should be too strong for their opponents here.
Bulldogs 1-12 @ $2.80
St George-Illawarra Dragons (2nd) v Cronulla Sharks (3rd)
The Dragons came up against the Storm in Round 9, which saw the top teams in the competition do battle in Wollongong; the match was anything but this though, as the Dragons were comprehensively beaten. They sorely missed Gareth Widdop in attack, although he would’ve done little to strengthen their usually strong and resolute defence. Surprisingly, they missed just 21 tackles for the match; rather they found themselves unable to halt the waves of attack that their opponents were generating. Attack was undoubtedly the issue, as they also experienced 56% possession, vastly different to the early stages of the match. Nevertheless, the win didn’t knock them from the top of the ladder and they have another tough contest here as they face a team equal on competition points but separated by for and against. The Sharks are coming off a rebounding victory over the Tigers, which put behind them a disappointing effort against the Titans in Round 8. It was always going to be a tough task heading to Leichhardt in the midst of the troubles that their opponents were experiencing and they were made to work hard for their win. The Sharks hardly made things easy for themselves though, missing 37 tackles and committing 14 totals errors. Each week teams are rising to make a statement against the Premiers and this game will be no different; nevertheless, the Sharks will be out for revenge following their 6-point loss to the Dragons back in Round 3.
Dragons = Jason Nightingale moves to fullback for Josh Dugan (injured), with Taane Milne starting on the wing and Jai Field coming onto the bench.
Sharks = Luke Lewis returns to the second row for Tony Williams (injured).
Overall = Dragons 20 Draw 1 Sharks 18
Last 5 matches = Dragons 3 Sharks 2
At UOW Jubilee Oval = Dragons 64% Sharks 30%
Form = Dragons 2 losses – Sharks 1 win
Things have gone from bad to worse for the Dragons in recent weeks, with their attack set to struggle in the absence of key players. Even recording a strong win over the Sharks last time out will not be enough as their bitter rivals will be out for revenge. It is a shame that they are not at full-strength, because this would’ve been the ideal opportunity to bounce back from a poor showing last match. The Sharks looks to have too much firepower for their opponents here, as a their pack has more cohesion since the opening encounter. They will definitely use this to their advantage and it is where they like to play majority of matches, breaking their opponents down in the middle to pass the possession onto their exciting outside backs with room to move. The Dragons defence will have their work cut out for them and despite averaging the equal least amount of tackles in the competition (23.6 per game), the Sharks have conceded the least amount of tries this season at just 2 per game. This spells trouble for the Dragons and without Widdop and Dugan, it is puzzling to see where their points are going to come from. They may limit the Sharks scoring, yet that will only take them so far in this contest. The Dragons have scored the most tries in the competition, although things have changed dramatically for them. The only concern is the Sharks record at this ground, they’ve won just 3 times here in 10 attempts with the rivalry generally bring about the best in both sides. Nevertheless, with that in mind, the Sharks look set to cover the line and then go on with the victory from there.
Sharks -7.5 @ $1.90
Points aplenty = Sharks 13+ @ $2.60 – The Dragons will struggle without there attacking weapons and the Sharks will look to use this to their advantage. Expect plenty of defensive pressure throughout the match, allowing the visitors to post a large margin against their rivals.
Wests Tigers (14th) v South Sydney Rabbitohs (13th)
Both teams will be out to put behind them a loss in Round 9 that has them sitting at the wrong end of the competition ladder. The Tigers will be somewhat pleased with the fact that a few “other” headlines around the NRL has taken the focus off their impending departures. Their 6-point loss to the Sharks at Leichhardt was disappointing to say the least, especially considering they had the greater share of possession. This part of their game is still improving, although there was a lack of execution in the second half from their playmakers. They still missed a high volume of tackles (36) and need to strengthen their defensive structure. For the Rabbitohs, defensive improvement will be high on their agenda, following 38-point loss to the Sea Eagles, a team they had comfortably beaten in Round 2 this year. The result was a foregone conclusion in the first half, as the Rabbitohs trailed 30-2 at HT. A slight improvement in the second half provided some hope, but that was short lived as Manly made their opponents pay for their mistakes. The Rabbitohs only have themselves to blame as they committed 15 total errors and carried the ball for just 1036m as a team. This averages to be 8.1m per carry and an amazing 783m less than their opponents. Pressure is continuing to build within this team and such heartless performances from a team that has potential to play much better will only be tolerated for so long. Over coming that effort will be a motivating factor here, as will a 16-point loss to the Tigers in the opening match of the competition. So much has changed since that game and it will be interesting to see how each team performs here.
