Welcome to The Profits Round 11 2017 NRL kicks off on Thursday night from Southern Cross Group Stadium with the Sharks hosting the Cowboys and The Profits NRL expert Scooby previews all the matches and shares his best bets.
Cronulla Sharks (2nd) v North Queensland Cowboys (6th)
The Sharks managed to make amends for their Round 2 loss to the Dragons with an unconvincing victory over their local rivals on the road. In a game where the visitors were set to dominate, they made things extremely difficult for themselves; unable to build momentum through the match with simple errors plaguing them over 80 minutes. In total, they made 14 errors and completed at just 68%; nevertheless, a few “lucky” calls got them over the line and keeps them in second on the competition ladder. If anything, it is a testament to the Premiers and the winning nature with such a poor performance. The Cowboys were also victorious in Round 10, over coming the Bulldogs in impressive style. It was a game that they were tipped to struggle in but without Thurston in their team, others stood up to dominate the match. Their performance was almost flawless; they completed at 82% and missed just 16 tackles for the match, while their forwards dictated the terms of the match and averaged 9.3m per carry. The 24-nil lead that they built up after 48 minutes was narrowed to 24-14 with 10 minutes to go, with this perhaps the result of a decrease in intensity and the withdrawal of Granville from the field. Either way, the fact that they were able to bounce back and score more points was impressive and it carries them with strong momentum into this game. These two sides have a fantastic recent rivalry that has extended into the Finals on numerous occasions; back-to-back trips to Sydney is destined to test the mental preparations of the Cowboys and their challenge will be far more difficult than it was last week.
Sharks = Chris Heighington is named at prop for Matt Prior (suspended), allowing Jayson Bukuya coming onto the bench and Joseph Paulo dropping to the reserves.
Cowboys = Unchanged.
Overall = Sharks 22 Cowboys 15
Last 5 Matches = Sharks 3 Cowboys 2
At Southern Cross Group Stadium = Sharks 56% Cowboys 33%
Form = Sharks 2 wins – Cowboys 1 win
There was word around that Thurston could be a late inclusion after being spotted at Cowboys training, although the Cowboys have since ruled that out. This hurts their chances but does not completely rule them out. They were great last week against the Bulldogs, yet the Sharks will offer a different level of competition altogether. The home team has a habit of playing either up or down to their opponents level this year, with really only their wins over the Panthers and Raiders altering that trend. One problem they have experienced this year is their record at home; they have won just 1 of their 7 wins this season at home, leaving them with a 25% record at this ground in 2017. Considering the Cowboys only have a 33% record, winning 5 matches since 1998, the Sharks could have a slight edge. They will need to start with shutting down the Cowboys forwards; majority of their attack is generated through the middle, with last week being testament to that. It is no surprise to see the Sharks head into this game as favorites and they should have just what it takes to edge past their opponents. You cannot underestimate the effect that their performance last week had on them; it was a physically and mentally draining effort that they will need to overcome in order to prevail here. They have what it takes and without Thurston, you cannot be completely sure that the Cowboys will be able to compete with the Sharks in all areas for 80 minutes. One win doesn’t dramatically change their hopes, yet it does give them confidence to cause an upset. Confidence will be one factor, execution another and the Sharks are in the right position to take this one out.
Sharks 1-12 @ $2.80
New Zealand Warriors (12th) v St George Illawarra Dragons (5th)
The Warriors went down to the Panthers last week in dramatic fashion, after a 28-6 HT lead was eaten away in the second half. Losing 36-28 at the end of 80 minutes left them wondering what went wrong in the match and desperate for answers. Their first half performance was arguably the best they have produced in 2017, continually dominating and pressure the Panthers defensive line; although this was quickly forgotten as their opponents scored 4 tries in 12 minutes. In the end, the Warriors missed 34 tackles and made 11 errors for the match; however if they can focus on the positives and reproduce a similar effort, they will climb up the competition ladder. The Dragons will be out to halt their 3-game losing streak that has been going since ANZAC Day. Conincidently, this has also come around the time of injuries suffered by key players, most notably Widdop and Dugan. This has limited the Dragons attacking ability, yet they are a team that is still motivated to do well. Their forwards were terrific against the Sharks and their defensive line was ready for the challenge that was thrown at them. They managed to do the little things right in this game to pressure their opponents; they completed at 92%, made just 4 errors and missed 28 tackles. It was always going to be a difficult task, yet the Dragons are taking steps in the right direction and proving many people wrong with their play. This has to be maintained on the road, with the game taken to Waikato by the Warriors.
