Super Saturday is back, and it is a mixture of quality and intrigue for fans to witness. Games will be played in 3 states across the east coast, giving fans a wide range to follow from Saturday afternoon, long into the night. After a successful weekend in Round 2, let’s hope the momentum also continues to roll for punters.
GIO Stadium, Saturday 3.00pm (AEDT)
The Raiders had consecutive Sunday games to opening the competition and continued their winning ways to solidify their standing at the top end of the competition. They had a far more difficult time of winning in Round 2 though, with the Sharks pushing them over 80minutes in a gritty 12-10 match. It also could’ve been a very different outcome had the Sharks converted their penalty kicks. Still, they completed at 76%, averaged 9.2m per carry, 6 line breaks and missed just 20 total tackles. It will be concerning that they had 13 errors, but this is a team that is still establishing themselves. The Warriors head into this game following a 20-16 loss to the Knights. They will relish the extra day to prepare from a tough encounter in challenging conditions. The Warriors were again measured in their play and gave themselves every chance of victory; they completed at 87% with 55% possession, committed just 8 errors and missed only 22 tackles. A few eyebrows were raised at their second phase play (or lack thereof) but you cannot argue with the improved execution of their play. This is sure to be another good test of where both teams are at early in the 2021 season.
Head-to-Head = Raiders 21 Warriors 19
At GIO Stadium = Raiders 59% Warriors 25%
Past 10 matches = The Raiders have won 7 out of the past 10 matches. Interestingly, 2 out of the three Warriors wins have actually come at this ground (5 total matches played here) and when they have won, it’s been by 4, 4 and 1 point. The average margin of victory for the Raiders is 17.4 points.
Despite winning both their games to start the season, there are still areas of concern for the Raiders compared to the Warriors. The visitors have a superior completion rate (89% v 72%), have made fewer errors (27 v 14) and have missed slightly fewer tackles (46 v 49). The Raiders have a noticeable edge in line breaks (11 v 6) and tackle breaks (84 v 41). This suggests that if the Warriors can play measured football over 80 minutes, they are half a chance of beating their opponents. The odds suggest otherwise though, with the Raiders strong favourites to win. The loss of Harris-Tavita in the halves is a major blow, but the Warriors will aim to cover that as best as possible. Scoring points may be an issue, so current spine players will have to lift. You cannot overlook the short turnaround form Sunday evenings match for the Raiders either (and it was a tough, physical match). This could impact the home side in the final 10 or so minutes of this match. All things considered, the Warriors at the line looks like an ideal option.
Suncorp Stadium, Saturday 5.30pm (AEDT)
The gloss of a spirited Round 1 performance quickly wore off for the Broncos, as they were comprehensively beaten 28-16 by the Titans. Their defence was weak, especially on the edges, while their attack wasn’t much better; it was a quick turnaround for pundits who were touting their chances after their match with the Eels. The statistics support the lacklustre display; with 53% possession, they completed at 65% with a massive 17 errors halting attacking movements. On top of this, they only had 4 line breaks and missed 31 total tackles. While the result of the Bulldogs match puts them in the same predicament as the Broncos, there is a sense that their squad is far more motivated than their opponents. They were outplayed 28-nil by the Panthers in horrendous conditions, with 2 converted tries in the final 8 minutes drawing the margin out. They can be far happier with their performance too; with just 41% possession, they completed at 84%, made just 9 errors and had 7 offloads. The major concerns for them is that they averaged just 7.6m per carry and missed a massive 41 tackles. The new recruits to the club also need to take greater ownership of the team’s performance.
Head-to-Head = Broncos 24 Draw 1 Bulldogs 18
At Suncorp Stadium = Broncos 60% Bulldogs 35%
Past 10 matches = The recent history is split 5 each between the teams, with the home team only successful on one occasion (Bulldogs, Round 22 – 2015). The average margin of victory is 12.2 for the Bulldogs and 16.4 for the Broncos.
Good luck with this one! It is hardly anything to get excited about or a game you can invest on with confidence. Then again, sometimes such matches can produce a surprisingly exciting encounter. Looking at the history, the Broncos will have an edge at home against the Bulldogs. This should be evened out by the higher level of commitment demonstrated by the Bulldogs. If their effort last week is anything to go by, points will be hard to come by and they will rely on their defence to get them the victory. The Broncos are favourites for this game; this decision must be on the quality of the team rather than what has been demonstrated in the opening rounds. There is a very real chance that the Bulldogs can win this game. They pushed the Knights and, while comprehensively beaten by the Panthers, had plenty of promise in that effort. Rather than make a call on the match, invest on the total points. This will let both sides fight out the result in a (hopefully) high scoring contest.
Bankwest Stadium, Saturday 7.35pm (AEDT)
The Eels put a disjointed victory in Round 1 behind them to turn out a gritty, determined effort against the Storm which led to a 16-12 victory. It was a return to their 2020 form, and it showed in the statistics as well. With just 45% possession, they completed at 88%, had 10 offloads and 10 errors. They will want to improve upon their 31 missed tackles, but it was a positive effort given the conditions. The Sharks were unable to close out their game when it mattered most against the Raiders, missing crucial conversions to lose 12-10 at home. In a bruising encounter, the Sharks were arguably finishing the better of the two sides. Unfortunately, they also only have themselves to blame; they completed at just 63%, made 18 errors and missed 49 total tackles. Many people doubt the quality of this outfit; although, if they can improve in these areas, there is no doubt that they can feature in the Top 8. The difference between that occurring and where they are at appears large though. It is a timely test for them against the Eels on the road to see just how committed they are to improve and competing with the top teams.
Head-to-Head = Eels 17 Sharks 18
At Bankwest Stadium = Eels 76% Sharks 50%
Past 10 matches = The Sharks have won 6 out of the past 10 matches. Interestingly, the home side has a 50% winning record (Eels 2 – Sharks 3). The average winning margin is 13 for the Eels and 10.5 for the Sharks.
The Eels effort last week has them installed as strong favourites for this match. Much like the Raiders earlier in the day, the Sharks are going to have a difficult time backing up from a Sunday evening game. The Eels match will also take a toll on their performance but the extra 2 days to prepare should have them at their best. The Sharks are a team that not much was expected of at the start of the year. Two very different performances to start the year only increases the uncertainty around this team. Rather than get caught up on this, show faith in the Eels record at this ground. With a 76% winning record and a bumper crowd expected, you can count on a free-flowing attack from the home team.
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