With just one team inside the Top 8, Friday night action is hardly anything to get excited about. Nevertheless, these games can often result in exciting outcomes and with 3 out of the 4 teams producing thrilling passages of play last week; perhaps fans might not be as disappointed as they are expecting. Either way, it is an opportunity to invest and win some money ahead of the weekend.
Queensland Country Bank Stadium, Friday 6.00pm (AEST)
The Cowboys bounced back from a disappointing effort in Round 10 against the Roosters, comfortably accounting for the Knights 36-20 at home. Hardly ever troubled other than when players were in the sin bin, the Cowboys celebrated Taumalolo’s 200th game in style. Despite a 16-all HT scoring, the Cowboys kicked clear in the second half through some exciting play. They averaged 9.9m per carry (allowed 9.6m per carry to the Knights), made 11 line breaks and 33 tackle breaks, all while having an 80% completion rate. They will want to improve on their 29 missed tackles and 11 errors here but can continue building confidence at home. The Warriors were also victorious 30-26 against the Tigers at home; yet, they had a far more difficult time trying to grab victory. Trailing 10-nil after 15 minutes, the Warriors came back into the match to lead 16-10 at HT. Poor goal kicking gave the Tigers hope to snatch victory and they went very close with the last play of the game. It was a mixed performance too; with just 47% possession, they completed at 81%, they averaged 9.7m per carry but fewer metres and post contact metres than the Tigers, made 6 line breaks, missed 39 tackles and made 10 errors. Still, the Warriors walked away with the 2-points and keep touch with the Top 8. With only points differential separating these two sides on the ladder, this should be an even match.
Head-to-Head = Cowboys 19 Warriors 19
At Queensland Country Bank Stadium = Cowboys 44% Warriors 0% (never played here)
Last 10 Matches = Cowboys 5 Warriors 5 – The average winning margin is 17 points for the Cowboys and 7.2 points for the Warriors. The home team has won 6 out of 10 games in this period but worryingly, the Cowboys have won just 2/7 at home recently against the Warriors. Thankfully, they are playing at their new home ground.
The Warriors scraped home 24-20 over the Cowboys in Round 8 and the odds-on offer suggest a similar result is expected here. The Warriors have been consistent in recent weeks and despite having one win in their past three matches, they have been playing well. With the recent form of other teams, their losses to the Sea Eagles and Eels appear credible. In the same period, the Cowboys have been victorious twice, but just scraped home against the Broncos and dominated a very weak Knights outfit. Breaking down their strengths and weaknesses, the Warriors average 3.1 try assist (8th), 80.5% completion rate (1st), 4.5 line breaks (7th) and 26.8 missed tackles (11th). The Cowboys are well behind their opponents in these areas; they average 2.3 try assists (15th), 76.6 % completion rate (14th), 3.7 line breaks (12th) and 33.6 missed tackles (4th). The omission of Taumalolo (suspension) hurts the Cowboys middle, it is always difficult to replace a player of his quality anywhere on the field. With confidence growing in the Warriors and being channelled through Walsh at the back, the Warriors should have what it takes to handle the Cowboys. With a bye next week for both teams, expect players to throw everything into getting this result.
Bankwest Stadium, Friday 7.55pm (AEST)
The Tigers had a chance to snatch victory from the Warriors with the last play of the game but were unable to have the pass go to hands, handing them a 30-26 loss in the process. Maintaining their momentum from Magic Round, the Tigers jumped to a 10-nil lead inside 15 minutes. Unfortunately, they allowed the Warriors back into the match with errors plaguing their momentum (13 total errors). This impacted their completion rate (78%) as they were carrying the ball well for 9.7m per carry and making more post contact metres. Despite leaking points, they only had 22 missed tackles; they still have improvement left in them, but this was a superior display compared to what they delivered at the beginning of the season. The Dragons had no such luck in their match against the Sharks, losing 13-12 in Golden Point. Severely impacted by injuries and suspension, the Dragons were brave in defeat. Much like the Tigers, they too had a chance to grab victory with crucial FG’s missed. They had just 46% possession, completed at 78% with 13 errors, made 208m less than the Sharks (1,816m v 1,608m) with just 2 line beaks to their name. Their defence was also loose, missing 36 tackles. There is no doubt that had they been at full strength, they would’ve walked away with the competition points. Unfortunately, that is not how this game works, and they will want to break a 2-game losing streak with a win here and remain inside the Top 8.
Head-to-Head = Tigers 19 Dragons 20
At Bankwest Stadium = Tigers 32% Dragons 26%
Last 10 Matches = Tigers 6 Dragons 4 – The average winning margin is 13.5 points for the Tigers and 9.5 points for the Dragons. The Tigers have won 4 out of the past 5 meetings, while home ground advantage counts for little, with the home team winning just 3 of the past 10 matches.
Player availability has again impacted the Dragons chances in this game, and this is reflected in the odds offered. It is surprising that they are outsiders for this match given their ranking on the competition ladder. Taking a deeper look at each team, it is perhaps a lot closer than the odds are suggesting; both sides average a similar number of points in attack (20ppg – Tigers v 20.3ppg – Dragons) yet in defence, the Tigers average 28.2ppg compared with the Dragons 20.5ppg. Sure, these stats are attributed to a vastly different Dragons outfit, but an overlooked factor is that 3 out of the 4 players in their spine are first choice selections. Then again, they were near their top side in their Round 8 fixture when the Tigers defeated the Dragons 16-8. Changing locations doesn’t help either side as they both have horrible records at this ground; you can see this above but to emphasise the point further, the Tigers have won 9/28 and Dragons 5/19. It is difficult to invest on either team with confidence given the circumstances ahead of this game and ideally, you should stay away from this game altogether. If you cannot help but have a flutter, use the statistics to your advantage and take the Dragons to salute as the away team.
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