5 Lessons Learned – NRL Round 22
After a couple of weeks recuperating our Monday NRL takeaways are back and boy there is a lot to catch up on with just three weeks remaining until finals.
We are coming off a weekend with plenty of blowouts with some sides looking like they are hitting form at the right time this NRL season.
Of course for every team on a hot streak there are sides so cold you could use them to keep meat fresh.
With that in mind, we’ve sifted through the facts, figures, trends and stories to come up with our five key takeaways.
1 – Dog Days Coming?
It’s a long shot but thanks to three straight wins, the Bulldogs are still a chance of making the finals.
After being written off for most of the season, the Bulldogs now sit on 18 points, just two wins behind the eighth placed Sharks.
While the Belmore faithful might still be dreaming of September us punters may as well try and make the most of this streak.
With three straight wins and four straight covers, they are one of the most in form sides in the NRL.
Before you give the “who did they beat” line that run has come against the Panthers, Tigers and Souths, all of whom were either in the top eight or right on the fringe of at the time of the game.
There is a big test coming against the Eels on Thursday night, who have gone 8-2 as the home side & have won their last four games.
2 – Roosters Crowing
The last team to beat the Bulldogs was the Roosters, who are on a five game winning run including three massive victories.
It started with a 52 point win over the Gold Coast Titans, the second biggest win in any game this season, followed up by a tight win in frigid Canberra then on the weekend, they crushed the Warriors by 36 points.
It’s no surprise that they are the competition’s top scorers averaging just under 27 points per game and with the Dragons coming up this weekend, another big win could be on the horizon.
3 – Bunnies Out of Hop?
One side that is experiencing very different fortunes are the one time Premiership favourites South Sydney.
That’s three straight losses now to the Sharks, Storm and Bulldogs (there may be a theme to four of these five lessons by the way).
While their worst case scenario is still going to be sixth spot they still have the means and talent to get up into the top four and get that vital second chance.
The big concerning factor is their last two wins came over the Dragons and Cowboys, the sides in 14th and 15th respectively.
Up next for them is the Broncos who are a very different side from the one they trounced back in Round 8 by 38-6.
Brisbane has been doing a good job grinding out wins over the last five weeks (save for that loss to the Storm who always seem to beat them) and could present a real challenge if the Bunnies don’t fix what ails them soon.
4 – A High Scoring Thursday!
Here’s one solely for the stat nerds, Manly’s win over Wests was the first time a Thursday night game has gone over the total points line since Round 14.
Over the course of the season, the Thursday game has hit the under on 12 out of 20 occasions, remembering of course that there were two rounds with no Thursday game.
After an early run of overs with six in the firs ten rounds, we’ve had just two since then as the kickoff to the weekend features more defensive work.
This weekend then… well the Bulldogs have the best unders record in the competition with 17 of their 21 games going under including the last six and the Eels have eight unders on the year
5 – Raiders-Manly Preview
We could be in for a possible first weekend of the finals preview on Sunday as the Raiders host Manly as both teams try to consolidate their spot in the top four.
For Manly there’s a bit more on the line sitting level on points with the Bunnies and Eels below them but they do have the confidence of a win at home over the Raiders back in Round 7.
Having this one in Canberra doesn’t actually seem like it’s going to be that much of an advantage for either side with Manly much stronger at home and Canberra much better on the road.
The Sea Eagles have notched an 8-3 record head to head and against the spread at home compared to 5-5 and 6-4 as the away side.
Conversely, Canberra has gone 6-4 at home compared to 8-3 (H2H) and 9-2 (ATS) away from GIO Stadium.