Brisbane Broncos (4th) v Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs (13th)
The Broncos got themselves in and out of trouble against a spirited Newcastle outfit last week on the road. After resting a few players following Origin on Wednesday and injuries affecting others, an upset appeared a genuine reality as they headed to HT down 12-6. They jumped back out to a comfortable lead but their opponents were closing very quickly; two tries in the final 8 minutes of play sealed the victory and a spot back in the Top 4. Their performance in that game shouldn’t be taken seriously, they were evidently away from their best in some areas; nevertheless, they still completed at 86%, made 5 errors and missed 24 tackles. It was ideal for their returning halves partnership that they faced a team defensive team like the Knights. Thankfully, the task ahead of them doesn’t get overly difficult, with the Bulldogs languishing at the wrong end of the table due to an underwhelming season to date. A week off following a 2-point win over the Knights silenced the criticism which was circling around their poor effort in Round 18; their chances of losing to the Knights were far more genuine than the Broncos last week and a lucky set of circumstances meant they prevailed. With 52% possession, the Bulldogs completed at just 72% and failed to make the most of their attacking opportunities. This has plagued their performances all season and it doesn’t appear to be getting any easier; so far this season they average just 14.1 points per game and many involved with the club are growing frustrated with their efforts. With their 2017 Finals aspirations all but done, the Bulldogs are in a unique situation compared to what they are accustomed to; playing for pride here may be a harder motivator than they think.
Broncos = Matt Gillett (second row) and Josh McGuire (lock) return after being rested following Origin. This pushes Sam Thaiday to the bench, while Jai Arrow and Jaydn Su’A head to the reserves.
Bulldogs = Brett Morris (wing), Josh Jackson (second row) and David Klemmer (lock) return following Origin. Kerrod Holland, Asipeli Fine and Andy Saunders are relegated to the reserves. Michael Lichaa is named to start at hooker for Matt Frawley, who swaps to the bench.
Overall = Broncos 20 Draw 1 Bulldogs 16
Last 5 Matches = Broncos 2 Bulldogs 3
At Suncorp Stadium = Broncos 62% Bulldogs 44%
Form = Broncos 1 win – Bulldogs 1 win
It is no surprise to see the Broncos head into this game as favorites given each teams respective standing on the competition ladder; the fact that the Bulldogs have been so poor recently and almost lost to the Knights, have left the home team almost shorter than they should be. You can never completely rule out the Bulldogs either, they recorded a 10-7 win over the Broncos back in Round 5 in a very dour affair. Nevertheless, with revenge and spot in the Top 4 on their minds, the Broncos should be too strong. Rebuilding the halves combination that has worked well previously, yet experienced a rough patch, was important last week to their development. The Broncos should only improve on that effort and the return of some of their representative stars will boost their confidence further. The Bulldogs simply do not have enough speed in their play to trouble opponents; starting from the ruck, the delivery out of this area is poor and limiting the effectiveness of the halves. This has impacted on their overall attack and has left them with the lowest points average of any team in the competition. The Broncos will sense this and aim to jump out to an early lead; as poor as they have been in attack, the Bulldogs can manage a strangling defensive line. Expect this to be present early; with the speed of the Broncos play becoming too much for their opponents the longer the match goes on. As for the margin, the Broncos have plenty of work to do before they will be at their best, meaning that the large margin that most are probably expecting may not happen. Nevertheless, based on the averages of each team in attack and defence, the Broncos should have what it takes to cover the line and then go on with the job if they are more developed than their last effort suggested.
Broncos -9.5 @ $1.90
Sydney Roosters (2nd) v Newcastle Knights (16th)
The Roosters had a week off last week to rest and enjoy their 2-point win over the Rabbitohs in Round 18. Their effort in this game was made even more important by the fact that they were missing key players through Origin selection and not too many people gave them a chance of winning. With just 49% possession, the Roosters set the standard throughout the match and while it was a dour affair, the home team can be pleased with their efforts. Completing at 76% and making 9 errors helped to some extent, although missing 38 tackles is an area they will have to address. Having the bye last week meant they moved into 2nd on the competition ladder and will not want to give away this position easily. While they still have plenty of improvement left within them, they face the Knights at an ideal time, yet cannot be guilty of taking them lightly. This has occurred in the past two matches for them, as the Knights players have proven how to play with spirit. The problem has been maintaining this effort evenly over 80 minutes; unfortunately, they have given up a lead in their past 2 matches that has seen their opponents snatch victory within the last 10 minutes. Despite news surfacing that their coach is under pressure to retain his job, many believe that they are moving in the right direction; their 12-point loss to the Broncos last week had plenty of positives. The first half display was strong and with just 44% possession for the match, they made the most of every opportunity. Having 11 errors and missing 38 tackles halted the momentum and pressure they were able to build and they are a team that appears to be getting closer to grabbing their third win for the year. To do it here would be a major upset but then again, this is rugby league and stranger things have happened.
