The 2016 NRL season continues this weekend as the race for a top eight spot is heating up with five teams separated by two competition points. Continue reading for our NRL Round 21 Preview and Betting Tips.
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Sydney Roosters vs Brisbane Broncos (Thursday 7.50pm AEST)
The Broncos slide down the table continued last week as they suffered their second straight embarrassing loss at Suncorp stadium in a row. The questions and pressure on the side are increasing and they will need to win this weekend against a struggling Roosters side to keep the distance between them and the sides narrowly behind them on the ladder.
Their biggest issue is in the forward pack and it won’t get any easier for them with Josh Maguire and Sam Thaiday likely to miss the match through suspension. They are currently losing the metres battle and aren’t getting on the front foot which doesn’t create space for Ben Hunt and Anthony Milford to work on the back of and produce the performances they were earlier in the season.
The Roosters will enter the match on the back on six straight losses and with their season already over. However, they will still be competing in this one as they have a good rivalry with the Broncos and if they can hamper their season then they will give it their best shot.
The Broncos will be the more desperate side and they will be able to earn the victory and begin to get their season back on track.
Canterbury Bulldogs vs St George Illawarra (Friday 7.50pm AEST)
The Dragons dismal attack and defence continued against the Tigers. They managed to race out to an 8-0 lead in the opening 10-minutes of the match but that was as good as it got for the Red V as they managed just 4-points throughout the remaining 70-minutes whilst they conceded 25-points. It was even more disappointing considering the Dragons had the majority of the possession and territory and it was Benji Marshall’s 250th career NRL match.
Meanwhile the Bulldogs had a lot of expectations on them in their match against the Cowboys despite playing in Townsville. They had won five straight games but they were no match for the defending champions as they fell 36-0. It brought the side back down to earth and they lost their top-four spot on the ladder.
The last time these two sides met it was a one-sided match as the Bulldogs ran riot. The score was 34-16 and we are predicting a similar score line this Friday night but with the inconsistencies of both sides, we suggest steering clear of this contest.
TIP: No bet
New Zealand Warriors vs Penrith Panthers (Saturday 3pm AEST)
How different things could be for the Warriors. Unfortunately for them and their fans they have lost three of their last four matches in golden point and it has seen the side drop out of the top-eight. However, if they had of won those three matches they would be sitting in equal fifth position. It is a massive difference and the side will need to have better starts as in all three of those losses they were forced to come from behind.
Meanwhile the Panthers are coming off their best victory of the season as they defeated the Broncos for the second time this year. Both were impressive wins but being able to be so dominate against the Broncos at Suncorp stadium is a hard task. The side was clicking in attack and they will head across the border full of confidence.
The Warriors play a lot better on home soil and it is a must win match for them. If they lose they will fall four-points behind the pack and they will be desperate to ensure they earn the two competition points.
Parramatta Eels vs Wests Tigers (Saturday 5.30pm AEST)
The Tigers kept their season alive with a solid victory against the Dragons. However, they still didn’t put together a full 80-minute performance as they were slow starters and also fell away in the final 20-minutes. They played without Robbie Farah as the issues between him and coach Jason Taylor have re-emerged and it is unlikely the club legend will play again this season or for the Tigers again. This has given more of the reigns to Mitchell Moses and Luke Brooks and they are enjoying that but there is a big hole left at the hooker position with the New South Wales hooker being dropped to New South Wales cup.
Meanwhile the Eels lost to the Titans on Saturday night as the pressure of the entire season seem to have finally caught up with them. It has been a year from hell for the club and it will continue to get worse as Corey Norman won’t play again for the side in 2016. They have already lost their hooker, best forward, their captain Keiran Foran and now with Norman on the sidelines it is only Michael Gordan who remains from their preferred spine. This will severely limit their ability to score points and we are predicting the Tigers winning this contest.