Warriors = Ken Maumalo comes into the centres for Solomone Kata (injured). Bunty Afoa is named at lock, with Sam Lisone dropping back to the bench.
Dragons = Taane Milne is named in the centres for Euan Aitken (injured).
Overall = Warriors 5 Dragons 20
Last 5 Matches = Warriors 1 Dragons 4
At FMG Stadium = Never played at this venue
Form = Warriors 1 loss – Dragons 3 losses
These two sides met back in Round 4, which was a commanding 14-point win to the Dragons, on the back of 19 errors made by their opponents. History is against the home side; the Warriors have beaten the Dragons just once in their past 13 encounters between the two sides. Perhaps this is a reason why the Warriors have chosen to move this game down to Waikato, although, they are winless in their three trips here. Having to bounce back from a poor second half effort last week should spur them on and betting markets have them as favorites. A large part of this is down to the way the Dragons have performed since the loss of Widdop and Dugan. They haven’t missed much in the way of carrying the ball through the middle, yet the attacking polish to the end of sets that was once present is now absent. This has caused them some obvious headaches in the past and if the Warriors play like they did in the first half of last week, they will be too strong for their opponents. Given their efforts this season and ability to only win 4 games, you would be taking them on trust more than anything. Sooner or later they will click into gear and we will see the best that they to offer. Thankfully, their 4 wins have all come on home turf and despite not being in familiar surroundings, they will have to make the most of this opportunity. The Dragons have demonstrated that regardless of who is lining up for their team, they are going to make things difficult for their opponents with their enthusiasm and power through the middle. The Warriors are making improvements in more ways than one and had they not lost in the fashion that they did last Saturday, the opinion of their side would be a very different one. Hopefully they are able to learn from their mistakes and put that loss behind them to grab a win here. Given that the Dragons have only lost just the one game this year by more than 13 points (18 point loss v Eels Round 2), this game could be close but the best option appears to be taking the home team to cover the line; just in case they find their first half attacking power and produce that over 80 minutes.
Warriors -5.5 @ $1.90
Brisbane Broncos (4th) v Wests Tigers (15th)
The Broncos remained calm after an early 14-nil deficit to the Sea Eagles, courtesy of a few questionable calls from the officials. Nevertheless, they didn’t let this bother them too much and they were able to wrestle momentum away from their opponents and capture a 24-14 win. The first 10 minutes set a standard for the match, yet the Broncos never worried, keeping their opponents scoreless from this point onwards. Eventually, having 54% possession became too much for the Sea Eagles, as was averaging 9.3m per carry. They will be disappointed that they let a lead grow that large and perhaps on another day, a better team may have shut them out of the game completely. Nevertheless, they are tracking well thus far and cannot afford to take the Tigers lightly, even amid the turmoil at the club. It has been another week of off-field headlines for the club for a variety of reasons. They have parted ways with Mitchell Moses but before moving beyond that, some of their players were involved in an altercation. Perhaps these headlines are a positive for the club, as it detracts away from the dreadful performance that they turned out on Friday night against the Rabbitohs, a team they beat 34-18 back in Round 1. It was one-way traffic in this match though, with the Tigers defence unable to match the Rabbitohs pressure. They were forced to make 122 more tackles than their opponents and missed a total of 57 tackles for the match. This has left them at the top of the competition for missed tackles, 27 ahead of any other team. They have proven this year that when their defensive structure is positive, they can play some impressive football. Unfortunately, such efforts have been few and far between and they will have a difficult time attempting to halt the power the Broncos offer.
