Super Saturday action stretches across two states this week, with the first of the three matches centering on the main celebration of Beanies for Brain Cancer kicking off the afternoon's play. There is no better setting for the Mark Hughes Foundation than the Hunter and it is a crucial game moving forward for both teams. In equal measure, so is the 5:30pm match between the Dragons and Raiders. Traditionally a competitive match, two sides could end up passing on another on the ladder at the end of this match. The last game heads to fortress Sunshine Coast, as the Storm aim to keep their undefeated record here alive against the Tigers.
NRL Round 15 Saturday Betting Tips
Newcastle Knights v New Zealand Warriors
McDonald Jones Stadium, Saturday 3.00pm (AEST)
The Knights attempted to put a poor performance in Round 13 behind them against the Rabbitohs, yet the class between the two sides was evident as the home team prevailed 24-10. While it wasn’t the dominant score line that most were expecting, the Knights still failed to take their chances, build pressure, and make the Rabbitohs pay for their mistakes (16 total errors). They did their best with the ball, completing at 86% with 52% possession but were ineffective when it came to the end of sets. They also managed just 2 line breaks for the match.
The Warriors also struggled in their match against the Storm, comprehensively beaten 42-16. 2 late tries to the home side only narrowed the score as the Storm scored 7 tries to 3. They never gave themselves an opportunity to get into the contest either; they completed at 72% with 46% possession, averaged 8.5m per carry, had fewer post contact metres and just 2 line breaks. The also missed 31 tackles in defence and committed 10 errors. This is a crucial game for both teams ahead of the Origin break and both will want to grab a win to build some momentum to keep their slim Top 8 hopes alive.
Head-to-Head = Knights 19 Draw 1 Warriors 22
At McDonalds Jones Stadium = Knights 55% Warriors 44%
Last 10 Matches = Knights 4 Warriors 6 – The average winning margin is 14.5 points for the Knights and 18.7 points for the Warriors. The Knights have won 2 out of the past 3, while the home side has a 60% strike rate.
The Knights have been poor recently, winning just 1 of their past 5 games and conceding an average of 26.1ppg each week. Regardless of what is happened though, it should be a different performance here with the return of key players in Ponga, Pearce and Klemmer. The Warriors are also strengthened with the naming of Walsh and the second match back for Fonua-Blake but will be without half Harris-Tavita who suffered a season ending injury. This may provide some indication as to why the Knights are installed as favourites, but should Ponga withdraw, expect the odds to narrow significantly.
Given the performance of each team this year, the Knights talent has been overrated. Looking further, the Warriors average 26.7ppg in defence while scoring 21.6ppg in attack; the Knights average 16.5ppg in attack. There are too many factors impacting upon this game to invest on it with confidence. The Knights were successful 20-16 in Round 2, but that match saw a frustrating day for both teams. For what it is worth, the occasion may work in the Knights favour. Thus, there are two options for this match based on the impact of 1-player. It is never ideal to rely on this outcome, but it appears as though this will be the main contributing factor to the outcome of this contest.
Ponga is out – Warriors 1-12 ($3.60 at Sportsbet)
Ponga plays – Either Team by 8-points or less ($2.15 at Sportsbet)
St George-Illawarra Dragons v Canberra Raiders
WIN Stadium, Saturday 5.30pm (AEST)
The Dragons crashed back to earth following a pleasing win over the Broncos in Round 13, with a 28-6 loss to the Bulldogs. In one of the lowest points of their season, the Dragons scored just one try and allowed the team with the worse attacking record in the competition to score 4 tries in an abysmal display of rugby league. Looking at the statistics, they only have themselves to blame; they completed at just 70% with only 42% possession, ran for fewer metres (1,850m v 1,291m), had just 1 line break, missed 34 tackles and had 12 errors. It genuinely appeared as though some of their players gave up in that contest.
