The winter chill is just around the corner and NRL fans have 3 exciting games for fans warm up with. The first should be a forgone conclusion prior to KO; yet, it will be interesting viewing to see players push their cases in a final Origin audition. Then, two evenly matched teams on the ladder face off, with the Rabbitohs and Eels desperate to turn around their losing form from last week. Finally, it is a trip north up the M1 for the Roosters ‘away’ game against the Raiders. Coming off an upset to the Broncos, the game cannot begin soon enough for the Roosters and the Raiders, who have their own issues, will welcome a distraction away from their off-field problems.
BlueBet Stadium, Saturday 3.00pm (AEST)
The Panthers made a loud statement against a fellow contender in Dubbo, comprehensively beating the Rabbitohs 56-12 in a dazzling display of rugby league. The Panthers scored 5 tries before the Rabbitohs crossed the line, as the result was basically decided by HT with the visitors leading 30-6. Showing their class, the Panthers completed at 89% with 59% possession, averaged 9.7m per carry, made 563m more than the Rabbitohs, had 668 post contact metres, just 6 errors and 9 line breaks. As impressive as they were in attack, it was again their defence which held strong. They have a commanding defensive record, averaging just 7.6 points per game; against the Rabbitohs, they missed 28 tackles. Despite being competitive in their last two games, the Bulldogs will face an uphill battle to make this game modest. They pushed the Titans last week, overcoming an 18-10 HT deficit to trail their opponents by just 4-points with 10 minutes remaining. It wasn’t meant to be though, with some key areas letting them down. With 49% possession, they completed at 77%, made fewer metres (1,975m v 1,736m) and post contact metres (650 v 552) while also committing 10 errors. There were some positives for a team which is aiming to improve it week to be competitive; they missed just 26 tackles made 6 line breaks (equal with their opponents). It will take yet another jump in execution to test their opponents here.
Head-to-Head = Panthers 22 Bulldogs 18
At BlueBet Stadium = Panthers 58% Bulldogs 42%
Last 10 Matches = Panthers 6 Bulldogs 4 – The average winning margin is 22 points for the Panthers (including 28-point, 38-point and 42-point victories) and 5.5 points for the Bulldogs. The Panthers have won 3 out of the past 4 against the Bulldogs, 4 out of the past 5 at home and kept the Bulldogs scoreless in the past 2 matches.
The Bulldogs are $21 outsiders in markets, the largest outsiders in the history of the NRL. This market is accurate and a fair indication of how straightforward the decision in this game is. The Panthers are an attacking machine averaging 33.1 points per game (1st) and limiting their opponents to just 7.6 points (1st). In the same areas the Bulldogs score just 11.8 points (16th) and concede 30 points (16th). Having teams at the opposite end of this statistic will never end well. The story is similar in other areas too like line break (Panthers 6.5 – 2nd v Bulldogs 2.6 – 16th), post contact metres (Panthers 634pcm – 1st v Bulldogs 543.7pcm – 7th) and try assists (Panthers 4.6 – 2nd v Bulldogs 1.6 – 16th). At $1.01, it is difficult to find any value in the Panthers. With a 28-nil win already to their name against their opponents in horrendous conditions back in Round 2, there is no limit to what the Panthers can achieve. With Origin selection on the line, expect the young Panthers team to be hitting their straps. While scoring plenty of points, they will also be able to limit their opponents and not just cover the line (35.5) but maybe even break 50.
History Repeats = Kikau & Momirovski to score a try @ $3 – Both players scored a double in Round 2 and, while not suggesting they can cross for two again, they are every chance of cracking the Bulldogs line for at least one 4-pointer.
Stadium Australia, Saturday 5.30pm (AEST)
The Rabbitohs were embarrassed last week by the Panthers, conceding 50-points to an opponent for the second time in 3 weeks, in their 56-12 loss. It was a reminder to this team how much they had to improve if they were to be competitive to a team which defeated them in last year’s Grand Final Qualifier. The less said about the Rabbitohs game, the better, as they were powerless in attempting to stop the Panthers. It is worth highlighting that with 41% possession, they completed at 78%, made just 1,190m (Panthers 1,753m), had just 2 line breaks and missed 37 tackles over 80 minutes. If they haven’t already, such losses could completely derail their season. The Eels were also defeated in their game against the Sea Eagles, a rare loss at Bankwest Stadium for the home team. High on emotion, the Eels were competitive early but were unable to maintain this, eventually falling away in the contest to lose 28-6. In a strange game, the Eels had more possession (53%), completed at 81% with 10 errors and made more metres than their opponents. Where they fell away was in defence, usually a strong quality in this team. They allowed 8 line breaks to their opponents, while missing 41 tackles and allowing 16 offloads. This meant they were unable to find any momentum, falling to their second defeat of the season. They will want to bounce back here against the Rabbitohs; with both teams desiring similar things in Round 11, this game promises to be an exciting match.