Broncos = James Roberts (injury) returns in the centres, pushing David Mead back to the bench. Ben Hunt could be a late inclusion after being named in the reserves.
Tigers = Jack Littlejohn is named at 5/8 for Mitchell Moses (club transfer). Aaron Woods (injury) returns at prop for Ava Seumanufagai (injured), while Kyle Lovett comes onto the bench for Michael Chee-Kam (reserves).
Overall = Broncos 19 Draw 1 Tigers 5
Last 5 Matches = Broncos 4 Tigers 1
At Suncorp Stadium = Broncos 62% Tigers 40%
Form = Broncos 5 wins – Tigers 2 losses
After last week, the Tigers want to quickly erase the memory of that effort and with the departure of Moses, they somewhat get a chance to start fresh. Unfortunately, their record against the Broncos isn’t a good one; the Tigers have beaten the Broncos just once in the past 7 meetings since 2011 and that was last year courtesy of a Moses FG. Their 40% record at Suncorp Stadium isn’t making things any easier, neither is the fact that they have missed the most tackles of any other team (average 37 per game) and scored the equal least amount of points (average 15.2 per game). The Broncos cannot afford to go into this game with a relaxed attitude, which could happen on the eve of Origin selection; nevertheless, they will need to seize this opportunity to add to their competition tally with player absences destined to affect them. They proved last week how they are able to deal with difficulties during a match, never once appearing worried that they were down by 14-points; in fact, the comeback was very measured and controlled. Furthermore, they kept their opponents under their average conceded points (currently 16.1 points per game). Scoring points is a difficult thing to do against the Broncos such is their strong defensive structure; They’ve only allowed their opponents to score over 20-points on just 3 occasions this season. This should prove too much for the visitors, who will only have further troubles if Ben Hunt is directing traffic on the field. This should be a comfortable win for the Tigers. Of course, an improved effort is expected on last week, especially with key personnel back into their line up, yet that will only take them so far as the Broncos take a comfortable victory.
Broncos -15.5 @ $1.90
Coasting home = Broncos 19+ @ $2.25 – The Tigers are rebuilding from the bottom at the moment and their form isn’t up to scratch. Some inclusions are bound to boost their effort, as well as a disgraceful defensive display on Friday. Nevertheless, the Broncos have plenty of power and with the Tigers losing matches by an average of 19.1 points, this appears a likely outcome.
Gold Coast Titans (11th) v Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles (7th)
In one of the games of the year, the Titans upset the Storm 38-36 in very dramatic fashion. They have become a team that is known for their high-scoring matches, yet this was another level of intensity altogether. They let a strong lead slip midway through the second half, only to score 2 tries in the remaining 10 minutes to edge ahead. It is no surprise that the Titans scored so many points, they lead the competition in this area and have plenty of attacking weapons. Now that they are beginning to return to full-fitness, they are reaching closer to their potential. Injuries are still lingering though, hopefully this will be managed to a point where it doesn’t impact upon their season any further. They certainly have plenty of potential in 2017 and need some consistency to gather momentum and climb up the ladder. They will sense a strong opportunity to make it 4 consecutive wins, as they return home to face the Sea Eagles, a team that is coming off a loss to the Broncos. The Sea Eagles took the game north to Suncorp Stadium and it appeared to be a great decision as they jumped out to a 14-nil lead after 9 minutes courtesy of 3 tries. That is where their scoring ended though and the Broncos produced a strong second half to score 24 unanswered points. Only having 46% possession didn’t assist their cause and now things are made more difficult with the loss of exciting fullback Tom Trbojevic. It is no secret that the Sea Eagles have found a winning formula when they travel together as a team, so perhaps the extra time spent away together will assist them in this match. If not, a loss could mean they slip out of the Top 8 and are replaced by their opponents, a team that is growing in confidence and getting better each week.
