There is plenty to play for this weekend with time running out for teams to book a spot in the Finals. The first game has the Warriors hosting the Raiders, with just 2 competition points separating them. The outcome has massive ramifications on the make-up of the Top 8, with the loser certain to have their season ended.
The second game is the feature match of the weekend with the old rivalry of the Roosters and Rabbitohs destined to excite any rugby league fan, with the hatred and passion each team has for one another.
BB Print Stadium, Friday 6.00pm (AEST)
The Warriors had everything to play for last week against the Broncos but failed to close out the match when it mattered. Goal kicking was partly responsible, as they scored more tries than their opponents but only converted 1 from 5. In the end, that match could mean the difference between playing Finals or not. They were strong in most areas; with 48% possession, they completed at 83%, averaged 9.3m per carry and had 4 line breaks. Unfortunately for them, the conceded more post contact metres, missed more tackles and also allowed 4 line breaks. It was a similar story for the Raiders, who were let down by their own mistakes after jumping to a strong first half lead against the Sea Eagles.
In a great opportunity, their opponents were missing their star player, but the Raiders failed to capitalise when it mattered, going scoreless until the final minute of the match. In the end, the scoreboard read 19-18 and that result could cost them a position in the Top 8. With less possession (48%), they had a better completion rate (81%) and averaged 8.8m per carry, while also making more post contact metres (561 v 513). Their defence let them down though, as they missed 51 tackles and conceded 5 line breaks. Majority of the damage was done in the second half as they failed to halt the Sea Eagles momentum. One thing is for sure, the loser here is destined to exit the competition at the end of the regular season, so there is everything to play for here.
Head-to-Head = Warriors 20 Raiders 21
At BB Print Stadium = Never played here
Last 10 matches = Warriors 4 Raiders 6 – The average winning margin is 3 points for the Warriors and 16 points for the Raiders. The Warriors were victorious over the Raiders 34-31 in Round 3 this year.
This game means a lot to each team and we could be set to view a highly intense match. The result last week is bound to have a negative effect on the Warriors. Confidence is a key commodity in rugby league, and they may have lost an edge after scoring more tries. They are still a chance of performing well here as the Raiders are hardly a difficult team; they regularly provide opportunities to their opponents. Their loss would also have impacted their confidence but the changes to their team, namely the inclusion of Matt Frawley at halfback, will likely have a positive outcome. His kicking game alone is something the Raiders have missed in recent weeks.
This will also act to reduce the pressure on Wighton, freeing him up to roam more around the field. The Warriors are boosted by the return of a few key players but lose Harris-Tevita at 5/8. He has previously provided them with a spark in attack. It is hard to see the Warriors winning but this result should be close. The Warriors losing margin (11.6 points) and Raiders winning margin (11.1 points) suggest this game will fall nicely into the 1-12 range and deliver punters some added value.
A newfound energy = Bailey Simonsson FTS (@ $8) and/or to score a try (@ $1.70) – Both options are difficult to overlook. Simonsson has scored 4 tries in the past two weeks for his side and the Raiders attack has found a groove of swinging hard to their left edge. This is a nice exotic option for punters as the Raiders will have no hesitation to go there in this game.
Suncorp Stadium, Friday 7.55pm (AEST)
The Roosters continued to ‘roll with the punches’ and deal with more first-choice players missing from their team. They hardly missed a beat either in their 40-22 victory over the Dragons. Despite momentarily losing the lead in the early stages of the second half, the Roosters played a patient game and backed their ability and execution against an inexperienced opponent. Even with an inferior completion rate (73%), the Roosters still averaged 9.3m per carry, had significantly more post contact metres (593 v 474) and made 12 line breaks. Even with their 35 missed tackles and 15 errors, they were too good for their opponents.
The Rabbitohs needed similar poise in their game, suffering a 25-12 defeat to the Panthers. In their first loss since Round 11, the Rabbitohs jumped to a 12-nil lead but could not build on that to push towards victory. The momentum of the match didn’t help their cause, with an 11-2 penalty count working against them. Rather than blame the referee though, they may want to analyse their own performance. They had the lesser share of possession (47%), completed at just 74%, missed 32 tackles and made 11 errors. It is not panic stations though; they made more line breaks against one of the best attacking teams in the competition and were within striking distance in the remaining minutes of the match. Had a few things have gone their way, perhaps it could’ve been a different result. They will want to bounce back quickly, with the intensity in their match last week a good level to strive for ahead of this match (and into the Finals).
Head-to-Head = Roosters 28 Rabbitohs 16
At Suncorp Stadium = Roosters 47% Rabbitohs 41%
Last 10 matches = Roosters 5 Rabbitohs 5 – The average winning margin is 10.8 points for the Roosters and 18 points for the Rabbitohs. 7 out of the past 10 games were decided by 12 points or less, including the Round 3 26-16 victory for the Rabbitohs.
The Roosters have again been impacted by injuries and are forced to move Lachlan Lam to centre, allowing Sam Walker to start at halfback. Much was made about his switch to the bench last week, but the Roosters are always going to manage the welfare of their players well, especially one as talented as Walker. The Rabbitohs are fielding a strong side and despite losing Koloamatangi, have a suitable replaced in Su’A to fill the void. They will want to bounce back after an underwhelming display against the Panthers. Suggestions that their key players ‘went missing’ when the game was on the line are wide of the mark; it was a poor game by their standards, and they will be leading the way here.
The power of the Rabbitohs attack is rarely tamed and despite having a lot of spirit, the Roosters may find it difficult. The poor Dragons attack managed to put 22 on them last week and the Broncos scored 20 the week before. While having point scoring capabilities, a side like the Rabbitohs will not give away such consistent defensive lapses. The Roosters will be presented with their opportunities, but it will not be as regular as previous weeks. This game should be close early and the Roosters may even lead at one point, but once the Rabbitohs team finds their groove, they should be able to win this game comfortably.
Remember me? = Alex Johnston FTS (@ $7) and/or to score a try and win (@ $1.85) – It was a quiet return for Johnston last week, but you cannot keep him out of a game for long. After a few weeks out with injury, the Rabbitohs leading try scorer will want to continue his try scoring masterclass. He is double any other Rabbitohs player and is the perfect finisher on their left edge
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