NRL fans will be excused for having wandering eyes this Friday evening, with all 4 teams sitting well outside the Top 8 and hardly promising exciting. However, every now and then these games can surprise, and such are the circumstances, players may have a little more freedom with their play. It is also a double-header and Suncorp Stadium, ensuring a strong crowd should be on hand.
The first match has two desperate teams in the Tigers and Warriors compete to keep their Finals hopes alive. The second match is the ‘Queensland Derby’ between the Broncos and the Cowboys with both teams playing for pride.
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NRL Friday Round 20 Betting Tips
Wests Tigers v New Zealand Warriors
Suncorp Stadium, Friday 6.00pm (AEST)
Following a moral building victory over the Broncos, hopes were high that the Tigers could continue their momentum and, at the very least, push their opponents. Coming up against the Sea Eagles was always going to be difficult, especially with their big stars returning. Despite putting up an early fight, the Tigers were powerless to stop the momentum of their opponents. They were let down in defence, missing 48 tackles, allowing 10.6m per carry and conceding 10 line breaks. Statistically, their attack was also poor, as they had more carries than their opponents but could only manage 8.6m per carry, all while having a greater share of possession (56%) and having a higher completion rate (76%). They are now sitting 4-points outside the Top 8 and it is getting desperate for this team to make a run for the Finals. The Warriors are 2 points behind the Tigers and require far more than just their own performances to assist; it is dangerous territory when you are relying on other teams to win. Their chances suffered another blow in their 60-22 loss to the Rabbitohs. Up against it prior to kick off with a host of talent missing, the Warriors were never in the contest. At the break, they were down 34-16 and in real danger on conceding a record loss. It was also the first time this season the Warriors had lost by a margin greater than 19-points; this gives some indication of where they are at as a team with 6 games remaining. The statistics are ugly for them; they had just 33% possession, completed at 71%, made fewer than 1,000m (8.5m per carry) and had just 2 line breaks. It is no surprise that their defence was worse, missing 41 tackles and conceding 16 line breaks. It doesn’t appear as though their season has much hope so it will be interesting to see how both teams approach this match.
Head-to-Head = Tigers 16 Warriors 16
At Suncorp Stadium = Tigers 47% Warriors 31%
Last 10 matches = Tigers 5 Warriors 5 – The average winning margin is 18.8 points for the Tigers and 13.2 points for the Warriors. The Warriors have a strong record recently, winning 3 out of the past 4.
The play of the Warriors looked tired last week against the Rabbitohs and lacked creativity. While it is a drop in class facing the Tigers, the job doesn’t appear to be getting any easier; in fact, they will head into this game missing Fonua-Blake, Lodge, Ah Mau and Townsend. The Tigers head into this match boosted by the return of Twal in the middle. His presence ensures a strong defensive structure in the middle. There was a lot to like about the Tigers in their victory over the Broncos and despite losing to the Sea Eagles, they still managed to score 24 points (equal 2nd conceded since Round 4).
It sets them up nicely for this game and it is theirs to lose. A win would also keep their narrow Finals hopes alive. It is no surprise that the line has been set at 6.5 points either. The Warriors have lost 7 games this season by 6 or less points and it is rare that they get completely blown away like last week. Then again, fatigue is setting in and yet another relocation may be taking its toll on this team. It is an investment on trust more than anything but if both sides are at their peak, the Tigers should have what it takes to win by more than a converted try and cover the line.
Brisbane Broncos v North Queensland Cowboys
Suncorp Stadium, Friday 8.05pm (AEST)
It was an uninspiring finish to the Broncos Round 18 clash against the Tigers, leaving many fans wondering how many points the Panthers would score. Perhaps that game hit a nerve with this young team, as they narrowly went down 18-12 at home. It was one of the few performances this year where the Broncos put up a fight. With 55% possession, they completed at 82%, averaged 8.8m per carry and had more post contact metres (640pcm v 562pcm). Missing just 27 tackles limited the Panthers opportunities, especially with their second phase play.
No doubt the thought of a second consecutive wooden spoon is motivating this playing group. Coming up against a state-based rival will also lift them for this contest and it’s interesting that the Cowboys performance similarly to the Broncos last week. Facing the Storm, many were dismissing their chances, but the eventual 20-16 score gave an indication of how close the match was. They were much improved compared to recent weeks and despite slumping to their 6th consecutive loss, will take plenty of positives away from that match. They had a better completion rate (85%) with just 8 errors but will also want to improve upon their 7.9m per carry and 41 missed tackles. Nevertheless, both efforts suggest this game might be quite entertaining.
Head-to-Head = Broncos 32 Draw 1 Cowboys 18
At Suncorp Stadium = Broncos 59% Cowboys 35%
Last 10 matches = Broncos 5 Cowboys 5 – The average winning margin is 8.8 points for the Broncos and 7.6 points for the Cowboys. The Cowboys have won the past 3 matches between these two teams, while the home side has just a 40% winning record. Of the past 10 matches, 6 have been decided by 7 points or less.
The ‘traditional’ Queensland Derby has lost some of its gloss in recent years but the teams respective standing on the competition ladder should not turn fans away. If anything, there are several signs that this game could be an exciting contest. Both sides concede an average over 30 points (31.1ppg – Broncos v 30.4ppg – Cowboys) suggesting that the total points margin could be larger than the spread which is offered (52.5 points). This game could go either way and each team have their positives from previous weeks.
There is a slight lean towards the Cowboys as they will be desperate to break a 6-game losing streak and may sense an opportunity to get a win over a team which is lower than them on the ladder. Their pleasing moments have been far superior to the Broncos in recent weeks, with their consistency over 80 minuets the main contributor to their losses. There are still several unanswered questions within the Broncos spine, while their best chance of winning lies within getting the ball to Staggs early and getting players to go along with Haas in the middle. The Cowboys have their own weapons in Taumalolo, Feldt and the exciting Drinkwater at 6; the more freedom he gets, the better the chances of the Cowboys.
Make the call = Cowboys H2H @ $2.10 – for all the reasons stated above, the Cowboys look set to cause an upset. Even with 3 of the 4 Broncos wins coming at this ground, they look covered in most areas and the Cowboys have a great opportunity to break their losing streak.