Super Saturday is back after the representative round and 3 different locations will be used for the matches. There was a late change to scheduling on Thursday too with the first and second game swapping around to accommodate the move of the final fixture to the Gold Coast. Now, the afternoon will kick off in Townsville with the struggling Cowboys desperate to break their poor run of form. They play a Roosters outfit still coping with the loses of key players.
The next game will head to the Gold Coast, as the Raiders look to maintain winning form and push towards a spot in the Top 8. Standing in their way is the Sharks, who are just two points ahead of them on the ladder. Finally, the Storm head back to Melbourne for the first time in a while to add to their dominant record against the Knights, who may have just turned their form around with the return of key players from injury.
Queensland Country Bank Stadium, Saturday 3.00pm
Another week, another poor display by the Cowboys which resulted in a loss. This time, there was some hope that they could push the Rabbitohs with their opponents missing 5 players to Origin. Leading 12-nil inside 20 minutes, a win appeared possible but defensive lapses soon dominated, and they went into HT trailing 20-12. The Rabbitohs went on to score 8 unanswered tries in the 46-18 victory. They were labelled as soft by their coach in the post-match press conference and rightly so; with just 43% possession and a 77% completion rate, they averaged 8.2m per carry for a low total of metres (1,075m), allowed 748pcm while only making 407pcm, conceded 8 line breaks to 2 and allowed 9.7m per carry to their opponents. Despite only being 2-points outside the Top 8, their recent performances suggest there are more issues at hand. The Roosters needed to improve from their 46-nil loss in Round 16 to the Storm and delivered an unconvincing 22-16 victory over the Bulldogs. Superior to their opponents in just about every area, the Roosters failed to pressure their opponents for the entire match; with 55% possession they completed at just 73%. This was also despite carrying the ball strongly (9.3m per carry & 652pcm), creating 5 line breaks (and limiting the Bulldogs to just 1) and missing just 24 tackles. It will be of concern that they committed 13 totals errors and despite continually missing a host of quality talent, they will hold themselves to a higher standard. This game poses as a difficult match too with the Cowboys desperate to improve but the Roosters still searching for consistency; they have still not won 3-consecutive matches this year.
Head-to-Head = Cowboys 12 Roosters 24
At Queensland Country Bank Stadium = Cowboys 44% Roosters 100%
Last 10 Matches = Cowboys 3 Roosters 7 – The average winning margin is 18.6 points for the Cowboys and 12.7 points for the Roosters. The last time the Cowboys defeated the Roosters in Townsville was Round 3, 2016.
The odds suggest that the Cowboys 4-game losing streak is set to extend to 5 matches. The task of winning this game is not made any easier with the omission of Holmes due to an injury suffered on Wednesday night. Molo and Tabuai-Fidow are expected to back up. The manner of the losses is raising the most concern; they have suffered two heavy defeats recently in Round 16 (38-0) and Round 17 (46-18). The recent form of the Roosters is also questionable, but they have much more talent to draw upon and are better placed to win this match.
It is expected that both Tedesco and Crichton will feature for the Roosters. Even if they were unavailable, it should not impact their chances of winning; rather, it would narrow the margin of victory somewhat. The Cowboys cannot be expected to deliver winning performances when they average 33.8 missed tackles (2nd), concede 1,537.1m (4th) and allow 6.6 line breaks (2nd). In the same areas, the Roosters miss 32 tackles (8th), concede 1,402.5m (12th) and allow 4.1 line breaks (14th). The gap between the two sides increases on the other side of the ball with the Roosters well ahead of the Cowboys for points scored, line breaks, tackle breaks and try assist; the Cowboys sit second last for the final two categories. Assuming the relocation doesn’t cause much of a disruption, the Roosters get a comfortable victory.
Cbus Super Stadium, Saturday 5.30pm (AEST)
After hitting a new low with a 44-6 loss at home to the Titans in Round 16, the Raiders were in desperate need of an improved performance. Thankfully, they produced a 30-16 win over the Sea Eagles on the road. Heading into the game as outsiders, the Raiders produced one of their better efforts this year against a team who were missing 3 of their top players. Nevertheless, the execution of the Raiders was to a standard they have barely reached this year. With 57% possession they completed at 90%, ran for more metres (1,862m v 1,414m), had 34 tackle breaks and more post contact metres (598pcm v 452pcm). A win will improve their confidence but there is a sense that this effort may just mask the true issues which remain within this team.
The Sharks bounced back from an upset loss in Round 16 to the Broncos with a 20-12 win over the Warriors. The victory was set up with an impressive first half as they scored 3 tries in 13 minutes to lead 20-6 at the break. While not scoring any points in the second half, they did what was required to achieve victory; they controlled possession (53%) and completed their sets (83%). Other areas weren’t as positive as they averaged just 8.4m per carry (well down on recent winning performances), had just 3 line breaks and missed 28 tackles (more than the Warriors). Still, they were successful and will want to build on that effort and maintain their spot within the Top 8 as the pressure builds on the teams around them.
