Round 18 of the 2020 NRL season wraps up on Sunday with two games to complete the round. First up, the Storm should be comfortable winners against the Cowboys, before the Sharks and the Warriors are set to provide an exciting contest! Scooby is back with his preview and NRL tips for Sunday's action!
The Storm continued on their winning ways, this time recording a convincing 22-16 win over the Rabbitohs away from home. The Storm went try for try with their opponents in the first half, only breaking clear in the second half when their defence improved. The attacking opportunities created by the Storm were something to be admired and pointed towards future positive performances. They played with poise (84% completion rate, 25 missed tackles and 9 errors), while allowing their opponents to generate more metres and post contact metres.
The Cowboys also bring winning form into this game, snapping a 9-game losing streak with their 23-22 Golden Point victory. It was a game where momentum swung back and forward and the Cowboys will take confidence from the fact that they scored one more try than their opponents and forced them into taking cheap penalty goals. The Cowboys finally valued possession (80% completion rate) and without Taumalolo, still managed 9.6m per carry and 752pcm. They will not take any confidence away from still having missed 28 tackles and 14 total errors; yet, a winning effort will have them in a better frame of mind against a team that many believe is far superior.
The Storm rely heavily on their defence to get them through matches; they average just 25.9 missed tackles per game (13th) and concede and average of just 12ppg (1st). In equal measure, the Cowboys miss 30.1 tackles (5th) and concede 25.6ppg (15th). The Storm create more attacking opportunities (4.4 linebreaks v 3.4 linebreaks pre game) and are superior at setting up tries (3.1 try assist v 2.5 try assists per game). They also average 1,713.6m per game (7th) compared with the Cowboys 1,641.8m (11th). The recent history is not kind to the visitors either; you have to go back to the Preliminary Final in 2015 to find the last time the Cowboys beat the Storm. Since then, the Storm have won the past 10 meetings between these two sides, regardless of where the game is played. In their victories, the average winning margin has been 9.3 points, with an average of 9.6 points when they are the home side.
This game is a foregone conclusion. The Storm have too much quality and are well coached, to the point where a dip in performance will not be tolerated. Even with the players absent from their line up, they will still be too strong. The most likely suggestion appears to be the Storm to win by with 13+ ($1.45) or 19+ ($1.80). For the record, I would prefer the latter but there could be some value in taking the Storm to win by 13-18 points. They may get to a stage in the game where they choose to rest a few key players and this may allow the Cowboys the chance to score some ‘pity’ points. It is probably less likely to happy but for the thrill seekers out there, take this bet with both hands and enjoy the ride!
It all went horribly wrong for the Sharks last week against the Knights, as they were comprehensively beaten 38-10. It was as if they had failed to ‘get off the bus’ in a game that could have had big finals implications. Instead, they appeared as though they were a team not even in contention for the finals, rather, going through a rebuild and relying on key players to ‘set the standard’. This is further supported by their inability to control possession; with just 43% possession, they completed at 72%, averaged just 8.6m per carry, 546pcm and 11 total errors. It was worse in defence, with the Sharks missing 40 tackles.
While the Sharks struggled, the Warriors proved, just two days later, that they were a team desperate to make a finals run. It was a thrilling contest, with the Warriors keeping alive their chances of victory right until the final whistle where they eventually were defeated 24-18. They will rue letting the Eels just to a 14-nil lead inside 25 minutes, eventually finishing the better side in the first half with a 14-12 deficit. All this with only 45% share of possession and a 74% completion. Still, there were positives to take away from the loss; they only committed 9 errors, missed just 22 tackles and had 26 tackles breaks (all statistics were better than the Eels). The motivation for winning this game is there for all to see. The Warriors could be a step closer to stealing a spot in the Top 8 with victory, while the Sharks could just about lock up their own spot with a win. A very exciting way to end the weekend of NRL action.
The Warriors will look to dominate the Sharks in the middle; they average 614.6pcm per game (5th) and 1,697.1m (8th) compared with the Sharks 499.1pcm (15th) and 1,661.7m (10th). The Sharks defence is rather poor when it comes to missed tackles; they have an average of 35.8 per game (1st) compared to the Warriors 30.5 (5th). The one area where the Sharks are remarkable ahead is the points scored and conceded. The Sharks score an average of 24.2ppg (5th) and concede 23.2ppg (10th), while the Warriors average 16.2ppg (13th) and 22.5ppg in defence (11th). The Sharks hold an edge over their opponents recently though, winning 7 out of the past 10 matches between these two sides dating back to Round 5, 2014. Majority of those matches were played on the road but they have a 75% winning strike rate when they are the home side. When victorious, the average margin has been 14.3 points but this has been impacted by blowout victories of 36, 26 and 31 points. In their victories, the Warriors have won by 4, 4 and 1 point.
A great way to finish the weekend. The Sharks head into this game as favourites; although, that may be a little misguided if the recent form of either side is to count for anything. The Warriors pushed the Eels to produce something special last week and the Sharks were woeful. The form line of the Eels isn’t anything to get excited about for Warriors fans though. They are a team that is struggling with their own issues. Nevertheless, it gives the Warriors a chance of producing something special here. They have a strong team that will look to outmuscle the Sharks in the middle. The creativity of their halves is arguably better at this stage of the season, especially with the confidence that they are playing with. Rather than making a specific call, invest around this game being close, with a winner not clear until the closing minutes of this contest.
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