Round 8 of the NRL season continues this Sunday with the two game slate kicking off at 4.05pm! We have a full preview and betting tips for both games courtesy of our newest NRL expert 'Scooby'!
Manly are set to be tested in the next few weeks with Tom Trbojevic out; it wasn’t easy for them last week and their winning record without their star fullback sits below 35%. Their typical gritty performance was hoping to get them through; unfortunately, this wasn’t the case as they went down 40-22 to the Sharks. It was an uncharacteristic performance form them, missing 40 tackles and committing 11 total errors. The Knights had their confidence checked at the hands of the Cowboys, going down 32-20. The game was all but over at HT with the home side leading 26-nil. They will take plenty away from winning the second half but it left their coach wanting more from his team. Similar to the Sea Eagles, they too have themselves to blame as they committed 12 total errors and allowed the Cowboys to generate over 10m per carry.
The Knights are great at generating their own momentum through the middle of the field; they currently average 625.7m per game compared with the Sea Eagles 537.4m. This may explain why the Knights average 24.1 points per game compared with the Sea Eagles 16.7 ppg. The exclusion of Trbojevic will further hamper their efforts. The amount of missed tackles per game is close and suggests this could be a close game; the Knights are the 4th best in the league with 27.3 per game, while the Sea Eagles are second best, with 26.6 per game.
The return to Brookvale Oval will lift the Sea Eagles, but only so much. If the Knights want to be considered as a top team (like their form has demonstrated), they will need to bounce back from a poor effort last week. The lack of personnel hurts the home sides chances and they will need to be at their best in every other area to disrupt their opponents. The odds have Newcastle only slightly ahead but the statistics and previous points made suggest the away team should win. For what is worth (if you want to invest on the margin), the last 4 out of 5 matches between these two teams has been decided by a margin of 8-points or less.
Bankwest Stadium, 6.30pm
The Bulldogs are battling each week and, while playing with passion, are lacking the quality of most other teams. After opening the scoring in the 18th minute, they were comprehensively beaten in every area to go down 34-6 to the Tigers. With only 40% possession, they were starved of opportunities and their 78% completion rate didn’t make things any easier. To make matters worse, they made 13 total errors and missed 32 tackles. The Rabbitohs were also defeated (20-12 by the Panthers) and were woeful with the ball, making 12 errors at key stages when building momentum. That was all the Panthers needed to punish their opponents and a 79th minute try only flattered them. They will look to improve upon the 47% possession and 77% completion rate against a lesser opponent here.
It is no secret that the Bulldogs struggle to score points; they average just 10.9 per game (16th in the league) while conceding an average of 23.1 ppg. On the other hand, the Rabbitohs score 20.5 ppg and concede 19.1 pgg. The key area for this would be linebreaks where the Rabbitohs average 3.1 per game compared with the Bulldogs, who sit (again) in 16th with 1.6 per game.
The only danger to the Rabbitohs losing this game would be a poor attitude. Given how well they played against the Titans and the Warriors (both lower ranked opponents), they would again look to use this game as a ‘confidence booster’. The only remaining question is by how much the Rabbitohs win this game and with majority of matches being decided by 13+ points (refer to Thursday preview), that appears the way to go for this one.
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