NRL Round 14: Friday Night Previews & Betting Tips
Known as NRL’s most volatile side, the Warriors meet their match in 2019 with their hosts the lowly Titans fresh from their stunning Broncos ambush, while a 2005 Grand Final rematch will have huge ramifications for both sides’ flailing finals hopes.
Gold Coast’s stunning 26-18 win against Brisbane defied logic and shows why they just might be NRL’s most frustrating side. Their 6-4 defeat to the Cowboys threatened to set new standards in attack ineptitude yet seven short days later they defeat their local rivals for only the second time in the last five seasons with some brilliant work ball in hand and looking a totally new side.
When he’s been fit prodigal son Tyrone Roberts has been the Titans’ best this year and with halfback Ash Taylor taking leave for personal reasons, the electric five-eighth stole the show with a brilliant first-half performance. Roberts wasn’t even the Titans’ most glamourous off-season recruit but when you consider how inconsistent Tyrone Peachey and Shannon Boyd have been, Roberts is keeping the Raiders’ Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad honest as the best value signing for 2019.
With Joe Ofahengaue ruled out for Origin, Jarrod Wallace stepped up with a huge performance to show Maroons’ selectors he’s ready for a Queensland recall. Nathan Peats also returned from his lengthy pectoral injury and the Titans’ 1-2 punch at dummy-half with Mitch Rein brings a powerful attacking element as the Broncos would attest.
It must be maddening for coach Garth Brennan to watch his side fluctuate so rapidly between awful and awesome, but with the Warriors visiting his side now have a shot at consecutive wins for only the second time this season.
If ever there was a time for the Warriors to snap their Storm hoodoo, last week was the perfect chance. Coming off a bye, unaffected by Origin, at home and with a 10-0 lead, the Warriors had it all set up. Instead, they capitulated to concede 32 unanswered points to suffer an eighth straight Melbourne loss.
Not even Melbourne losing halfback Brodie Croft plus having prop Christian Welch binned was enough for the Warriors to build on their early tries to Ken Maumalo and Kodi Nikorima. Melbourne were ruthless in attack, time and time again isolating Nikorima and Issac Luke in the defensive line – Nikorima having a horror defensive performance with 12 tackles and seven misses.
It was a fourth straight defeat at home for the Warriors so in a perverse way, a trip back to Queensland where they had one of their more impressive performances this season in their Magic Round win over the Dragons might be a blessing in disguise for a campaign which will sink even lower should the Titans defeat them
- - In twelve matches this year the Warriors have scored 12 points or under six times.
- - The Warriors have won 15 of the last 17 matches against Gold Coast. The Kiwis have also won their last two away games.
- - Warriors winger Ken Maumalo has six tries in his last seven starts.
Best bet: Warriors -1.5 - $2* (Bet365)
Value bet: Ken Maumalo anytime tryscorer - $2.10* (TAB)
North Queensland Cowboys vs. Wests Tigers – 1300 SMILES Stadium - 7:55pm
In their injury-wrecked 2019 season, perhaps the Cowboys’ 22-20 loss at home to Manly was the best summation of their fortune. When prop Jordan McLean clutched an injured hamstring with 12 minutes left, it also meant the Cowboys were down to 12 men as they spent their final interchange just three minutes earlier on replacing makeshift centre Mitch Dunn who suffered a shoulder injury.
North Queensland persevered but it wasn’t to be their night despite a brave effort. Superstar lock Jason Taumalolo played the full 80 minutes out of necessity and delivered a near man-of-the-match performance in a beaten side with 314 running metres and a workhorse game in defence.
Temporary halves pairing John Asiata and Jake Clifford looked far more convincing in their second game together and Michael Morgan provided customary spark back in the number 1 jersey but constant handling errors thwarted Cowboy momentum.
The biggest bugbear for coach Paul Green may be his side’s defence where too often in 2019 they’re leaking repeat tries – for a side with constant backline upheaval due to injury, it’s placing huge pressure on their attack to compensate for the defensive slipups.
Yet despite these worries, the Cowboys still were within reach of beating Manly and extending their winning run and with their opponents this week demoralised, North Queensland will aim to get back into the winners’ circle at home.
The Tigers entered their Canberra clash with a point to prove yet after a horror night they failed to even score a point. Their 28-0 whitewash was hardly the confidence boost their finals chances needed and risks being the turning point of their season. Their ball handling was poor and their forwards lacked any punch against a rampant Raiders pack.
Benji Marshall’s eye injury in the first half was a blow but there was enough quality still available for the Tigers to execute a better attacking performance than they did. Troublingly Wests still seem unsure what position best suits skipper Moses Mbye.
Backing up from his brief Queensland debut, Mbye spent time at fullback, centre and five-eighth throughout the heavy defeat and considering the Tigers tried and failed to sign Dallin Watene-Zelezniak effective immediately, coach Michael Maguire is now experimenting Mbye as a centre. Tim Mannah has been linked with a move to the Tigers and the veteran prop would certainly provide leadership, but it’s kickstarting their attack which is their biggest concern. If they don’t address it soon, their finals drought is certain to extend another season.
- - The Cowboys have won three of the last four head-to-heads in Townsville.
- - In two of their last three matches, the Cowboys have opened the scoring via a penalty goal.
- - The Tigers have only one win from their last five starts.
Best bet: Race to 10 points – Cowboys - $1.77* (BetEasy)
Value bet: First scoring play Cowboys penalty goal - $5.40* (Unibet)