Unrivalled as the greatest day on the Australian sporting calendar, rugby league fans will be treated to 3-games on Sunday, with two traditional ANZAC Day games supported by one kicking off earlier than normal. After commemorating those who have served this country, NRL fans can continue their support through pre-match events which will take place. Lest we forget.
Bankwest Stadium, Sunday 1.45pm (AEST)
The only way was up for the Tigers in Round 6 following an embarrassing loss to the Cowboys in Round 5. It was a much-improved effort as they went down to the Rabbitohs 18-14 in Golden Point. While clearly the lesser of the two sides, they Tigers matched it with their opponents for majority of the contest and forced something special from them in the dying stages of both regular and extra time. With just 46% possession, the Tigers completed at 82%, making just 8 total errors and having more post-contact metres than their opponents (590). While they were measured with the ball, the difference between the two teams came in defence as the Tigers missed 40 tackles. They will be wary of the Sea Eagles, who were buoyed by the return of Tom Trbojevic in their upset 36-nil win over the Titans. Previously struggling for consistency and momentum, the Sea Eagles made it consecutive victories with an impressive display. It was one-way traffic in Mudgee, with the Sea Eagles completing at 86% with 53% possession, having 7-line breaks and averaging a massive 10m per carry. The challenge, aside from keeping their stars on the field, is to maintain this level of execution on the road against the Tigers.
Head-to-Head = Tigers 14 Sea Eagles 16
At Bankwest Stadium = Tigers 33% Sea Eagles 24%
Last 10 matches = Tigers 6 Sea Eagles 4 – the average winning margin is 10.3 to the Tigers and 18.5 points to the Sea Eagles. Home ground advantage is everything in this contest too, with the home side winning 8 out of the past 10 matches. In saying that, the Tigers have won just one from their past 6 at this venue. Overall, the Tigers have won 9/27 here and the Sea Eagles 4/17.
The return of Tom Trbojevic and their performance last week, has the Sea Eagles installed as strong favourites. This is no surprise, as they have won 15 of their past 20 with their superstar fullback; and, with no team having an advantage at this ground, the visitors have a strong chance. The Tigers have been very inconsistent this season and while improved last week, still need to put more performances similar to that one before you can invest them with confidence. The inclusion of Simpkin at hooker has added another dimension to their game, complimenting the spine well. More is needed from Brooks, but they are heading in the right direction. On the other hand, any coach worth the money he is being paid, would look to make Tommy Turbo a limited factor on both sides of the ball. Surely, that has entered the Tigers plans for this week. It is still difficult to read both teams ahead of this game and therefore, it makes investing on this game very challenging. The Tigers have scored more points against better sides (18ppg v 13.8ppg) while conceding only slightly more than the Sea Eagles (29.7ppg v 28ppg). For that reason alone, if you must have a bet in this game, take the Tigers to cause an upset. Otherwise, steer clear and wait for better opportunities that will be presented.
SCG, Sunday 4.05pm (AEST)
The traditional ANZAC Day clash features two sides that are next to one another on the table and desperate to bounce back from a loss in Round 6. The Sydney Cricket Ground will play host to this glorious fixture, with the Roosters looking to learn from their 20-4 defeat to the Storm. In their toughest test since losing several key players, the Roosters fought hard in the first half with the Storm only leading 4-nil at HT. The pressure and lack of possession (44%) got the better of the visitors in the second half. Worryingly, they were limited to just 7.9m per carry, 427 post contact metres, 2 line breaks, forced into 15 total errors and missed 51 total tackles; it was an uncharacteristic display from a disciplined team. The Dragons hosted the Warriors last Sunday and were strong favourites and similarly to the Roosters experienced a close first half with the Warriors leading 12-8 at HT. Unable to generate any momentum though, the Warriors scraped home. With just 47% possession, the Dragons completed at 84% but were ineffective with the ball; like the Roosters, they averaged a lowly 7.9m per carry, had just 3 line breaks and missed 41 tackles. They too will be out to improve on that performance, especially simple mistakes of their halves getting caught with the ball on the 5th tackle and failing to pressure their opponents with repeat sets. This game promises to be an absolute classic!
