NRL Round 22 – 2017

Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs (13th) v Parramatta Eels (6th)

The Bulldogs went down to the Panthers last Thursday 16-8, the final nail to their 2017 title aspirations. They were full of hope after heading into HT level at 8-all, however, they were unable to lift the intensity and execution to match their opponents in the second half. Their ineffectiveness to score points hampered their chances, as did committing 11 total errors; their defence attempted to keep them in the contest and missing just 15 tackles for the match was impressive, with the last two tries heading the way of their opponents sealing the result. The Bulldogs are in a poor position and it doesn’t appear as though their issues will be instantly solved; they are bound for a few more tough times in coming weeks. The Eels will take confidence into this game from their Round 17 win over the Bulldogs 13-12 in Golden Point; as well as the momentum built from their 28-14 win over the Broncos. In what shaped as a dangerous game and a test of where their season was heading, the Eels turned out an impressive display that saw them complete at 88%, commit just 6 errors and miss 26 total tackles. Such efforts are expected from the leading teams heading into the Finals and the producing this effort against a fellow contender demonstrates their credentials. The loss of Gutherson to injury prior to this game didn’t have the intended impact and the Eels control of possession was matched by their ability to use positive attacking position; though his absence may be greater in coming weeks. More importantly, they kept the Broncos, a team that is averaging 22.8 points per game (2nd highest in the competition), scoreless in the second half. It is time for them to build on that effort and continue to improve their negative points difference that could have an impact on their final standing on the ladder.

Team News

Bulldogs = Brett Morris (injury) returns on the wing in place of Kerrod Holland.

Eels = Unchanged.

History

Overall = Bulldogs 21 Draw 1 Eels 17

Last 5 Matches = Bulldogs 2 Eels 3

At ANZ Stadium = Bulldogs 57% Eels 48%

Form = Bulldogs 2 losses – Eels 5 wins

Verdict

The rivalry between these two sides is always a thrilling one and the Eels will be determined to heap more misery on their opponents. They carry momentum from their win last week; yet will be wary of their opponents, who could spring an upset on the back of strangling defence. That does appear unlikely though, with the Bulldogs still allowing 18.8 points per game in this area and winning this match looks beyond the Bulldogs for a number of reasons. In attack, they average just 13.7 PPG and the Eels have proven their attacking worth in recent weeks. For the year, the Eels average 19.1 PPG and since they last played the Bulldogs, they average 22.3 points. Despite allowing more points than the Bulldogs in defence over the year (19.3 PPG), they have tightened up in the past 5 weeks, allowing just 11.6 points. If you need more evidence, the Bulldogs haven’t beaten the Eels since Round 19, 2015, which is also their last win over the Eels at home. The Eels demonstrated their power in the forwards last week and stability is evident within their halves, to the point where other players performance is increase as a result. The challenge for them is playing above the level of their opponents, unlike their Round 17 win 13-12; the Bulldogs have proven in some of their close matches this year that they play best when they force their opponents to play a certain style. The Eels are capable to overcome this and the only other choice is deciding on a margin; the Eels average a winning margin of 8.3 points in their past 4 wins over the Bulldogs, with their largest being by 14 points. Only 5 of the Eels 12 wins this year have been by 13-points or more, yet with an urgent need to improve their points difference, we may be about to see the Eels turn in an impressive attacking display.

Suggested Bet

Eels -6.5 @ $2

Slippery Customers = Eels 13+ @ $2.85 – Given the recent history of victories for these two teams, this result appears somewhat unlikely. Then again, the Eels have been scoring plenty of points this year when given the freedom. The Bulldogs have a strong defensive structure to limit their attacking opportunities, yet the home team demonstrated last week that stability is beginning to work in their favor.