North Queensland Cowboys vs Melbourne Storm (Saturday 7.30pm AEST)
The blockbuster match of the round will be a massive one but unfortunately Johnathan Thurston suffered a hamstring injury in the second half of the Cowboys win against the Bulldogs. The reigning Dally M medallist will miss at least the next two weeks of competition and it is a big blow to their top four aspirations.
Meanwhile the Storm will head to Townsville with confidence after they were able to earn a narrow win against the defending champions already this season at a tough venue, Suncorp stadium. The Storm are still quietly going about their business and with Cameron Munster and Will Chambers returning to the side they have a lot more fire power in attack.
The Cowboys are undefeated on home soil this season winning all nine of their matches. However, the loss of Johnathan Thurston will be felt, as his experience and ability would have given them a huge boost against the best defence in the competition. We are predicting that they won’t be able to score enough points as the Storm will suffocate them with their defence and earn a narrow victory.
South Sydney Rabbitohs vs Canberra Raiders (Sunday 2pm AEST)
The Bunnies will feel hard done by after an NRL bunker decision cost them the chance of levelling the score against the Sea Eagles on Monday night. However, it was their first half performance that is really to blame as they allowed the Sea Eagles to score 18-unanswered points. The Bunnies defence has a lot of issues at the moment and their forward pack is making far too many errors, which is putting the side under immediate pressure.
The Raiders are one of the best attacking teams in the competition and they don’t need to be given many opportunities to score points. They have one of the best back lines and they have arguably the best centre combination in the competition with Jarrod Croker on one side and Joseph Leilua on the other. Jack Wighton has turned things around over the past month as he has found consistency and his attack has been terrific.
The forward pack of the Raiders will be able to get the advantage in this contest and lay a great platform for the Green Machines back line. If they are able to hold onto the ball they will no doubt be able to take an advantage on the scoreboard.
Manly Sea Eagles vs Newcastle Knights (Sunday 4pm AEST)
The Knights lost 36-0 on the weekend but it could have been a lot worse as James Maloney was rested with a groin injury, which had Chad Townsend taking the conversions. Townsend missed an incredible 7 shots at goal, which saved the Knights from another 50-point embarrassment. However, the Knights definitely are improving but they suffered another set back with Jarrod Mullen reinjuring his troublesome hamstring. He hasn’t been able to find any stability on the field this season, which has just mounted the pressure on halfback Trent Hodkinson.
The Sea Eagles have been able to keep their slim hopes of a finals berth alive by winning three straight matches. It has helped to relieve some of the pressure on coach Trent Barrett’s shoulders whilst it is a positive that Daly Cherry Evans has been able to improve his performances with Jamie Lyon playing in the halves alongside him. The Sea Eagles will earn the victory this weekend but we are predicting the Knights will be able to keep this contest closer than expected.
Gold Coast Titans vs Cronulla Sharks (Monday 7pm AEST)
The Sharks have now won 15-straight matches after they were able to easily overcome the Knights on the weekend. However, they will face a tough challenge this weekend with the Titans being a tough opponent for sides this year. They are continuing to impress and their win against the Eels on the weekend has put them in a solid position on the ladder. Ashley Taylor is continuing to impress in his rookie season and if he continues to play at a high level the Broncos will regret letting the halfback leave the club. Konrad Hurrell has played at a high level and is another attacking option for the Titans to turn too when looking for points and Gerald Beale will have his hands full defending the bulky centre this weekend.
The Sharks will likely be boosted with James Maloney returning to the side after having a week off to rest his groin. Playing on the Monday night will give him extra time to get healthy. The Sharks learned the disappointing news on Monday night that they won’t be able to have a semi-final played at Shark Park, as the NRL will have the match played at a bigger stadium. This could give the side added incentive but the Sharks are playing at such a high level that we don’t think it will be an issue for them to get up for this game. They are chasing history with the longest winning streak ever in the NRL and if Ben Barba continues to play at the level he is then they will be hard to stop. He has a terrific combination with his back line and he is nearly impossible to stop at the moment as he has regained his speed and tackle busting ability that has eluded him for the last couple of years.
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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