The 2016 NRL season continues this weekend as the teams will be playing their last match before the State of Origin and bye period is upon us. It will be vital for a lot of teams to grab that last victory before their best players begin missing players due to their origin commitments. Continue reading for our NRL Round 11 Preview and Betting Tips.
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South Sydney Rabbitohs vs St George Illawarra Dragons (Thursday 7.50pm AEST)
The Bunnies snapped a five game skid as they overcame a 14-point deficit early in the second half to compound the Eels troubles and earn the two competition points. Luke Keary had a lot of impact off the bench and gave the side a lot of momentum and it is likely he will return to the starting side at five-eighth whilst Greg Inglis will possibly move to the centre position where he was dominant on the weekend and where he started his NRL career. Inglis had two big plays that led to tries as he is incredibly difficult to defend against one-on-one whilst he has the ability to get a strong offload and the young Dragons centre Euan Aitken will have his hands defending the Australian representative.
The Dragons were able to earn their 5th win of the season but their attack continues to struggle as they managed just 16 points and four of those points came in overtime due to an intercept try. They are lacking creativity and strike weapons and it will be hard for them to crack the Bunnies defence that showed a lot of improvement last week.
North Queensland Cowboys vs Brisbane Broncos (Friday 7.50pm AEST)
The second instalment of the 2015 Grand Final replay will take place on Friday night and if their last two matches is anything to go by then this will be an absolute thriller. The last two matches has been settled by a field goal in extra time and I am expecting another close contest in this one.
The Cowboys lost their third match of the season last week, as they couldn’t find a way to crack the Storms defence. It was a controversial ending with Cameron Smith clearly being offside as he attempted to put off Johnathan Thurston from levelling the scores with his own field goal. However, these things get missed in an imperfect world and the Cowboys had plenty of chances to winning the match prior to that. They will want their attack to get back on track and they have the added boost of playing on home soil where they have averaged over 30 points a game and are undefeated this season.
Meanwhile the Broncos haven’t been very strong on the road and have lost two of their four matches whilst travelling. It will be a massive battle between the halves as it always is between these two sides with Ben Hunt and Anthony Milford up against Johnathan Thurston and Michael Morgan. There isn’t much between those four players and the winner of this will have their forwards lay the better platform to allow for their backs to take advantage. We are predicting a home victory by a narrow margin.
Wests Tigers vs Newcastle Knights (Saturday 3pm AEST)
Saturday can’t come quick enough for the Knights, as they will be desperate to get back onto the field and put the embarrassing loss against the Sharks behind them. It was the worst defeat they have ever suffered on home soil and it left Dane Gagai in tears after the 80-minutes.
In their defence, the Knights had seven players on the field with less than 20-games of NRL experience and it is a lot of their players first season in the top grade. The Sharks were far superior to them but they are facing a side that has also struggled this season this weekend. The Knights only victory this season came against the Tigers and Wests will still be without James Tedesco and their fullback worries got worse on the weekend as Hunt hit Mbye with a high shot and will be on the sidelines due to suspension. Jordan Rankin will likely move to the fullback spot and their attack will continue to worsen without a real attacking threat at the back.
We are predicting a grinding style match between these two sides and the Knights will be boosted with the return of Trent Hodkinson to the side. They are both coming off big losses but the Knights was far more embarrassing. They will want to make amends for that loss and we are backing them to come out and have a huge match in this one and possibly cause an upset.
New Zealand Warriors vs Canberra Raiders (Saturday 5.30pm AEST)
The Raiders inconsistencies has seen them drop out of the top eight as they fell to the Dragons on the weekend. It was a disappointing performance that was summed up by Jack Wighton’s final pass in overtime that led to the Dragons intercepting the ball and scoring the winning try. It was a case of missed chances for the Raiders as they were by far the better side in the match but they weren’t able to capitalise on their opportunities and turn them into points. They will be facing a side that has a weaker defence this weekend and they should find it easier to take advantage of their opportunities.