 

St George-Illawarra Dragons (8th) v South Sydney Rabbitohs (14th)

The Dragons season plunged further into chaos on the weekend with a 21-14 loss to the Knights on the road; the loss meant they have won just 4 out of their past 12 matches, embarrassed by a team that has only won 2 matches all year prior to that effort. Coach Paul McGregor attempted to deflect blame to officials, however more attention needs to be given to the inability of the Dragons to perform when required; with an even share of possession, the Dragons completed at just 63%, made a massive 15 errors and missed 33 tackles. The loss moves them to 8th on the ladder and with level with the 9th placed Panthers, only separated by a superior points difference. They need a drastic change of performance and the result over the Sea Eagles in Round 20 was perhaps not as definitive as fans were hoping it to be. The Rabbitohs have a lack of quality that may allow the Dragons to regain momentum, although their attitude was obviously poor against the Knights. The visitor’s head into this game following a 32-18 loss at home to the Raiders, with a late try flattering their overall performance. They were in the contest for majority of the first half and appeared to be fighting hard in the second half; a sin bin to Crighton deflated whatever momentum they were building and the Raiders kicked clear. It was an uncharacteristic effort from them also; they only completed at 70% with a 46% share of possession, they missed 36 tackles and made 14 errors for the match. The changes to their attack didn’t have the desired impact and this team is left to search for further answers to the problems that have plagued them for majority of 2017.

Team News

Dragons = Unchanged.

Rabbitohs = Zane Musgrove is named at prop for Dave Tyrrell, who drops to the reserves.

History

Overall = Dragons 16 Rabbitohs 11

Last 5 Matches = Dragons 1 Rabbitohs 4

At SCG = Dragons 50% Rabbitohs 75%

Form = Dragons 1 loss – Rabbitohs 4 losses

Verdict

The recent worries of the Dragons is leading many to think the Rabbitohs could jag another win this season, yet the home team will be desperate to bounce back from an embarrassing performance last week against the Knights. If the Rabbitohs are looking for home, the Dragons have only beaten them twice in the past 10 meetings (excluding Charity Shield matches) by an average margin of 13 points. Then again, the form of the visitors in 2017 has been disappointing to say the least; the Rabbitohs only average 13 points in attack in the past 4 weeks, while allowing their opponents to score 23.8 points. With plenty more to play for, the Dragons are expected to overcome their opponents with power through the middle, an area that the visitors have struggled in for majority of 2017. The motivation was clearly lacking last week against the Raiders and the Dragons need to head into this game with the right attitude if they are to avoid another disconcerting loss to a lowly ranked adversary. Perhaps the win over the Sea Eagles a few weeks ago was a sign of their opponent’s inabilities rather than their own impressive form. They will sense an opportunity to strike on their opponent’s fragility, especially with a newly formed spine attempting to come together in a quick period of time. If the Dragons do not win this game, then they do not deserve to play Finals football and with plenty more to play for, they should be able to grab a much needed win. As for the margin, the Dragons have won 6 of their 10 matches this year by 14 or more points; however it must be mentioned that 4 of them came from Rounds 1-6 of the competition. With their struggles in scoring evident, the safest option appears to be them covering the line and waiting to see if the Rabbitohs defence aims up.

Suggested Bet

Dragons -6.5 @ $2

 

North Queensland Cowboys (5th) v Melbourne Storm (1st)

The Cowboys headed down to Sydney last week and looked poise to cause an upset over the Roosters at a ground they have previously struggled at. Despite conceding an early try, the Cowboys went into HT ahead 16-6, yet their opponents lifted their defensive intensity in the second half to limit their effectiveness in attack and reduce their positive field position. There were still positives in their performance, as they completed at 83% and made just 7 errors, with 35 missed tackles an area they will have to address ahead of this week. The challenge doesn’t get any easier for them, although it is great preparation that they are playing other highly ranked teams heading towards the Finals. The Storm are coming off a spirited win over the Sea Eagles at home 40-6, with the playing squad egger to commemorate Cameron Smith’s 350th match with a win. It appeared as though they were going to be made to work hard for their victory, only ahead 12-6 at HT; the 38th minute try to Vunivalu was just what they needed to build momentum into the second half and they were able to tighten up their defence. The visitors went scoreless from the 29th minute onwards, as the Storm lifted the intensity of the match and the Sea Eagles were unable to match it. The weight of possession (54%) overwhelmed them, with the Storm playing with poise, completing at 79% and making just 10 errors and 20 missed tackles. Such efforts have seen the Storm shorten dramatically as Premiership favorites in recent weeks, yet there is still a job to do in this game. The Cowboys will not want to give up home field advantage easily and they have a chance to also move into the Top 4 with just a few weeks of the competition remaining.