Roosters = Connor Watson is named at fullback to cover for Michael Gordon (injured), while Mitchell Cornish is named at hooker for Jake Friend (injured). Blake Ferguson (wing), Mitchell Pearce (halfback) and Dylan Napa (prop) all return from Origin. Kane Evans and Aidan Guerra start from the bench.
Knights = Shaun Kenny-Dowall (club debut) is named on the wing for Brendan Elliot, who moves to the reserves. Danny Levi and Daniel Saifiti are named to start, swapping with Jamie Buhrer and Luke Yates, who will play from the bench.
Overall = Roosters 24 Knights 12
Last 5 Matches = Roosters 4 Knights 1
At Allianz Stadium = Roosters 63% Knights 35%
Form = Roosters 1 win – Knights 7 losses
Back in Round 7, the Roosters recorded a comprehensive 24-6 win over the Knights and it appears as though they’re set to record a similar victory. The Knights have struggled through 2017 and it doesn’t look set to end soon, especially considering their inability to play for 80 minutes. To impact the visitors further, they have just a 35% winning record at this ground and have only beaten the Roosters twice in their past 10 meetings. People are quick to jump onto the Roosters and this has them heading into this game at very short odds. You cannot overlook the loss of Friend and Gordon; both players have been crucial contributors for the Roosters this season and will be missed. If they were playing a stronger opponent, this would have a larger impact upon the result; fortunately for them, they face the Knights at an ideal time and will take confidence from their effort in their last match against the Rabbitohs. With this in mind, the decision in this game is a matter of how much the home team will win by. Further to the Knights struggles against the Roosters, they have lost their past 5 games against their opponents by an average of 23-points; the closest of these losses was the 16-point victory back in Round 22, 2015. Out of their 15 losses, the Knights have lost 33% by 13 points or more, one of which was against the Roosters. Even with holes in their team and lacking quality, the Roosters should still be too strong for their opponents and record another comfortable victory.
Roosters 13+ @ $1.65
Flying home = Roosters 19+ @ $2.15 – As mentioned above, the Knights have a history of losing by large margins to the Roosters. The fact that the home team is focused on solidifying their standing at the top of the ladder and demonstrating their superiority over a lower placed team should mean that they get home by more than 3 converted tries.
Lethal left edge = Latrell Mitchell FTS and/or LTS @ $7 – It has been a quiet few weeks for Mitchell and he will look to regain his confidence here. The Roosters left edge has been an attacking weapon for them this season and you can be sure that they will aim to head there as much as possible during this match.
Cronulla Sharks (5th) v South Sydney Rabbitohs (14th)
The Sharks will be desperate to put a poor performance behind them last week, hammered 30-10 by the Titans in horrendous conditions. Just as the reigning Premiers were set to charge towards the Finals, they were reminded that execution is paramount to a winning performance. With players rested following Origin, the Sharks failed to adapt to the conditions and their 12 errors for the match highlights an area if improvement that is still needed from them. In the big scheme of things, they will have other challenges on their mind and aside from moving out of the Top 4, they will not be too concerned with the result. If it were to carry over into this game, then alarm bells would begin to sounds. The Rabbitohs are languishing at the bottom of the ladder, with their most recent loss to the Cowboys accurately summing up their season. It has been the case all year for this team; they play a measured brand of rugby league, obtain good attacking position and fail to do anything with it, while also experiencing lapses in defence that are uncharacteristic of them in the past. Completing at 68%, committing 14 errors and missing 40 tackles in that game is the beginning of the issues that are plaguing this club currently. Rebuilding towards 2018 and beyond is firmly on their minds now and they need to play with a point to prove. Many believe that the Rabbitohs problems are deep, yet there were some positives in their effort last week. They have a set of exciting youngsters coming through their system that need to support the leading players in the team. If they can develop this in coming weeks, they are certainly capable of causing an upset or two to a team higher than them on the ladder.
Sharks = James Maloney (rested) returns at 5/8, while Andrew Fifita and Luke Lewis will start. Jayson Bukuya and Sam Tagataese move back to the bench, while Kurt Capewell is relegated to the reserves.
