Super Saturday produced 3 predictable results last week and here is hoping that this week can include more excitement. The games will be spread across 3 vastly different venues that will have conditions which will likely impact that game. Teams are now 5 rounds into the season, and more is becoming known about the quality of each team (or lack thereof). Either way, three NRL games in one afternoon/evening is something to get excited about!
Glen Willow Oval, Saturday 3.00pm (AEST)
The Sea Eagles have decided to take this game to Mudgee, making it another NRL fixture for this magnificent city to host. They will also be celebrating their first win of the season following a 13-12 victory over the Warriors in Round 5. In a low-quality match, the Sea Eagles put themselves in a winning position, allowing halfback DCE to ice a game-winning field goal in the dying stages. While ecstatic about the victory, the Sea Eagles still have a long way to go; they completed at just 73% with 16 total errors, only had 3 line breaks, averaged 8.5m per carry and allowing 602 post contact metres to their opponents. There were no such issues for the Titans last Saturday, as they demolished the Knights 42-16 with power across the park. The result was never in doubt with 5 first half tries setting up a 26-12 HT lead. While the Knights were missing some key players, it was the execution of the Titans which was most impressive. At the end of 80 minutes, they had completed at 83%, averaged 9.7m per carry, had 30 tackle breaks, only 9 errors and missed just 24 tackles. It was also exciting to see David Fifita (3 tries) in full flight for his new club, causing havoc to multiple areas of the Knights defensive line. If they are not careful, the Sea Eagles could be in for similar punishment this week.
Head-to-Head = Sea Eagles 11 Titans 10
At Glen Willow Oval = Sea Eagles 0% (never played here) Titans 100%
Last 10 matches = Sea Eagles 5 Titans 5 – The average winning margin is 18.2 points for the Sea Eagles and 15.2 points for the Titans. The home team has only won 3 matches in this period, while 7 matches were decided by 18 or more points.
The win last week is sure to give the Sea Eagles confidence ahead of this fixture, but you cannot get caught up in the hype of that performance. In reality, they still sit equal second for errors (13.2 per game – Titans are equal with them), 15th for points scored (9.4 per game v Titans 6th with 24.8), 14th for line breaks (2.4 per game v Titans 1st with 6.2), 12th for post contact metres (507.6 per game v Titans 7th with 545.1) and 4th for missed tackles (32.8 per game v Titans 12th with 25.8). The inclusion of Tom Trbojevic will lift the Sea Eagles in some of these areas but not enough to grab the victory. The Titans proved last week that they are a dangerous team and even with a questionable spine, their massive forward pack can lead them to victory. Considering the recent history between these two teams and the average margin of victory, taking the Titans 13+ ($2.90) is very tempting. It is only Round 6 of the competition and there is plenty of time left in the year to invest on markets like that with confidence. The ‘safer’ option at this stage is to invest the Titans to cover the line. If they are wanting to be considered a contending team, this is a game that the Titans should win with authority.
Stadium Australia, Saturday 5.30pm (AEST)
The Rabbitohs opened the round last week and comfortably accounted for the Broncos 35-6. In an impressive second half display, the Rabbitohs produced what was required to capture victory, following a decent last 20 minutes of the first half for their opponents. Clicking into another gear made sure a gap was put between the two sides and even without regular 5/8 Cody Walker (suspension), they scored 6 tries to 1. It helped as they completed at 86%, made a massive 10.5m per carry, 612 post contact metres and 8 line breaks. On the other side of things, they missed just 23 tackles, having the second-best defensive record of any team in the competition (12 points per game allowed). It wasn’t the same on Sunday afternoon as the less said about the Tigers game, the better. In a horror first half display, the Tigers were ‘booed’ off the field at HT as they trailed 28-6. This created controversy within itself that is best discussed on another day; the Tigers rallied in the second half to lose 34-30. The score line flattered them somewhat, as they allowed a team that had only averaged 9 points in attack so far this season to run riot. They only have themselves to blame too; with superior possession (56%), they completed at 74%, averaged 8.3m per carry and committed 11 errors. Amazingly, they missed just 14 tackles; then again, it is difficult to miss tackle you are not attempting. You can be sure that this team will have felt the full force of Michael Maguire at HT, post-game and this week at training as he prepares to face his former club.