Titans = Dale Copley starts on the wing for Dan Sarginson (injured), with Leuvaha Pulu named at lock for Ryan Simpkins (injured). Karl Lawton and Nathaniel Peteru fill the vacant bench spots.
Sea Eagles = Matthew Wright is named at fullback for Tom Trbojevic (injured).
Overall = Titans 6 Sea Eagles 9
Last 5 Matches = Titans 2 Sea Eagles 3
At Cbus Super Stadium = Titans 49% Sea Eagles 56%
Form = Titans 3 wins – Sea Eagles 1 loss
The Titans head into this game as favorites on the back of an impressive win over the Storm last week. They head home now and will aim to extend their winning streak to 4 matches. No surprise that injuries make it difficult for them again, although they have overcome numerous hurdles this year in regards to this. The Sea Eagles have their injury worries also, with no bigger omission in this game than Trbojevic. He adds plenty of fire to the Sea Eagles attack and they will have a difficult time trying to replace his high work rate on the field. The visitor will be out to lift following their loss last week and prevent dropping out of the Top 8. The major reason that the Titans can win this game is the form that they are in; of their 3 most recent wins, two have been against the 1st and 2nd ranked team in the competition. This bodes well for them here, as they are out to improve their standing on the competition ladder. Even with the Sea Eagles perhaps having minimal issues playing at this ground, the Titans should be too strong. With that in mind, the hardest thing is deciding on a margin that the home team will win by. Of their 4 wins this year, the Titans have only produce one by more than 12 points (30 points v Knights Round 9) and they do concede plenty of points; in fact they average the second highest of any team in the competition at 26.2 points per game. They have scored more points than the Sea Eagles, averaging 24.8 PPG compared with 23 PPG, although defence will be the key to shutting down their opponents. They should be able to cover the small line, especially with the Sea Eagles missing their star fullback. Nevertheless, it would be surprising to see them win by more than 2 converted tries, this has only happened twice this year to the Sea Eagles and they’ve turned their form around since then.
Titans -3.5 @ $1.85
Comfortable enough = Titans 1-12 @ $2.80 – The Titans made a statement last week with their win and that effort will undoubtedly raise fatigue levels for this game. That should keep the scores relatively close in this match, although it is set to be exciting with both teams 1 and 2 in try assists this season.
The GC Beast = Konrad Hurrell FTS and/or LTS @ $10 – He scored the match-winning try last week for his team and will only get better since returning from injury. He is a handful for any team to stop and you can expect the Titans to get him the ball close to the line. He is the equal top try scorer for the Titans for a reason and his halves know his value.
Parramatta Eels (9th) v Canberra Raiders (10th)
Everything that could’ve gone wrong for the Eels last week did and just like any other team, it demonstrated how vulnerable they are without their key players on the field. They will have to get accustomed to Corey Norman being on the sidelines for a few weeks, yet have been able to acquire Mitchell Moses, who is named on the reserves. Against the Roosters, the Eels lacked penetration similar to recent weeks and their defensive structure was vulnerable throughout. It was always going to be difficult for them with just 39% possession, although completing at 65% didn’t aid their cause, nor did making 91 more tackles than the Roosters and missing 39 total tackles. They have a strong chance to bounce back against the Raiders, a team who is in the midst of a 3-game losing streak. Hope was high that they would be able to break their poor run of form against the Knights in Newcastle last week, but it wasn’t to be. Instead, their lack of execution resulted in a 14-point loss to the last team in the competition. For a team that has so much potential, the result was very disappointing and a sign towards the potential inexperienced attitude problems that this team can have from time to time. The 13 totals errors that they committed continually halted their momentum as they found a team that wanted to work harder for the victory. Perhaps the Raiders have become guilty of believing in their own hype; the last three losses have required an individual or several players to stand up and take control of the match. The overall possession statistic was against them, yet they failed to capitalise in the first half when it was in their favor. With this lacking, so has their ability to produce measured play. It isn’t great timing for some of their stars either, especially those who were pushing their case for selection in Origin.