Such an effort is normally reserved for the Raiders, but they were anything but disappointing in their 38-16 win over the Broncos at home. Dictating from the opening minutes and crossing in the 4th, the Raiders held a comfortable 22-10 lead at HT and never appeared in trouble of losing control of the match. The confidence had returned to their play, and it showed on the stats sheet; they completed at 86% with 49% possession, they had fewer runs yet made more metres for an average 10.7m per carry, had 9 line breaks, 39 tackle breaks, just 29 missed tackles and only 9 errors. It was a much improve effort and it will give them plenty of confidence ahead of this fixture against a team which is higher on them on the competition ladder.
Head-to-Head = Dragons 11 Draw 1 Raiders 20
At WIN Stadium = Dragons 61% Raiders 56%
Last 10 Matches = Dragons 5 Raiders 5 – The average winning margin is 9 points for the Dragons and 13 points for the Raiders. The Raiders have won 4 out of the past 5 meetings.
There was a lot to like last week about the Raiders and most importantly, the time is now for them to make a strong run towards the Finals. The biggest change in their performance was the way their forward dominated the middle of the field. To put things into perspective, it was only the Broncos, and they are a team which has played plenty of opponents into form this year. Regardless, the execution of the Raiders was most impressive. This would be a major reason why they have been installed as favourites for this game. The line (-2.5) is almost too good to be true.
They have a strong recent record over the Dragons and will look to take advantage of their opponents dwindling form. A bounce back should occur, but that will only count for so much. At the end of the day, the Raiders still average more metres per game (1,558.6m v 1,532.4m), more post contact metres (548.2pcm v 520pcm), more line breaks (4.4 v 3.4) and fewer missed tackles (29.5 v 33.1). Even if the Dragons are ahead of them on the competition ladder, the confidence of the Raiders are still a capable team and should account for the Dragons in this match.
Melbourne Storm v Wests Tigers
Sunshine Coast Stadium, Saturday 7.35pm (AEST)
The Storm put on a show last week, with the Warriors merely a contributor to the 42-16 victory to the dominant Melbourne outfit. The Storm were rewarded with their performance, jumping to 1st on the competition ladder. Despite taking 22 minutes to opening their scoring account, the Storm ran in 7 tries to 3, with the Warriors only crossing late once the result was decided. It was a victory in style too; with 54% possession they completed at 86%, averaged more metres (1,518m v 1,455m), had 6 line breaks, 31 tackle breaks, missed just 28 tackles and committed only 6 errors over 80 minutes.
With other leading teams struggling during the representative period, the Storm have clicked into another gear. It is an ominous warning to the Tigers, who were embarrassed against the Eels last week. On a 2-game winning streak, the Tigers were faced with an opportunity to demonstrate how far they had come and were put in their place with a 40-12 loss. Trailing just 14-6 at HT, the Tigers were blown away in the second half, conceding 4 tries to 1. Even with the Eels losing 2 players to the sin bin, the Tigers were powerless and failed to build pressure on their opponents. With just 46% possession, they completed at 71%, made fewer metres (1,867m v 1,468m) and post contact metres (696pcm v 606pcm) and made half of the Eels line breaks (8 v 4). On top of this, they were let down in defence by 46 missed tackles and 14 errors. They would hardly have confidence following that effort and will need a strong start to bounce back here.
Head-to-Head = Storm 21 Tigers 12
At Sunshine Coast Stadium = Storm 100% Tigers 0%
Last 10 Matches = Storm 6 Tigers 4 – The average winning margin is 11.7 points for the Storm and 9.8 points for the Tigers. The Storm have won 5 of the past 7 matches. The Storm are undefeated at this ground, including a 50-22 victory over the Tigers here last year.
As the odds suggest, there is only one possible outcome for this match and that is a Storm victory. For the Tigers to cause an upset, a several things would have to go their way over 80 minutes and their form so far this season suggests that this is highly unlikely. The Storm are a team which is flying high and will be better served by their performance last week, with their returning starts benefitting from more match fitness.
This game is simple; it should be a comfortable Storm victory and the bookies are trying to entice punters with a generous line of 23.5 points. That can be dangerous; the Tigers have an average losing margin of 13.2 points this season, with the Storms average win margin at 25 points. Play it safe and take the Storm to win by more than 3 converted tries.