NRL Round 19: Saturday Match Previews & Betting Tips
Parra’s win streak ended last week and with the Warriors on a roll, can the Eels get back on track? Brisbane has gone from the brink of humiliation to the edge of the top eight – they look to continue their revival at Gold Coast. Melbourne is cruising atop the table but old rivals Manly will be up for the fight in this blockbuster.v
Parramatta Eels v New Zealand Warriors – Bankwest Stadium – 3:00pm
Parramatta threw away a great opportunity to cement themselves in the top eight after their three-game winning run was ended 36-24 at Manly. The final score flattered Parra who were comfortably outplayed in a Tom Trbojevic-inspired rampage. The Eels conceded four tries in eleven minutes to leave them in sixth place and still within reach of the chasing pack. It was a first half to forget for the Eels, leaking 26 points and almost double the run metres.
Mitchell Moses tried to stem the momentum with brief moments of magic including a 40/20 and teeing up Brad Takairangi’s try through a clever grubber but it was an impossible task behind a well-beaten pack. Junior Paulo (102m)was the only Eels forward to top 100 run metres – to put it in perspective, that tally would have been only the sixth-highest effort from a Manly forward.
Nathan Brown and Maika Sivo’s late tries avoided a points blowout but the Eels now need to rebuild swiftly after their reality check. Blake Ferguson was sorely missed through a knee infection but to think the NSW winger will single-handedly turn the Eels around whenever he returns is deluded.
If Parra wants to be in September they need to strengthen their attitude through their middle. The mental scars of their awful 2018 campaign are still alive with plenty of their squad and avoiding consecutive defeats at a crucial time of year will ensure the Eels do not reinforce any self-doubts about their finals chances.
The Warriors continued their trend of winning away from Auckland, their 19-18 win in Wellington over Cronulla keeping their season alive and remarkably now just one point away from eighth spot. It was a gutsy display from New Zealand, who although unable to regularly crack the Cronulla defence did draw repeat penalties and in turn penalty goals to keep them in the contest.
Halves Kodi Nikorima and Blake Green were the sole try-scorers but considering the Warriors were without their imposing tryscoring wingers David Fusitu’a and Ken Maumalo, they coped as well as coach Steve Kearney could have hoped for. Fullback Roger Tuivasa-Sheck was superb, the reigning Dally M Medallist by far the Warriors’ most important player and he did everything but score against Cronulla, clocking up 300 run metres and two line breaks to ease the pressure on his side’s other playmakers.
Jazz Tevaga has shrugged off ankle concerns to establish himself again as the reliable workhorse through the middle, soaking up pressure in defence and providing relief for Issac Luke in the ruck. With Newcastle and Cronulla seemingly imploding, the Warriors’ final chances are still realistic but with little room for error. Given their away performances, a trip to Bankwest could well be relished and with Parra’s confidence suddenly frail, the Warriors will be confident of continuing their impressive recent run.
Key stats: Parra has an imposing 5-1 record at Bankwest with their smallest win margin 12 points. As a centre, Brad Takairangi has five tries in his last four starts. The Eels have also won their last four first halves at home.
Best bet: Eels first half - $1.80* (TopBetta)
Value bet: Brad Takairangi anytime try scorer - $3.30* (Bet365)
Gold Coast Titans v Brisbane Broncos – CBUS Super Stadium – 5:30pm
If the Titans were hoping for an immediate response after sacking Garth Brennan, they briefly got one when they hosted an under-strength Storm last round – racing to a 12-0 lead after just eight minutes. Sadly though it became one-way traffic once Melbourne settled and the 38-18 defeat consolidated Gold Coast’s spot at the bottom of the table.
There was at least a better overall effort than their capitulation to Penrith but the ease a Storm side minus almost all their Origin players dissected their defence – particularly on the left – wouldn’t make pleasant viewing for caretaker coach Craig Hodges. Centre Brian Kelly and halfback Ryley Jacks were also exposed defensively, missing a combined ten tackles. Jacks has paid the price with AJ Brimson taking over the seven jersey this week. As is often the case with lowly sides, once the tide turned against the Gold Coast the floodgates burst open and they were powerless to stop Cameron Smith’s scheming and Melbourne scoring four straight tries.
Hooker Nathan Peats was one of the better performers in a well-beaten side and seemed to relish increased responsibility with bench rake Mitch Rein dropped, creating a try early on and unfortunate to be denied a four-pointer himself. Hodges didn’t hold back in the aftermath, declaring all positions are open and with a string of coaching candidates being linked to the full-time gig, the caretaker may as well shake things up given their current predicament can’t get worse. A rare season highlight for the Titans was their 26-18 ambush of Brisbane mid-year when the Broncos paid a hefty price for a sluggish mentality. With the wooden spoon Gold Coast’s to lose, the Titans will be ready for a fight against their bigger Queensland brothers again.
Brisbane’s top eight chances are suddenly alive and well, their 28-6 defeat of Canterbury leaving them a single Premiership point outside the eight. It’s a remarkable turnaround considering how much they’ve struggled in Anthony Seibold’s debut year at Red Hill.