Tigers = Sauaso Sue is named to start at prop for Aaron Woods (injured), with Tim Grant joining the bench.
Rabbitohs = Braidon Burns replaces Robert Jennings on the wing.
Overall = Tigers 14 Rabbitohs 15
Last 5 matches = Tigers 4 Rabbitohs 1
At ANZ Stadium = Tigers 44% Rabbitohs 51%
Form = Tigers 1 loss – Rabbitohs 3 losses
The Rabbitohs will be desperate to put a halt to their 3-game losing streak, although it may be a little more difficult than they were hoping. The score line in their first matchup against the Tigers was unkind, it didn’t show that they played majority of the match with their star player on one leg and they were drastically underprepared in attack. They haven’t dramatically turned this effort around as their form would show but the Tigers haven’t set the world alight since then. They still miss the highest tackles of any other team (34.8 per game), commit the 5th highest errors (11.3 per game) and concede the 2nd highest amount of tries (4.6 per game). Things aren’t too much better than the Rabbitohs but they have shown measure and control in their play this year; they miss 27.6 tackles, commit 10.3 errors and concede 4.3 tries per game. With these statistics in mind, it is less surprising that the Rabbitohs will head into this game as favorites; still, given their respective form, you wouldn’t expect the team coming off a 38-point loss to have the edge. This is an ugly game to even consider investing on and it’s recommended that you do so cautiously. As for the result, the loss of Woods will hurt the Tigers in the middle and hands the Rabbitohs a slight edge. If the Tigers halves turn out a similar mixed performance like they did last week, they will struggle again. In terms of making a call on the which team will win, select the Rabbitohs to just get over the line here. Both teams have the same record and if the Rabbitohs can produce a similar performance to the one shown against the Broncos, they should prevail.
Rabbitohs -1.5 @ $1.90
Penrith Panthers (15th) v New Zealand Warriors (11th)
The Panthers are languishing at the bottom of the competition ladder, with their most recent performance against the Broncos showing a distinct different in class. The “one time” Premiership favorites were beaten by 14-points, yet were flattered somewhat with their opponents out to a 28-nil lead by the 50th minute. A few calls went against them early, although they were unable to compete with the Broncos in numerous areas. Being able to fight their way back into the match was positive, but there is still plenty of work to be done within this team. They will face the Warriors at home, who have confidence returning to their play after a narrow 1-point win over the Roosters. Just when they appeared destined to lose, a penalty gave them hope and they were able to kick the goal with just a minute remaining. This is a very different Warriors team; one that is able to play measured football and doesn’t need attacking flair as much as they once did. This was a rare dip in their execution though, only completing at 71% for the match and making 14 errors. Nevertheless, being able to escape with a victory in this situation provides hope that they are able to continue to rise up the ladder. This is generally the stage of the period where they excel themselves, as many other teams are decimated by representative unavailability. That being said, they still have to work hard to execute over 80 minutes, especially against an opponent who is almost at a point of playing to salvage their season.
Panthers = James Fisher-Harris (injury) returns to the starting team in the second row, with Corey Harwira-Naera moving back to the bench.
Warriors = Solomone Kata (injury) returns to the centres for Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad dropping to the reserves.
Overall = Panthers 18 Draw 1 Warriors 14
Last 5 matches = Panthers 3 Warriors 2
At Pepper Stadium = Panthers 53% Warriors 38%
Form = Panthers 5 losses – Warriors 1 win
The Panthers are slight favorites to snap a 5-game losing streak and it isn’t too surprising given the Warriors have beaten them just twice in ten meetings since 2010. Given that they are yet to win a game on the road this season, this might be yet another hurdle ahead of them. It isn’t great that the Panthers commit the most errors of any other team (12.6 per game) and the Warriors have demonstrated this season that they are prepared to play controlled football by keeping their completion rate high. Sooner or later, this will work wonders for them but we are all still waiting for this young team to click into gear. If you were to take them, there would be a high level of trust involved in this outcome, as well as hoping the Warriors 38% winning record in this ground counts for something. Many will be looking forward to the battle in the middle of the two packs of forwards; they both average approximately 8.9m per carry and both teams will be desperate to win the battle up front to create extra room for their exciting outside backs. Advising to select either team for an investment is risky as we are waiting for the improvement to be demonstrated. There are far better matches this weekend to capitalise on; however in terms of picking a team to win this match, the Warriors poor record at this ground and away from home must count for something, so take the Panthers. Plus, you would think that the exposure to a different environment over the Representative weekend will alter the current culture within the team. There is also another suggestion below, yet there is no evidence to suggest that this match will be close, nor decided by this margin (given the recent history). It was more a sign of how evenly the two teams are matched in this contest above all else.
