It’s the last Super Saturday this week where NRL fans will be treated to 3 consecutive games. The first is a replay of the Round 21 fixture between the Broncos and Knights. Not much has changed from a month ago other than the Knights booking a place in the Finals. The second match has the Cowboys, who broke a horror losing streak last week up against a Sea Eagles team that will want to finish inside the Top 4. Finally, the Rabbitohs will want to get through this game without any injuries, but the Dragons need to restore some pride in the jersey after a shocking end to the season.
If you'd prefer to digest your NRL tips this Saturday in podcast form, then check out Scooby's Round 25 preview here, and don't forget to subscribe on your favourite platform!
Suncorp Stadium, Saturday 3.00pm (AEST)
The Broncos were again improved compared to majority of games this season, but it was not enough to overcome the Sharks, eventually defeated 24-16. Matching their opponents early, they could only manage a converted try in the second half which left them without a chance of stealing victory. Most areas were close in this game including possession (50/50), completion rate (76% v 75%), average metres (9.1m v 9m per carry) and errors (11 each). The difference came at the attacking end of the field, with the Broncos unable to continue pressure the Sharks defensive line when needed. The Knights attack is hardly any different to that of the Broncos and was again underwhelming in their 15-14 win over the Titans.
The result cemented their position in the Finals and extended their winning streak to 5-games but you can hardly feel confidence about their chances beyond Week 1 of the Finals. Having a lesser share of possession (46%), they had an average completion rate (75%), ran for fewer metres per carry (9.1m v 9.6m), had fewer post contact metres (524 v 699), had just 2 line breaks while conceding 5, missed more tackles (28 v 22) and made 11 errors. This gave the Titans plenty of chances to win the game so perhaps credit must be given to the Knights and their defensive line. They will want to build on that result and extend their winning run with a complete performance here.
Head-to-Head = Broncos 22 Knights 15
At Suncorp Stadium = Broncos 58% Knights 47%
Last 10 Matches = Broncos 6 Knights 4 – The average winning margin is 28 points for the Broncos and 12 points for the Knights. The Knights have won the past 4 matches, including the Round 21 fixture 28-20.
The recent form of the Knights is deceiving; they have hardly resembled a quality team and their attack has plenty of question marks still lingering about their potential moving forward. The fact that they will finish 7th on the competition ladder highlights where the current competition is at. They could make the most of this; although, that would be highly unlikely. Here, the form line for the game runs through the Sharks. The fact that the Knights scored a 16-14 win over them in Round 22 and the Broncos were defeated by the same team last week, demonstrates why they are the more fancied team. The fact that this game will be played at Suncorp does assist the Broncos in getting closer to their opponents.
The result isn’t as clear-cut as the odds suggest. If a few things had of gone the Broncos was in Round 21, it could’ve been a vastly different result. The Knights are a better side since then but so too are the Broncos. It is tough to invest on this game with any confidence and as such, the overall recommendation is to stay away. The Knights should win and win well if they are wanting to be considered a contender in the Finals. If you are forced into having a flutter, then there is more value on offer for the Broncos to collect one more win this year than on the Knights winning.
Queensland Country Bank Stadium, Saturday 5.30pm (AEST)
The Cowboys finally broke their 10-game losing streak with a spirited 38-26 victory over the Dragons. Desperate to get at least 1 win from their remaining 2 games, the Cowboys had been spirited in recent weeks with their lack of talent letting them down. With big name players returning, they took their chances. The win was set up on their running game, as they averaged 10.5m per carry and had 8 line breaks. Elsewhere, they completed at 74% with 12 errors but missed 46 tackles. Another win would mean a complete shift in attitude ahead of the preseason. The Sea Eagles were also victorious with a 36-18 victory over the Bulldogs. Expected to win comfortably, they were pushed by their opponents in the first half and trailed 12-10 at the break.
They clicked into another gear in the second half and their opponents were unable to match it. It’s surprising that it took so long, and a more dominant result was not recorded; they had a large share of possession (61%), completed at 73%, averaged 8.4m per carry, made 596pcm’s and 7 line breaks. In defence, they missed just 12 tackles, yet allowed 5 line breaks to a poor attacking team. They will want to improve upon this moving forward. Nevertheless, they are well placed to finish inside the Top 4; this is a fantastic achievement given their start to the season.