Rabbitohs = Aaron Gray (injury) returns on the wing for Braidon Burns, who moves to the reserves. Damien Cook is named on the bench for Cameron Murray, who is also named in the reserves.
Overall = Sharks 16 Rabbitohs 13
Last 5 Matches = Sharks 3 Rabbitohs 2
At Southern Cross Group Stadium = Sharks 55% Rabbitohs 31%
Form = Sharks 1 loss – Rabbitohs 2 losses
Despite reports that they are still holding onto hope, the Rabbitohs Finals aspirations all but ended last week. With Adam Reynolds and other key players possibly withdrawing from this game, the task ahead of them becomes even more difficult. The challenge is increased by the fact that the home team has dropped out of the Top 4 and do not want to lose the opportunity for a second chance in the Finals or better still, a home final. To get a clearer picture of the teams named, they will be updated as soon as possible via Twitter. The Rabbitohs do not enjoy the trip to this ground either; they have a 31% winning record and have won just 5 matches from 16 attempts. The Sharks have shown on numerous occasions this season that if they head into this game with the right attitude, there is no limit to the tally they can accumulate over 80 minutes. Sure, the fact that the Sharks have only won 4 out of their 9 matches at home this season is some concern; nevertheless, the major difference in this game appears as though it will be defence. The Rabbitohs concede an average of 21.4 points per game compared with the Sharks 15.9 points per game and the home team has no issues scoring points if needed. This game appears set to be a victory to the home team and the most difficult decision appears to be deciding on a margin. In their past 5 wins over their opponents, the Sharks have won by an average of 12.2 points, with two matches decided by 8-points or less. This should lead to them covering the line and how far they can go beyond that is a matter of their attitude throughout the match.
Sharks -8.5 @ $1.90
Ahead of the rest = Sosaia Feki FTS and/or LTS @ $8 – He scored the last try against the Titans and is the leading try scorer at the club by a considerable margin. Expect the Sharks to attempt to bring him into the match as much as possible, especially against a winger who can often be caught out of position.
Penrith Panthers (9th) v Gold Coast Titans (12th)
The Panthers made it back-to-back wins last week at a crucial stage in their season, as they attempt to maintain contact with and jump into, the Top 8. Their spirited performance came on the road against the Warriors, a team that looked set to win at home. Losing Matt Moylan prior to KO caused another problem for this inconsistent team, although impressive play from several key individuals, most notably Nathan Cleary, handed an upset victory to the visitors. Conceding 22-points is an area of concern, yet completing at 79% and missing just 24 tackles set them on the right path. They committed 10 errors for the match, a statistic that is well down on their season average of 11.1 per game. Sitting just 2-points out of the Top 8 with a superior points difference to teams ahead of them, the Panthers need this game to increase the pressure on other clubs. The Titans are also clinging to hope of making the Finals, 4-points out of the Top 8, yet instilled with confidence following their 20-point win over the Sharks last week. The Titans came out in that match with the right attitude and game plan to counteract the horrendous conditions that the match was played in. Completing at 83%, making 8 errors and missing 29 tackles highlighted just what this team is capable of. This performance also demonstrated how they have the capabilities to match it with the leading teams in the competition and, like their opponents here, it is a matter of finding consistency each week to achieve victory. It is fitting that with so much to play for; these similar teams face off, both desperate to keep their Finals hopes alive.
Panthers = Matt Moylan (injury) is named at 5/8, with Tyrone May dropping to the reserves. Peter Wallace (injury) will return at hooker, relegating Mitch Rein to the reserves also. Moses Leota comes into the team and will start at lock for Trent Merrin (injured).
Titans = Morgan Boyle comes into the team on the bench to replace Pat Politoni, who moves back to the reserves.
