NRL Round 15 – 2017

NRL

South Sydney Rabbitohs (14th) v Gold Coast Titans (13th)

The Rabbitohs produced a remarkably improved performance against the Broncos last week in Brisbane, although it was not enough to halt their current losing streak. Sam Burgess was great in leading the way for his team and it is time that others around him matched his efforts. With just 26 missed tackles, defensive lapses were minimal, yet when they occurred, they were made to pay for their mistakes; the same could be said for the 10 errors which were made a crucial times when they were attacking the Broncos. Despite time just about expiring on their hopes of finishing in the Top 8, they will head into this match with confidence from their most recent effort. The Titans will need to discover some of their potential, following a disappointing 34-12 loss at home to the Warriors. With just a 46% share of possession, winning was always going to be difficult; after scoring the first try of the match following just 5 minutes, momentum quickly turned against them as they went into HT down 24-4. By that stage of the match, the damage was done and they were unable to build enough attacking pressure on their opponents to crack the Warriors. This was an uncharacteristic display from a team that has scored an average of 21.8 points per game; nevertheless, their defence was again vulnerable due to relentless attacking raids. Take the Origin players out of their team and the Titans are set to struggle further and with both teams egger to halt a 3-game losing streak, the quality of this game is perhaps not going to be lost as desperation levels are high.

Team News

Rabbitohs = Unchanged.

Titans = Jarryd Hayne, Nathan Peats and Jarrod Wallace (all Origin) will miss this match, as will Kane Elgey, Tyrone Roberts and Karl Lawton (all injured). Will Zillman is named at fullback, John Olive is on the wing, with Chris McQueen shifting to the halves to play 5/8. Kevin Proctor (club suspension) is named in the second row, Pat Politoni will play hooker and Nathaniel Peteru, prop. Eddy Pettybourne and Pat Vaivai come onto the bench.

History

Overall = Rabbitohs 8 Titans 6

Last 5 matches = Rabbitohs 3 Titans 2

At ANZ Stadium = Rabbitohs 51% Titans 44%

Form = Rabbitohs 3 losses – Titans 3 losses

Verdict

It is no surprise, with the Titans missing 6-first grade players, they will head into this game as outsiders. The Rabbitohs are strong favorites in betting markets with most believing that they will be capable of halting their losing streak; they have shown enough this season to suggest this is the likely outcome, although the Titans have demonstrated how they are capable of galvanising together when they are under the most pressure. To put things into perspective, they are only separated on the competition ladder from the Rabbitohs by point’s difference (3 points) and have only been able to win 4 games all season. Take the experienced/quality/key players out of their team and there is little wonder why they are expected to struggle. There are some positives for the Rabbitohs to focus on; they average just 26.8 missed tackles per game (15th in the competition) compared with the Titans 32.8 per game, while they concede an average of 22.5 points per game compared with the Titans 26.6 points per game. With just about a full compliment of players at their disposal, they should have minimal issues attempting to control this contest. The Titans are accustomed to scoring plenty of points, yet may struggle given the current circumstances. As for the margin in this match, the Rabbitohs have won 2 matches this year by 20-points at an average of 11.8 per victory. The lack of discipline shown by the Titans in defence may hurt them over 80 minutes, with the Rabbitohs egger to let of plenty of frustration from their recent efforts. Scoring points hasn’t been too much of an issue recently and a free-flowing game, created by their forwards, is expected to lead them to a comfortable victory.