Stay away from it, but if you must – Either Team Under 6.5 points @ $2.70
Melbourne Storm (1st) v Gold Coast Titans (12th)
This game will kick off a Suncorp Stadium double-header on Saturday night as the competition leaders are the “home” team against the Titans. It could be a strong move shifting the game to this location, because their opponents have a very poor record at this ground. Aside from that, the storm will be aiming to build on a very strong performance against the Dragons in Round 9; they were at their devastating best for majority of the match as the game looked anything but a top of the table clash. The Storm were able to control the speed of play and benefitted from jumping to a 32-4 leader after 55 minutes. A late flurry of points to their opponents narrowed the eventual margin, nevertheless the Storm are certainly the team to beat at this early stage of the competition. The Titans will have a tough task causing an upset, yet will be full of confidence following their 30-point win over the Knights. An 8-6 HT deficit did little to dent their confidence and they were full of points in the second half. An unusual possession statistic of 63% assisted their second half momentum, yet they were able to break down the Knights with relentless pressure. After consecutive impressive displays, the Titans are climbing up the competition ladder. This is arguably their biggest test though, as they endeavor to keep their winning streak alive.
Storm = Tim Glasby starts at prop for Jesse Bromwich (stood down), with Tohu Harris (injury) returning to the side to fill the vacant bench spot. Mark Nicholls comes onto the bench for Christian Welch (injured), as does Ryley Jacks.
Titans = Joe Greenwood starts in the second row for Kevin Proctor (stood down), with Dale Copley joining the bench.
Overall = Storm 11 Titans 5
Last 5 matches = Storm 4 Titans 1
At Suncorp Stadium = Storm 80% Titans 17%
Form = Storm 3 wins – Titans 2 wins
There are plenty of factors working against the Titans heading into this contest; for starters, they have won just 2 out of the past 10 meetings with the Storm. To make matters worse, they have a poor record at this ground. The Storm would be far shorter if the game were to be played at AAMI Park; nevertheless, their record at Suncorp Stadium is strong also. The Titans recent form has improved and it is no surprise that this change in form has coincided with a stronger playing roster. They will again be relying upon their attacking weapons to get them through this contest and produce a similar performance to the second half against the Knights. The Storm know how important a win would be here; they are attempting to start the season as strong as possible and build a lead head into the Origin period. Having a match last week for their key players will increase their fatigue levels, but it will also give them confidence if their execution was anything to go by. The squad would also be conscious of the impact of negative headlines and like in the past, they will want to let their on-field actions do the talking. They look set to win this match and the hardest decision is coming to a conclusion about the eventual margin of victory. The Titans have competed strongly in majority of their matches this season and in their 6 losses, only 2 have been by more than 8 points, with their average losing margin at 10.3 points; however if you were to remove the 26-point blowout to the Raiders, the average loss margin plummets to 7.2 points. Given they are a stronger team than they were during that loss, they are capable of competing with the Storm and pushing them to produce something special to win. As for their winning margin, they average 9.5 points when victorious and have only twice scored more than 12-points, coming against the Warriors and Panthers. With that in mind, the Storm should get home by less than 2 converted tries.
Storm 1-12 @ $2.90
Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles (6th) v Brisbane Broncos (4th)
The second game of the double-header is a great move for the Sea Eagles financially, but playing the Broncos at Suncorp will still have its challenges. They are coming off a very dominating display over the Rabbitohs, whereby result was easily decided within the first half of play. Leading 30-2 at this point, the Sea Eagles showed no signs of letting up and were relentless in their scoring of points over the match. More impressive was the fact that they were able to limit their opponents points and get home comfortably. Having 61% of possession and completing at 78% made their job easier, as did carrying the ball for 9.2m per carry. Winning in that fashion was impressive and now the challenge is to maintain that effort on a 2-game winning streak. The Broncos were equally impressive in their win over the Panthers; setting up a strong win early on in their match. Their performances so far this season have been set up via measure and control; without Ben Hunt in the squad that was always going to be tested, but walking away with an 89% completion rate put those issues to rest for now. They did manage to miss 51 tackles across the match, yet due to the scrambling nature of their defensive line, this gave away minimal points. Still, this statistic will be too high for their liking, especially if they have ambitions of featuring strongly in the NRL finals. As it stands, they are 6th overall in the league for this statistic and it could be an area they are exploited. No doubt that the Sea Eagles will be up for the challenge that this capacity crowd offers on an exciting night of rugby league action.
