Super Saturday action will travel to three different locations this week, with just the first fixture to be impacted by COVID. The Bulldogs have shifted their match to Bankwest Stadium as they look to maintain a recent run of positive form against the high-flying Sea Eagles who want to maintain touch with the Top 5 teams.
The Titans will head down to a very cold Canberra to play the Raiders in the second game, with both sides still searching for consistency. The third contest will head back up the M1, all the way to Newcastle, with the Knights looking to turn their form around against an inconsistent Cowboys outfit.
NRL Round 16 Saturday Betting Tips
Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs v Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles
Bankwest Stadium, Saturday 3.00pm (AEST)
The Bulldogs have been an improved team since their Round 13 bye, defeating the Dragons by 22-points and leading the Eels 10-6 at HT in Round 15. Unfortunately, they could not maintain that effort for 80 minutes and were eventually defeated 36-10 at Bankwest. When their opponents clicked into another gear in the second half, they were unable to compete with them and were impacted by their opponents 70% and 92% completion rate. They will also have themselves to blame for the result. With 42% possession for the match, they completed at just 73%, averaged 8.4m per carry and made fewer post contact metres (621pcm v 435pcm). They also only had 1 line break for the match.
A much-improved effort will be needed against the high-flying Sea Eagles. They come into this game on the back of an incredible 2nd half effort against the Titans, which saw them score 9 unanswered tries to transform a 24-8 HT deficit into a 56-24 victory on the road. Despite averaging 48% possession and an 82% completion rate for the match, this was boosted by 65% possession and 95% completion rate in the second half. Elsewhere, they averaged 9.9m per carry, 11 line breaks and committed just 7 errors. They are arguably the ‘in form’ team of the competition and will want to make yet another statement with a strong performance here.
Head-to-Head = Bulldogs 20 Sea Eagles 16
At Bankwest Stadium = Bulldogs 37% Sea Eagles 32%
Last 10 Matches = Bulldogs 5 Sea Eagles 5 – The average winning margin is 11.2 points for the Bulldogs and 18.8 points to the Sea Eagles. Playing at your home ground appears to be important between these two sides with the hosts winning 7 out of the past 10 matches.
The Bulldogs appear to be outclassed in this contest. They are languishing at the bottom of the competition ladder and have been further impacted by the omission of 5 players due to COVID breaches. This has caused coach Barrett to name 5 rookies in the team. In equal measure, DCE and Tom Trbojevic have been named to back up from Origin. Even if these players were to withdraw, it would only narrow the margin of victory to the visitors. Home ground advantage is something special between these two sides, but it counts for little with the Bulldogs moving away from Stadium Australia; both teams have a poor record here as the Bulldogs have won just 7 games in 19 attempts, while the Sea Eagles have won just 6. That aside, the Sea Eagles have been dynamic in attack recently scoring 50 or more points in 3 of their past 5 match.
Alarmingly for the Bulldogs, all games came against teams in the bottom half of the competition ladder. This game is a matter of how much and that will depend largely on whether the Sea Eagles Origin stars take the field. Either way, they should get this victory comfortably. Normally, the Bulldogs are a team which doesn’t give easy wins to their opponents. They make them work hard for it. However, if the Eels can win by 26 points (a team the Sea Eagles defeated by 22 points), there is no telling how much of a tally the visitors could accumulate in 80 minutes.
Canberra Raiders v Gold Coast Titans
GIO Stadium, Saturday 5.30pm (AEST)
Just as it appeared the Raiders had turned their season around following Round 14, they slipped back into old habits giving up a 20-6 lead with 30 minutes remaining. Starting the game strongly, they built on a 14-6 HT lead and appeared poised to run away with the result. A few positive choices in the second half from their opponents and the Raiders were unable to halt the momentum of the Dragons. The statistics suggest that the match was theirs to lose; with 47% possession, they completed at 82%, averaged 9.3m per carry, had more post contact metres (391pcm v 300pcm), missed 27 tackles, and committed 10 errors. As poor as the Raiders were in giving up a lead, it was nothing compared to the Titans on Sunday who basically summed up their season in 80 minutes of rugby league.
They jumped out of the blocks to a very strong 24-8 HT lead; in the first half they had 70% possession and completed at 100%. That is where the positives stopped though as they conceded 9 second half tries in a 56-24 defeat, largely impacted by 35% possession in the second half. They had just 2 line breaks over 80 minutes and averaged 8.7m per carry. They were lost on the field and couldn’t find a way to halt their opponent’s momentum. Now, they are 4-points outside of the Top 8 and have conceded the 3rd most points of any team in the competition. It’s time for their big-money stars to step up and take control of their performance.
