NRL Round 7: Saturday Match Previews & Betting Tips
After copping a hiding against the Eels, the Tigers aim to turn things around against an in-form Titans while the Broncos endeavour to break their losing streak against a plucky Cronulla.
Wests Tigers v Gold Coast Titans – Scully Park (Tamworth) - 5:30pm
Oh, boy! If you’re a Tigers punter then re-watching their 51-6 capitulation to Parramatta might be deemed cruel and unusual punishment. So much was in the Tigers’ favour heading into the first match held at Bankwest Stadium. They had a lengthy break to recuperate following an emotional 22-16 upset over the Broncos. Parramatta’s best player – Blake Ferguson – was out through broken ribs. Luke Brooks would be facing his former halves partner Mitchell Moses and nobody in the competition would know how to stifle Moses’s attacking game better than the Tigers. Instead, logic went out the window almost as quickly as the Tigers’ effort did.
Parramatta raced to a 30-0 first half lead and unlike other teams who have a tendency to slow down with a seemingly unassailable lead – including the reigning Premiers – the Eels beatdown did not stop. The Tigers were torn apart as Moses had a field day. It was a Tigers self-implosion and could have dramatic effects on a Tigers’ culture which previously had been showing signs of improving following years of coaching changes and underachievement. There were no positives to come from the defeat. The Tigers’ completion rate throughout the game hovered around 90% before late errors dragged this down. While this may seem positive, it doesn’t reflect how poor the Tigers’ final tackle options were. Brooks had a game to forget with the boot, conceding seven tackle sets repeatedly.
Halves partner Josh Reynolds was equally as poor, struggling to find open space with his kicks gifting easy possession to the Eels’ makeshift back three. Russell Packer was signed on a big-money deal – he made two hitups all game. Eels prop Daniel Alvaro made one hitup all game – and that was off the opening kickoff return before concussion ended his game seconds in.
Overall the Tigers had one forward (Ryan Matterson – 125m) to surpass 100 running metres – the Eels had six. The loss of Robbie Farah early on was an undeniable blow to the Tigers – forcing a reshuffle with fullback Moses Mbye switching to hooker and winger Corey Thompson to fullback – but when your opponents were at one stage down to 15 men early in the first half (Eels edge forward Marata Niukore had an extended wait to pass his HIA given teammate Alvaro was already getting examined) it doesn’t offer an excuse. The Brisbane win feels like it was months ago now and the Tigers might feel like they’re starting from scratch and with only a five day turnaround.
The Titans were called out by their coach Garth Brennan after an 0-4 start – and have responded emphatically. Their 38-14 win over Newcastle is their second straight and impressively was an improvement on their shootout-like win over Penrith the previous week.
Adding to the achievement was Gold Coast’s wretched injury run continued. Experienced edge forward Kevin Proctor was a legitimate last minute scratching before they then lost pack leader Ryan James to a knee injury after 10 minutes to go with halfback Ash Taylor playing injured. But it didn’t matter as Tyrone Roberts became the star man on the Coast, the veteran five-eighth stole the show. Two tries to go with nearly 700 kicking metres and a try assist was exactly what the Titans needed from their most experienced playmaker.
Jai Arrow had a monster game for the undermanned pack, his bellringing shot on David Klemmer in the final five minutes summing up the Gold Coast domination. The Titans are showing great signs of a confident side. They scored more points against the Knights than they did in their opening month and players like Tyrone Peachey are starting to find their footing. With momentum on their side Gold Coast are a danger side for any opposition.
Key stats: Gold Coast have a 5-1 record against the Tigers in their last six matches. The last time the Titans scored 30+ points in three straight games was in April 2015. The Tigers lost at Scully Park 22-20 against Newcastle last year. Anthony Don has scored in four straight games to go with five tries in eight appearances against the Tigers.
Best bet: Titans +3.5 – $1.91* (Bet365)
Value bet: Anthony Don anytime try scorer – $2* (BetEasy)
Brisbane Broncos v Cronulla Sharks – Suncorp Stadium – 7:30pm
It’s a never-ending nightmare for Brisbane. Their trip to Canberra was must-win for their already-faint finals hopes but their 26-22 defeat was a blow they couldn’t afford.
Their fifth defeat in six starts was a seemingly Brisbane performance. They faced a side ahead of them on the ladder, had brief spells of attacking prowess but gave themselves too many points to chase through repeated defensive errors.
A look further at the Broncos’ five defeats have come to the NRL’s current top five teams – it’s not an excuse but when a team as low in confidence as the Broncos are, it’s a demoralising trend to be going through.
Ryan Sutton scoring his first NRL try off an inadvertent falcon might sum the Broncos current state up. But luck has nothing to do with the Broncos left edge failing to contain Joseph Leilua or repeatedly conceding penalties allowing Canberra to easily escape coming off their own try line.
Kodi Nikorima and Anthony Milford did have an improved halves showing with them being more selective in their running (a combined 10 runs compared to 22 in their last start) and Payne Haas continues to impress in Matt Lodge’s absence. Brisbane continue to show effort and a breakthrough win isn’t far off – but that’s not the first time that’s been said in 2019.
Cronulla’s 24-20 upset win over Penrith is the type to go down in Sharkies’ folklore. Coach John Morris’s side remains hugely impacted with injury – both pre-game and during – but to overcome a 14 point deficit twice in the second half adds even more to the remarkable win.
Bronson Xerri’s highlight reel is growing by the week, the rookie centre quickly becoming a Dally M Rookie of the Year contender with his electrifying 60m try giving Cronulla hope in the second half. The Sharks’ available team might be a far cry from the slick 2016 unit who methodically ground out opponents week after week but their commitment to each other and their rookie coach remains just as high.
Andrew Fifita is relishing his leadership responsibilities and Shaun Johnson’s adjustment to the Cronulla attacking style is improving with each match. Their next assignment is a familiar one – they’ll be underdogs against a side desperate – and expected – to win. And with the confidence of knowing they have the attack to chase down points if needed, the Sharks will be confident of another stunning scalp.
Key stats: Brisbane has won four straight against Cronulla, all coming with half-time leads. Corey Oates has seven tries in eight games against Cronulla. The last time the Broncos started a season 1-6 was in 1999.
Best bet: Corey Oates anytime try scorer – $1.87* (Bet365)
Value bet: Broncos halftime/fulltime – $2.40* (TAB)