Two matches on Sunday to wrap up Round 17 of the 2020 season. In the first match, the Eels will be looking to bounce back, but it won't be easy against a determined Warriors outfit, while the second match will see the Cowboys look to upset the Dragons. Scooby is back with his Sunday preview and NRL betting tips!
The Warriors were fantastic against the Knights last week, putting on a show for their adopted home of Tamworth. Heading into the HT break just 8-6 ahead, the game was evenly poised with both teams have ample opportunity to score points. It was a different story in the second half though, with the Warriors scoring five unanswered tries to prevail 36-6 victors. All other areas pointed towards a positive performance too; with a 64% share of possession, they completed at 89%, made a massive 884pcm, had 9 linebreaks, just 7 errors and missed on 20 tackles. The win also kept alive the hope that the Warriors could sneak a place in the Top 8.
It was a different story to the Eels, who were handed a reality check with a 38-nil loss to the Rabbitohs. In a game that was always going to be a bigger test for their opponents, it was one-way traffic from the 5th minute as the Rabbitohs piled on the points. The fact that this occurred, a week after their coach spoke openly about recent preparations that focused solely on defence, is cause for concern. They didn’t do themselves any favours either; they completed at just 70% with a 45% share of possession, made just 1583 total metres, conceded 10 linebreaks and 41 tackle breaks, had 41 missed tackles and committed 12 errors. Many fans were quick to suggest that ‘this was the loss the Eels needed to have’ to refocus this squad. Either way, with four games remaining ahead of the Finals, the Eels will need to find a spark after several lacklustre performances.
The season statistics point towards a great divide between these two sides; the Eels average 19.5 points in attack and 13.4 in defence, while the Warriors average 16.1 in attack and 22.4 in defence. However, the recent form is something to consider; in the past five weeks, the Eels have averaged 11.6 points in attack and 16 in defence, while the Warriors have averaged 24 in attack and 16 in defence. To put things into perspective, the Eels have played three Top 8 teams (winning two) and the Warriors just two (winning one). To compare their statistics last week (above); the Eels average 1876.7m per game this season (1st) and the Warriors 1703.2m (8th), the Eels commit 12.2 errors per game (2nd) and the Warriors 10.3 (12th) and the Eels complete at 78.2% (9th) and the Warriors 79.8% (5th). Of the past 10 meetings between these two side dating back to Round 1, 2013, each team has won five games, with the away team only winning three times.
Many are giving the Warriors a chance in this, mainly because their recent form has lifted and they’ve been playing well. In equal measure, the form of the Eels has been questionable, with excuses offered but given what they have achieved in the first half of the season, you cannot be too quick to dismiss their chances. The loss of Dylan Brown will impact their attack somewhat and only increases the responsibility on the shoulders of Mitchell Moses. Nevertheless, the Eels head into this game as the favourites and rightly so. As mentioned above, the quality of opponent that each side has been perhaps has skewed recent form. That also may rule out a ‘blowout’ score line and with that in mind, as well as the change to the Eels attack, the ideal selection appears to be the Eels to win by less than two converted tries.
Hopes were high early in their match against the Sharks that the Cowboys could cause an upset and this was only supported by the Cowboys claiming the opening try in the 5th minute. Unfortunately, they would have to wait another 73 minutes for their next try, eventually going down 28-12. In the end, it made for poor viewing for their fans; they completed at just 68%, made just 1531 total metres, 2 offloads, 44 missed tackles and 16 errors. It was evident throughout that one team was heading towards the Finals and the other was struggling for motivation.
Speaking of motivation, the Dragons lacked that and execution in their 14-10 loss to the Titans at home. With a chance that they could make the Finals with a strong finish to the season, the Dragons turned out a dismal display. In the end, the three tries to one result indicated that there perhaps is a lot more wrong with this club than just the style of a former coach. There is no greater indicator than the statistics to support this points; they still had a fantastic 91% completion rate with 55% possession, made more total and post contact metres and made only 6 errors. Yet, when it mattered most, this team came up empty and left many wondering just where this club could go to in the remaining weeks of the 2020 competition.
Attack has been a standout issue for the Dragons in 2020. They average just 2.9 linebreaks (15th), 2.3 try assists (11th), 587.5pcm (8th) and 1792.8 total metres (5th). In the same areas, the Cowboys average 3.4 linebreaks (10th), 2.4 try assists (10th), 587.9pcm (7th) and 1629.2 total metres (12th). When it comes to the average amount of points, the Cowboys attack generates 19 per game and concedes 26 in defence, while the Dragons score 19 and concede 20. Of the past 12 matches between these two sides, each team has a 50% success rate, with the home side have a 66% success rate. These two sides have never met at this venue but when they have played in Townsville, the Cowboys have won three out of four since Round 9, 2011.
The Dragons head into this game as favourites but after last week, there is little to justify this other than poor recent form from the Cowboys. The interesting side note is that the Cowboys are also yet to win a game since their interim coach, Josh Hannay, has taken control; normally, you would see an improved result within the first few weeks. Sure, they are without Jason Taumololo but it is about time others within this squad took accountability for their performances. This game is also two remaining at this venue this season and the Cowboys will want to give their fans some joy for their support throughout the 2020 campaign (the other game is against the Panthers). Call it crazy or stupid, but there is a genuine sense that the Dragons might not be ‘up’ for this contest and could on the wrong end of the score line. The Cowboys represent terrific value in this one and, while their execution also needs to improve, have a great chance to grab a victory.
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