Team News

Cowboys = Shaun Fensom (injury) returns to the bench, replacing Braden Uele, who drops to the reserves.

Storm = Cameron Munster (injured) is replaced Ryley Jacks at 5/8, with Billy Slater at fullback for Jahrome Hughes.

History

Overall = Cowboys 10 Storm 24

Last 5 Matches = Cowboys 1 Storm 4

At 1300Smiles Stadium = Cowboys 77% Storm 50%

Form = Cowboys 1 win – Storm 2 wins

Verdict

The Storm head into this game as strong favorites as they continually build momentum towards the Finals. The statistics appear to suggest that they have a fairly good chance of winning this game too; they have a superior overall record over the Cowboys, are on a 2-game winning streak and have not lost to their opponents since the Preliminary Final in 2015, the year the Cowboys won the competition. The win last week serves as a great preparation for this game, although fatigue may be increased with a short turnaround and a trip north to Townsville. The Cowboys will be battered and bruised following their match against the Roosters, while their confidence will also take a hit following their failure to finish off the match. These all align to suggest the Storm have what it takes to cover their opponents; the main chances of the Cowboys rest within their forward pack and their ability to gather drive through the middle. When they have performed well this season, their forwards have dominated the ruck and the same is needed here. What also needs to be considered is the effort on top, in order to shut down the Storms key playmakers. The loss of Munster does limit their opponent’s attack, with a greater focus now able to be made on Cronk, Smith and Slater; the Cowboys will still have to be good if they are to shut them down and can ill-afford a similar missed tackles statistic as last week. In equal measure, the Storm defensive line will be out to target Morgan in the halves and Granville at hooker, shutting them down early enough before they gather momentum. The Storm appear set to win this game, although a Cowboys upset wouldn’t be a surprise. As for the margin, 6 out of the past 7 matches have been decided by 8 points or less, with one 20-point win in favor of the Cowboys in the year they won the competition; three of those matches have been decided by a solitary point and with 4 out of 7 by 6 points or less, this game looks as though the margin may be less than a converted try.

Suggested Bet

Either Team Under 6.5 Points @ $2.75

 

Newcastle Knights (16th) v New Zealand Warriors (11th)

A spirited Knights team delivered a strong performance last week against the Dragons to upset the Top 8 team 21-14, achieving just their third win for the season. They were made to work hard for the result and should be commended for their effort, finally rewarded for playing a consistent game over 80 minutes. Completing at 78% and committing just 8 errors meant they were making the most of their possession when they had it, never allowing their opponents to lead at any stage. What is concerning is the 64 missed tackles that were tallied over the contest, with the loose defence giving the Dragons more opportunities than they perhaps deserved. They will be desperate to grab their 4th victory this year and will sense an opportunity against the Warriors, a team who is coming off a 26-12 loss to the Sharks at home. They were strong early, yet never really challenged their opponents who were always in control of the eventual result. Having just 45% of possession was always going to make this difficult, although so too did a 73% completion rate and 10 errors, two areas that have been consistently good for them in 2017. A lot has changed since these two sides met one another back in Round 1 with a 4-point victory heading the way of the Warriors. The Knights will be out to make amends and ensure the trip to Newcastle is yet again, a difficult one for their opponents to make.

Team News

Knights = Unchanged.

Warriors = Isaiah Papali’i is named in the second row, replacing Bodene Thompson (injured). Ben Matulino is named to start, swapping with Sam Lisone, who comes off the bench.

