NRL Round 10: Sunday Previews & Betting Tips
The Dragons have lost three straight while the Knights have won three straight – will the Dragons’ luck turnaround? It’s the battle of the beaches – and Cronulla needs to overturn a horror record when they face Manly to finish Round 10.
St George Illawarra Dragons v Newcastle Knights – Glen Willow Oval (Mudgee) – 2:00pm
Are the Dragons in a dreaded slump? Their third-straight defeat – this time to the Warriors 26-18 – leaves them having undone much of their positive work in their four-game winning run and with their 4-5 record, they can’t afford to throw any more games away if they’re serious about a top-eight finish.
The Dragons did start off on the right foot with two tries in the first eight minutes, earning an 18-6 halftime lead but unfortunately, their attack started to misfire second-half. With Corey Norman’s cheekbone injury meaning coach Paul McGregor needing to field yet another halves combination – this time Jai Field and Ben Hunt – the Dragons seemed to lack the direction needed to respond to a Roger Tuivasa-Sheck inspired Warrior resurgence. They became starved of possession with the Warriors completing set after set and when Hunt fumbled a Warriors dropout, it seemingly sealed his side’s fate. The second-half collapse means strong games from NSW Origin forwards Paul Vaughan and Tyson Frizell went unrewarded, while Matt Dufty struggled to match Tuivasa-Sheck’s scintillating performance at the back. It’s the first time the Dragons have lost three straight in 2019 and with the likes of Norman, Gareth Widdop and Korbin Sims still watching on from the sideline, the current Dragons side needs to shape up swiftly in a cutthroat 2019 season.
It wasn’t a clinic but the Knights’ 22-10 win over the Bulldogs means three straight wins now for Nathan Brown’s side and a promising revival after their horror losing run. Just like in their previous two wins, Kalyn Ponga and Mitchell Pearce were instrumental. Newcastle’s attack seems a different proposition with Ponga at fullback, even though five-eighth Connor Watson suffered a foot injury during their latest win.
David Klemmer had perhaps his most influential enforcer match yet – no surprise against his former side. His 168 running metres across 17 hitups and 47 tackles without a single miss laid the platform for Newcastle to withstand a Dogs comeback in the second half – the Dogs actually ended up with more possession, something which seemed a longshot in a first half dominated by Newcastle. The Knights did fall away from their strengths after building a 16-0 lead, looking to get a little too fancy with their attack and becoming sloppy as a result. With three straight wins though Newcastle is inching their way closer to the top eight and taking the spotlight off Brown’s potential coaching future.
Key stats: These sides met in round four with the Dragons winning 13-12 in golden point. Despite being in a losing streak, the Dragons have been first to 10 points in their last two matches. Mikaele Ravalawa has scored five tries in his last six starts.
Best bet: First to 10 points – Dragons – $1.76*
Value bet: Mikaele Ravalawa anytime try scorer – $2.10*
Cronulla Sharks v Manly Sea Eagles – PointsBet Stadium – 6:10pm
Cronulla’s 26-18 win against the Titans wasn’t pretty but it was another step closer for coach John Morris to reach the finals in his first year in charge. Cronulla are at their best when they’re methodically grinding down their opposition through their middle forwards – but the Sharks didn’t quite have this luxury when they lost starting rep props Andrew Fifita and Matt Prior in the opening twenty minutes.
This might go some way in explaining why the Sharks found themselves down 18-10 and looking for a way to work themselves back into the contest. Paul Gallen might be NRL’s oldest player but the G-Train played like he was a decade younger in taking on the responsibility to turn the Titan tide – 198 running metres was a huge effort and proved vital in the end.
Gallen got support from unheralded teammates like Kurt Capewell and Jack Williams, and as the Sharks drew level it became clear they were the ones with the cooler heads. Kyle Flanagan cleverly provoked a Tyrone Peachey penalty within kicking range to give the Sharks a late lead before Gallen himself iced the win with a try himself. The Sharks are forging a reputation as a side nobody likes to face – even when they’re smashed with injuries they keep turning up and making their opposition work for everything.
Interestingly the Sharks are also getting ever closer to their strongest lineup of 2019 – with Matt Moylan, Shaun Johnson and Wade Graham either returning before or after their upcoming bye. Josh Morris and Josh Dugan have relished being backline leaders and with NSW centres dropping like flies, both ex-Blues know they’re genuine chances at a rep callup – another strong game against Manly could get either man over the Blue line.
Say what you will about Manly but the work Des Hasler is doing in maximising every drop of effort from his available players deserves praise. The Sea Eagles went down 26-10 to Brisbane but remained competitive despite their ridiculous injury toll which worsened via promising prop Toafofoa Sipley’s season ending knee injury and centre Moses Suli fracturing a finger to leave him sidelined up to six weeks. They’ve at least dodged a bullet with makeshift half Api Korisau’s calf injury not as bad as first feared. But Manly were never quite able to create momentum against a Broncos outfit who were playing for their season.
Kane Elgey had a quiet game as the chief playmaker but he did so behind a forward pack who were outmatched by Brisbane – you know the Sea Eagles have struggled for ground when Jake Trbojevic doesn’t crack 100 running metres (although to be fair, the superstar lock did clock 99 metres). Martin Taupau was their best on ground in the defeat and if his teammates can match his intensity this week, they’ve got a shot at a Shark upset.
Dylan Walker’s return from his indefinite suspension cannot be overstated in its importance – Manly have lost experience at a horrible rate in 2019 and the former Australian representative will be welcomed back gleefully by Hasler. Walker might be lacking match fitness but has continued training at a high intensity during his unavailability with the aim of being ready to hit the ground running at potentially a day’s notice. Walker’s return will ease pressure on the makeshift playmakers of Curtis Sironen and Elgey and could provide the attacking spark Manly have at times lacked without the injured Tom Trbojevic and Daly Cherry-Evans.
Key Stats: The Sharks have an awful record against Manly – they’ve only beaten them once in the last decade. Manly have only won twice away from Lottoland this season. In all five Sharks wins this year they’ve won the second half while their last three wins have all been eight points or under.
Best bet: Sharks to win second half – $1.72*
Value bet: Sharks 1-12 – $3*