Overall = Panthers 9 Titans 6
Last 5 Matches = Panthers 3 Titans 2
At Pepper Stadium = Panthers 54% Titans 50%
Form = Panthers 2 wins – Titans 3 wins
The resurgent Panthers have plenty of people jumping back on them following their most recent performances. To put things into perspective though, had they have played a better team last week, they may have been on the wrong end of the score line. Compare that with the form of the Titans, who were clinical, measured and overall, fantastic in their win over the Sharks. It wasn’t the best night for their opponents, although plenty of the responsibility for that falls upon the way the Titans made them play. The Panthers are a team that performs well with confidence and they appear to be gathering large amounts of it very quickly. This will pose an issue for the Titans, yet they too are reaching new heights towards the business end of the season. The most thrilling battle appears to be in the halves pairing and the Titans players have appeared to play more consistently, despite recording 1 fewer win. The Panthers are still doing the little things wrong in games and that could be the difference between the two teams; the Panthers average 11.1 errors per game (4th in the league) compared with the Titans 10.1 (12th), while the Panthers average 35 missed tackles (2nd) per game compared with the Titans 32.8 per game (4th). Given those two statistics, this game is a lot closer than the odds are suggesting; on top of that, the Titans have a decent record at this ground that will cause some concern for the home team. Invest wisely on this game, it is a tricky on and other matches this weekend appear easier to judge; rather than make a call on anything else in this match, invest on the Titans causing the upset.
Titans @ $2.50
Canberra Raiders (10th) v Melbourne Storm (1st)
The Raiders managed to keep their season alive last week with a stirring Golden Point victory over an understrength Dragons outfit. In making things very difficult for them, they allowed their opponents to get to a 12-6 lead, with two crucial penalties bringing the Dragons within striking distance. The game was hardly anything to be excited about, although the Raiders will be pleased with certain areas of their execution; they completed at 85% and made just 8 errors, only let down by the fact that they still managed to miss 38 tackles. Individual efforts such as a 40/20 from Aiden Sezer was a highlight and along with the final play of the game, demonstrated just what they’re capable of. They currently sit 4-points out of the Top 8 and each performance from now until the end of the season is crucial to keeping their hopes alive. The task of winning this game appears to be a difficult one to say the least; the Storm are leading the competition for a reason and are playing an impressive brand of rugby league. Their most recent performance, a 22-6 loss to the Eels without their Origin stars will motivate this team onto bigger accomplishments. You only had to look at the effort of their star players in Origin to see the amount of talent at their disposal and just how dangerous they can be. Punters have reacted quickly and the Storm have been crunched into heavy Premiership favoritism. This game does pose a tricky task, especially with the Raiders playing every match for the remainder of the year as if it is their last.
Raiders = Joseph Tapine is named in the second row for Josh Papalii (suspended), with Michael Oldfield filling the vacant bench position.
Storm = Billy Slater (fullback), Will Chambers (centre), Cameron Munster (5/8), Cooper Cronk (halfback), Cameron Smith (hooker) and Tim Glasby (prop) all return from Origin duty. Their inclusion see’s a host of players drop out of the team, while Nelson Asofa-Solomona and Nate Myles will start from the bench.
Overall = Raiders 11 Storm 27
Last 5 Matches = Raiders 2 Storm 3
At GIO Stadium = Raiders 53% Storm 50%
Form = Raiders 1 win – Storm 1 loss
The Storm are favorites for this game and this is a reflection of their standing on the table; they are deserving leaders in the competition and will benefit from the week off. The Raiders have demonstrated poor form this season to date and a disjointed win over an understrength opponent is hardly anything to get excited about. It must be stated that in this corresponding game last year, the Raiders sprung a 22-8 upset victory over the Storm. Nevertheless, the Raiders were a more capable team and viewing their execution of plays and their on-field interactions, all is not well within this club currently. A concerted effort will be needed and that appears beyond them at this stage. The Storm showed just how good they were with an effort against the Broncos in Round 17; they will want to build on that effort with their Origin stars back in their lineup and solidify their standing at the top of the ladder. It is interesting to note that in their past 3 wins over the Raiders, the Storm have won by an average of 6.6 points. With one of those games in Canberra and only losing the solitary game on the road this season, the Storm should be able to handle what the Raiders throw at them over 80 minutes and win by less than 2 converted tries.
Storm 1-12 @ $2.90
North Queensland Cowboys (6th) v New Zealand Warriors (11th)
For the first time without JT leading the way, the Cowboys have won 3 consecutive matches last week with a 23-10 win over the Rabbitohs. Playing as the away team in Cairns, the Cowboys had little issue overcoming their opponents, despite fatigue evident within their playing ranks following Origin. After conceding the first try, the Cowboys relied upon power through the middle and class to outplay their opponents. Having a 54% share of possession and completing at 75% made things difficult, while their defence was tight, only missing 28 total tackles. They are equal 3rd on the ladder, yet relegated to 6th due to an inferior points difference, the worse of any team on 26 competition points. The challenge ahead for them is winning games and improving this to finish inside the Top 4. The Warriors head over the Townsville on the back of yet another disappointing loss, this time it was at home to the Panthers. Heading into the game as favorites, the Warriors lacked their usual penetration through the defence and failed to capitalise on a strong start. Their play was again measured, but lacked penetration and flair when it mattered. Rather, they were left pondering another “come from behind” loss to the Panthers; only missing 28 tackles over the match doesn’t ring alarm bells, yet losing the game in the final 13 minutes where they conceded 3 tries is an area of concern. The sight of Shaun Johnson hobbling off the field in the 62nd minute means the task of the Warriors reaching the Finals appears all the more difficult and appeared to remove their confidence entirely. Others failed to step up in his absence and it does appear likely that they will be able to keep their season alive here.