History

Overall = Knights 15 Draw 1 Warriors 19

Last 5 Matches = Knights 1 Warriors 4

At McDonald Jones Stadium = Knights 56% Warriors 47%

Form = Knights 1 win – Warriors 4 losses

Verdict

Winning form and their opponent’s flaws means that the Knights are a genuine chance of winning this game; their price is getting closer and closer to the Warriors and playing this game at home only aids their cause. The Warriors have won just 1 game from 9 attempts on the road this season and motivation is getting harder to find with little to play for. The Warriors have recently experienced a good record over the Knights, with the Knights not having won since Round 1, 2015. Round 1 this season saw a 4-point win to the Warriors in unconvincing circumstances and the two sides have experienced a raft of different challenges since then. One consistency within the Knights play has been their enthusiasm and pride, with their inability to play for 80 minutes letting them down in several matches where they have been leading at HT. Last week, they managed to get it right and the confidence they have gained from this effort should serve them positively here. Other than the fact that the Warriors have largely underperformed this season, they appeared to lack direction last week against the Sharks. This game is a dangerous one to invest in either team, although the Knights are more fancied for the previous mentioned reasons. If you are looking for a different market, consider the total points scored in this game. Neither team has a chance for Finals and may be willing to put more energy into their attack rather than their defence; this hasn’t been a major focus for either team in 2017, the Knights concede an average of 26.9 points compared with the Warriors 22.5 points and their last match had a total of 48 points scored when their was more to play for.

Suggested Bet

Knights @ $2.15

Heading over! = Total Points Over 48.5 @ $2.50 – As mentioned above, these sides could be guilty of focusing on their attack as opposed to their defence. This will make for an exciting contest and while it goes against their season average, each team will need to score 4 converted tries to ensure this delivers.

 

Gold Coast Titans (12th) v Brisbane Broncos (4th)

The Titans missed an opportunity to keep themselves in the race for a spot in the Top 8 but failed miserably, going down 26-4 against a struggling Tigers outfit. It was a disappointing effort from the Titans, especially considering how well they have played at times this year. Over the contest, they completed horrendously at 59% and tallied a massive 17 errors; the fact that it took them 52minutes to score their first points of the match against one of the worse defensive teams, highlighted how poor they were. They will want to put that effort behind them, as well as make amends for their Round 7 loss to the Broncos. They too carry losing form into this game, outplayed by a spirited Eels team that overcame numerous barriers; despite 82% and made just 9 errors, rather it was poor execution towards the end of sets that failed to build pressure on their opponents. To make matters worse, they missed 38 total tackles, with the Eels making the most of the relaxed defence at the back-end of the contest; for the first time in a long time, the Broncos failed to score any points in a half of football and finished the game off by conceding two tries with 6 minutes remaining. Now, they face another set of challenges and that is made more difficult with the loss of hooker, Andrew McCullough; the impact, which he has on this team, is unique and crucial to their success as he dominated the middle of the field. Whether or not they can cover his loss remains to be seen and any further losses would mean dropping out of the Top 4.

Team News

Titans = Jarryd Hayne is named at fullback, with John Olive coming into the centres and Tyrone Roberts and Morgan Boyle dropping back to the bench. Kevin Proctor (injury) returns in the second row for Karl Lawton (injured).

Broncos = Ben Hunt has shifted to hooker, covering for Andrew McCullough (injured), with Kodi Nikorima named at halfback. David Mead returns on the wing, replacing Jonus Pearson.