Head-to-Head = Cowboys 13 Sea Eagles 17
At Queensland Country Bank Stadium = Cowboys 38% Sea Eagles 100%
Last 10 Matches = Cowboys 6 Sea Eagles 4 – The average winning margin is 11.7 points for the Cowboys and 17 points for the Sea Eagles. The Sea Eagles have won the past 3 games, including their 50-18 victory in Round 14.
The Cowboys captured a win which had been a long time coming last week. As much as that has to do with their desire and execution, a lot can be attributed to the quality of their opponent. It is a large step up this week against the Sea Eagles. The visitors will want to avoid a similar set of circumstances to last week too. They were caught short in the first half against the Bulldogs, with errors plaguing their momentum. It would be surprising to see a similar start here, especially with a berth in Top 4 on offer. It would only take a win here to get them a second chance in the Finals, but a far more dominant effort is expected. They are a dangerous team anywhere on the field and know how to score points in bunches.
The Cowboys will be brave in their match but are still lacking quality in some positions. The Sea Eagles have the 3rd best attack in terms of points per game this year, scoring an average of 30.3ppg. In equal measure, the Cowboys have the second worse defensive record, conceding an average of 30.5ppg. If the Sea Eagles get rolling, their appears to be little that the Cowboys will be able to do to stop the flow of points. Considering the Sea Eagles have failed to cover the line in the past few weeks, the safer option here is not taking that (-22.5) and taking them to win by slightly more than 3 converted tries.
Double delight = Saab & T.Trbojevic to score 2+ tries @ $6 – They two strike attacking weapons for the Sea Eagles are leading the way when it comes to tries scored. Saab (=1st) and Tommy Turbo (3rd) have made a habit of scoring each week. With a free-flowing game expected, they will again be looking to add to their current tally.
Sunshine Coast Stadium, Saturday 7.35pm (AEST)
The Rabbitohs were desperate to bounce back from a defeat to the Panthers in Round 23 and did so in style against their bitter rivals, the Roosters, 54-12. Proving that the rivalry between the games two oldest clubs is alive and well, plenty of controversy overshadowed the eventual result. It will be a few tough weeks with enforced breaks handed out by the judiciary. The biggest loss is superstar fullback Latrell Mitchell, as they will be without him for the second straight Finals campaign. Back to the game, the Rabbitohs created their own luck and gave minimal opportunities to their opponents. They controlled possession (60%), completed at 84%, averaged 9.3m per carry, made 635pcm’s and had 11 line breaks.
Their defence was also improved; on top of limiting the Roosters to just 12 points, they missed just 19 tackles and only conceded 1 line break. The Dragons can only dream of such a performance as their losing streak extended to 7-games, giving up victory to the Cowboys, a team who was on a 10-game losing run themselves. Presenting as the stronger of the two sides, the Dragons were presented with their opportunities but also gave too many away. They allowed the Cowboys to average 10.3m per carry and make 8 line breaks. They also had an inferior completion rate (68%), averaged 7.9m per carry, made 13 errors and missed 34 tackles. Despite their opponents missing 46 tackles, the Dragons scored significantly fewer points and have now been on a winless run since the infamous BBQ party. They should be more desperate than ever to record one final win to conclude the season.
Head-to-Head = Rabbitohs 18 Dragons 17
At Sunshine Coast Stadium = Rabbitohs 100% Dragons 0% (never played here)
Last 10 Matches = Rabbitohs 9 Dragons 1 – The average winning margin is 13.7 points for the Rabbitohs and 4 points for the Dragons. Including their Round 20 50-14 win over the Dragons, the Rabbitohs have won 13 of the past 15 fixtures.
The Rabbitohs have taken the opportunity, ahead of the Finals next week, to rest 10 players. On top of Latrell Mitchell’s suspension, there will be no fewer than 11 players absent. The Dragons should be thankful of this choice by their opponents, as it gives them a chance of winning this match. Nevertheless, they find themselves as outsiders in this game. This is mainly because you cannot trust them to execute when required. They have let themselves down horribly since their Round 16 victory over the Warriors and the subsequent BBQ incident. If both named sides play to their potential, the Dragons should be victorious.
The Rabbitohs fill-in players will be out to prove a point that they are capable when given an opportunity. To give themselves the best chance at victory, the Dragons should aim to play direct and create their momentum from the middle. A lot of records (current losing streak and poor recent record v Rabbitohs) could ultimately change with one more committed effort by this team. Much like a few other sides this weekend, a win could dramatically change the mood of the team heading into the off-season. Confidence is low in this selection though, so invest wisely.
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