Head-to-Head = Roosters 22 Draw 1 Dragons 20
At the SCG = Roosters 75% Dragons 57%
Last 10 matches = Roosters 8 Dragons 2 – the average winning margin is 14.3 points for the Roosters and 9 points for the Dragons. The average winning margin in the ANZAC Day fixture is 7.3 points to either side with the ledger evenly split in the past 4 matches.
This game will be close. For all their positives, the Roosters still need to bounce back from last week’s loss. If you just have their first half effort, they are certainly the preferred team. Sam Verrils (injury) returns at hooker and gives the Roosters greater direction in this area; nevertheless, aside from their fullback, their spine is still very inexperienced. As for the Dragons, consistency against a contending team is still needed as it has been absent thus far. The key point of difference between these two sides is the number of points they have conceded/scored to date. The Roosters average 14.3 conceded and 27.3 scored compared with the Dragons 17.8 conceded and 23.8 scored. There is little else between the two sides, but the Roosters have proven that they can play a patient tempo and build into a game. That isn’t to suggest the Dragons are not capable of doing the same but in the two times this year when sides have matched it with them over 80minutes, they have been defeated. They are a team which prefers to dictate the tempo and play on their own terms. The Roosters will not allow this and that is why they are installed as favourites for this match. As this game will bring the best out in both teams, take the home side to win by less than 2 converted tries and enjoy everything that this match has to offer.
AAMI Park, Sunday 6.15pm (AEST)
The Storm demonstrated poise in their 20-4 victory over the Roosters; remaining patient in a tight first half (4-nil HT lead) to score 3 second half tries to their opponents 1 (which was in the 79th minute). With 56% possession, the Storm completed at 82%, had 559 post contact metres, 7 line breaks, 51 tackle breaks and missed just 28 tackles. It was a clear reminder that the class is still very much evident within this team, with new, talented players, stepping up to fill the voids left by previous stars. The Warriors were also winless over the Dragons and similarly to the Storm, demonstrated patience over 80 minutes. Amazingly, they completed at 98% with 53% possession, had 627 post contact metres, made only 4 errors and missed only 26 tackles. It was a return to their first few weeks of the season whereby they demonstrated a similar level of execution. This is undoubtedly a key to success for them as points will come by wearing their opponents down. Their effectiveness will undoubted be tested against the Storm but much like the 4pm fixture, these two sides always lift for this contest and produce some of their best football on this day.
Head-to-Head = Storm 27 Draw 2 Warriors 16
At AAMI Park = Storm 74% Warriors 30%
Last 10 matches = Storm 9 Warriors 1 – the average winning margin is 19.3 points for the Storm and 14 points for the Warriors based off their one victory. For games played on ANZAC Day at this venue, the Storm have won the past 4 by an average margin of 22.3 points.
Despite coming off a victory whereby they were near perfect with the ball, the Warriors are drifting outsiders. This is down to a number of reasons but not limited to the overall record between the two sides, the home ground advantage and the recent history. The loss of Papenhuyzen (injury) at fullback will take an edge off the Storm but his spot is filled with Hynes and he will want to make the most of his opportunity. The Warriors have their own issues and there is no doubt that had they been at full strength in the forwards, this game would be a lot closer. This is where the match is going to be won and lost, as the pack will set up victory. This is why the Storm average 5.8 line breaks (2nd), 31.7 tackle breaks (5th) and 1796.2m run (3rd) compared to the Warriors 3.7 line breaks (9th), 27.8 tackle breaks (8th) and 1720.1m (5th). Further to this, the Storm scored an average of 26.7 points compared with the Warriors 18.8 points and concede 12.3 points, well ahead of the Warriors 19.3 points. This difference suggests a comfortable victory to the Storm and thus, has removed plenty of value from this contest. While history suggests a 19+ Storm victory ($2.05) is likely, the form of the Warriors says otherwise. They would have learned a lot from their 20-point loss to the Roosters back in Round 4 and what a team can do with momentum. With that in mind, go large for the value and use the line on offer (16.5 points) to your advantage.
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