History

Overall = Titans 5 Broncos 17

Last 5 Matches = Titans 0 Broncos 5

At Cbus Super Stadium = Titans 49% Broncos 60%

Form = Titans 2 losses – Broncos 1 loss

Verdict

As much as the other Queensland teams rise when they play the Broncos, the team from Brisbane appears to grow another leg when they are facing a state rival. They enjoy a strong overall record over the Titans, rarely struggle at this ground and have only been defeated by the Titans twice in the past 13 meetings, the last coming back in Round 6, 2014. Last week was a difficult thing to watch, they were terrible on both sides of the ball and failed to value quality possession. The fact that Ashley Taylor is returning to face the club that passed on him will spur him on to lead his team to victory, yet much more is needed from them in order to win here. The Broncos will be desperate to bounce back from a poor showing themselves and they play the Titans at an ideal time; they only have 7 wins to their name this season and 4 of those have come at home; they’ve won just 3 of their past 9 matches and some of their stars are well off their best. With a few more difficult games ahead, this is a game that the Broncos will need to win if they are to remain inside the Top 4 of the competition. The struggle for the Titans will be keeping this game within less than 2 converted tries and they should take confidence from their Round 7 loss; aside from that, the Broncos have an average winning margin of 13.7 points in their past 6 victories. The Titans record of losing by that margin (or more) in 2017 isn’t great, of their 12 losses, only 5 have been by 12 points or less at an average losing margin of 15.5 points. The rivalry should ensure this game is close for the initial stages but in the end, it should be comfortable for a team aiming to improve their point’s difference and keep tough with the Top 4.

Suggested Bet

Broncos -5.5 @ $1.90

Galloping home = Broncos 13+ @ $2.90 – The Broncos know how to score plenty of points; they have scored the second most of any team this year at an average of 22.3 points per game. It is a limiting factor that only 33% of their victories this season have been by 13 or more points, but with the business end of the season approaching, they need to build their combinations and use it to their advantage.

 

Cronulla Sharks (3rd) v Canberra Raiders (10th)

The Sharks headed over to New Zealand to face the Warriors and won as expected, always appearing to be in control of the eventual result. It was a pleasing victory for the visitors, who were expected to struggle without James Maloney in their team. He is out for another few weeks yet and the Sharks demonstrated that they were capable enough to cover him after previously failing. They played with poise, completing at 85% and committing just 8 errors, while on in defence they missed just 23 tackles and limited the Warriors opportunities and keeping them to just 2 tries. They have reaffirmed their standing at the top of the competition and will relish another challenge here as the Raiders fight to keep their hopes alive. Just as they looked destined to finish early, the Raiders kept themselves within 2-points of the Top 8 with a 32-18 win over the Rabbitohs. The victory was far more convincing than the score board suggested, with a late try to their opponents narrowing the margin. The 80-minute effort was one that could’ve benefitted them in recent weeks against superior opponents; for the first time in a while, they too played with control, completing at 80% and having just 10 errors. Missing 35 total tackles across the contest will be an area of concern, although the weight of possession (55%) meant that they were forcing their opponents to make more tackles than them. Their season is on the line here and they will be desperate to make amends for their 42-16 loss to the Sharks at home back in Round 2 this season.

Team News

Sharks = Jack Bird (injury) returns to the centres, pushing Luke Capewell back to the bench and Adam Clydsdale to the reserves.

Raiders = Jordan Rapana (suspension) returns to the wing for Michael Oldfield, while Josh Papalii (suspension) also comes back in the second row. His inclusion shifts Joseph Tapine to the bench, with Luke Bateman named at lock and Kurt Baptiste on the interchange.

