After a dour start to the weekend last week, exciting NRL actions is set to return this week. The first game heads to the Central Coast for a Warriors home game, perhaps on a select few remain for this team with hopes of moving back home high after the announcement of a travel bubble during the week. Then, a trip south to western Sydney for a blockbuster fixture between two of the competitions leading teams.
Mount Smart Stadium, Friday 9th April 6.00pm (AEST)
Many were tipping the Warriors as an upset last week, given their recent efforts and the misfortunes experienced by their opponents. After a competitive first half (16-12 HT), the Warriors were blown off the park in the second half, eventually going down 32-12 to the Roosters. Injuries to their big men hampered their chances but the Warriors would be far from impressed with their efforts. With 51% possession, the completed at just 73%, had just 2 line breaks, committed 13 errors and missed 33 tackles. They will be keen to bounce back here against a Sea Eagles team which currently sits at the bottom of the competition ladder. They were without fight again last week, as a 2nd gear Panthers outfit comfortably won 46-6. Never in the contest, the Panthers scored 4 tries before the Sea Eagles even had an opportunity to do cross for one. In the end, they completed at 78% with just 46% possession and committing 10 errors. While they were somewhat measured in attack, they were poor in defence. They missed 38 total tackles and conceded 9 line breaks. This team is desperately searching for answers and something needs to change quickly as the pressure on the squad intensifies each week.
Head-to-Head = Warriors 12 Sea Eagles 22
At Central Coast Stadium = Warriors 57% Sea Eagles 71%
Past 10 matches = Warriors 4 Sea Eagles 6. The Warriors have won 4 out of the past 5 matches. The average margin of victory is 11 points to the Warriors and 12.6 points for the Sea Eagles. The home team has been successful in 50% of the past 10 encounters. The Sea Eagles have also averaged over 40 points conceded in their past two matches at this ground.
The Warriors are strong favourites for this game, and this can be attributed to the poor performance of their opponents. The Sea Eagles are a team that is averaging just 8.5 points (15th) this season compared with the Warriors 20.3 (11th). Compounding issues further, the Sea Eagles miss an average of 35 tackles per game (2nd), well above the Warriors 25.8 (12th). The Warriors play a simple brand of football; complete their sets, back their defence and rely on a few pieces of brilliance to be the dividing factor. That should be enough here for them to salute. That being said, the Sea Eagles are getting painfully close to a win and there is a worrying risk around this match. Then again, there is no form to suggest that they can overcome the Warriors. It is difficult to find a selection with confidence, so (carefully) invest on the home side to cover the line.
Penrith Stadium, Friday April 9th 7.55pm (AEST)
The Panthers cruised to victory last week 46-6 over the Sea Eagles, never getting out of second gear in an impressive display of rugby league. They were dominant in all areas of the match; with 54% possession, they completed at 85%, had 9 line breaks, 525 post contact metres, averaged 10.3m per carry and made just 8 errors. There is a reason they are sitting at the top of the competition, but they will face a tough test here against another contending team. The Raiders did enough against the Titans in their 20-4 victory, proving that patience is crucial to their success. They have been guilty so far this year of making errors at crucial times and they will need to fix this area moving forward. In this match, they completed at 77% with 47% possession, had only 3 line breaks, had 12 total errors and missed a massive 39 tackles. They were able to scramble well to cover these areas but a team like the Panthers will make them pay for their mistakes if a similar standard is dished up here.
Head-to-Head = Panthers 23 Raiders 22
At BlueBet Stadium = Panthers 57% Raiders 38%
Past 10 matches = Panthers 6 Raiders 4. The average winning margin is just 5.8 points for the Panthers and 10 points for the Raiders. The home side has been victorious in 7 out of 10 matches. Only twice has the margin of victory been beyond 12-points.
This is going to be one, ‘hell of a game’! While the Raiders have been good, they are still making simple mistakes that the top teams will make them pay for. They are ranked 7th for missed tackles (30 per game), 8th for errors (11.8 per game) and 12th for completion rate (76.2%). Compared with the Panthers, there is no comparison; they are ranked 14th for missed tackles (21.3 per game), 10th for errors (11 per game) and 4th for set completion (79.1%). They also average more points per game than the visitors (27.5 v 23.3). Combine these factors with the Raiders poor record at this ground and it appears as though the home side is the ideal selection. In terms of a margin, the recent history between these two sides suggests a close contest. The Raiders defence will ensure things are kept tight; yes, their missed tackles suggest otherwise but they are one side that rises to the standard of their opponents. Enjoy everything that this match has to offer. At the end of 80 minutes, you will have a better understanding of both teams’ chances for 2021.
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