NRL Round 19: Sunday Match Previews & Betting Tips
The Chooks were cooking last week and the lowly Bulldogs could be in for a long afternoon in Homebush. Canberra remains in the top four but the white-hot Panthers will look to show they’re the real deal in this fascinating Sunday showdown.
Canterbury Bulldogs v Sydney Roosters – ANZ Stadium – 2pm
After rare consecutive wins, Canterbury crashed down to earth in a 28-6 defeat at Brisbane. Little went right for the Doggies, who were powerless to stop Payne Haas stamping his will on a beaten Dogs pack. Not one Dog forward went close to 100 run metres while Brisbane overall had seven forwards do so, including a double ton from Haas.
Veteran prop Aiden Tolman’s rib injury deprived Canterbury of their most senior forward and Brisbane took full advantage with a gulf in possession never giving Canterbury a sniff in the contest. Brandon Wakeham notched his first NRL career try but aside from the lively pivot’s energy, the Dogs attack resembled their lacklustre ways instead of when they blitzed Newcastle two weeks ago with three straight tries.
Speculation abounds regarding the futures of coach Dean Pay and star halfback Kieran Foran despite the pair having contracts beyond this year. St Helens coach Justin Holbrook continues to be linked as an eventual Pay replacement while reports the Dogs are willing to take a $500,000 hit on injury-prone Foran have forced the Dogs to defend their key playmaker.
The Dogs’ already shaky depth copped a battering in the Brisbane loss, centre Marcelo Montoya suffering a knee injury and backrower Corey Harawira-Naera copping a brutal knee from Kotoni Staggs. Josh Jackson continued to compete and a try saver on Corey Oates prevented the score blowing out further. The Dogs are at least showing some fighting spirit even as their painful year feels like an eternity and will need every bit of this grit to compete with a confident Roosters outfit.
Are the Roosters back? After a clunky opening 55 minutes to Newcastle to go with their recent 1-5 run, the Premiers exploded into form with a six-try ambush stunning the Knights and sending a warning to their rivals. It’s a discomforting thought for the rest of the competition the Roosters hit top gear from essentially a standing start.
Although they led 12-10 when the avalanche started, the Chooks were fortunate to even be in front after a blown Jesse Ramien chance in particular cost Newcastle a try. But once the Roosters’ playmakers found their groove, they created a score more suited to the summer sport at the Sydney Cricket Ground. James Tedesco is arguably the best player in the world and the on-fire fullback got some support from the likes of Luke Keary and Cooper Cronk to tear apart Newcastle.
Latrell Mitchell was flawless with the boot (8/8), scoring a try and creating another to continue an impressive response to his Origin culling while veteran prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves made the most of his successful defence midweek at the judiciary with a barnstorming performance against a well-credentialed Knights pack. The only downer was hooker Jake Friend suffering an arm fracture inside the first five minutes, sidelining the co-captain until potentially the finals. It’s a cruel blow to the Australian international and given his already long layoff in 2019 through a bicep injury, the Chooks will once again need to restructure their attack without their Friend.
Coach Trent Robinson and half Cronk are masters are peaking performance for September and while headlines understandably focused on the unstoppable finish, they’ll both know a stronger first-half performance this week will further build confidence. With their opposition in a spoon battle, the Roosters are unlikely to be showing mercy as they build on their sudden return to form.
Key Stats: These sides met in round 14, the Roosters winning 38-12. The Chooks have won their last five straight against Canterbury. In these sides’ last 14 matches, the Dogs have won the first half only once, trailing by an average margin of 11.2 points in the most recent five games. In the Dogs last five games, five opposing outside backs have scored a double – including Latrell Mitchell.
Best bet: Roosters 9+ half time - $2.00* (Sportsbet)
Value bet: Latrell Mitchell 2 or more tries - $4.50* (Sportsbet)
Penrith Panthers v Canberra Raiders – Panthers Stadium – 4:05pm
Penrith made the most of an inept Dragons side last side, their 40-18 belting their seventh straight win and a timely boost for their points difference. The free-flowing attack inspired by a second-half creative blitz from James Maloney saw Penrith notch their highest tally since round 21 2018 and after starting their win streak with grinding wins, Penrith is now capable of running up a mammoth score, with four tries coming in just 16 minutes alone.
Even during the early stages of their white-hot run, Penrith was bemoaning their outside backs seemingly cursed by injury. This meant no choice but blooding the likes of Brian To’o and Brent Naden who were yet to have a sniff of first grade, but the duo is now certified try-scoring machines who are playing a huge role in the Penrith revival. The pair scored two tries apiece over the Dragons and it’s become clear why coach Ivan Cleary was prepared to grant New Zealand skipper Dallin Waetene-Zelezniak a mid-season release – the Panthers have unearthed two new backline gems.
James Fisher-Harris is an unsung workhorse and the Kiwi delivered the goods again, clocking over 160 run metres, 34 tackles without a miss and even a crafty try-assist to lead the way for a rampant Panthers pack. Now sitting in seventh spot Penrith are in control of their finals hopes and encouragingly for their punters, they’re continuing to improve even during one of the longest win streaks in their 52-year club history.
It wasn’t an entire performance but the Raiders’ hot start was enough for them to clinch a vital 20-12 win against the Tigers, keeping them in the top four. Two tries from the opening ten minutes gave Canberra plenty of confidence, and after they responded to conceding a Josh Aloiai try by scoring again via Jordan Rapana a now-customary Tiger belting looked on the cards. But on a night dedicated to marking the 30th anniversary of one of the all-time great grand finals between Canberra and Balmain, the Tigers roared back into the contest from a glut of possession, forcing Canberra to dig deep in defence.
Halfback Aidan Sezer isn’t renowned as a dominant defender but his try-saving effort on Tiger game-breaker Michael Chee-Kam was brilliant and another step towards the Raiders shedding their tag as a side who too often lose tight matches. Josh Papalii had a monster night, his 184 run metres comfortably more than the Tigers’ starting props combined and the Maroon enforcer is hitting peak form at the perfect time. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad is building his reputation on scorching attack – scoring his 9th try as a Raider – but his defensive hustle and increasing confidence in organising the Raiders’ defensive line is further proof Ricky Stuart’s side are continuing to develop instead of resting on their attacking firepower.
Stuart has prided himself on defence-first and while the Raiders weren’t perfect, the effort they showed in repelling the desperate Tigers would have “Sticky” grinning. Such is the Raiders’ current position, anything less than fourth spot come finals may feel a letdown. The Panthers are on fire and a potential fourth spot darkhorse – should they defeat Canberra. We might still be in July but this match will have finals intensity and ramifications. Can the Green Machine on the road shut down a team with seven straight wins? We’ll know more about Canberra’s finals credentials come fulltime.
Key stats: These sides met in round 8 at Wagga, the Raiders winning 30-12. Brian To’o has five tries in his last four games. In all of Canberra’s defeats in 2019, the margin has been 1-12 while the average win margin in the Panthers’ 2019 wins has been 7.44 points.
Best bet: Brian To’o anytime try scorer - $2.33* (Bet365)
Value bet: Panthers 1-12 - $3.00* (Sportsbet)