Head-to-Head = Raiders 21 Sharks 23
At Cbus Super Stadium = Raiders 50% Sharks 50%
Last 10 Matches = Raiders 6 Sharks 4 – The average winning margin is 7.5 points to the Raiders and 10 points to the Sharks. The Raiders have won the past 5 games against the Sharks; you must go back to Round 19, 2018, for their last victory.
If it wasn’t for an improved performance last week, the Raiders would be far wider in betting markets; there is a genuine sense that their effort in Round 17, may have ‘painted over the cracks’ of the real issues still present at this club. Even with a strong record against their opponents, the Raiders have plenty of flaws in their play. The Sharks have not set the world alight either; they have only defeated 2 Top 8 teams and one was an understrength Panthers outfit. Their recent run of form (winning 5 of their past 6) has come against 4 teams outside the Top 8 (and the understrength Panthers). Nevertheless, you cannot knock such form and the Sharks have what it takes to get the win over the Raiders.
It will start with their forwards carrying the ball strongly, halting second phase play and setting a strong platform for Johnson to work off. Both Papalii and Wighton are expected to back up after Wednesday night and will give a boost to their team which is already missing Whitehead. The Sharks are unchanged from last week with coach Hannay opting for consistency within his side. With a small line on offer, the Sharks should be able to cover that and deliver a win for punters. If the Raiders were in better form or displayed consistency, there would be no hesitation in going for them. Unfortunately, more is need from them in the run towards the Finals.
Bite off a little more = Sharks 1-12 @ $3.10 – If the Sharks are going to win, it will likely be by less than 2 converted tries. There is value on offer for taking this option too with some healthy odds to entice you to part ways with your money. If anything, the recent history suggests this margin of victory is highly likely (see ‘The Stats).
Cbus Super Stadium, Saturday 7.35pm (AEST)
So much has changed occurred since the Storm last took the field on 1st July in their 46-nil victory over the Roosters. Benefitting from a long break was a reward for this playing group that has gone on a 13-game winning streak since their 12-10 loss to the Panthers in Round 4. In their last match, they were relentless in the first half leading 30-nil at the break. In the end, they scored 8 tries, all while having just 51% possession and completing at 75%; it is scary to think what they could’ve done had they improved in those two areas. They carried the ball less times for more metres than their opponents, averaging 10.3m per carry.
Furthermore, they had 666pcm, 8 line breaks, 38 tackles breaks and just 29 missed tackles; most impressive was their goal line defence and ability to keep their opponent scoreless. On the same ground 2 days after the Storm, the Knights turned out a similar display. With a host of talent returning to their side, they arguably named their strongest team this year and it made a difference in their 38-nil defeat of the Cowboys. They were dominant in both parts of the game and a 22-nil HT lead set a standard for them to improve upon in the second half. They controlled possession (54%) and completed at 78%, averaged 9.5m per carry, had 611pcm, 5 line breaks and missed only 28 tackles. The challenge ahead of the Knights is maintaining this level of execution and there is no greater test than facing the competition leaders
Head-to-Head = Storm 28 Knights 15
Last 10 Matches = Storm 10 Knights 0 – The average winning margin is 18.6 points to the Storm. The last time the Knights defeated the Storm was Round 5, 2016. The Storm have won 7 out of the past 10 games by 14 or more points.
The Knights will benefit most from having this game moved away from Melbourne, with just a 17% winning record there and 2 successes in their past 12 attempts. Not much changes between these two sides though and it is difficult to see anything else other than a dominant Storm victory. The Knights are boosted by the return of Frizell and Saifiti from injury, strengthening their pack and increasing their ball carrying capabilities. There is some doubt over who will back up for the Storm following Origin (Addo-Carr, Kaufusi, Welsh, Munster and Finucane all played); regardless, they should still be too strong. They have not conceded more than 20-points this season (average 12.7ppg – 2nd) and have scored an average of 36.5ppg (1st).
The Knights have struggled with just 17.4ppg (14th) to their name and conceding 23.3ppg in defence (9th). It would take a monumental effort from them to reverse their fortunes in this game and a win to the Knights appears highly unlikely. Then again, this is rugby league and stranger things have happened! The Storm are a team who have only scored below 20-points or less once since Round 7, feeding from a high level of confidence in their squad driving them forward each week. The line has been set at 16.5 points for this match and it is very tempting given the Knights most recent performance. Yet, for all the reasons above, the selection is a slightly more comfortable victory and little bit more value.
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