Round 11 of the NRL season gets underway on Thursday night with an interesting clash between the Eels and Tigers! Scooby is back this week with a full preview and betting tips for the round opener below.
Bankwest Stadium, Thursday 7:50pm
The Eels were upset last week by the Sea Eagles on the road, a loss that also has seen them drop down a place on the competition ladder. From the opening moments, there was a sense that the home side came ‘ready to play’ and the eventual 22-18 score was proof of that. With both teams understrength, it appeared as though the Eels had the edge; however, for the first time since Moses has been out, they appeared somewhat ‘lost’ in attack. The statistics provide support for this, as with 57% possession, they were unable to score enough points. It probably didn’t help that they had a 76% completion rate and made a massive 15 errors. It should also be noted that they had the edge in defence and made more metres per carry over 80 minutes.
The Tigers had no such issue in the return to their spiritual home ground, Leichhardt Oval, winning 48-nil to the Broncos. It was a large test for the new halves combination of Walters and Marshall. The game was all but over at HT, with the home side leading 26-nil; they picked up from where they left off in the second half too, scoring again in the 42nd minute. Everything worked for them; they completed at 88% with 52% possession, had 14 offloads, made only 8 errors and missed just 19 tackles. While being a poor opponent with a host of lingering issues, it was also a much-needed win that pushed them back into the Top 8 and will give this team confidence moving forward into this match.
The Eels success has been built around their forwards and this is an area the Tigers have been aiming to improve each week. As it stands, the Eels average 1,974.5m per game (1st) and 671.7m post contact (1st); this is compared with the Tigers who average 1,705m (6th) and 558.1m post contact (11th). Having a solid platform to work from is one thing, using it to your advantage is another. The Tigers and Eels both average 3.1 linebreaks per game and will need each defence to be resolute in this contest. This is where a point of difference emerges, with the Eels averaging 27.6 missed tackles per game (11th) compared with the Tigers 29.2 (7th) per game. The Eels have had the edge over the Tigers recently, winning 7 out of the past 10 meetings between the two sides dating back to 2014. In those contests, the Eels have an average winning margin of 12 points, skewed somewhat by the 51-6 drubbing in Round 6 last year. If you remove that margin, the average sits at 6.5 points.
The home side will be encouraged by the return of playmaker Mitchel Moses for this contest, among a few other returning stars. It comes at just the right time as the Tigers sense that they can capitalise on a team that was below their best last week. Some may discredit the Tigers effort against the Broncos, yet, it was the way they went about their victory which was most impressive; not only did they score plenty of points but they also kept their opponents to zero points over 80 minutes. That will count for something ahead of this clash; although, the Eels promise to provide greater difficulty. The book makers have the Eels as strong favourites; rightly so considering the ‘bounce back’ that is expected at a ground where they perform strongly at. However, the game may not be as one-sided as many are suggesting. The Eels were overcome with momentum last week and the Tigers have the right man in Harry Grant to provide the same troubles. While an Eels victory appears likely, the greater value lies within the margin. After considering the previous results between these two ‘rivals’, a close game is expected between two teams out to prove a similar point.
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