Suggested Bet

Rabbitohs 13+ @ $2.20

 

Melbourne Storm (1st) v North Queensland Cowboys (7th)

Unfortunately for fans, this game has been severely impacted by poor scheduling from the NRL; meaning that it will feature in the midst of Origin. In total, 9 players will miss this contest and it isn’t the fact that they are just absent, it is the quality contribution they provide to their team each week that will reduce the quality and interest of this game. Nevertheless, two competition points will be on the line and the Storm will want to consolidate their standing at the top of the ladder following a strong win against the Sharks in Round 14. Many doubted that they would be able to put themselves in a winning position given the decision by Bellamy to rest Cooper Cronk. Their chances took a further hit as the Sharks edged ahead by a FG in the 72nd minute; to their credit, the Storm remained calm and relied upon some Slater brilliance to open a hole up for Felise Kaufusi to score a match-winning try and his second for the match. Other areas of the match were uncharacteristic for the visitors; they completed at 69%, committed 12 errors and missed a massive 52 tackles in defence. The Cowboys will take confidence into this match following a dominant 32-6 win over the Eels in Darwin. Travel is definitely taking a toll on the Cowboys though; in the past 4 weeks they have played in Sydney twice, at home and in Darwin. Thankfully they had a bye in Round 12 to alleviate the stress, an area that is important in maintaining their high standard. Their win over the Eels was significantly impacted by the contribution of Thurston for the first time since he was injured playing for the Kangaroos. It showed in key areas as they completed at 84%, had 53% share of possession that built pressure on their opponents and made just 7 total errors for the match. They are 7th on the ladder but separated with 4th courtesy of an inferior points difference. This game is a crucial one in order to remain within striking distance of teams around and above them in coming weeks.

Team News

Storm = Billy Slater, Cooper Cronk, Cameron Smith, Will Chambers and Tim Glasby (all Origin) are out of this game. Young Tonumaipea is named at fullback, Curtis Scott in the centres along with Tohu Harris, after Cheyse Blair suffered an injury last week. Slade Griffin is named at hooker, while Nelson Asofa-Solomona named at prop for Jordan McLean (injured). Kenny Bromwich is named in the second row, while Brandon Smith, Mark Nicholls, Joe Stimpson and Dean Britt the new faces on the bench.

Cowboys = Johnathan Thurston, Michael Morgan, Gavin Cooper and Coen Hess (all Origin) are out of this match. Kane Linnett shifts from the centres to the second row, with Javid Bowen named in the centres. Kyle Laybutt (5/8) and Ray Thompson (halfback) are the new halves pairing, while Corey Jensen joins the bench.

History

Overall = Storm 23 Cowboys 10

Last 5 matches = Storm 4 Cowboys 1

At AAMI Park = Storm 74% Cowboys 40%

Form = Storm 3 wins – Cowboys 2 wins

Verdict

Overlooking the fact that this game has been robbed of representative talent, the Storm head into this game as favorites. This is no surprise given their strong record at home, yet with just 1 regular player remaining from their spine, the confidence is perhaps overstated. Undoubtedly, many believe that the Storm will be able to produce a similar effort to last week, except their talent is further weakened from that contest. They have a great mentality within their team of covering for players in their absence and this game is expected to be no different. That doesn’t mean that they are expect to win this contest and the Cowboys have plenty of quality remaining in their squad to cause an upset. Their last win here brings back great memories, as it allowed them to qualify for the Grand Final via a dominating 32-12 win, in the year that they won it. There are still plenty to like about both teams and deciding on a winner is a difficult task. Having Granville remain at hooker is a major boost for the Cowboys, as is Coote playing at fullback. Both players know how to control a game and with two strong forward packs facing off, Granville might just be the deciding factor with his experience compared with Slade Griffin. The Cowboys also appear to have a stronger bench; this will be an integral part of the game once the initial intensity of the contest wears off. They need to use this to their advantage and exploit their opponents where they have named players out of position, most notably Tohu Harris. Without much other form or history to base a selection on with these two sides in this situation, the upset in favor of the visitors appears to be the way to go.

