NRL Round 11: Friday Night Previews & Betting Tips
Manly continues to impress in 2019 – they’ll be licking their lips against the confidence-shot Titans while the Knights will be aiming to keep up their winning streak when they face the Roosters.
Manly Sea Eagles v Gold Coast Titans – Lottoland – 6pm
Is it a stretch to say Des Hasler is the Dally M Coach of the Year favourite? Hasler’s stock took a hit with his messy exit from the Bulldogs who were seemingly happy to see the two time Premiership winner with salary cap issues and a conservative playing style.
Manly meanwhile was left a rabble with Trent Barrett handing in a year’s notice to resign while citing inadequate training facilities and a roster racked with salary cap management woes. Not much was expected externally from the Sea Eagles in 2019 yet here they are not only in fifth spot but doing so with injuries to key players. The way Hasler has gotten the best out of marginal players like Brendan Elliot replacing Tom Trbojevic at fullback, or Kane Elgey and rookie Cade Cust filling in the halves is sensational. Their 24-14 win over Cronulla was thoroughly deserved and a strong recovery from their Magic Round loss to Brisbane.
Manly’s front row combination of Addin Fonua-Blake and Marty Taupau may well be the most under-rated in the competition. When at their best – like they were against the Sharks – the enforcers are a menace through the middle both with and without ball. Lock Jake Trbojevic was his usual reliable self, consistently playing as a first or second receiver to alleviate pressure off his halves, his pass to create Fonua-Blake’s opening try was one Daly Cherry-Evans would be proud of. Hasler’s first coaching life at Manly saw the club adopt a siege mentality, built around the team over the individual and making their home ground a fortress. After ten rounds it’s plain to see this method remains just as effective now and for a club written off by most, Manly are looking great value for a top-eight spot under their Mad Scientist coach.
Not for the first time this season the Titans raced to an early lead – but then not for the first time this season the Titans then imploded. Their 22-16 loss to the previously last-placed Bulldogs marks the third time in a month the Titans have coughed up a lead and compounds a worrying trend for Gold Coast where they’re incapable of an 80 minute performance.
Tyrone Peachey became the latest big-name recruit to be benched by coach Garth Brennan and it appears the Titans are still searching for their best combinations ten rounds into the competition. Dale Copley was a bright light with two early tries while in the forwards it was a familiar story of Jarrod Wallace and Jai Arrow leading the way but without support from the other pack members. Ashley Taylor had a game to forget with the halfback being tackled off the Titans’ final attacking play summing up an ordinary game from someone the Titans need more out of.
Key Stats: The Titans’ last away win came in round 23 2018 – at Lottoland. The last time Manly defeated the Titans at Lottoland was 2013. Gold Coast have lost four straight with the average margin being 11 points. Manly winger Jorge Taufua has seven tries in his last eight matches against the Titans.
Tip: Sea Eagles
Best bet: Sea Eagles -6 - $1.95*
Value bet: Jorge Taufua anytime try scorer - $2*
Newcastle Knights v Sydney Roosters – McDonald Jones Stadium - 7:55pm
A month is a long time in footy. Four weeks ago Newcastle coach Nathan Brown was under siege fighting for his coaching life as his Knights hit five straight losses. Fast forward a month and Newcastle are now NRL’s most in-form side with their superstar playmakers suddenly scoring tries for fun behind a forward pack living up to its potential.
The Knights’ 45-12 shellacking of the Dragons in Mudgee was the Novocastrians’ best performance in recent memory. They were ruthless across the park and crucially are beginning to identify their best on-field combinations. Mitchell Pearce might be a maligned halfback at representative level but there’s no question how good he is at NRL level and Pearce has exploded into hot form, tearing apart the Dragons. Pearce created four tries and helped himself to both a try and a cheeky late field goal, all the while showing the confident ball-running play which saw him earn all those chances at a higher level.
Kurt Mann was Pearce’s fourth different halves partner in ten rounds but the pair clicked immediately, which also allowed utility Connor Watson to come off the bench and excel as an impact player. Of course, it helps when you come on with the score already 28-0 in the first half alone but impressively the Knights didn’t go into cruise control. Even when the Dragons finally showed some fight with two tries in six minutes, Newcastle swiftly replied with further points themselves. David Klemmer had a monster game, completely outgunning a Dragons pack loaded with representatives and the prop looks ready to take on the enforcer role for the Blues.
All of this goes without mention of a certain Kalyn Ponga who added two tries to his highlight reel and overall scored 24 points on the day. It’s this type of performance which had Newcastle as Premiership darkhorses in pre-season – they’ve got a strong pack, a veteran elite NRL-level halfback and in Ponga a special talent who can turn a game on its head himself. A win against the defending Premiers and Newcastle will become a prized scalp themselves – a far cry from just a month ago.
After eight straight wins, the Roosters finally tasted defeat again in a tense 15-10 loss away to Brisbane. The Broncos took the fight to the Premiers across eighty minutes unlike any other side has in 2019 – Souths found themselves trailing at half-time in round one – and were rewarded with an impressive result. The Roosters’ effort was strong but they were unable to truly control the game’s momentum, playing behind a beaten forward pack with bench prop Zane Tetevano the only big man to run over 100 metres.
With Cooper Cronk’s impending retirement this might have been the Queensland champion’s final Suncorp game yet sadly it was one to forget. The halfback will surely be the fastest sin bin-recipient of 2019 with his professional foul on Darius Boyd inside three minutes, and the Roosters scored their only try while Cronk was in the sheds. His usual machine-like kicking game also deserted him and meant too often the Broncos were getting headstarts with their kick return sets.
Ryan Hall made his debut following an off-season transfer from Leeds and an ACL operation and the English winger was understandably not at his best given this was his first match in over nine months in a completely different competition and setting. Latrell Mitchell had his quietest game of the season and it’s hard to see the superstar centre not exploding against the Knights with Origin within touching distance. The Roosters were no doubt missing their co-captains Boyd Cordner and Jake Friend and looked gassed towards the end following a five-day dual-interstate turnaround and will be far better off for the week’s recovery ahead of facing Newcastle.
Key stats: The Roosters have won 10 of their last 11 matches against Newcastle. In their last six wins over the Knights, Easts have led at halftime. Round 24 2018 was the last time the Roosters have lost two straight. In their recent eight-game win streak the Roosters scored at least 20 points every time. In his eight career matches against Newcastle, Luke Keary is a perfect 8-0.
Best bet: Race to 20 points – Roosters - $1.71*
Value bet: Roosters halftime/fulltime - $1.95*