Round 12 of the NRL kicks off on Thursday night with an interesting clash between the Dragons and Rabbitohs from 7.50pm! As usual, we have you covered with a full preview and betting tips for the clash courtesy of our rugby expert, Scooby.
Netstrata Jubilee Stadium, Thursday 30th July 7.50pm
The Dragons fell agonisingly short of the Sharks last week, albeit in controversial circumstances. However, if they are honest in their assessment, they had numerous opportunities to close out the match and were unable to deliver. This is supported by their 85% completion rate, 8 errors and only 18 missed tackles. Where they were ineffective was carrying the ball; they averaged just 7.9m per carry (their lowest of the year). This brings into further question, the right balance of their pack, in particular their hooker, moving forward.
The Rabbitohs were also unsuccessful in their match, going down to the Raiders 18-12 on the road. Yet again, they were their own worst enemies; they had a 75% completion rate, made 11 errors and missed 28 tackles (well above their opponents). Like the Dragons, they had their chances to score more points but something is still missing from their side. They averaged 8.1m per carry; although, that was above their opponents (7.1m per carry). Perhaps the impending return of Mitchell at fullback will provide greater attacking options for a team that is desperate for more confidence, consistency and points in the run towards the Finals. This game also comes at a crucial time, with the sides separated by just 2-points on the competition ladder.
The Dragons have been improving their control in recent weeks and it has coincident with more points being scored. Currently, they are ranked 5th for completion rate with 80% and 10th for points with 18.9 per game. In equal measure, the Rabbitohs are 14th with a 75% set completion and 8th with 19.8 points per game. On the other side of the ball, the Rabbitohs concede an average of 17 ppg compared with the Dragons 20 ppg. The visitors are more effective in using the ball though; they create an average of 2.6 linebreaks per game (6th), while the Dragons average just 1.8 per game (12th). The venue plays a large factor in the outcome, with the Rabbitohs winning 2/7 here compared with the Dragons who have a 61% winning record. That being said, the Rabbitohs have won 10 out of the last 12 matches between these two sides (dating back to Round 5 2014).
Such an important game awaits these two sides, with the Rabbitohs heading into this game as favourites. Their form is inconsistent, highlighted by the fact that all of their wins have come against teams outside of the Top 8 and the only time they didn’t beat a side there, was Round 2 against the Broncos. The impending return of Latrell Mitchell does add another dimension to their attack; the loss of Clune forces Hunt back to halfback probably poses more problems than it solves with the Dragons. The strong recent record of the Rabbitohs speaks for itself against the Dragons and they appear to have an attacking edge over them. The home sides effort against the Bulldogs the week prior cannot be overlooked. They were very poor; continually switching off at different points during a match, allowing their opponents to gain the ascendency and score points. This was also evident last week. The Rabbitohs also have their flaws, namely errors and lack of discipline with the ball. They have the edge of asking more questions of their opponents defence than the Dragons. With that in mind, as well as the average winning margin of 10.8 points in the Rabbitohs last 10 victories over the Dragons, the ideal selection is the visitors by less than 2 converted tries.
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