Suggested Bet

Cowboys @ $2.25

 

Cronulla Sharks (3rd) v Wests Tigers (15th)

The Sharks missed an ideal opportunity to draw level with the Storm at the top of the NRL ladder last week, as they faced the competition leaders minus their halfback, Cooper Cronk. Not too much went right for the home team and for the 4th time this season, they were unsuccessful at home. They put themselves in a winning position with 8 minutes remaining, as James Maloney slotted a FG to put his team ahead. Unfortunately for them, they were unable to hold this position with another poor defensive read leading to their opponents penetrating their line. The loss meant that they dropped down to 3rd position and are lucky not to be lower had a few other results been altered. Here, they face the Tigers, a team they beat by 6-point in controversial circumstances back in Round 9. That loss was the beginning of a 5-game losing streak that the Tigers are currently on; it has been a season of lowlights for them thus far, yet their effort in that match was one of their best this season. Last week against the Roosters, they were comprehensively outplayed over 80 minutes and it was reflected in the 40-18 result. The Tigers were somewhat flattered by the result, lucky that the margin was not far greater than 22-points; their opponents completed at just 60% and made a massive 20 errors for the match. Now that they are without their representative players, the Tigers are expected to struggle further. The Tigers also made things difficult for themselves last Sunday, missing 36 tackles and committing 11 errors. In one positive, it is a situation that they will have to become accustomed with as both players are leaving the club at the end of the season. There is no doubt that this team is building towards 2018 and beyond and while they are at the wrong end of the ladder, they will sense an opportunity to cause an upset against a team that is also missing key personnel.

Team News

Sharks = Valentine Holmes, Jack Bird, James Maloney, Andrew Fifita and Wade Graham (all Origin) are out of this match. Gerard Beale moves to fullback, Edrick Lee comes onto the wing and Fa’amanu Brown is named at 5/8. Sam Tagataese is named at prop and Jayson Bukuya starts in the second row, with Daniel Mortimer and Jeremy Latimore filling the vacant bench spots.

Tigers = James Tedesco and Aaron Woods (both Origin) are out of this match. Kevin Naiqama shifts to fullback, allowing Malakai Watane-Zelezniak coming onto the wing. Tim Grant is named to start at prop, allowing Matt Eisenhuth to join the bench. Luke Brooks (injury) returns and will start at halfback.

History

Overall = Sharks 10 Draw 1 Tigers 17

Last 5 matches = Sharks 3 Tigers 2

At Southern Cross Group Stadium = Sharks 55% Tigers 62%

Form = Sharks 1 loss – Tigers 5 losses

Verdict

For one reason or another, the Sharks have always struggled against the Tigers; their overall record is poor and their form at home this season is questionable to say the least. Nevertheless, even with a host of talent missing, they are strong favorites to take out this match. The loss of their stars is cancelled out by that of the Tigers, with the Sharks still being able to boast of quality within their team. The last time they featured minus their Origin stars, they were victorious against a higher quality opponent in the Bulldogs. They are expected to have minimal issues here and record a dominant victory. The Tigers are still doing the little things in the game wrong and that is why they sit 10-points behind the Sharks on the competition ladder; they miss an average of 36.8 tackles per game (1st in the competition) and commit 11.5 errors per match (3rd highest in the competition). Interestingly, the Sharks make the most amount of errors in the competition (12 per game), yet are able to make the most of good attacking position in matches. They average 4.1 line breaks per game and carry the ball for an average of 9.3m each run, whereas the Tigers sit behind them with 9.1m per carry and a poor 2.8 line breaks per game. This indicates that it could be a long contest for the visitors and with one-way traffic expected throughout this match, the margin of victory should be a comfortable one. In their past 5 wins over the Tigers, the Sharks have won by an average of 14.8 points, with 2 victories being by 22-points or more. Once they cover the line, there is no indication as to where the scoring will stop.

Suggested Bet

Sharks -11.5 @ $1.90

Reading between the lines = Sharks 13-18 @ $5 – The average winning margin of the Sharks over the Tigers in the past 5 meetings between these two sides falls within this range. Wet conditions could ultimately limit the amount of points the home team scores and their ability to pull away from their opponents, as well as this option offering plenty more value for your investment.

