Round 7 in the NRL continues this Sunday with a big two game slate getting underway at 4.05pm! We have you covered with a full preview and betting tips for both games below.
Sunday, 4.05pm (AEST)
The Sea Eagles were very impressive last week, displaying resilience in every facet of their 14-6 win against the Raiders. Already missing Taupau in the middle, they were down to just 15-players after 5 minutes with two further injuries suffered. Nevertheless, they jumped to a 12-nil lead in the first half and relied upon their defence to get them home. Proving just how difficult it is to score without the ball, they had 58% of possession and a 90% complete to frustrate their opponents; this also forced the Raiders to make 125 more tackles and leaving little energy to attack with. The Sharks were able to capture their second win of the season, holding off a fast-finishing Bulldogs outfit 20-18. Despite failing to ‘dominate’ their opponents as many had expected, the Sharks executed well in parts. They had an 85% completion rate, made only 8 errors (best of the season for them) and missed only 29 tackles. The game also served to boost their confidence after a week where questions were again raised about the future of their coach.
Post-contact metres is about generating momentum and the Sharks sit 16th in the competition for this compare with the Sea Eagles, who are 9th. This may also reflect why the Sea Eagles sit in the same position for linebreaks, while the Sharks only narrowly improve to 13th (the teams below them are the Warriors, Titans and Bulldogs). Rounding this out is the statistic that the Sharks have the 4th highest error rate (11.7 per game) compared with the Sea Eagles, who are 14th with an average of 10 per game.
The injuries hanging over the head of the Sea Eagles have narrowed the odds ahead of this fixture. If both teams were at full-strength, there is no doubt which of the two would be a preferable selection. Still, the Sea Eagles are deserving favourites but you cannot completely count out the Sharks. Such is their talent, they are a dangerous team to encounter if they turn up to play. Fact is, they are yet to consistently put together 80 minutes of football and the Sea Eagles have a certain class and confidence about their play. This game should be a tight contest given the circumstances each face but one cannot invest on the Sharks with any confidence until they improve their weekly performances.
Sunday, 6.30pm (AEST)
The Bulldogs produced another resilient performance last week against the Sharks, scoring with 4 minutes remaining to have a chance of winning. In the end, they were unable to overcome their opponents and suffered a 20-18 loss. They will still be pleased with areas of this contest; they completed at 85% and committed only 8 errors. The challenge for them, like it is most weeks, is turning their attacking sets into points. The same cannot be said for the Tigers, who were desperate for a win following a narrow loss to the Raiders and a shocking effort against the Titans in Round 4. They were ready to go from the opening whistle and scored their first points after only 2 minutes of play. Having a 34-nil HT lead has many positives, except for the fact that they allowed their opponents to score 20-points in the second half while only managing a penalty goal. Nevertheless, the improved effort (83% completion rate, 29 missed tackles and 9 errors) will give them plenty of confidence ahead of this match. If they wish to stay in Finals contention and be taken seriously, this is a game they need to win.
The Bulldogs are their own worst enemy in matches; they commit an average of 12.5 errors per game (1st in the league) compared with the Wests Tigers showing more discipline with 10.2 per game (12th in the league). It is no secret that they also struggle to score points, averaging just 11.7 points per game (15th), while the Tigers sit in 4th, averaging 23.5 per game. Despite the Tigers (22.3 per game) conceding more than the Bulldogs (21.3 per game), the ability to score them may ultimately decide this contest.
Once you consider all of the factors for this match, it is hard to go past the Tigers. They are an improving team under the guidance of Michael Maguire and have a larger abundance of talent to draw upon compared with their opponents. That is not to discredit the Bulldogs; their fans have plenty to be proud of and they will always cause an issue for their rivals each week. Unfortunately, that will only get them so far this week and the disparity between points scored points towards the Tigers being able to cover the line.
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