The Warriors will have former captain Simon Mannering return to the line up this weekend and it is also a big possibility that Manu Vatuvei will return on the wing. Vatuvei is a big boost as he always starts the Warriors sets with a positive as he is a winger in a forwards body and can make a strong charge to get the side on the front foot. However, the injuries to other key players in the squad is still hurting the side and their inability to play out a full 80-minutes has been apparent and they will be their own worst enemy and cost themselves a victory.
Cronulla Sharks vs Manly Sea Eagles (Saturday 7.30pm AEST)
The Sharks are currently on an seven match winning streak and their last match against the Knights turned into a white wash. They piled on 11-tries in a 62-0 victory that was far too easy and showed how the side has improved in its attack from last season with the additions of their new halves pairing James Maloney and Chad Townsend whilst their defence has stayed strong. Their last loss came against the Sea Eagles but they have improved drastically since they lost that match on the road.
The Sea Eagles were outmatched when they fell to the Broncos at Suncorp stadium as they could be regretting giving up their home game. They are likely to be with Brett Stewart this weekend as he will return from a hamstring injury earlier than expected and this is a massive boost for the side. When he is in the line up they conceded on average 16 less points whilst their attack also improves. Whilst this will make them more competitive, I am backing the Sharks to continue to show why they are premiership contenders and knock off the Sea Eagles with ease.
Penrith Panthers vs Gold Coast Titans (Sunday 2pm AEST)
The Panthers moved into the top eight with a solid victory against the Warriors in Wellington and it is a positive sign for the side that they are beginning to win their close encounters after struggling throughout the beginning of their season. The Panthers have two exciting players in the back row in Tyrone Peachey and Bryce Cartwright. It is hard to defend against these two players as they have a lot of attacking weapons in their artillery and are capable of doing a lot of different things that keeps the opposition defence in two minds.
The Titans were able to surprise a lot of people and earn a comfortable victory against the Roosters on Monday night. Their defence had improved drastically whilst they put the game to bed in the second half as their attack lightened up on the back of solid work from their rookie Ashley Taylor. However, the Titans have struggled on the road this season but the line is rather large for this contest and as the Panthers have kept the majority of their matches close this season I am predicting this one to be more of the same.
Canterbury Bulldogs vs Sydney Roosters (Sunday 4pm AEST)
The Roosters were very disappointing in their last match against the Titans as they were unable to capitalise on their opportunities in attack, however they did hold out the Titans for long periods in the first half. They were brought down to earth as they thought once they had their key players back they would make a run to the finals but their chances of placing in the top 8 have became miniscule. It will take time for the team to regain its combinations, especially considering how many star players they lost over the offseason.
Meanwhile the Bulldogs had another one of their strong performances over the weekend but whether they can find consistency and back that performance up with another solid one will remain to be seen. Their forward pack got the upper hand of their opponents but that will be a much tougher task this weekend. We are seeing a tight contest being played with the Roosters causing an upset, as they will lift for this contest.
Parramatta Eels vs Melbourne Storm (Monday 7pm AEST)
The Eels will remain in front of their home fans this weekend as they have had one of the more favourable draws this season and have only left Sydney on one occasion. Their disappointment was worsened last week as after sending Nathan Peats off to the Titans to get under the salary cap they were unable to defeat the Bunnies despite holding a 20-6 lead early in the second half. They were lacking in attack without Kieran Foran and if he isn’t in the side again this weekend I don’t believe they will be threatening enough to break the Storms defence that has been the strongest of any team over the past month.
The Storm were able to defeat the Cowboys on the back of the mentioned defence as they prevented the Cowboys from scoring their regular high amount of points. Meanwhile the Storm’s attack looked threatening as captain Cameron Smith has slowly increased his level of play and he has six try assists in his last three matches out of dummy half. His improved level of play has also opened up Cooper Cronk’s space and he has taken advantage of that whilst the rest of the spine improves on the back of that. The Eels have had a disastrous season in the front office and the toll could begin to take its place on their players and I am predicting the Storm to earn the victory on the road.
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Take note: Any of the tips in this article are simply the author’s opinion, so bet at your own risk and always gamble responsibly. Also be sure to check out the Before You Bet Twitter Page for all our thoughts in the lead up to bets! Happy punting!
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