 

Parramatta Eels (9th) v St George-Illawarra Dragons (4th)

The chose to take a game to Darwin last week against the Cowboys and it backfired dramatically after they were hammered 32-6. Controlling just about every asset of the game was Johnathan Thurston and the Eels had no answer for him in defence. The game was also an insight into the future of the Eels, with the in-form Clint Gutherson shifted out to the centres. It will take time to build a new halves combination and there is no doubt that this current spine will not remain the same for too much longer. The Eels had a few errors in their game, 12 handling and 27 missed tackles, although the result came down to their inability to shut down their opponents attacking momentum. Thankfully, they are not impacted by the Origin period and will need to capitalise on their opponents upset loss to the Bulldogs. Prior to the match, they were presented with an opportunity to jump into 2nd on the competition ladder, yet failed to make the most of it. Instead, they went scoreless over 80 minutes and only challenged their opponents a handful of times. Having 45% possession limited the chances they had, while committing 13 errors over the match hampered the amount of momentum they were able to build. For a team that has one of the best attacks in the competition, it was a disappointing way to execute throughout the match. One would think that given what they have proven so far this year, the Dragons will only experience poor form like this for a short period of time. It will be difficult to resurrect their performance without their Origin stars, nevertheless, they will need to rise above this and perform accordingly.

Team News

Eels = Kirisome Auva’a (injury) returns on the wing at the expense of Nathan Davis.

Dragons = Josh Dugan and Tyson Frizell (both Origin) are out. Jason Nightingale shifts to fullback, with Kalifa Faifai Loa coming onto the wing. Tariq Sims is named in the second row, with Jacob Host filling the vacant bench spot.

History

Overall = Eels 16 Draw 2 Dragons 14

Last 5 matches = Eels 5 Dragons 0

At ANZ Stadium = Eels 44% Dragons 49%

Form = Eels 1 loss – Dragons 1 loss

Verdict

The Eels recorded a strong win over the Dragons 34-16 back in Round 2; with that game being their only win over a Top 8 team this season. On top of that, the Eels are have not lost to the Dragons in 5 matches, with the last win from the visitors coming back in Round 10, 2013. This form, along with superior quality within their team, has lead the Eels being named as strong favorites for this match. The Dragons looked like a tired team last week, with their forwards failing to dominate the middle of the field; this has been a strength of theirs all season and reinvigorated the Dragons attack. The Eels are building a new combination within their team and despite also being outmuscled and outclassed in their last match; they will relish another game to build combinations within their team. In equal measure, the Dragons attack is expected to struggle without Dugan and Widdop at their disposal, as well as missing Frizell in the middle of the field. This indicates that the odds being offered are spot on and the Eels should continue their strong winning record over the Dragons. As for how much the home team will win by, their average winning margin in the past 5 matches sits at 14.8 points, with 2 of their wins being by 18 or more points. The fact that they were able to win their last match over a “stronger” Dragons team by 18-points, demonstrates that they should have what it takes to repeat that effort. The Dragons are expected to be strong in defence; they concede just 16.2 points on average in defence, while missing a league low of 24.9 tackles per game. If the Eels want to produce a big winning margin in order to improve their point’s difference, they are going to have to exhibit patience and rely on their opponents lack of quality to hamper their structure.

Suggested Bet

Eels -3.5 @ $1.90

 

Good luck!

Scooby

Author

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Scooby

Hey guys, i'm Scooby! I have followed Rugby League since I was young enough to watch it and growing up in Sydney, it was inevitable. I will always make it my business to watch all 8 NRL fixtures per week and follow it with more than just passion. During my playing career, I have played at several representative levels, with and against current players. I began writing previews on NRL games early on in 2012 and really found a passion within this. I enjoy listening to various people and their opinions on the game, and then forming my own. Coupled together with another passion, gambling, I soon learnt that there was a market out there for more than the rugby league diehards. Hopefully I can pass on my knowledge of the game to help you win some cash.

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