Three games return this week to Super Saturday after an adjustment to accommodate the ANZAC Day fixtures last week. After no action in Sydney up until this point, fans will have one game in the middle slot, following the decision by the Panthers to return to Bathurst for their home fixture. The first is going to be intriguing to see whether or not the Sea Eagles’ hype is genuine, while the Bulldogs will want to build on their upset victory and the Knights look to regain some form. All three games have Top 8 teams facing off against bottom 8 sides, but the games should be far closer than the respective position on the ladder suggests.
NRL Round 8 Saturday Betting Tips
Penrith Panthers v Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles
Carrington Park, Saturday 3.00pm (AEST)
The Panthers show rolled on again last week, with the Knights contributors in a 24-6 victory to the home side. After a tight first half where the Panthers led 10-6, they managed to keep their opponents scoreless in the second half while producing some impressive passages of play and in the end, their class was evident. With 55% possession, they completed at 82%, had a season high of 2,289m gained (avg 10.7m per carry), made 763 post contact metres and missed just 20 tackles. There is no doubt that they are the benchmark in this year’s competition. The Sea Eagles were again victorious last week, putting a poor start to the year behind them with Tom Trbojevic again integral to his team’s performance and success. Despite take 29 minutes to score, the Sea Eagles overcame a 6-nil deficit to capture a dominant 40-6 victory. Once they gathered momentum, the was little their opponents could do to halt them. This was while completing at just 73% and making 14 errors; they were better in other areas though, averaging 10.3m per carry, making 8 line breaks and missing just 16 tackles over 80 minutes. Given they have turned around their form against inept opponents, this game poses as a strong test of where they are currently at. It is also an opportunity for them to turn the tables on a 46-6 hammering they copped from the Panthers just 4-weeks ago.
Head-to-Head = Panthers 20 Sea Eagles 15
At Carrington Park = Panthers 50% Sea Eagles 0% (never played here)
Last 10 matches = Panthers 8 Sea Eagles 2 – The average winning margin is 16.8 points for the Panthers and 12 points for the Sea Eagles. The visitors have never played at this venue; however, in the past 6 matches at this ground, the Panthers have only won 3 times.
The return of Trbojevic for this match is unlikely to turn around the result from Round 4 of the competition. The Panthers are also boosted by the return of Koroisau at hooker, adding another dangerous attacking dimension to the Panthers team. After winning their opening 7-games, the Panthers are strong favourites to continue this run. In fairness, regardless of how good the Sea Eagles have been, they are yet to defeat a quality team that is considered a contender for the Premiership. The freedom they have experience from defensive structures in the past few weeks has been generous to say the least. If anything, it has not truly tested the capabilities of this team or challenged their forwards to lay a strong platform. The Panthers set a high standard and are sitting at the top of the ladder. To see them defeated here would require a flawless display from the visitors. For all the Panthers attacking power, averaging just 6.3 points per game in defence is often overlooked. This is where the match will be won and lost; regardless, a great game is certainly expected.
The home-town hero Charlie Staines to score 2+ tries at $4 – sure, it is another 2 hours west of Bathurst but with a shorter trip to watch their boy play, expect a loud crowd on hand to support the Forbes Ferrari. The odds of him scoring a double is worth some thought.
Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs v Parramatta Eels
Stadium Australia, Saturday 5.30pm (AEST)
Finally, the Bulldogs got their first win of the season last week in a spirited 18-12 win over the Sharks on the road. In arguably the best effort from them so far this season, the Bulldogs didn’t play beyond themselves in attack but rather, relied on strong defence to get them over the line. Despite running for less metres (1,988m v 1,538m), having fewer line breaks (3 v 2), fewer post contact metres (871m v 680m) and missing more tackles (16 v 40) they prevailed with their 3 tries scored inside the first 21 minutes. An 83% completion rate helped their cause and the task of maintaining their form becomes difficult facing the Eels. The visitors have travelled back from Darwin following their 46-6 demolition of the Broncos and will relish the extra day to recover after playing in draining conditions. After a tight opening stanza, the Eels put on a show. With 59% possession, they completed at 77%, ran for 2,036m (729m more than the Broncos), had 11 line breaks, and missed 24 tackles. After a slight struggle a few weeks ago against the Dragons, they have proven in the past two weeks that they are back on track. That win has also moved them up to 2nd on the competition ladder, a place that they are unlikely to give up without a fight.
Head-to-Head = Bulldogs 22 Draw 1 Eels 22
At Stadium Australia = Bulldogs 54% Eels 48%
Last 10 matches = Bulldogs 2 Eels 8 – The average winning margin is 7 points for the Bulldogs and 9 points for the Eels. Only 3 out of 8 wins for the Eels have been by more than 13 points.
Sorry Bulldogs fans. As good as last week was, the Eels are a step up in class on the Sharks and unfortunately, this game appears as though it is a forgone conclusion. The result last week will give the Bulldogs confidence, but the Eels are a quality opponent. The effect of travel and fatigue following a game in draining conditions last week is off set by the extra day to recover and prepare for this game. History suggests that the game will be tight, but the Bulldogs are a team that has the second worst defensive record in the competition. Once the Eels get some freedom, the Bulldogs will find it difficult to stop their opponents. It will be a crash back to reality for the home side that even an old rivalry cannot change. The Eels should do this in a canter if their past few weeks is anything to go by.
Newcastle Knights v Sydney Roosters
McDonald Jones Stadium, Saturday 7.35pm (AEST)
The Knights faced the competition-leading Panthers last week in Penrith and left with nothing more than a reminder of what is still needed from them to be a contending team this season. It was always going to be a difficult task and they gave themselves every chance with an 81% completion rate and just 9 errors. That is where the positives stopped though; they made 628m less than their opponents (2,289m v 1,661m), had 269m fewer post contact metres (763m v 494m) and just 2 line breaks. Winning just 1 of their past 5 matches has also seen them drop to 10th on the ladder and in desperate need to redirect their season. There were no such issues for the Roosters in their commanding 36-10 win over the Dragons on ANZAC Day. After a tight first half, the Roosters scored 2 tries in 5 minutes to lead 16-6 at HT. They dictated terms with 52% possession, completing at 78%, running for 373m more than their opponents and having 559 post contact metres. This amounted to 9 line breaks and 33 tackle breaks. They were much improved on last week in defence too (last week 47 missed tackles), missing just 19 tackles. The way they scored quick points is even more impressive considering they spent the entire second half without James Tedesco. Perhaps the hype around Walker is real; he has been leading his team well and isn’t afraid to try something if the opportunity arises.
Head-to-Head = Knights 13 Roosters 29
At McDonald Jones Stadium = Knights 55% Roosters 72%
Last 10 matches = Knights 2 Roosters 8 – The average winning margin is 15 points to the Knights and 24.5 points for the Roosters.
The Knights are just hanging on to their 2021 season and each week gets them further away from where they wish to be. This week isn’t any easier, with the Roosters not only managing to cover the loss of several players but also producing some impressive passages of play in the meantime. The trip up the M1 will hold no fears either, as they have won 13 out of the 18 matches, they have played here. The only concern for the visitors is whether their fullback and captain, James Tedesco, will play. Even if he doesn’t, there is no doubt that the Roosters are a 7-point better team than the Knights. It is as if the Roosters have an answer for all the Knights attacking weapons and have a pack that can establish a strong platform for their inexperienced spine to benefit from. Unfortunately, the Knights will be limited by Green at 7, thus increasing the pressure on the other members of the spine to take control of this match.