Head-to-Head = Raiders 14 Titans 12
At GIO Stadium = Raiders 58% Titans 36%
Last 10 Matches = Raiders 7 Titans 3 – The average winning margin is 17.8 points for the Raiders and 7.3 points for the Titans. Despite winning just 4 matches at this ground, all 4 have come within the past 7 trips here. When these two sides meet, the home team has won just 4 out of the past 10.
It is difficult to accurately read both teams and select them with confidence; both have been inconsistent to date. The Raiders let another opportunity slip in their previous fixture while the Titans were arguably the worse performed team in Round 15. It is interesting to note that a third of the Titans wins over the Raiders have come at this ground, while home ground advantage recently between the two sides seems to count for little. The Raiders Round 4 victory (20-4) should provide them with enough hope here and perhaps is a large contributor as to why they have gone up as favourites for this game. Either way, the price is too short. They take a similar 17 to the one which feature in their last match, with Captain Jarrod Croker returning to the team. The Titans receive a far greater boost, with Brimson (fullback), Thompson (wing) and Proctor (second row) returning. Each teams Origin players are also expected to feature.
Amazingly, the Titans performances are positive in attack; they ranked 7th for average points scored (22.8ppg), 4th for run metres (1,482m per game) and 5th for line breaks (5.8 per game). In the same areas, the Raiders score 19.8ppg (13th), make 1,410m per game (10th) and have an average of 4.8 line breaks (9th). Defence is the differentiating factor; the Titans concede 5.5 line breaks (14th) compared to the Raiders 5 (8th), miss 31 tackles (9th) slightly worse than the Raiders 30.6 (8th) and concede 29.1ppg (14th) well behind the Raiders 24.5ppg (9th). If the Titans can get their defence right, they should be in with a chance of winning this game. Ultimately, it is recommended that you stay away from this contest altogether. If you need to have a bet, the line (Titans +6.5) is worth some thought, just behind the match being decided by 8-points or less. Then again, given the inconsistency of both teams, a blowout could even occur.
Either Team by 8 or Less
Newcastle Knights v North Queensland Cowboys
McDonald Jones Stadium, Saturday 7.35pm (AEST)
The Knights will be desperate to make it 2 consecutive victories here against the Cowboys after prevailing 10-6 against the Warriors in difficult conditions. Needing a win, the Knights came out and delivered with a gritty performance. It was a timely return for Pearce and Klemmer, mainly Pearce, who added poise to the end of their attacking sets. It is why they completed at 85% with 56% and built a lot of pressure on their opponents. With the ball, they averaged 8.3m per carry and had 566pcm (v 473pcm for the Warriors).
It was pleasing that they also missed just 15 tackles and committed only 7 errors. However, unless they can build on that effort, such a victory will lose its meaning. The Cowboys were not as successful, going down 26-24 at home to the Sharks. Trailing 26-12 with less than 10 minutes remaining, a fightback (and potential victory) was on the cards but they Cowboys fell short, with the loss compounded further by a controversial 77th minute sin bin to Robson for high contact. The loss also meant they were unable to jump into the Top 8, rather, sit just outside and need results to continue to fall their way. This is crucial for their Finals aspirations and they will not want this opportunity to get away from them here.
Head-to-Head = Knights 20 Cowboys 19
At McDonald Jones Stadium = Knights 55% Cowboys 32%
Last 10 Matches = Knights 4 Cowboys 6 – The average winning margin is 14.5 points for the Knights and 12.3 points for the Cowboys. Home ground advantage is very important between these two sides, with the hosts winning 8 out the past 10 meetings.
Much like the hopes of the Knights this season, this game is going to be largely impacted by the inclusion or omission of Kaylan Ponga. Having not played since Round 9, he has been named to make a timely return at fullback. The same was also expected last week but he was a late withdrawal, so make sure that you pay attention to the final teams 1-hour prior to KO or my twitter feed for an update. The Cowboys are faced with their own issues ahead of this game and will be without Coach Payton as he isolates for 14-days after being a close contact of a COVID case in Townsville. All Origin representatives for both teams are expected to feature. The odds offered on both sides are inaccurate and it should be closer; the Knights ($1.46) are under the odds, while the Cowboys ($2.70) are overs.
Perhaps the home ground advantage (highlighted in the recent history) is impacting the odds, as was the case in Round 11 where the Cowboys were victorius in Townsville 36-20. There statistics do not clear things up either; the Cowboys average 20.6ppg in attack (9th) and 29.2ppg in defence (3rd) compared with the Knights 16.1ppg in attack (14th) and 24.8ppg in defence (7th). The Knights have more tackle breaks 25.7 (13th) and average 1,465m (7th) compared with the Cowboys 24.5 tackle breaks (15th) and 1,437m (9th). Both teams average 4.5 line breaks (11th). The points scored/conceded appears to be the biggest difference and the inclusion of Ponga should only help the Knights. As a lot depends on his presence, there are two preferred options depending on who takes the field.