It is top of the table against the struggling teams on Friday, with the two superior teams wanting to improve their form as they head towards the Finals. The first game has the Dragons, a team who still has hopes of playing beyond the regular season, up against the rejuvenated Panthers team.
The second game has the Broncos, a team who is out of contention for September, up against the Roosters. They delivered an upset the last time they played and will want to repeat the fortunes of that match.
NRL Round 22 Friday Betting Tips
St George-Illawarra Dragons vs Penrith Panthers
Suncorp Stadium, Friday 6.00pm (AEST)
The Dragons started well last week against the Raiders and despite missing Ben Hunt, looked a chance of causing an upset as the two sides headed into HT locked at 12-all. Unfortunately, they were unable to go on with their positive start, failing to score a point in the second half and losing 20-12. That loss extended their losing streak to 4 games and pushes them further from a spot in the Top 8. The result wasn’t an outcome of a lack of effort; they had 51% possession, completed at 83%, ran for more metres with fewer carries (9m per carry) and had 4 line breaks. They were also improved in defence missing just 25 tackles and allowing just 1 line break. Rather, it was a lack of skill in attack positions which let them down.
They will need to find a spark quickly as they face off against a Panthers team which appeared to be growing in confidence from their 20-16 victory over the Roosters. While perhaps not as convincing as they would’ve liked, they managed to do the little things well in that game. With 50% possession, they completed at 87%, averaged 9.8m per carry, had more post contact metres and made 6 line breaks. These areas were similar levels to when they were dominating the first half of the 2021 season. They will want to improve upon their 39 missed tackles, well above their season average of 27.5 per game. With the likely return of Cleary and others in coming weeks, this side is only going to get stronger in the run towards September.
Head-to-Head = Dragons 20 Panthers 15
At Suncorp Stadium = Dragons 44% Panthers 43%
Last 10 matches = Dragons 4 Panthers 6 – The average winning margin is 10.8 points for the Dragons and 13.8 points for the Panthers. The Panthers have won the past 3 matches against the Dragons, and you must go back to Round 25, 2017, to find their last win.
There is a slight chance that Nathan Cleary will take his place in the line-up, but it is unlikely the Panthers would risk this against a team that they should defeat easily. The loss of Koroisau further weakens their spine but the form of Matt Burton last week proved that he could lift his side to victory. The Dragons have their own key players missing with Sims and Hunt absent. Even if they were available, the Panthers would still be favourites. This gives a key indication of how this game is likely to play out. The recent form of the Dragons has been poor; they have conceded 33.5ppg in the past 4 weeks.
If they cannot halt the Panthers attack, it is highly unlikely they will be able to score many. The Panthers have allowed an average of 11.8ppg this season, less than half of the Dragons 24.2ppg they have conceded. Games cannot be won against the leading teams in the competition when you play in this manner and the Panthers should get a comfortable victory over the Dragons.
Brisbane Broncos vs Sydney Roosters
Suncorp Stadium, Friday 8.05pm (AEST)
The Broncos came to play against the Knights last week and left many wondering if this young side were beginning to show some spirit. While losing 28-20, they managed to keep themselves within striking distance with 8 minutes remaining. They also displayed some strong defence in the contest, withholding pressure from their opponents for long periods of time; missing 36 tackles doesn’t tell the full story. In the end, the weight of possession (44%) against them was too much. They will also need to improve upon their 77% completion rate but will be pleased with their average of 10.1m per carry and 5 line breaks.
The Roosters were brave again in defeat, this time suffering a narrow 20-14 loss to the Panthers. Trailing 14-6 at HT, they rallied to narrow the margin but will again look at their own execution as a point of improvement. With 50% possession, they completed at 75%, averaged 8.6m per carry with 12 errors halting their momentum. Still, they created 6 line breaks but allowed their opponents to have second-phase play with 36 missed tackles. They are still looking like a difficult team for anyone to face, regardless of how many players are missing. They will also be out to make amends for their 34-16 upset loss to the Broncos in Round 11.
Head-to-Head = Broncos 23 Roosters 20
At Suncorp Stadium = Broncos 59% Roosters 44%
Last 10 matches = Broncos 5 Roosters 5 – The average winning margin is 13.4 points for the Broncos and 28.2 points for the Roosters. 3 of the 5 Roosters wins have been by 32, 59 and 46 points, hence the large average margin. The Broncos have won 3 out of their past 4 matches against the Roosters at Suncorp Stadium.
As improved as the Broncos appeared last week, their performance can be lost in the lack of quality of their opponents and the steep rise into this week. The Roosters are a great unit that continues to perform despite the numerous challenges they have faced. It is no surprise that they are installed as strong favourites for this game. The Broncos are often poor, and it is areas like run metres conceded (1,593.8m – 15th), line breaks allowed (6.5 – 15th) and missed tackles (33.4 – 4th) that are further exposed against better teams.
Such areas are masked when they face teams like the Knights. The improvement in their performance will be noted at the start, keeping things tight initially but they do not have the quality to match the Roosters over 80 minutes. To put it simply, the Roosters score more points (25.9ppg – 5th v 17.6ppg – 15th) and concede far less (18.9ppg – 4th v 30.3ppg – 14th) than the Broncos for the home side to cause yet another upset. With the Finals approaching, you should expect the Roosters to be striving towards their best performances.
Edge success = Sitili Tupouniua to score a try @ $2.30 – Tupouniua is the equal leading try scorer for the Roosters this year with 11 tries from 18 matches. He is a favourite of Walker on the left or right edge and the absence of Crichton will leave a hole for another forward to step up into. Expect Tupouniua to be hitting the line hard and giving himself every opportunity to score a try to go with the other one he nabbed against the Broncos in Round 11.