NRL Round 16: Tigers v Roosters Preview & Betting Tips
The Tigers are on the prowl winning two nail biters straight. Will they make it a third against the Premier Roosters?
Wests Tigers v Sydney Roosters – Bankwest Stadium – 7.55pm
The Tigers took another step towards ending their finals drought when they upset Souths 14-9 at Bankwest. Not for the first time in 2019, bench forward Michael Chee Kam was the unlikely hero, crashing through the Bunnies’ defence to run around 50m to score the game winner, just as it looked like Adam Reynolds’ field goal was enough for Souths to win.
The Tigers’ performance wasn’t spectacular, especially considering in the first half they had over 60% possession and needed a late Corey Thompson try to avoid an inexplicable half-time deficit. Coach Michael Maguire would have taken more confidence though with his side’s defence, as they held the Bunnies at bay as possession and territory inevitably swung the opposite way in the second half.
It’s been contrasting matches in the last two round for the Tigers, they outlasted the Cowboys in a topsy-turvy shootout where defence wasn’t a factor. Yet against Souths, it was their own defensive hustle which kept them alive and while they can’t keep relying on Chee Kam to deliver incredible game winning charges, the Tigers are now finding ways to win games while in previous years they were finding ways to lose.
Ryan Matterson is perhaps the most unlucky New South Welshman not to have been called up this Origin series and the gigantic ball-playing forward will have a point to prove against a side he won a Premiership with last year but who opted to move him on. Origin callups mean the Tigers avoid a confrontation with James Tedesco and instead allows Thompson to continue growing into his new full-time role as fullback without the spectre of Tedesco – once the Tigers’ favourite son – looming.
Evergreen veterans Benji Marshall and Robbie Farah continue defying Father Time with pivotal roles and with Maguire openly speaking about the door not yet closed on extending each man’s contract, they’ll know a big performance against the Roosters will be another big step towards the Tigers’ first finals berth since 2011.
Is the glass half-empty or half-full? While this is a question challenging one’s view of the world, it’s also an interesting way of looking at the reigning Premiers’ current situation. If you’re thinking the glass is half-empty, then you’d suggest the Roosters may be in a slump with their 14-12 loss to Melbourne meaning four losses in five games and all but waving goodbye to their Minor Premiership challenge.
The Roosters took the fight to the Storm in a way perhaps no other side in the NRL can, but a raft of selection changes undermined their attacking cohesion and in the end, the Chooks paid the price for failing to convert their spells of territorial domination into points. Brett Morris was a welcome addition to the backline after a three-month knee injury but his match rustiness showed when he inexplicably opted not to pass to an unmarked Daniel Tupou late on which likely would have given the Roosters a match-winning lead. A defeat to the confident Tigers would mean the Roosters’ worst stretch of results since 2016 when they finished second-last – all the more reason to think their glass is half empty.
However, if you’re an optimistic punter, then the glass is certainly half-full. The Roosters were severely undermanned in Adelaide, missing Luke Keary, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Jake Friend, Ryan Hall, Sitili Tupouniua and more – and still should have beaten a near full-strength Storm outfit. Latrell Mitchell had a strong game and there is not a soul who would have expected the fully fit superstar centre to be available for this Origin-affected match back in pre-season – the Chooks would be thrilled to have their major strike weapon and first-choice goalkicker on hand.
Remarkably they’ll only have two players ineligible for selection this week due to Origin – Boyd Cordner and James Tedesco. Both men are significant losses yet they’re also in season-best form and as seen last year, know exactly how to keep the momentum going at NRL level post-Origin. Keary and JWH will make their returns this week while Friend is close to an early return from his long-term biceps injury. Coach Trent Robinson has enough experience to know how to best manage representative season, being unafraid to manage players (he’s already declared Cordner will be rested next round). This approach has long-term payoffs in the playoffs and the Roosters’ lineup this round is one of their strongest Origin-affected teams they’ve managed to field. With a strong record against the Tigers, perhaps the glass really is half-full for the Roosters.
Key Stats: The Tigers’ second-worst head-to-head history is against the Roosters. In this decade the Roosters have won 16 of 18 against Wests, with 13 coming by 13+. The last time the Tigers scored 20+ against the Chooks was in 2012. Daniel Tupou was born to play against Wests – the winger has 15 tries in 10 matches against them, failing to score only once.
Best bet: Race to 20 points – Roosters - $1.90* (Sportsbet)
Value bet: Daniel Tupou anytime try scorer - $2.10* (TAB)