Sea Eagles = Unchanged.
Broncos = David Mead comes into the side to start on the wing, allowing Jordan Kahu to shift to the centres for James Roberts (injured). He still may feature as he is named on the reserves; George Fai fills the vacant bench spot.
Overall = Sea Eagles 14 Draw 1 Broncos 10
Last 5 matches = Sea Eagles 2 Broncos 3
At Suncorp Stadium = Sea Eagles 50% Broncos 62%
Form = Sea Eagles 2 wins – Broncos 4 wins
This game promises to be one exciting encounter as both teams set out to prove themselves against their opponents. The Broncos have demonstrated numerous times this season that they are capable of competing with the best teams in the NRL, with the Sea Eagles still searching for a win to assert their dominance. Their effort against the Raiders and Roosters made people take notice, although credibility can be added with a win here. The Broncos are unsurprisingly heading into this game as favorites and will set the standard for the Sea Eagles to meet. It will be just as difficult to face them up at Suncorp Stadium; in fact, they have not won up here since 2013 and in their past 3 meetings here, they have lost by an average of 28 points. Throw in the fact that the Broncos have lost just one game at this ground this year and the Sea Eagles will have a tough time overcoming the Broncos. They are not without their chances though and they know how to score points; the Sea Eagles have scored the equal-most amount of tries and the second highest amount of points, while also creating the most line breaks of any other team. If there is one thing that the Broncos have proven this year, it is that their defence can handle most things that are thrown their way. This game should be no different and they are capable of holding the Sea Eagles attack as DCE aims to prove that he is worthy of a Maroons starting spot. Given that their last “close” encounter was back in Round 1012 when the Sea Eagles won by 2-points, it seems crazy that this game will be decided by less than a converted try. Times have changes since then though and the Sea Eagles were probably closest with this squad to what that team was back then. Strap yourselves in for an exciting match!
Either team Under 6.5 points @ $2.80
Newcastle Knights (16th) v Canberra Raiders (10th)
These two sides featured in arguably two of the most exciting regular season matches last year, with one draw and a 4-point win to the Raiders in dramatic circumstances that involved a try from a missed field goal. Now, the Knights will need the same level of enthusiasm to overcome the Raiders, a team who has had mixed form thus far. They were spirited yet again up at the Gold Coast, as the Knights lead their opponents 8-6 at HT. Things didn’t go according to plan for them in the second half though, comprehensively beaten 38-8 in the end. They are obviously a team that is still rebuilding but if similar score lines continue, this young team can only maintain confidence and enthusiasm for so long before it drops. The Raiders are also coming off a loss, beaten by the Bulldogs 16-10, which now makes it consecutive losses for their team. Prior to that, their record was looking good but their form has taken a dip in recent weeks. Completing at 69% with just 46% possession was never going to work for them, neither was missing a massive 49 tackles. This has been an unwanted trend for them in recent weeks and they need to be quick to rectify the issue. The lesser quality that the Knights offer will present the ideal opportunity for the Raiders to do this, however if they take their opponents too lightly, they could end up on the receiving end of an embarrassing loss.
Knights = Luke Yates (injury) is named to start at lock, pushing Josh King back to the reserves.
Raiders = Sia Soliola starts in the second row for Josh Papalii (stood down), with Dunamis Lui joining the bench.
