After a 1-week hiatus, Super Saturday is back, and it promises to be an exciting night of NRL action. The first match has an injury plagued Warriors team facing a Sharks side that is slowly losing momentum and in danger of slipping out of the Top 8. Both teams are clinging to a Finals shot and this game will impact the eventual make up of places.
Next, the Roosters take on the Panthers in a potential preview of what is to come in September.The Roosters continue to overcome injuries, while the Panthers are amid a ‘mini crises themselves. Finally, the stage is set for the two form teams in the competition to face off against one another with the Sea Eagles hosting the Storm. This is a game fans have been waiting for and is yet another preview of what is to come in the Finals. Super isn’t the right word leading into this weekend. Bring it on!
NRL Round 21 Saturday Betting Tips
New Zealand Warriors vs Cronulla Sharks
Cbus Super Stadium, Saturday 3.00pm (AEST)
Many doubted the chances of the Warriors last week. Missing a host of quality players and suffering a 38-point loss in Round 19, the Warriors overcame a scoreless first half (10-nil at HT) to win 18-16. This victory came as they were beaten in just about every area; they made fewer metres and post contact metres, had an inferior completion rate (75%) and made fewer line breaks (3). Yet, it was their ability to display a tough edge in defence which really helped; they scrambled well to cover their 36 missed tackles. A similar display will again be required if they are to alter the outcome of this match. The Sharks will be desperate to bounce back from a disappointing 40-22 loss to the Sea Eagles. Pushing their opponents in the first half, they were in with a chance at HT trailing 16-10. Unfortunately, the Sea Eagles kicked into another gear in the second half and the Sharks were unable to match it.
The damage was done early in the second half as their opponents scored 24 unanswered points. In the end, they need to put that performance to one side and focus on finishing the season in the Top 8. The effort was not without positives; they completed at 85% with just 46% possession and made just 8 errors. It is the other parts of their performance last week which need urgent attention including run metres (8.4m), line breaks conceded (10) and missed tackles (50). A win here could also silence a team which is chasing them for a spot in the Top 8.
Head-to-Head = Warriors 15 Sharks 24
At Suncorp Stadium = Warriors 35% Sharks 32%
Last 10 matches = Warriors 2 Sharks 8 – The average winning margin is 2.5 points for the Warriors and 12.5 points for the Sharks. The Sharks have won 8 of the past 9 matches against the Warriors, including their Round 17 fixture 20-12.
The Warriors have a host of talented players returning ahead of this match. Harris-Tevita, Fonua Blake, Lodge and Curran will all take the field in the starting side, while Tevaga comes in at hooker. They are only clinging to an outside chance of playing in the Finals, but they will take joy out of ending the campaign of other teams. The Sharks cannot afford to drop this match and need to rise above this challenge. Ramien returns at centre, allowing Talakai to move back to the second row. This will ensure a better defensive structure on the edge and go a long way to stop them leaking points.
The Warriors are not as dangerous as the Sea Eagles, but the key for the Sharks is controlling their own possession. In their 13 losses this year, the Warriors average losing margin is just 5.3 points; they will stay in the contest and if the Sharks are not careful, it could cost them late. Nevertheless, their average winning margin of 14 points should mean that they win this game. Both averages fit nicely into the Sharks winning a closer than expected contest.
Sydney Roosters vs Penrith Panthers
Suncorp Stadium, Saturday 5.30pm (AEST)
The Roosters turned up for yet another brave effort; this time delivering a 28-nil upset victory over the Eels. Starting as outsiders, the Roosters were anything but the inferior team as they were able to make the most of their chances. Statistically, the two sides were even in most areas. Possession was even (50/50), completion rates were close (76% v 74%), as were post contact metres (570 v 563) and errors (11v 12). The dividing factor for the Roosters was their ability to create 8 line breaks and miss just 22 tackles. Just when you think they will struggle, they lift to another level. Every bit of their determination will be needed against the Panthers, who are struggling to cover their own run of injuries. It was always going to be a difficult task for them against the Storm but the hype of the two leading teams in the competition was exciting.
It didn’t go to plan though as they conceded 6 tries before they crossed the line themselves. They were outclassed in every area and were powerless to stop the momentum of their opponents. Even with the difference in execution, it was an effort rarely seen from the Panthers recently. With 49% possession, they completed at just 71%, averaged 8.4m per carry, had just 3 line breaks and made 16 errors. They were equally as poor in defence as they missed 39 tackles and conceded 7 line breaks. A few more losses and the Panthers could also lose their 2nd position on the competition ladder.
