Just the one game in the NRL this Friday night as the South Sydney Rabbitohs host the Cowboys from 7.55pm in Newcastle. As always, Scooby is back on deck with a full preview and betting tips for the Friday night action below.
Newcastle, Friday 9th July 7.55pm (AEST)
The stage was set for the Rabbitohs to make a statement and have their halves push for Origin selection last Sunday against the Tigers. They didn’t hurt their chances with an easy 38-22 victory. The visitors were strong early scoring in the first minute of play and relentlessly pressuring the Tigers to lead 26-nil at HT. They were never troubled in the second half and will only be frustrated that they allowed their opponents to cross for 4 tries.
Despite the result never being questioned, the Rabbitohs performed statistically well; with 55% possession, they completed at 82%, averaged 9.1m per carry (limited the Tigers to just 8.3m), made 632pcm, 11 line breaks and missed just 24 tackles. More importantly, the win lifted them to 3rd on the competition ladder. The Cowboys would’ve liked a similar outcome; however, after a difficult preparation impacted by COVID, they were embarrassed 38-nil by the Knights. Conceding a try in the second minute of play, the Cowboys never gathered any momentum to trouble their opponents.
With just 46% possession, they completed at 79%, made 325m less than the Knights, had fewer line breaks and post contact metres and missed 24 tackles (it’s difficult to miss tackles you are not trying to make). Rather than performing poorly, it was their inability to build effective pressure which impacted the result in attack and horrible execution and communication in defence. Now, they will have to come up against a team that may have a few players with a point to prove after being overlooked, while also missing a few players themselves.
Head-to-Head = Rabbitohs 17 Draw 1 Cowboys 17
At McDonalds Jones Stadium = Rabbitohs 57% Cowboys 42%
Last 10 Matches = Rabbitohs 6 Cowboys 4 – The average winning margin is 7.3 points for the Rabbitohs and 18.3 points for the Cowboys. Of the 6 Rabbitohs victories, 50% have been by 1-point, including their Round 14 victory in 2020. The home team has a 40% winning record in the past 10 matches.
A late change will see this game shift up to Newcastle. Both teams are missing players on representative duty with the Rabbitohs without 5 players (Mitchell, Gagai, Cook, Murray & Arrow) and the Cowboys missing 3 (Holmes, Tabuai-Fidow and Molo). Many expected Walker and Reynolds to be named for NSW such is their form this season. Their exclusion is a bonus for the Rabbitohs, with majority of their attack originating from their direction.
It will be difficult to cover the loss of Mitchell and Cook (replaced by Taaffe & Marshall) but Walker could shift to fullback and swap with Taaffe. Either way, the Rabbitohs are justified favourites for this game. The Cowboys defence in the past 5 weeks has been poor; they have allowed an average of 32.4ppg and at the same time, the Rabbitohs have scored 31.6ppg. This spells trouble for the Cowboys as their defence leaks too many points which their attack struggles to cover.
The omission of their attacking sparks to Origin only increases the difficulty of the fixture. To find value, the line (16.5) is worth some serious thought. In 3-game losing streak, the Cowboys have lost by an average of 24 points, while the Rabbitohs have won by an average of 23.5 points in their 4-game winning streak. If you want a safer option, then 13+ ($1.57) is recommended but there is no reason why you shouldn’t take on the line.
Strong side, Left side! = Johnston/Burns/Walker all to score a try @ $6 – Losing Gagai on this edge will hurt them somewhat but they will still be lethal in attack. It is a default setting in attack for the Rabbitohs to shift the ball to this side but there is no doubt that the ball movement here will be relentless over 80 minutes. Combining the attacking weapons on this edge to score adds to a nice return.
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