Preview Sport

NRL Round 19 Preview

It’s a week of stars returning, and others out injured as the push to the NRL finals continues. Here is the Round 19 preview.

Parramatta Eels vs Canberra Raiders

Both the Raiders and Eels will be without their chief playmakers this weekend. Mitchell Moses is out with a back injury, while Jack Wighton is missing with a rib problem. While Wighton’s form has been indifferent, his Game 3 Origin halves partner has 15 try involvements in 16 games, to go with 9 forced dropouts, 351 kicking metres per game and a handful of line-break assists. To say he is the driving force behind the blue and gold would be an understatement.

Still, Dylan Brown was excellent without him the last start, scoring a try, running for 111 metres, and adding a line break. Given Parramatta have the fourth-highest completion rate and hold the second-greatest possession tally, it’s difficult to see the Raiders, who leak almost 25 points per game, winning this without Wighton.

Eels by 14. $3.25 at PlayUp

 Sydney Roosters vs Newcastle Knights

James Tedesco is back, and he’ll be looking to wrestle the Roosters back into good form. After two losses to the Panthers and Storm, narrow wins over the Bulldogs and Cowboys in the last fortnight won’t have done a lot to instil confidence.

The Roosters may only be barely getting the job done, but the Knights were blown out 48 points to 4 last week. They rank in the bottom five defensively and have been forced to make more kick metres than any other side. Of teams in the current top five, they have lost five out of five and never conceded less than 24 points.

Roosters by 16. $2.12 at PlayUp

 North Queensland Cowboys vs Melbourne Storm

This is a tale of two conflicting form lines if there ever was one. The Cowboys have lost five on the bounce, the last three by an average margin of just over 27 points per game, while the fortress they were beginning to build in Townsville is also gone, losing their last two there. Valentine Holmes, who had six try assists and almost 180 metres per game is also out injured.

Melbourne, on the other hand, welcome back Ryan Papenhuyzen, haven’t lost in their last 14 starts and are blowing teams out for fun, having gone past 40 on 11 occasions, including their last three and in eight of their last ten. This should be a blowout.

Storm by 30. $1.14 at PlayUp

 South Sydney Rabbitohs vs New Zealand Warriors

The Warriors have been ruined by injury this week, with Tohu Harris, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Rocco Berry and Wayde Egan all missing from the side who were brave, but ultimately beaten by Penrith last Sunday.

The Rabbitohs have hardly been what might be considered good recently, and losing try-scoring machine Alex Johnston won’t help. He has 24 tries in 17 games, with 15 coming in his last six starts. Still, South Sydney have the fourth-best defence, and against a side who often struggle for points and creativity, that should be enough to get the job done. The Warriors’ forwards almost all played 80 minutes last week too, which will knock them around in a big way on a six-day turnaround.

Rabbitohs by 10. $3.70 at PlayUp

 Manly Sea Eagles vs Wests Tigers

Tom Trbojevic is back for the Sea Eagles, and this is a side who don’t lose very often with their star fullback. Manly have won seven out of nine with their star fullback this year, and it’s not hard to see why with 14 tries, 16 try assists, 44 tackle busts, 13 line breaks, and 207 metres per game across just nine appearances.

It’s staggering to the point of being almost impossible to remember a better individual start to the season. Manly have been going like a freight train as well, winning four of their last five and going past 50 three times. That is a recipe for disaster for the Tigers, who might have beaten the lowly Broncos last week, but hold the competition’s fourth-worst defensive record, and have also conceded the third-highest number of penalties.

Sea Eagles by 24. $1.52 at PlayUp

 Penrith Panthers vs Brisbane Broncos

The Brisbane Broncos looked like they had turned a corner for half an hour last week, but things went downhill very quickly as the Tigers streaked away with an important win. It shouldn’t come as a surprise though, given Brisbane sit third for missed tackles, first for ineffective tackles and fifth for handling errors.

All that means they struggle to compete at the best of times, and a Jarome Luai return isn’t going to help their cause. The elusive Origin half has 14 try assists in 14 games this year, to go with 14 forced dropouts and almost 70 running metres per game. He adds so much to the Panthers, and they will win comfortably as they continue pushing for the minor premiership.

Panthers by 22. $1.43 at PlayUp

St George Illawarra Dragons vs Gold Coast Titans

The Dragons continue to push through their suspensions this week, with Corey Norman to sit out. Their attack looked a little lost last week, but with Matt Dufty’s ten tries, 11 try assists and 41 tackle busts in 13 games returning, that should sort itself out for this one against the Titans.

Justin Holbrook’s Titans were abysmal with a capital ‘a’ last week. Horrendous wouldn’t aptly describe their performance against the Eels, and with the side leaking another 26 points, it keeps their defensive record in the bottom five. With the attack simply not doing what it’s supposed to and Jamal Fogarty, who has led them around the park, missing this week, it’ll be an uphill battle.

Dragons by 8. $3.90 at PlayUp

 Canterbury Bulldogs vs Cronulla Sharks

Canterbury was much-improved last week against the Rabbitohs but still couldn’t get the job done. They are plastered to the bottom of the table with the competition’s worst attack, although no longer the worst defence.

The Sharks lose workhorse Aiden Tolman, and while it’ll impact their overall game in the middle third, their defence has held teams like the Panthers, Dragons and Raiders to under 20 points at various points this season. The Bulldogs aren’t on the same level with the ball in hand as those sides, and it should paint the picture for this one.

Sharks by 6. $3.10 at PlayUp


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