Eels = Bevan French (injury) is named to return at fullback, allowing Clint Gutherson to move 5/8 and Will Smith into halfback for Corey Norma (injured). Mitchell Moses is named in the reserves.
Raiders = Josh Papalii (stood down) comes back into the second row, forcing Luke Bateman back to the bench and Dunamis Lui to the reserves.
Overall = Eels 12 Raiders 17
Last 5 Matches = Eels 1 Raiders 4
At ANZ Stadium = Eels 43% Raiders 57%
Form = Eels 1 loss – Raiders 3 losses
Both teams are out to put a dismal performance from Round 10 behind them and given their respective standings on the competition ladder, this game is more important than ever for their future prospects. Recent history is against the Eels though; they have recorded just 2 wins over the Raiders in the past 10 meetings between the two sides. That being said, the loss of Corey Norman at halfback will hurt their chances of winning this game. Sure, Moses is expected to play, yet his form has been very underwhelming this season to say the least; he will also need more time to build combinations with key players in attack. As a team, the Raiders have been very underwhelming in recent weeks; they should’ve won 2 our of their past 3 matches and their form has dramatically changed. Looking at their results, they are yet to achieve consistency and despite going on a 3-game winning streak from Round 5, they never were not able to prove themselves against a quality opponent. The Eels are hardly at this level just yet, although when they get things right, they are a difficult team to beat. As it stands, the Eels are above them on the competition ladder and have one more win, while the Raiders have a superior points difference. Taking the Raiders is doing so on trust and a lot of trust is needed if their last match at ANZ Stadium against the Bulldogs is anything to go by (L 16-10 Rd 9). If anything, it is recommended that you stay away from this contest altogether; if forced to make a selection, the Eels will be pressured to win without Norman and the Raiders should bounce back from their losing streak. In terms of an investment, take the Raiders to cover the line given that their average margin of victory in the past 5 matches sits at 10.6 points.
Raiders -4.5 @ $2
Newcastle Knights (16th) v Penrith Panthers (14th)
A spirited Knights outfit captured their second win of the season last week with a powerful 14-point win over the Raiders. Many were suggesting that this result would be a forgone conclusion given the power that the Raiders possessed over various areas of the field. Not only that, the Knights were coming off a 30-point loss to the Titans. Their problems revolved around their inability to produce two strong halves of football but on Sunday, they got the balance right. They were able to repel the Raiders attack in the first half and made the most of possession when momentum swung in their favor. Effort has been present in majority of their matches this season and it was pleasing to see them rewarded with a win; the challenge ahead is to go on with it and make amends for their 40-point loss to the Panthers back in Round 4. The Panthers themselves are coming off a stirring victory when defeat appeared a forgone conclusion. At HT, they were down 28-6 and were booed off the field by their home fans. What ever happened at this point altered their performance and they produced a scintillating second half display to win 36-28. This effort included 4 tries in 14 minutes and a sign towards what this team is capable of producing. Some of their individual players took responsibility in the second half and controlled their team well. The fact that they missed only 22 tackles and completed at 87% for the match shows the improvement that occurred; they just had to be patient for the points to come. That win did little to affect their standing on the competition ladder and are still languishing at the bottom. Nevertheless, that win was a step in the right direction and having one win already over the Knights this season will give them the confidence they need to make it back-to-back victories on the road.
Knights = Sam Stone (injury) returns and will replace Lachlan Fitzgibbon (injured) at second row. Mitchell Barnett (injury) is named to return on the bench for Tyler Randell, who moves to the reserves.
Panthers = Corey Harawira-Naera is named to start in the second row for James Fisher-Harris (injured), with Viliame Kikau filling the vacant bench spot.
