Just the two games in the NRL this Sunday, the 26th of July and our newest rugby expert Scooby has you covered with a full preview and betting tips for both games below.
After a few weeks of underwhelming performances, the Knights came out and produced a stirring victory over the Rabbitohs. They were in control of the contest for 60 minutes but the Rabbitohs soon gathered momentum and were finishing the better side. Nevertheless, the Knights had built a strong lead and were deserving of victory. They completed at 81% with 51% share in possession, had 9 offloads and committed just 8 errors. The win has solidified their position in the Top 4 and they have a great chance to continue their winning ways and build their confidence.
The Bulldogs had their chance of upsetting the Dragons but let their opportunity slip away. While this coincided with the loss of playmaker Kieran Foran, they didn’t do themselves any favours averaging 8.8m per carry and missing 28 tackles (when they made less total tackles). Their effort did have positives; completing at 83% and committing just 6 errors highlights that the departure of Dean Pay might force some players to lift their standards with the impending arrival of a new coach.
The Knights are a disciplined team when it comes to the completions. They sit in 2nd in the competition with 81.3%, well ahead of the 11th placed Bulldogs who complete at an average of 76.8%. The Bulldogs create little in their attack, they average just 1.9 linebreaks per game (16th). The Knights are better but not excellent; they are in 7th with an average of 3.7 per game. This relates to the amount of momentum they generate with each carry. The Knights average are ranked 4th in the league for average metres per game (1,867.9m) 317.5m ahead of the Bulldogs, who are ranked 14th (1,550.4m).
The Bulldogs are a gritty team who forces their opponents to earn a victory each week. There is no reason to suggest that this game will be any different and they will be encouraged by their effort last week. There is little to suggest that anything but a Knights victory will occur. This is only amplified by the fact that the Bulldogs lose by an average of 21.4 points per game. Considering that and the desperation of the Knights to gather more fluid to their attacking movements, they may take greater risks and lead to a free-flowing game.
The Titans were always going to find it difficult against the Melbourne Storm. They surprised many with their early fight but unfortunately, this only lasted for 30 minutes. From that point onward, it was all one-way traffic in their 42-6 loss. With just 44% possession, they only completed at 72%, made 13 errors and missed 41 tackles. Even with expectations low, a better level of execution is expected.
Unfortunately, it does not get any easier for them, coming up against the new competition leaders, fresh off a 22-10 victory over the Cowboys. It was a tougher contest then many expected; with score locked at 10-all after 50 minutes, the Panthers were forced to another level to achieve victory. They stayed patient and with 55% possession, they completion 81% of their sets, missed only 21 tackles and made only 9 errors. What was also impressive was their second-phase play; they had 14 offloads and continued to generate momentum in the middle that further pressures their opponents defensive structure.
The Panthers are playing a patient brand of rugby league; they lead the competition in set completions with an average of 82%, while the Titans are ranked in 16th with 72.6%. It is no surprised that they are ranked the same in errors; the Panthers commit an average of 9.1 per game, while the Titans commit 13.1 per game. When it comes to scoring points, the Panthers average 24 points per game compared with the Titans 12.8 per game. In defence, the Panthers conceded 14.4 ppg (4th) compared with the Titans 28.7 ppg (15th)
This game appears to be a straight forward decision in favour of the competition-leading Panthers. The statistics mentioned above also point towards this being a one-sided contest. While a dominating performance was expected, yet not delivered last week, the Titans attack is far worse than that of the Cowboys. Their defence is also poor and they will have a hard time halting the Panthers once they gather momentum. The omission of Edwards (fullback) and Koroisau (hooker) does take firepower away from their attack, causing doubt about how many points they can score. Yet, with their defence and confidence growing in attack, they should cover their opponents easily over 80 minutes.
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