Overall = Knights 15 Draw 2 Raiders 17
Last 5 matches = Knights 1 Draw 1 Raiders 3
At McDonald Jones Stadium = Knights 56% Raiders 27%
Form = Knights 7 losses – Raiders 2 losses
The Raiders are strong favorites to take out this game and are desperate to win in order to break their 2-game losing streak. It may not be as easy as first though; they generally struggle against the Knights in Newcastle, regardless of the quality they possess within their team. Since 1998, the Raiders have won just 4 games in 15 attempts here, given them just a 27% winning record. Recent history isn’t kind to the Knights though, they have won just 1 out of the past 7 meetings between these two teams. Of their 4 wins at this ground, 3 have been by 16 points or more, at an average of 18.5 points. That l History aside, the Raiders appear to have too much strength for their opponents in various areas of the field. They have scored the equal 3rd highest amount of points, the 4th highest amount of tries and average 3.9 line breaks per game, all of which the Knights are last in the competition. You cannot completely write them off though, they have proven numerous times this season that they can play with pride and passion, it is just the quality that is missing from their performance. This is typically a game where the Raiders should look to power past their opponents and restore confidence to their attack in the meantime. Assuming that the road trip to Newcastle will hold no fears for the Raiders, they should win this game comfortably.
Raiders -14.5 @ $1.90
Winning with Authority = Raiders 19+ @ $2.25 – Their average winning margin in Newcastle is just short of this mark, but there is no doubt that if confidence returns to the Raiders attack, this margin will blow out. They have proven themselves by pounding the Titans and the Tigers, both of which have a slightly better defensive structure than the Knights.
Breaking a “quiet” streak = Jordan Rapana FTS and/or LTS @ $6 – It has been a quiet few weeks by his standards and he is heading into this game with remarkably short odds. Nevertheless, he is the equal leading try scorer in the competition and bound to cause some headaches for the Knights in defence.
Sydney Roosters (5th) v Parramatta Eels (7th)
The Roosters were upset by the Warriors in Round 9 in dramatic fashion, after a Mitchell Pearce FG was outdone by a Warriors penalty goal with a minute remaining. It was a surprising end to a tough game, whereby the Roosters had to fight their way back into the match. The right call was given and it was disheartening for a team that was looking to build on their ANZAC Day win over the Dragons. It wasn’t to be though and the Roosters didn’t do themselves any favors by conceding 5 more penalties than their opponents, including the one which lead to the winning points. Nevertheless, they will have to pick themselves back up for this match; a dangerous game against the Eels, a team which has offered plenty without doing too much in matches. Their effort in Round 9 was pleasing to say the least; they beat the Cowboys by 20-points up in Townsville. They were clinical over 80 minutes, completing at 83%, committing just 7 errors and missing 29 tackles. Unlike the Roosters, they continually pressured their opponents to force their way into beneficial attacking positions. Things are looking up for this team also and with winning form comes increasing confidence. This was a feature in their play last week as the Eels relied on the flair from their halves to build from the platform created by the forwards. The Cowboys were hampered by injuries and the Roosters will be a different test for the Eels altogether; that being said, they have proven themselves a strong enough team several times this season and a win here would be yet another giant step forward.
Roosters = Latrell Mitchell returns in the centres to replace Shaun Kenny-Dowall (stood down), while Mitchell Aubusson starts in the second row, swapping with Aidan Guerra, who comes off the bench.
Eels = Unchanged.
Overall = Roosters 18 Draw 1 Eels 12
Last 5 matches = Roosters 3 Eels 2
At Allianz Stadium = Roosters 63% Eels 46%
Form = Roosters 1 loss – Eels 3 wins
The Roosters want to return to winning form here after the Warriors halted their momentum; that being said, it may be more difficult than first thought given the confidence that is retuning to the Eels team. Their recent wins have rejuvenated their attack, with the most recent win over the Cowboys in Townsville a measure of how far they have improved. The Roosters still have their flaws to contend with, they have missed the 5th highest amount of tackles (32.2 per game) and committed the 4th highest amount of errors (11.7 per game). The Eels have also scored slightly more points and tries than the Roosters and with both teams averaging roughly the same amount of metres per carry, this game is far closer than the odds may suggest. Do not discredit their chances of winning this game; the Roosters will make things difficult for them to win with added motivation of putting some negative headlines behind them. The week off will freshen both teams for this game, more importantly the Roosters, who were travelling back from New Zealand. They have proven at several stages this season just how capable they are, nevertheless, many are still waiting for them to stamp their authority against a superior team. This isn’t to suggest that the Eels have done that, although they are appearing to progress better on both sides of the ball compared with the Roosters. Another game this weekend that you should probably steer clear of, but if you can’t, it appears as though an upset is on the horizon.
Eels @ $2.60