Two games on Sunday to complete Round 6 of the 2020 NRL season. The Raiders take on the Sea Eagles in what should be a great contest, to be followed by the Sharks and Bulldogs. We have our preview and NRL tips for each match here.
Sunday 4:05pm AEST
While another fixture gathers the attention as the ‘game of the round’, this match is not far behind. The Raiders looks to make it consecutive victories after overcoming a gritty Tigers outfit last week. In a tricky contest, the Raiders overcame a 4-nil halftime deficit to beat a team that was aiming to bounce back from a poor effort the week before. The fact that they managed an 85% completion rate in doing so, demonstrates the maturity of this team. The same can be said for the Sea Eagles, who were faced with a larger, more difficult task. Behind 18-nil after 31 minutes, this team could’ve easily folded. Their issues were compounded when losing Martin Taupau to an injury. Yet, they too showed their class in scoring 20-unanswered points to claim victory. In the end, it was their weight of possession (54%) and completion rate (85%) that got them over the line.
For all of the noise being made about them, the Raiders still have their faults. There is no bigger than their missed tackles (32.2 per game) compared with the Sea Eagles (25.4 per game) who are the best in the competition. That being said, the Raiders have conceded less points (11.6 p/g vs 13.8 p/g) than the Sea Eagles while also scoring more each match (19.6 p/g vs 16.2 p/g). Those statistics aside, these teams are fairly even in most other areas.
The loss of Martin Taupau hurt the Sea Eagles; then again, if his effort last week is anything to go by, Fonua-Blake is ready to take up the challenge as the leader of this pack. He will have his work cut out for him, with the Raiders pack one of the most physically dominating in the competition. The key for the Raiders is shutting down DCE in the halves and limiting the impact the Trbojevic’s have on this game. If they can force pressure on these 3 players, they should have what it takes to win. The Raiders sent a warning when beating the Storm and since then, each team has lifted when they’ve faced them. The same can be expected here and with both sides relishing the tight tussle a narrow margin of victory appears to be the way to invest.
Sunday 6:30pm AEST
Even the hardest Rugby League fan will have difficulty tuning into this contest, with the struggling sides hardly raising the imagination of fans. All their worst nightmares came true last week for followers of the Sharks; they lost to their cross-town rivals who were in turmoil and in doing so, raised several questions about the value of players within their squad and overall coaches credentials. They were their own worst enemy in that match, committing 15 errors and missing 46 tackles. Despite missing 39 tackles and committing 15 errors in their own match, the Sharks players could take plenty away from the spirit displayed by the Bulldogs each week. It is no secret that they are a team who is lacking talent. Their 42-6 hammering at the hands of the Roosters was evidence of just how much improvement is still needed. The Bulldogs will still sense that the Sharks are vulnerable in this game and will consider themselves as capable of causing an upset.
The Bulldogs (13.4 p/g) and the Sharks (12.4 p/g) average the most errors in the competition. That isn’t to suggest a poor game is ahead; rather, that each team should get their opportunity to capitalise on their opponents. The stark contrast here is the difference between points scored. The Sharks are rightly listed as favourites averaging 17.2 p/g compared with the Bulldogs 10.4 p/g. As both teams have conceded the exact same amount of points thus far (21.6 p/g), their ability to score points may be what separates them.
The Sharks need to bounce back from a poor effort but cannot just expect this game to be handed to them. The Bulldogs will give themselves a chance, albeit, with errors littering their play. If the Sharks can control the speed of play and dominate the middle, they should have what it takes to overcome the Bulldogs. The line on offer appears too good to pass up when you take into account each team’s ability to score points.
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