We start NRL Sunday with the Newcastle Knights hosting the Melbourne Storm, in a game that could quickly get out of hand for the Knights, losers of 5 straight. The Storm put 70 on the Warriors last week, and if they’re in a mood again on Sunday, the Knights will be on the end of a hiding. In game 2, we see winning streaks on the line, when the St George Illawarra Dragons host the Wests Tigers in Wollongong. With both sides winners of 2 straight, it will be interesting to see which team’s form holds up in Round 8.
McDonald James Stadium, Sunday 1st May, 2:00pm (AEST)
1. Kalyn Ponga 2. Edrick Lee 3. Simi Sasagi 4. Bradman Best 5. Enari Tuala 6. Jake Clifford 7. Adam Clune 8. David Klemmer 9. Chris Randall 10. Daniel Saifiti 11. Tyson Frizell 12. Brodie Jones 13. Kurt Mann. INTERCHANGE: 14. Phoenix Crossland 15. Jacob Saifiti 16. Leo Thompson 17. Sauaso Sue. RESERVES: 18. Tex Hoy 19. Jack Johns 20. Brayden Musgrove 21. Pasami Saulo 22. Dylan Lucas 23. Jaron Purcell 24. Krystian Mapapalangi
1. Ryan Papenhuyzen 2. Nick Meaney 3. Reimis Smith 4. Justin Olam 5. Xavier Coates 6. Cameron Munster 7. Jahrome Hughes 8. Jesse Bromwich 9. Harry Grant 10. Nelson Asofa-Solomona 11. Felise Kaufusi 12. Kenny Bromwich 13. Josh King. INTERCHANGE: 14. Brandon Smith 15. Tyran Wishart 16. Trent Loiero 17. Tepai Moeroa. RESERVES: 18. Chris Lewis 19. Marion Seve 20. Alec MacDonald 21. Jordan Grant 22. Jack Howarth 23. Bronson Garlick 24. Cooper Johns
A brief look over last week’s performances from these teams would have you thinking this game could get ugly. A deeper dive into history and statistics, well, has me thinking the same thing.
There was optimism from Knights fans last week, after the contract saga of Kalyn Ponga had finally ended. Finally, the team could concentrate on what is happening on the field, as opposed to what their captain was doing off it. Unfortunately, the performance was anything but a cause for optimism. After securing an early lead via penalty goal, the Knights didn’t score another point, destroyed in front of 25,000 home fans 39-2 is a terrible performance.
The Storm on the other hand turned it on late in their 70-10 demolition job of the Warriors. They scored 10 tries in the final 33 minutes of the contest, and 13 in total last week. To put that into perspective, the Bulldogs have scored 13 tries in 7 rounds this year, insane.
Looking at the history for these two sides, the Knights haven’t beaten the Storm since 2015, and haven’t beaten them in Newcastle since 2014. In the two games last season between the sides, the Storm won 48-4 and 30-10.
The Knights have lost star centre Dane Gagai, whilst Brodie Jones is also under an injury cloud, whereas the Storm have a clean bill of health.
There is only one way to go in this game. The weather is supposed to be dry and pleasant, and realistically the only thing that will slow the Storm down is their own motivation level. This is not an issue for the Craig Bellamy-led side, and my money will be squarely on the visitors in this match-up.
Storm Over 30.5 Points ($1.90 at Ladbrokes)
Justin Olan Anytime Tryscorer ($2.45 at Bet365)
WIN Stadium, Sunday 1st May, 4:05pm (AEST)
St George Illawarra Dragons
1. Moses Mbye 2. Mathew Feagai 3. Moses Suli 4. Zac Lomax 5. Mikaele Ravalawa 6. Jack Bird 7. Ben Hunt 8. Francis Molo 9. Andrew McCullough 10. George Burgess 11. Tariq Sims 12. Josh Mcguire 13. Jack de Belin. INTERCHANGE: 14. Talatau Amone 15. Blake Lawrie 16. Aaron Woods 17. Tyrell Fuimaono. RESERVES: 18. Tautau Moga 19. Jackson Ford 20. Josh Kerr 21. Tyrell Sloan 22. Cody Ramsey 23. Jack Gosiewski 24. Jayden Sullivan
1. Starford To’a 2. David Nofoaluma 3. Luke Garner 4. Oliver Gildart 27. Asu Kepaoa 6. Luke Brooks 7. Jackson Hastings 8. James Tamou 9. Jacob Liddle 10. Zane Musgrove 11. Kelma Tuilagi 12. Luciano Leilua 13. Joe Ofahengaue. INTERCHANGE: 14. Jock Madden 15. Alex Twal 16. Thomas Mikaele 17. Alex Seyfarth. RESERVES: 18. Jake Simpkin 19. Tyrone Peachey 20. Junior Tupou 21. Tukimihia Simpkins 22. Austin Dias 23. Fonua Pole 24. Junior Pauga
Two teams that appear to have turned their season around go head-to-head in Wollongong on Sunday, in a match that could prove whether these teams are legitimate.
The Dragons come in off the back of wins over the Roosters and Knights, with Head Coach Anthony Griffin breathing a huge sigh of relief. Griffin had the media baying for blood a few weeks back, after he dropped young gun Tyrell Sloan from the first-grade squad and named Moses Mbye at fullback. And whilst it took a little while to get going, the squad seems to be playing for Griffin now.
The Tigers started the season with 5 straight losses and looked like they may never win a game. But in the past two weeks, they’ve beaten the Eels and Rabbitohs. On both occasions, they’ve been impressive, with Jackson Hastings taking over as halfback and steering the team around the paddock with aplomb. The Tigers have been known to play to the level of their opposition in the past but will need to step up against a Dragons team that once again believe they can make the Top 8.
The Tigers have a great recent record against the Dragons, winning 5 of the past 6 clashes between the sides. Last year they hammered the Dragons 34-18, after leading 34-6, in round 12 at CommBank Stadium. They also snuck by the Dragons at WIN Stadium in round 8, winning 16-8.
The Tigers will be without fullback Daine Laurie, who was great last week, and he could be a big loss to this Tigers team. Starford To’a will look to do a solid job in his place, but the attacking flair Laurie brings will be sorely missed.
My numbers say to take the Tigers, but only just, so it won’t be a large stake. The market looks efficient here, with the lack of movement attesting to that, the line and total hasn’t changed all week since open. Will be an interesting game, with the winner a good chance at pushing towards that top 8 in coming weeks.
Under 39.5 Points ($1.91 at Unibet)
Dragons Under 22.5 Points ($1.80 at Bet365)
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