Head-to-Head = Roosters 20 Panthers 21
At Suncorp Stadium = Roosters 47% Panthers 41%
Last 10 matches = Roosters 4 Panthers 6 – The average winning margin is 16 points for the Roosters and 11 points for the Panthers. The Panthers have won 4 out of the past 5 matches, including their Round 15 fixture 38-12.
The outcome of this match depends on the availability of Nathan Cleary. If he takes the field for the Panthers, a vastly different match will take place. In their Round 15 victory over the Roosters, he paved the way by getting them back on track with a strong kicking game and taking the ball to the line. His inclusion also reduces the pressure on others in the team, freeing them up to focus on their own match. If Cleary is absent, the Panthers should still win the contest but it will be far closer. They are boosted by the return of Koroisau and Yeo, while Pangai Jnr is an interesting inclusion on the bench. The team which will take the field for them this week will be far superior to Round 20.
The Roosters are not without a hope; they are a team which is built on toughness, and they continue to prove people wrong. Their performance this year is to be admired and you cannot rule them out. Unfortunately, it will be a difficult task for them to win this game when you consider the talent within both sides. If they are to win, they need to disrupt the Panthers momentum in the forwards; when they are performing well, the Panthers forwards are carrying the ball strongly and setting a strong platform for their halves. There are two potential options for this game, and they depend on Cleary’s inclusion, so pay attention to Twitter for the final posting of teams.
Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles vs Melbourne Storm
Suncorp Stadium, Saturday 7.35pm (AEST)
The Sea Eagles extended their winning streak to 3 matches against the Sharks on Monday, kicking into another gear in the second half and setting up victory with a dazzling 24-points inside 20 minutes. In the end, the 40-22 score line was an accurate reflection of the match as they were at their dominant best. With 54% possession, they completed at just 73% but made up for it with 9.4m per carry, 533pcms, 10 line breaks and just 22 missed tackles. They are one of the form teams of the competition and get a great test of how they are traveling up against the competition leaders, the Melbourne Storm.
The Storm came out strongly against the Panthers and rarely looked troubled. With 51% possession, they completed at 86%, averaged 8.4m per carry, made 7 line breaks and committed just 8 errors. Defensively, the missed 29 tackles and conceded only 3 line breaks. While it was an impressive 37-10 victory, they still have a few levels to rise. Harry Grant and Ryan Papenhuyzen have only just returned from injury and will be better for each game that passes. Considering their form to date, it is scary to think that they could finish the season stronger. This game promises so much and could be a preview of what is to come late into September.
Head-to-Head = Sea Eagles 15 Draw 1 Storm 22
At Suncorp Stadium = Sea Eagles 52% Storm 86%
Last 10 matches = Sea Eagles 3 Storm 7 – The average winning margin is 7.7 points for the Sea Eagles and 18.1 points for the Storm. The Storm have won 4 out of the past 5 matches over the Sea Eagles and just 2 of their victories have been by less than 14 points. The Storm have a great record at this ground winning 24/28 matches.
The Storm are strong favourites for this game and only appear to be getting better. Their team still has the luxury of bringing Grant and Papenhuyzen off the bench as their match fitness returns. Despite sitting 6th on the competition ladder, the Sea Eagles are arguably a better team than the Eels and Roosters, yet they are paying the price for a slow start to the season. While not discrediting their ability or performances, they are yet to be truly tested in their current run of form. They have not played a quality opponent since Round 11 (Eels) and have played the Top 5 teams 5 times this year (Panthers twice, Rabbitohs, Roosters & Eels) for just the one win over the Eels.
In some respects, the same could be said for the Storm. Either way, both teams are winning with authority and the match is closer than the odds are suggesting. Perhaps this test for the Sea Eagles will provide an accurate guide for their recent performances or it could be the game that the Storm drop ahead of the Finals. To see them go undefeated over this period and into the Finals would be a unique achievement. It should be a close contest and the line (12.5) is generous. If this match were played during the Finals, it would be lucky to be half of that margin on offer. It is likely that this match will replicate a ‘finals like’ intensity so it is best to use that to your advantage.