Head-to-Head = Rabbitohs 16 Draw 1 Eels 17
At Stadium Australia = Rabbitohs 56% Eels 49%
Last 10 Matches = Rabbitohs 7 Eels 3 – The average winning margin is 14 points for the Rabbitohs and 8 points for the Eels. The Rabbitohs have won 4 out of the past 5 matches, while the home team has won just 4 out of the past 10 games.
The Rabbitohs are fortunate to have Murray (injury) return at lock to strengthen their middle. For the Eels, they will be without Campbell-Gillard (suspension) and Arthur remains in the halves. It is puzzling to see the Rabbitohs installed as favourites for this fixture. The recent history does favour them, but they have lost all matches against teams higher than them on the ladder this year and two of those losses have been by 50+ points. Perhaps the attacking ability of the Rabbitohs is clouding judgement; then again, they average less than the Eels in attack (25.4ppg v 27.3ppg) and more in defence (22.9ppg v 15.5ppg). The Rabbitohs have been slow to start matches this year and allowed struggling teams like the Raiders (20 points), Sharks (22 points) and Titans (30 points) to score more points than they should have. The Eels strong defensive record cannot be overlooked, and they should be rated as the stronger team ahead of this contest. You’re going to need to get in early though, as the price on the Eels is bound to shorten ahead of KO.
If you're looking for extra value then the Eels 1-12 @ $3.50 looks good. If you’re taking the Eels to win, then you must consider this option. It would be surprising to see the Rabbitohs defeated by a large margin after their defensive performance last week and this option fits nicely into the recent win margin of the Eels.
Central Coast Stadium, Saturday 7.35pm (AEST)
The Roosters suffered their 4th loss of the season last week, upset in dramatic circumstances by the Broncos 34-16. Outplayed in every area, the Roosters conceded 6 tries to 3 and despite getting themselves back into the contest to trail 16-14 at HT, were never in the contest in the second half. Regardless of the calls made by the referees, they will only have themselves to blame for their performance. With 46% possession, they completed at 74%, made fewer metres (1,446m v 1,519m) and post contact metres (494 v 469), committed 12 errors and missed 32 tackles. Interestingly, for a team entrenched inside the Top 8, they are yet to put together 3 consecutive victories. The Raiders season continued to spiral out of control and more questions were raised following their 34-10 loss to the Storm. The way the defeat took place was of most concern; the Raiders jumped to a 10-nil lead after 14 minutes and managed to make the Storm wait until the 33rd minute before crossing the line. Once the flood gates opened, the Raiders were powerless to stop their opponent’s momentum. They too were their own worst enemy; with just 46%, they completed at 69%, made 542m fewer than their opponents, had 249 fewer post contact metres, created just 1 line break, committed 12 errors, and missed 34 tackles. News of the departure of their halfback is only going to cause further troubles for a team desperate to resurrect their season before it is too late.
Head-to-Head = Roosters 26 Raiders 14
At Central Coast Stadium = Roosters 38% Raiders 0%
Last 10 Matches = Roosters 5 Raiders 5 – The average winning margin is 11.2 points for the Roosters and 3.8 points for the Raiders. 8 out of the past 10 games have been decided by 8-points or less, with just 1 match going over the 12-point margin.
Taking both teams on face value, the Roosters have the edge. They average more points (27.3ppg v 18.5ppg) and concede fewer points (16.5ppg v 23.7ppg), while the Raiders are winless here in 6 matches. However, if you assess the statistics of both sides, the performance of the Roosters isn’t as polished as their standing on the ladder would suggest. The teams are close in set completion with the Roosters 12th (77.1%) and Raiders 15th (75.4%) in the competition, they are equal second with one another in terms of errors made (11.6 per game) and miss nearly the same amount of tackles each week with the Roosters in 8th (28.8 per game) and the Raiders in 6th (29.8 per game). The Roosters have been able to cover this though in 2021 and it is through the way they look to dominate the middle; they are 5th for metres made (1,654.6m p/g), 3rd for line breaks (6.1 p/g) and 4th for try assists (4.1 p/g). In the same areas the Raiders are 13th for metres made (1,557.3m p/g), 10th for line breaks (4.1 p/g) and 11th for try assists (2.7 p/g). There was a slight chance the Raiders could produce an upset based on the first stats and that Ricky Stuart would likely have his players fired up for this contest. Then again, you consider the second form of statistics, how poorly they failed against the Storm and the turmoil that has again been exposed this week and it appears unlikely. The return of Wighton and Hodgson adds stability to the Raiders team, as does the inclusion of Morris for the Roosters. The loss of two key backrowers in Radley and Crichton hurts the Roosters though. Given the history between the two sides, this game should be decided by fewer than 2 converted tries and for that reason alone, the line is worth the thought. This is your last chance, Canberra!
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