A constant squad shuffling through injury, recruitment and form now leaves Seibold with a formula bringing some joy to the Broncos. Darius Boyd is now a full-time five-eighth and the veteran had his best performance in his new role in creating two tries, while Anthony Milford continues to grow in confidence in the fullback role he burst onto the NRL scene at Canberra with.
James Segeyaro is electric off the bench and a change of pace to Andrew McCullough at dummy-half, and when the young Bronco pack hits top gear like they did last week, it’s a hell of an ask to stop them. Payne Haas was the star, his 204 metres gained more than the top two Dogs forwards combined, but he wasn’t alone in having a night out. Matt Lodge, Tevita Pangai Junior, Dave Fifita and Thomas Flegler each had strong performances as Brisbane cruised to the crucial win. Brisbane’s earlier draw with the Warriors leaves both sides level on 17 Premiership points and barring an unlikely draw elsewhere, means points difference will not be as important for the Broncos compared to the rest of the pack chasing the dwindling number of finals spots.
Brisbane’s target, therefore, becomes simple – don’t worry about margins, just keep winning. With their new-found confidence, the Broncos are looming as the side currently outside nobody wants to face as September draws near.
Key stats: Titans have now lost five straight at home. Gold Coast have never beaten the Broncos twice in one season, and have only beaten Brisbane at home once in the last six years. Corey Oates has a perfect 7-0 record against the Titans to go with four tries in his last three matches against them. Gold Coast have conceded 20+ points in each of their last four games.
Best bet: Broncos first to 20 points - $1.76* (Sportsbet)
Value bet: Corey Oates anytime try scorer/Broncos win - $2.38* (TAB)
Melbourne Storm v Manly Sea Eagles – AAMI Park – 7:30pm
Craig Bellamy has done it again. The master Melbourne coach has successfully navigated through another representative season. Bellamy decided to rest all his Origin players – except lock Dale Finucane – at once, but did so against the bottom-placed Titans and with the comfort of a six-point competition buffer from second-placed Souths. The result was a morale-boosting 38-18 win, a further testament to Melbourne’s depth and leaves Bellamy free to rotate his squad further before the finals if need be.
The understrength Storm did it the hard way, conceding a 12-0 lead inside eight minutes but once the Titans’ ambush stopped it became one-way traffic. Jahrome Hughes spent years in the Titans system but finds himself effortlessly filling in the famous number 1 Storm jersey and had a day out on the Gold Coast. Creating three tries, Hughes- along with the fast-rising Ryan Papenhuyzen – took considerable playmaking pressure off Brodie Croft and made the most of the strike power Melbourne still had at their disposal. With big names still available in the pack, Cameron Smith controlled the ruck and the NRL’s number one prop duo Jesse Bromwich and Nelson Asofa-Solomona steamrolled through the Titans middle. It’s incredible to think after 18 rounds the Storm have only two losses for a combined margin of three points – not even a lengthy Origin toll has stopped them. Manly is their next challenge and privately Bellamy may relish the encounter with his old rival Des Hasler. Manly have plenty of experience in sticking it to the Storm, and a gruelling battle on Saturday night could be better preparation for the business end of the year than the surrender Gold Coast eventually offered last start.
If you’re in the Manly area this week, take a quiet moment away from the masses and stick your ear out. If you listen very closely, you’ll hear the soft hum of Des Hasler’s Sea Eagles flying under the radar.
Manly stamped themselves as a genuine top-four chance in their 36-24 defeat of an in-form Parramatta, inspired by their terrific fullback Tom Trbojevic. In the famous number one jersey, Tommy Turbo at just 22 is already adding himself to an echelon of past greats like Graeme Eadie, Matthew Ridge and Brett Stewart. A try, a try assist, a line break and a whopping 284 run metres summed up how good the younger Trbojevic was, and he was joined by winger Reuben Garrick who bagged his first NRL hat-trick.
With senior stars Daly Cherry-Evans and Jake Trbojevic steering the ship to go with the dynamic ruck work of Manase Fainu, Manly’s well-rounded attack clicked perfectly to blitz the Eels. With props Marty Taupau and Addin Fonua-Blake in form, Manly is well-positioned for a red hot crack at fourth spot – a significant improvement on many pre-season expectations.
Melbourne is the NRL’s toughest away trip yet Hasler’s side won’t back down from the ominous challenge. The Sea Eagles have plenty of experience and a storied rivalry to not be overwhelmed by the Storm’s brilliance, and with all the external expectations placed upon the Storm’s shoulders, Manly will be primed for a siege – just how their Premiership winning coach likes it.
Key stats: Melbourne has nine straight wins. Manly fullback Tom Trbojevic is having a perfect season though – across Manly and NSW appearances he’s 8-0 in 2019. Manly will have no fear of AAMI Park, with a competitive 2-2-1 record there in their last five games, and have won at least one half three times.
Best bet: Manly to win either half - $1.83* (Sportsbet)
Value bet: Storm -8.5 - $1.95* (TAB)