Round 7 of the NRL season brought us plenty of points, a couple of upsets and one grandstand golden point finish.
Such is the fickle nature of the NRL ladder that the Knights dropped three spots on the back of their upset loss to the Cowboys while the Tigers managed to leapfrog Souths, Canberra and Manly with their victory.
It might not have been a weekend full of memorable finishes with most games decided by halftime, but that gave us plenty of time to sift through the stats and come up with our five big lessons.
1 – The Blowouts are Back On
Just when it looked like we were returning to some semblance of parity around the NRL, we had our biggest average margin of victory since Round 4.
Six of the eight matches were decided by double digits with five being by 13 or more points.
The Bulldogs games continue to produce large margins of victory with their five matches since the resumption of the league averaging just over 26 points in the margin of victory.
This week they take on a Souths side that is more than capable of scoring points if given the chance.
2 – Let There Be Points
Blowouts and points don’t often go hand in hand but this week saw the tries come from all over the place, with 371 points scored across the eight matches this weekend.
That averages out to 46.375 points per match, a whole six points per game higher than the previous bests from Rounds 2 and 5.
Six of the eight games went over the total points number and four had 49 points or more.
The Cowboys and Sharks are two of the best bets of the entire season when it comes to backing overs in their matches.
North Queensland has had all seven of its matches go over with its lowest total being 40 points in their Round 2 match against the Bulldogs, their last three matches have seen 63, 56 and 52 points scored.
Cronulla on the other hand had their Round 2 match feature just 22 points but since the resumption their contests are averaging 46.4 points per game including the 40-22 win over Manly last weekend.
With the Sharks taking on the Titans this weekend, expect a very high points total in that market but the over doesn’t look all that crazy of a play.
3 – The Panthers Take Care of Business
With the ladder chaos unfolding beneath them in the top eight, the Panthers picking up a critical win over Souths on Thursday night cannot be understated.
It might not always be the prettiest brand of rugby league but there is something good going on with Ivan Cleary’s team.
Their one loss went right down to the wire against the ladder leading Eels and they bounced back since then with confidence boosting wins over the Storm and Souths.
Outside of their 26-0 win over the Warriors, the remainder of their matches have been decided by single digit margins.
It does mean that backing the Panthers at the line is a bit of a roll of the dice, but in the Winning Margin market, the 1-12 option looks like the way to go, starting with this week against the Tigers.
4 – The Cowboys are Still Capable of Stunning Everyone
If you had decided you could write off the Cowboys after three straight losses then you might have jumped the gun.
It doesn’t feel that way but North Queensland is just on the outside of the NRL finals picture and has the potential to go off in any given week with the try scoring talent in that squad.
Consistency in games has been their real issue but if they can put together more efforts like their first half against the Knights, they will be a tough out for anyone, including the Eels this weekend.
5 – The Eels Are Still Pretty Good
Depending on how you want to look at it, the Eels showed some remarkable resilience to rebound from their loss to the Roosters, or they got damn lucky after falling asleep at the end of their game against the Raiders.
We’ll focus on the positive and enjoy the bounce back, although there is no way they should have even been in extra time, up by 12 with 5 minutes to play.
Losing Mitchell Moses also is a huge blow to this team but this side has the depth and playmakers to offset that absence in the short term.