NRL Round 13: Saturday Match Previews & Betting Tips
Melbourne aims to bank another two competition points against the tricky Warriors, while the Sharkies and Eels battle it out for a top-eight position and an injury-ridden Cowboys take on the struggling Sea Eagles.
New Zealand Warriors v Melbourne Storm – Mt Smart Stadium – 3:00pm
Try as they might, the Warriors were unable to crack the Broncos’ defence in round 11 going down 8-2 at home. It represented the first attacking misfire since Kodi Nikorima switched to New Zealand and gave coach Steve Kearney plenty of food for thought in their bye week. The Warriors remain as enigmatic as ever but even with their typical inconsistencies, perhaps their most disappointing record is their 3-3 ledger at home in 2019.
The Warriors need to make Mt Smart Stadium a fortress and despite the Storm being first, the Warriors will draw huge confidence from their 13-12 loss to Melbourne earlier this season. Nobody gave the Warriors a chance of getting within cooee of Melbourne but instead, the New Zealanders were unlucky not to pull off the upset of 2019. After early season teething problems the Warriors’ defence is giving them a chance in recent times, having conceded over 20 points only once since round five (to the white-hot Knights). They failed to break the Broncos’ line even once though and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck will be relied upon to improve his performance after being well-contained last start.
Melbourne meanwhile got the job done with minimum fuss in their 28-6 win against the Bulldogs. The win’s greatest importance was seeing them overtake Souths atop the table but it was clear the Storm is capable of far better performances than what they produced at Belmore. Constant forward passes stopped their attack truly finding its groove while they were happy to settle for three penalty goals from consistent Canterbury infringements.
Josh Addo-Carr’s two-try burst did liven the match up but considering the nasty head clash between fullback Jahrome Hughes and lock Dale Finucane early on, the Storm would have been happy to get the two points and move into their bye week. Cameron Smith’s representative retirement will pay massive dividends considering match in New Zealand comes just three days after Origin. The Storm was guilty of underestimating the Warriors last start, it’s hard to think the Storm will make the same mistake this time around.
Key stats: These sides met on ANZAC Day with the Storm scraping a 13-12 win. This also meant the Storm have beaten the Warriors seven straight times. In this run, the Storm’s average win margin in NZ is under 10. Suliasi Vunivalu has scored each time he’s played in Auckland.
Best bet: Suliasi Vunivalu anytime try scorer – $1.95*
Value bet: Storm 1-12 – $3.20*
Cronulla Sharks v Parramatta Eels – PointsBet Stadium – 5:30pm
Cronulla was ecstatic to welcome back Matt Moylan in round 11’s 22-9 win over rival St George Illawarra and the great news for Sharks coach John Morris is further reinforcements may be on their way. Shaun Johnson and Wade Graham are named in their reserves meaning they’re a real chance of entering the final 17 – and with the Sharks safely in the top eight, the timing couldn’t be better.
Their Dragons win came on the back of a dominant second half where Cronulla capitalised on a positive possession swing and also became their latest second stanza shutout. Bronson Xerri – quickly emerging as a Rookie of the Year contender – scored a hat-trick and such is the confidence Morris has in his club’s improving depth, he can afford to rest NSW centre Josh Morris from club duty this weekend.
The Eels faced a must-win scenario over the Bunnies last week and responded with a comfortable 26-14 win. The two points were essential given how under-strength Souths was plus the significant selection changes coach Brad Arthur made. Veterans like Tim Mannah, Brad Takairangi and Daniel Alvaro were dropped and in a positive, the Eels did look more cohesive than some of their recent disappointing showings.
Mitchell Moses seems to be fluctuating between stand out and quiet in 2019 but fortunately this time it was the former, with three try assists guiding the Eels to another win at their new Bankwest Stadium home. Blake Ferguson made a welcome return to the wing after a disastrous showing at centre and duly got himself on the scoresheet – his side urgently needs the big man to recapture his early-season form which was a driving force behind their impressive start. Parramatta is yet to win back-to-back since round two – can they match this feat this time around?
Key stats: The sides met in round four with Parra triumphing 24-12. That victory ended Cronulla’s win streak over Parra at five games. The last time Parra won consecutive games in 2019 was round two while their only win outside of Bankwest and ANZ Stadiums was round one. The Sharks have won their last three second halves at home. The last time the Eels clean swept the Sharks in a season was 2014.
Best bet: Sharks second half - $1.68*
Value bet: Sharks halftime/fulltime – Sharks - $2.15*
North Queensland v Manly Sea Eagles – 1300 Smiles Stadium – 7:30pm
It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t going to appear on any NRL promotional videos anytime but North Queensland’s 6-4 win against the Titans was one of the bravest in their history. The Cowboys’ injury toll to their backline has steadily gotten worse in 2019 and hit breaking point with winger Gideon Gela-Mosby breaking a collarbone and fullback Jordan Kahu suffering a shoulder injury to sideline him for six weeks yet bravely played on through the pain.
Kyle Feldt’s incredible final minute tackle to barrel Brian Kelly into touch just as it looked like the Titans were going to steal the win had to be seen to be believed. The emotion was clear to see at full-time – the Cowboys had made it three straight wins against the odds. The win came through their forwards stepping up to compensate for a makeshift backline and stripped of Michael Morgan through Origin.
Jason Taumalolo scored his side’s only try but notably ran over 200 metres, while fellow middles Jordan McLean and Francis Molo worked their socks off. The Cowboys’ impromptu halves pairing of John Asiata and Jake Clifford will now get a chance to build on their combination with Morgan shifting to fullback and while they didn’t put on an attacking masterpiece, they at least showed a willingness to run and take chances with their kicks - a stark comparison to the Titans’ strategy. They’ll be better for the run and North Queensland suddenly have a shot at four straight wins – a remarkable turnaround.
After such a promising season start, the Sea Eagles have painfully regressed the last fortnight. Their shock loss at home to Gold Coast was compounded by a limp 15-12 defeat at Penrith. The loss was somewhat distorted by a very late comeback attempt which went some way of hiding how ineffective the Manly attack was for the game’s first 70 minutes.
Young five-eighth Cade Cust suddenly sprung to life by setting up Manase Fainu’s try before scoring himself but it was too little too late. What coach Des Hasler would have given for the likes of Origin stars Daly Cherry-Evans and Jake Trbojevic (or brother Tom) to have taken advantage of their whopping 59% possession rate. With a 6-6 record, Manly remain ahead of external expectations but with their two defeats to sides in the bottom two, they’ve blown a massive shot at fourth spot heading into rep season. Hasler has named Turbo Tom to make his highly anticipated return at fullback while naming brother Jake plus Cherry-Evans in the reserves. You’d think should they emerge unscathed from Origin they’d be rushed into the side – Manly need to stop their losing streak from becoming a slump.
Key stats: North Queensland have won five of their last six matches against Manly. In their three-game winning streak, the Cowboys’ highest win margin has been seven points. Jason Taumalolo has scored three tries in his last two matches against Manly and also scored the Cowboys’ only try last week.
Best bet: Cowboys -3.5 - $1.90*
Value bet: Jason Taumalolo anytime try scorer - $3.20*