Friday was a great night of attacking rugby league last week, with over 100-points scored in the two matches. Some of the attacking displays were impressive to say the least but a different standard can be expected this week. No game will be played in Sydney; rather, the first heads south to Melbourne for the Storm to continue their dominance at home and the second heads north to Brisbane for the passing of roles between the Broncos and Titans. There is no doubt that the Titans are now the ‘big brother’ in this contest in 2021.
AAMI Park, Friday 6.00pm (AEST)
The Storm were dominant again last week; this time, it was the Warriors who wore the brunt of a classy team that is full of confidence. They set a high standard from the opening minute and scored their first try in the 3rd minute of play. They were relentless in their pressure and despite conceding 4 tries, were never in danger of losing, eventually prevailing 42-20. 10 line breaks, 30 tackle breaks and averaging 9.4m per carry was the point of difference for them. Despite piling on the points, Bellamy will want his team to improve upon their 72% completion rate and 13 errors; yet this team will relish the opportunity to stay at home, a ground that is difficult for their opponents to win at. The Sharks head into this game wanting to forget last week’s effort, whereby they were beaten 18-12 by the Bulldogs. Bombing a host of chances, the Sharks could only manage 12-points against one of the worst defensive teams in the competition (and they had 58% possession). Their terrible completion rate of 66% and 16 total errors gives some indication of what type of night it was for the Sharks. Nothing was going right for them and when they needed to dig deep, they were unable to find another level. Perhaps the effects of the coaching change have occurred a week later than expected.
Head-to-Head = Storm 25 Sharks 15
At AAMI Park = Storm 74% Sharks 18%
Last 10 matches = Storm 5 Sharks 5 – The average winning margin for the Storm is 13.4 points and 5.2 points for the Sharks. Despite a very poor record at this ground, the Sharks only 2 wins here have come in their past 4 matches at this venue.
The Sharks not only have an uphill battle in this game, but for the rest of the season. With so many players either at crossroads, departing the club or playing for a contract, their performance as a team in sure to be impacted. It begun last week after a somewhat committed effort against the Knights. Whether or not this squad is able to bounce back and have an improved performance from Round 7 is one thing, defeating the Storm at home is another challenge altogether. The Sharks have also lost 7 of their past 8 matches on the road. The home side is strong favourites for this game, and it is difficult to see any other result occurring. The return of Graham (concussion) and naming of Chambers (first game for the club) strengthens their team; this is compared to the loss of Asofa-Solomona (concussion) and unavailability of Papenhuyzen (injury). The Storm have proven capable of is replacing star players in the past with great depth to their roster. Based on what they have achieved this year, the Storm should have a dominant victory. They have scored 56 more points in attack (average 28 v 20) and conceded 44 fewer points (average 13 v 19). It is difficult to find value and the suggestion is not only to take the bet listed below but combine it with a couple of others this weekend to increase your value.
Suncorp Stadium, Friday 7.55pm (AEST)
The Broncos again produced a strong period of play against the Eels last week in Darwin; unfortunately, it wasn’t substantial enough to overturn the 46-6 defeat they were handed. Much like their previous few matches, they played well for the first 15 minutes of the game. Once, the Eels gathered momentum, they were at a loss to hold their opponents out. They didn’t do themselves any favours; with just 41% possession, they completed at 66%, had 15 errors, missed 49 tackles, and allowed their opponents to make 729m more than them. The most concerning factor of majority of these statistics is that many can be put down to effort; the previous few ‘reactions’ from coach Walters has not had the desired effect and pressure is growing on everyone. The Titans also failed to play out a full 80 minutes; ahead 24-10 at HT, it appeared as though they were going to run away with a victory over the Rabbitohs. That joy was short-lived as they went on to lose the second half 30-6 and suffer a 40-30 loss. An 18-point swing at the beginning of the half started and finished with the Rabbitohs and the game was unfortunately lost at that point. The Rabbitohs had superior possession during this stage and the Titans defence was unable to absorb the pressure it needed to. In the end, they completed at 85%, averaged 9.3m per carry, had just 5 errors but missed 30 total tackles. Perhaps it was a case of a better team producing something special; only time will tell. These two sides only met back in Round 2 and the Titans, who were victorious 28-12, will want to halt a 2-game losing streak and capture a victory.
Head-to-Head = Broncos 20 Titans 10
At Suncorp Stadium = Broncos 60% Titans 31%
Last 10 matches = Broncos 5 Titans 5 – The average winning margin is 25.6 points for the Broncos and 12.4 for the Titans. The Titans have won 4 out of the past 5 matches; the home team has won just 4 out of the past 10 games.
The was a distinct difference between these two sides in Round 2, with the Titans dominating the contest and a similar outcome is expected here. Facing a third consecutive loss, the Titans risk dropping out of the Top 8 if they are unable to defeat their rivals. Putting aside the defeat to the Sea Eagles and focusing on the positives last week, this team is superior to the Broncos. The home side has only averaged 12.3 points in attack and conceded an average of 27.6 points; meanwhile, the Titans average 22 points in attack and 22.1 in defence. They have proven that they can pile points on poor defensive sides and this game should be no different. The only disruption to this occurring is the change in performance for the Broncos following 4-consecutive defeats. Milford returns to the halves after spending the past 2 weeks in Queensland Cup. His form was disgraceful prior and the thought of Fifita running over him numerous times back in Round 2 is fresh in the minds of everyone. They will do it the hard way but, in the end, the Titans will get home comfortably in this match.
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