History

Overall = Sharks 21 Raiders 15

Last 5 Matches = Sharks 4 Raiders 1

At Southern Cross Group Stadium = Sharks 55% Raiders 44%

Form = Sharks 2 wins – Raiders 1 win

Verdict

The Raiders are just hanging in there at the moment and will be desperate to win this game for a variety of reason, most notably, to keep their season alive (for now). Home ground advantage means plenty to any team in the competition, although he Sharks have struggle this season winning games at home, only winning 50% of their matches. The Raiders record of winning just 3 of 9 matches this year on the road equals this out; however it must be mentioned that the Raiders have won the past 3 meetings at this ground. . The absence of Maloney in the halves gives the Raiders a chance; it wasn’t an issue for them last week, yet the Warriors hardly challenged the Sharks in that respect. The home team will rely upon their defence to get them through this match, off-setting the loss of their key playmaker; having the second best defensive record in the league (15.5 points per game) gives them a good opportunity and they will be tested by the Raiders, who score 22 points per game. This has many believing that this game is there for the Sharks to lose and they have been installed as strong favorites. As good as the Raiders were last week, the lack of quality within their opponents clouded their performance. Fact is, they have underperformed for majority of this season and are lacking power through the middle to challenge most other teams. This game should be a very physical encounter, as each team aims to establish dominance and the Sharks have proven in recent weeks, an ability to continually create pressure through fast defensive movement. This is what separates contenders from the rest of the competition at the business end and as it stands, the Raiders haven’t been up to that standard in 2017. An average winning margin of 13.8 points in the past 5 matches suggests the margin of victory could be large, but with doubt around, perhaps the safest option is investing on the Sharks covering the line and allowing for a blowout if they are able to perform without their playmaker leading the way.

Suggested Bet

Sharks -4.5 @ $1.90

 

Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles (7th) v Sydney Roosters (2nd)

The Sea Eagles season continued to spiral in a negative manner in Round 21, comprehensively beaten by a passionate Storm team 40-6. The first half was positive for them and heading into HT 14-6 down gave them a chance of narrowing the margin in the second half. The opposite occurred and the Sea Eagles lack of possession (46%) and poor defence (63 missed tackles) gave their opponents enough momentum to easily win the match. Alarmingly, the Sea Eagles have now lost 3 out of their past 4 matches and have conceded 92 points in the last two weeks, while only managing to score 28. It is no surprise that their form has them slipping out of the Top 4 and down to 7th place; they will be desperate to turn their season around and have an ideal opportunity against the Roosters, a team they beat 18-12 back in Round 5. The Roosters had no such issues in their recent matches, extending their winning streak to 3 games after a come-from-behind win against the Cowboys at home. It was always going to be a challenge for this squad, their first real test without Jake Friend or Michael Gordon in their team, yet it appeared as though others were more than willing to step up in their absence. The Roosters appeared challenged as they headed into HT down 16-6, although their was a remarkable difference in their defensive line speed to begin the second half. This relentless pressure impacted the territory of the Cowboys and the pressure became too much for them to handle. They also showed measured and poise in their play, completing at 86%, committing just 6 errors and missing just 21 tackles. The win also keeps the race for the Minor Premiership alive and with the pressure on the Storm, the Roosters cannot afford to drop a match. Last week was a great display of their form heading into the Finals and this game will be no different, especially with their opponents aiming to reverse their current form.

Team News

Sea Eagles = Brad Parker and Lloyd Perrett are named on the bench, replacing Cameron Cullen (reserves) and Addin Fonua-Blake (suspended). Shaun Lane is named to start in the second row, relegating Lewis Brown back to the bench.

Roosters = Unchanged, although Jake Friend could be a late inclusion after being named in the reserves.