Head-to-Head = Rabbitohs 20 Tigers 16
At Stadium Australia = Rabbitohs 56% Tigers 42%
Last 10 matches = Rabbitohs 5 Tigers 5 – The average winning margin is 17.4 points for the Rabbitohs and 12.2 points for the Tigers. The home side has won 6 out of the 10 most recent matches. Amazingly, 4 out of the 10 matches were decided by exactly 16 points.
The Tigers are a team that is still searching for consistency and their identity. Their effort last week did not reflect that of a team that is ready to produce a consistent standard of execution each week. Don’t get me wrong, they could easily come out and improve on last week and ensure this game is tight for majority of the contest. It is no surprise that the Rabbitohs have been installed as favourites for this match and the only thing which may give the Tigers a chance of winning this game is the embarrassment of last week combined with a very tough week of training. The last time they faced an embarrassing effort, they came out the following week and defeated the Knights. Unfortunately for the visitors, the quality between the Knights and the Rabbitohs is vast. Not only that, since 2005 the difference between the leading teams in the competition and those wishing to be there has never been so immense. It is difficult to also find any value in this match and is almost worth staying away from this game altogether. Then again, the Rabbitohs are an imposing team with a fluent attack. The inclusion of Walker (suspension) in the spine will only boost their attacking power. Their defensive record such that the Tigers will need to produce something special to stay within striking distance of their opponents and, given their recent form, this appears unlikely.
GIO Stadium, Saturday 7.35pm (AEST)
The Raiders headed to Penrith last week and were comprehensively beaten 30-10 by the Panthers. The gulf in class was evident between these two sides, as the Raiders failed to match it with their opponents consistently for 80 minutes. It was always going to be difficult with inferior possession (47%), but they did themselves no favours as they completed at just 68%, averaged just 8.2m per carry, made only 353 post contact metres, committed 13 errors and missed a massive 37 tackles. The talent is evident within this squad and perhaps that game will serve as a reminder of the level they are required to be at against the leading teams in the competition. The Eels also head into this game on the back of a loss, recording their first defeat for the season is a 26-12 upset win for the Dragons. Never in the contest, the Eels struggled for momentum; it took them 43 minutes to cross the line for a try, while the Dragons surged to an 18-nil HT lead. It was a different team to which had started the season and the final result comes as no surprise when you look at the statistics; they completed at 72%, had 5 line breaks and made 14 total errors. It is not time to panic for the Eels though; they still managed 9.5m per carry and missed only 21 tackles, while also making 740 post contact metres. Bouncing back is never easy, especially against a team like the Raiders, who are on their home turf in, what is expected to be, very chilly conditions.
Head-to-Head = Raiders 20 Eels 14
At GIO Stadium = Raiders 59% Eels 19%
Last 10 matches = Raiders 7 Eels 3 – The average winning margin is 11.4 points for the Raiders and 12.3 points for the Eels. The Eels have lost the past 13 out of 14 matches in Canberra, including a 9-straight losing streak.
The Raiders hold an imposing recent record over the Eels and the trip south would leave any team worried about their chances from bouncing back from an upset loss. Taking each team as they stand, the Raiders are yet to produce a performance over 80 minutes which suggests they should be compared with the leading teams in the competition. They are still averaging 31.4 missed tackles (6th v Eels 23.6 13th) and 12 errors (7th v Eels 12.8 4th). The Eels would generally make a team pay for their mistakes but even their effort last week left a puzzling thought in the mind of fans. Has the Premiership window closed already? That performance, combined with the strong home record has the Raiders installed as strong favourites. This must overlook the loss of Nicholl-Klokstad for the Raiders as his contribution each week is invaluable. This is somewhat offset by the omission of Dylan Brown (suspension) and inclusion of Will Smith for the Eels. Again, this is another ugly game to invest on. The Raiders appear to be the ideal selection, but you cannot count out the Eels. The loss of Brown increases the pressure on Moses, and this has not served him (or his side) well in the past. With that in mind, take the home side to win by less than two converted tries.
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