Overall = Knights 18 Draw 1 Panthers 11
Last 5 Matches = Knights 2 Panthers 3
At McDonald Jones Stadium = Knights 57% Panthers 40%
Form = Knights 1 win – Panthers 1 win
Confidence has been restored at the Knights but it may be short-lived if the Panthers turn out a similar effort to their second half against the Warriors last week. One win will hardly turn the Knights season around, although getting reward for their hard work will provide hope for this young squad. Their most recent performance against the Panthers probably still haunts them; therefore it is crucial that they start this match in a positive manner. Whether or not they are capable of maintaining such an effort over 80 minutes remains to be seen and their defensive structure is sure to be under plenty of pressure. For all of their flaws, the Panthers can score plenty of points when needed. Their level of patience in the second half last week, aided by their opponent’s lapses, was a step in the right direction. This game comes for them at an ideal time as they can seize the chance to build on that win and being a climb up the ladder. This is a game that the Panthers should win and win well. The stark contrast between these two sides is the line breaks created each match; the Knights average just 2.8 per game compared with the Panthers 4.5 per game and back in Round 4, the Panthers lead their opponents 9-0 in this area. The Panthers average winning margin over the Knights in their past 5 victories sits at 27.6 points, with the lowest total being 18-points. Even with a negative record at this ground, the Panthers should still be too strong for their opponents and win this one comfortably.
Panthers -10.5 @ $1.90
Piling on the points = Panthers 19+ @ $2.90 – Once the Panthers find their groove, they can be difficult for any team to stop. We already saw once this year how they can score quickly against the knights and if the home team isn’t prepared again, they will struggle to limit their scoring.
Speed to burn! = Waqa Blake FTS and/or LTS @ $9 – Blake was fantastic in two length-of-the-field chases last week, one successful and one not. Either way, he showed just how quick he is and how he is fast becoming one of the Panthers most dangerous attacking outside backs.
Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs (8th) v Sydney Roosters (3rd)
The Bulldogs took the option of denying several of their player the opportunity to play in the Representative Round, perhaps the wrong decision given their poor performance against the Cowboys last week. Missing JT and other notable players, many thought that the Bulldogs would dominate from start to finish but it was anything but that. They fumbled their way around the field, committing 13 errors for the match and unable to convert numerous attacking opportunities. They appeared flat in attack and their forwards failed to dominate; as a team, they averaged just 7.9m per carry. It was a stark contrast to their previous weeks effort and they will need to bounce back quickly. The Roosters were terrific in all areas against the Eels, bouncing back from a previous weeks loss to the Warriors. From start to finish, it was one-way traffic, as they held 61% possession, completing at 88% and making just 6 errors over the 80 minutes. It was also a demonstration of just how powerful they can be and after two close efforts, it was pleasing to see their scoring dramatically improve. Now, the challenge is for them to go on with this performance. It may be a sign towards their form improving, as several players are aiming to push their case for representative selection. These two sides met back n Round 2 and it was a 4-point win to the Roosters. After starting the game strongly, the Bulldogs let their lead slip away and only pegged their opponents back late. Without Reynolds, they may need another player to step up and be the spark on both sides of the ball.
Bulldogs = Craig Garvey comes onto the bench, with Raymond Faitala-Mariner moving to the reserves.
Roosters = Unchanged.
Overall = Bulldogs 21 Roosters 17
Last 5 Matches = Bulldogs 2 Roosters 3
At ANZ Stadium = Bulldogs 58% Roosters 47%
Form = Bulldogs 1 loss – Roosters 1 win
It is no surprise to see the Roosters are favorites for this game given the respective performances of both teams. The Bulldogs played one of their worst games of the season and are in need of a confidence boost heading into this match. They have an uncanny ability to play to the expected level of their opponents and when they took the Cowboys too lightly last week, they were caught out. For that to happen again here would be surprising. In fact, they have suffered several poor losses this year and bounced back with a win the following week; Round 4 36-points loss to the Sea Eagles, Round 5 3-point win over the Broncos; Round 8 6-point loss to the Tigers, Round 9 6-point win over the Raiders. The Roosters need to rise above this and perform as though the Bulldogs are going to be at their best; chances are they will be with their attitude, yet minus Reynolds in the halves, the jury is still out as to whether or not the other players have the capabilities to steer this team around the park. There is the added factor of several players within this game having one last chance to push their Origin credentials; you can expect key players that will have a say in the outcome of this game to be out to make a statement. Given this, cmbined with the form of the Roosters, it is hard to go past them winning this match. Interestingly, the Roosters have won 3 out of the past 4 meetings between these teams at ANZ Stadium, with the average margin of victory in their past 5 wins being 14.8 points. The Bulldogs do miss the fewest tackles than any other team in the competition (23 misses per game) but have scored the equal lowest amount of points (15.2 PPG); the Roosters need to use this to their advantage and score early points on the Bulldogs. They are not a good enough team just yet when chasing points and may find it difficult without a few players to spark their attack.