History

Overall = Sea Eagles 17 Roosters 12

Last 5 Matches = Sea Eagles 1 Roosters 4

At Lottoland Stadium = Sea Eagles 64% Roosters 29%

Form = Sea Eagles 2 losses – Roosters 3 wins

Verdict

The Roosters head into this game as strong favorites, however they may not be as convincing if their opponents can find their early season form. The fact that the Sea Eagles have already won against the Roosters this season will give them confidence, something that is needed with their poor recent form. It will be a tough task, the Roosters made a major statement with their performance against the Cowboys, especially considering the key players that were missing; their victory in that match silenced thoughts that they would struggle without Friend and Gordon. The visitors will have their own challenges to overcome as they have a poor record at this ground, winning just 4 of the past 14 matches here at 29%. If there was to be an upset in this match, returning home would be a great start to assist the home teams cause; their form here in 2017 isn’t overwhelming, winning just 50% of their matches. The Roosters will provide the Sea Eagles with their fair share of opportunities in this game; they average 11.2 errors per match (2nd in the league), although their defensive structure has proven to be outstanding this year. They have allowed 17.2 points per game while scoring 21.6 points per game; the Sea Eagles have had no issues scoring points in 2017, averaging more than the Roosters (22.3 per game). The problems for them have come in defence, leaking 21.1 points per game and allowing the second highest amount of missed tackles per game (34.4); if such issues are not address in the lead into the Finals, the Sea Eagles will find themselves out of contention very quickly. As for this game, an upset is possible, yet with an extra day to recover from their last match compared with their opponents, the Roosters should have what it takes to win. As for the margin, just 1 out of the past 9 matches has been decided by more than 12 points, with the average margin for that period of time (including the 36 point blowout) being 9.6 points; take out the large margin in 2015 and the margin dramatically reduces to 6.3 points. With intensity rising towards the Finals and the home team very desperate, this game could go down to the wire.

Suggested Bet

Either Team Under 6.5 Points @ $2.90

 

Penrith Panthers (9th) v Wests Tigers (15th)

The Panthers kept their Finals hopes alive with an unconvincing 16-8 win over the Bulldogs at home. Leading into the match, many believed that the Bulldogs could cause an upset, yet the Panthers were able to overcome several setbacks prior to and during the match to win. With 48% possession, the Panthers played with measure and built pressure in attack; they completed at 82% and made 10 total errors, down on their season average of 11 per game. That win also kept the pressure on the Dragons, who are ahead of them courtesy of a superior points difference (+75 v +35); no doubt that the Panthers will be desperate to improve on that statistic against the 3rd worst defensive team in the competition (25.1 points per game). With that statistic lingering over them, the Tigers were able to prevail against the Titans 26-4. In a similar quality game to the Panthers, the Tigers took plenty of time to move past their opponents, scoring 4 out of their 5 tries in the second half. Having a 75% completion rate, committing 10 errors and missing just 16 tackles provided them with a great platform to capture victory from, while also proving just how capable they can be. Fans shouldn’t become too excited though, their Titans were woeful (59% completion rate & 17 errors) and the Tigers will need to lift to another level to cause an upset here. They will also be egger to make amends for their 36-2 thrashing at the hands of the Tigers back in Round 2 and remarkably, it is a very different team that ran out on that occasion.

Team News

Panthers = Moses Leota is named at lock for Leilani Latu (injured), while James Fisher-Harris will start from the bench.

Tigers = Unchanged.

History

Overall = Panthers 18 Tigers 12

Last 5 Matches = Panthers 4 Tigers 1

At Pepper Stadium = Panthers 54% Tigers 36%

Form = Panthers 4 wins – Tigers 1 win

Verdict

All signs point towards the Panthers winning this match, they are fighting hard to slip into the Finals and have a superior roster to their opponents. This has seen them installed as strong favorites for this game and playing at home is only going to enhance their prospects. Aside from having 6 out of their 10 victories here, the Tigers have a poor record at this ground; they have won just 5 matches from 14 attempts at 36%. The Tigers were positive in many areas last week, although when you consider the opportunities they were given, it is disappointing that the margin was not larger. This highlights their lack of execution and inability to capitalise on positive attacking possession. The Panthers are a team that thrives on momentum and this level of execution from the Tigers will allow this to be achieved, whether or not the Panthers are capable enough to use this to their advantage remains to be seen. They should have what it takes to score a convincing win, enhanced by the fact that improving their points difference in this match could be the difference between whether or not they make the Finals. It is worrying for the visitors that in the past 4 wins, the Panthers have been victorious by an average of 25.8 points. Be careful though, only 3 of the Panthers 10 victories this year have been by 13 or more points; their largest victory on their current 4-game winning streak is 12-points, proving that while they are talented, they are struggling to put their opponents away over 80 minutes.

Suggested Bet

Panthers 1-12 @ $2.90

 

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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