Cowboys = Unchanged.
Warriors = Mason Lino is named at halfback for Shaun Johnson (injured).
Overall = Cowboys 17 Warriors 15
Last 5 Matches = Cowboys 3 Warriors 2
At 1300Smiles Stadium = Cowboys 76% Warriors 33%
Form = Cowboys 3 wins – Warriors 2 losses
If the Warriors struggle to beat the Panthers last week at home, a team close to them in skill and on the ladder, then a challenge such as this one appears to be far beyond them. Add in the absence of their key playmaker and the job becomes more difficult; ironically enough, they are facing a team who is also missing a key playmaker (one of the best ever!) and have managed to cover him for the time being. The Cowboys are playing some fantastic rugby league, they are dominating their opponents through the middle and Michael Morgan is steering his team around the park with confidence. Furthermore, other players are taking greater responsibility for the team, thus reducing the pressure on Morgan and it is working wonders for them. This has seen the Cowboys heavily favored in betting markets as a comprehensive victory is expected; considering the Warriors only have a 33% winning record at this ground, the idea appears closer to reality. Of the past 4 wins for the Cowboys against the Warriors at this ground, the average margin sits at 23-points, with the closest being 4-points and the other 3 games being by 20-points or more. A similar outcome is expected here as the Warriors struggle to limit their opponent’s points; they allow an average of 22.2 points per game and have only managed to keep their opponents to 10-points or less on 2 occasions. The pressure will be on them from the opening moments of the match and as measured as they may be with their play, the power of their opponents will be all too much.
Cowboys 13+ @ $2.25
St George-Illawarra Dragons (8th) v Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles (3rd)
The Dragons played like their season was on the line last week against the Raiders in Canberra and were unable to come up with the win, going down in Golden Point. It was a spirited effort from the visitors considering that they were missing several players, yet their season is still spiraling out of control; they have now won just 1 of their past 5 matches and 3 of their past 10. If it were not for a strong start to the season, they could find themselves out of Finals contention. As it stands, they are just inside the Top 8 but have a few teams chasing them. Committing 12 errors last week was hardly going to give them the momentum they craved in order to win that game and they will be wary of the Sea Eagles, a team that is completely different to the one they faced back in Round 6. In that game at Lottoland, the Dragons were comprehensive victors 35-10 in a near flawless display. Since then, the Sea Eagles have reversed their form and in stark contrast to their opponents, have won 8 of their past 10 games. They head into this week following an unconvincing 28-16 win over the Tigers at home, a game that they were clearly lacking execution. Perhaps guilty of taking their opponents lightly, the Sea Eagles found themselves behind 16-6 minutes into the second half. Thankfully, they were able to turn on a dazzling display of attack and when they increased the pressure and speed of play, their opponents were unable to match their play. Their lack of execution let them down most of all, as well as missing 42 tackles across 80 minutes; otherwise it was pleasing as they completed at 86% and committed just 9 errors. With revenge on their mind, the Sea Eagles will want to win this game and keep their hopes of a Top 4 finish alive.
Dragons = Euan Aitken (injury) returns in the centres, pushing Kurt Mann back to the bench. Tyson Frizell (rested) returns in the second row and Jack de Belin is moved from the bench to start, forcing Tariq Sims back to the bench, alongside Blake Lawrie, who comes in for Russell Packer (injured).
Sea Eagles = Apisai Koroisau (injured) is replaced at hooker by Cameron Cullen, while Brad Parker comes onto the wing for Matthew Wright (injured). Jackson Hastings fills the vacant bench spot.