Roosters -6.5 @ $.190
South Sydney Rabbitohs (13th) v Melbourne Storm (1st)
The Rabbitohs came out and halted a 3-game losing streak that was causing more than just headaches at the club; their 46-8 loss to the Sea Eagles in Round 9 was undoubtedly a low point in their past few seasons. This makes their 28-8 victory over the Tigers even more impressive, as well as making amends for their Round 1 loss to the club. The Tigers are not setting the rugby league world alight, yet the win will give the Rabbitohs a massive confidence boost moving forward; their defensive has undoubtedly improved given they only missed 14 tackles for the match. They will need every bit of that here against the Storm, who scored 36 points last week but went down by 2-points to the Titans. It was one of the most exciting games of the season, which saw the lead change several times over 80 minutes. The Storm couldn’t hold on in the end, conceding the last 2 tries with 10 minutes remaining on the clock. It was a strong effort from the Storm considering they only had 41% possession, yet they completed at an uncharacteristic 63% and at the same time, made 12 errors. It wasn’t enough to knock them off the top of the ladder, but it narrowed the gap between them and the 3 teams chasing, to just 2-points. In a week where they’ve chosen to take a game up to Brisbane, the Rabbitohs have made a very smart decision to take this game across to Perth. This is bound to have an impact on the Storm; the Rabbitohs will be out to look for any edge over their opponents given their history; and this trip has not been a positive one for them in the past, winning just once here in three attempts.
Rabbitohs = Zane Musgrove comes onto the bench in place of Jason Clark (injured).
Storm = Joe Stimson comes into the starting side for Felise Kaufusi, who moves back to the bench.
Overall = Rabbitohs 4 Storm 22
Last 5 Matches = Rabbitohs 1 Storm 4
At nib Stadium = Rabbitohs 63% Storm 33%
Form = Rabbitohs 1 win – Storm 1 loss
There is clear marketing benefit in taking this game west for the Rabbitohs and they will need all the help they can get over the Storm. The visitors are a team that are not accustomed to losing in the fashion that they did last week and there is no doubt that their intensely successful coach, Craig Bellamy, would’ve reminded his players of that this week at training. The Rabbitohs took a major step forward last week in altering their form but in reality, it was only a win over the Tigers; this is a team that is hardly challenging their opponents of late, yet it will restore plenty of confidence for the Rabbitohs. There is contract drama that is threatening to derail the momentum they captured last week and it is unknown how much this will impact their play. One thing that is for sure is the Storms poor record at this ground; in 3 attempts they have won just the 1 match and it will be a difficult trip to make after playing in Brisbane last Saturday evening. Nevertheless, always the professional group, you expect the Storm to be ready for a match like this regardless of the circumstances surrounding the contest. They still have a strong record over the Rabbitohs and are clear favorites to win this game. At the end of the day, it is the leading team in the competition up against a side that is still struggling for consistency; a win here to the Rabbitohs would be an upset to say the least and the Storm rarely losing consecutive matches. Combine this with the fact that the Storm have won 9 out of the past 10 meetings between these two sides and the momentum is definitely with the visitors. As for the margin, fatigue will likely get the better of the Storm at some stage during this contest and they may not get to a comfortable distance at any point. The last 3 victories in their favor have been decided by an average of 6-points and with the Rabbitohs missing the second least amount of tackles of any other team (26.2 per game), their defence might keep things closer than expected.
Storm 1-12 @ $2.85