There is plenty to be excited about ahead of these two fixtures with controversial circumstances surrounding both matches. Hopefully, they are more engrossing than what was produced last week. Viewers have should be excited, with 4 teams capable of featuring in the Finals. At the very least, we could have a potential Finals preview in the second contest.
NRL Round 6 Friday Night Betting Tips
Newcastle Knights v Cronulla Sharks
Newcastle Sports Centre, Friday 6.00pm (AEST)
The Knights headed north to face the Titans and returned with nothing more than the feeling of embarrassment. It was a comprehensive 42-16 loss in a game that was decided in the first half. Being down 26-12 at the break, there was some hope that the Knights could rally in the second half. That was soon forgotten as the Titans powered over the top of their opponents. The defensive effort of the Knights, including 30 missed tackles, left a lot to be desired if they are to compete with the leading teams in the competition. They will also need to improve upon their 71% completion rate, their total of 1391m made and 10 errors. The Sharks also suffered a loss, albeit, in vastly different circumstances. They shot out of the blocks and built a strong lead. With less than 15 minutes remaining, they lead the Roosters 18-10 but were unable to stop the momentum that was manufacturing for their opponents. They conceded 3 tries in 12 minutes to lose 26-18. With just 47% possession, they played with poise as they completed at 79% and had just 9 errors. Their issues were on defence, where they missed 32 tackles. Forcing the Roosters to produce something special to win will give this team some confidence; although, a tumultuous week in the headlines is sure to affect their preparation for this game.
Head-to-Head = Knights 22 Sharks 18
At McDonald Jones Stadium = Knights 55% Sharks 38%
Last 10 matches = Knights 2 Sharks 8 – The average winning margin in these matches is 17 points for the Knights and 24.8 points for the Sharks. Only 3 of the 10 matches were decided by less than 13 points. The Knights have won 4 of the past 6 home matches against the Sharks.
Believe it or not, the Sharks had two different coaches in the time it took to write this preview. Josh Hannay will lead the team this week after John Morris was overlooked and stepped down (or was sacked – depends on who you listen to). The uncertainty of the impact on the playing group makes this game difficult to invest on with confidence. You need take both teams on face value; it appears as though minimal thought has been given to the strong recent record of the visiting team (despite a poor record at this ground). The Knights have out-performed the Sharks in numerous areas thus far this season; they have a slightly higher completion rate (79.5% - 3rd v 79% - 5th), have made fewer errors (9.2 – 16th v 10 – 12th), more line breaks (4.6 – 7th v 3.2 – 13th) and missed fewer tackles (21.8 – 15th v 33.6 – 2nd). The return of Best (centre), Mann (5/8) and J.Saifiti (prop) boosts the strength of the home side. This is far better than the loss of Graham and Dugan (both concussion) for the Sharks. The Knights are also desperate to stop a 3-game losing streak that is threatening to derail their season. With too many dynamic factors influencing this match, invest wisely. If you must, take the home side to cover the line and nothing more.
Melbourne Storm v Sydney Roosters
AAMI Park, Friday 7.55pm (AEST)
A heavyweight encounter is the second match on Friday night, with the Melbourne Storm hosting the Roosters. Last week was nothing more than a training run for the Storm, easily accounting for the Bulldogs 52-18. 5 tries to 1 in the first half set up a comfortable victory, as they controlled possession with an 80% completion rate. Their attack was dynamite, with 9 line breaks, 13 offloads and 705 post contact metres; this was well support by only 28 missed tackles in defence. The Roosters had a far more difficult time in the following match last Saturday, forced to produce something special in the closing stages of the match to defeat the Sharks 26-18. Controlling possession (53%) with a high completion rate (84%), the Roosters also wore down their opponents with an average of 9.4m per carry. They were just as impressive with just 26 missed tackles and only 7 total errors. Many were suggesting that it was also the ‘coming of age’ of Sam Walker in only his second first-grade game. While he closed out the match well for his side, this will be another step up altogether with the teams (Warriors & Sharks) that he has faced so far this year hardly matching the quality that he will face here.
Head-to-Head = Storm 23 Roosters 18
At AAMI Park = Storm 74% Roosters 38%
Last 10 matches = Storm 6 Roosters 4 – The average winning margin is 7 points for the Storm and 6.3 points for the Roosters. 6 out of the 10 matches have been won by the home side, with the Storm winning 3 from 4. Only 3 of the 10 matches were decided by more than 8 points.
Many are discrediting the chances of the Roosters in this encounter and rightly so considering it is the most difficult test they have faced since they lost several key players only a few weeks ago. That being said, they can only play what is in front of them each week and the $3.10 offered (Wednesday) is somewhat disrespectful of this team. Nevertheless, the Storm are installed favourites based largely on their form and overwhelming record at home. It is difficult for any side to win here, let alone one as talented as the Roosters. The development of Sam Walker in the halves creates a new factor in this match. There is limited footage available for the Storm to breakdown his playing style; rather, you can ensure a barrage of big forwards headed his way to test his defensive resolve. History shows that fixtures between these two sides are very close. If there is going to be a ‘blow out’ victory, it would be surprising to see. Sure, the Storm put 22-points on the Rabbitohs before they knew what had hit them and that same team comprehensively defeated the Roosters 26-16. Refer to the previous point and invest around this game being close, with the Storm prevailing after 80 minutes.
Bonus: Papenhuyzen Score + Storm Win ($2.50)