Overall = Dragons 16 Sea Eagles 9
Last 5 Matches = Dragons 2 Sea Eagles 3
At WIN Stadium = Dragons 62% Sea Eagles 17%
Form = Dragons 1 loss – Sea Eagles 1 win
The Sea Eagles will want to remain at the right end of the competition ladder and give themselves every chance of finishing in the Top 4. There have been a few signs in recent weeks that they are tired and in need of a longer preparation or easier match. They got that last week against the Tigers and it should work to their advantage here. The Dragons are trying to cling to the Top 8, yet have been unfortunate in recent weeks. They were somewhat brave and unlucky in equal measure last week and will want their home ground advantage to work for them more than ever; the Sea Eagles have a very poor record at this ground, they have just won the solitary match from 6 attempts. As for the recent history, the most recent match isn’t an indication of how they will perform here; the visitors are a far better outfit and combinations are not working for the Dragons likes they were earlier in the year. The form of each team is enough of an indication of how this match will play out and that point towards the Sea Eagles winning this game, although you have to be wary of a desperate Dragons outfit. As for the margin, aside from the two most recent games, the other previous 5 have been decided by 12 points or less. This game appears as though it will be no different with the home team desperate to keep themselves inside the Top 8.
Sea Eagles 1-12 @ $2.90
Wests Tigers (15th) v Parramatta Eels (7th)
The Tigers gave their fans something to cheer about last week, although that was short-lived as they went down 28-16 to the Sea Eagles. Heading into HT ahead 10-6 and scoring early in the second half to make it 16-6, the Tigers were appearing likely to cause an upset. Nevertheless, their opponents quickly raised the speed and intensity of the match and the Tigers quickly reflected their low standing on the competition ladder. Only completing at 72% and committing 14 errors for the match highlighted just how poor they were and their lack of experience when it was needed most of all. The Eels had a week off to prepare for this game and it was well deserved on the back of their 22-6 win over an understrength Storm side. While their opponents were missing a host of talent due to Origin, the Eels turned on an impressive opening to the match, scoring 3 tries inside 21 minutes. Quickly ahead 16-nil, the Eels maintained the pressure on their opponents and a late try took the margin to a convincing 16-points. It was a display from the Eels that showcased what they are capable of and one they can be proud of; they completed at 89%, made just 7 errors and missed 27 tackles. More importantly, it keeps them inside the Top 8 and courtesy of their bye last week, they have been able to jump into 7th position. This game comes at an ideal time as they look to confirm their standing in the Top 8 and with a tough few games ahead, they need to make the most of every opportunity and continue to grow as a team. The Eels will have the added confidence from their 26-22 win over the Tigers back in Round 7, although they are a far better team now and now have Mitchell Moses playing for them. No doubt the headlines surrounding his return fixture against his former club will dominate the news heading into this game.
Tigers = Matt McIlwrick is named at hooker in place of Jacob Liddle (injured), while Chris Lawrence is named to start in the second row for Sauaso Sue (suspended). Michael Chee-Kam and Tim Grant fill the vacant bench positions.
Eels = Manu Ma’u (injury) returns in the second row, pushing Kenny Edwards back to the bench and David Gower to the reserves.
Overall = Tigers 14 Draw 1 Eels 19
Last 5 Matches = Tigers 2 Eels 3
At ANZ Stadium = Tigers 43% Eels 46%
Form = Tigers 1 loss – Eels 3 wins
The Eels are strong favorites for this game and it is not surprising given their standing on the competition ladder. Many are expecting that the Tigers will be motivated for this game since they are facing Mitchell Moses for the first time since he departed the club. That will have some motivation; nevertheless, it was evident last week that the Tigers are still missing several components in order to compete with better teams in the competition. Back in Round 7, the Eels won 26-22 and since then, they have improved while their opponents have gone backwards, dramatically. The decision in this game is not which team will win, but how much the Eels will win by. Of their past 5 wins over the Tigers, the Eels have won by an average of 8.8 points, with only 1 victory by more than 12-points. For one reason or another, the Eels struggle to comprehensively beat the Tigers in their matches; the Eels have won just 4 out of the past 11 meetings between the two sides. The fact that this game has been taken to ANZ Stadium doesn’t help their cause either; both teams have a negative record, with the Eels only slightly better than their opponents. Nevertheless, their performances this year suggest the margin may be beyond 12-points, more so because the Tigers concede and average of 26.4 points per game and have lost 6 of their 13 losses by more than 12 points. On the other side of things, the Eels score an average of 18.6 points and need to improve their point’s difference in the run towards the Finals. Don’t forget, Mitchell Moses may also have revenge on his mind against his former club and will want an impressive, game winning display. Once they cover the line, they should set about piling on the points to influence this part of the ladder.
Eels -8.5 @ $1.90