The NRL’s Magic Round at Suncorp Stadium kicks off with the Titans and the Sharks. NRL Tips expert Steve Green brings you his NRL preview.
Gold Coast Titans vs Cronulla Sharks
I thought the Titans were unlucky last weekend. While they were their own worst enemy against the Cowboys in terms of poor discipline, the referees made some howlers at crucial times. The NRL has since conceded these errors, but that doesn’t help the Titans or the punters that got on them at half time! Another factor that didn’t help the Titans last weekend was the injuries that they had to endure. Roberts suffered an injury, as did Sami. In the Townsville heat, it is very hard to overcome injuries up north.
While injuries are never good news, in this instance the replacements that the Titans have named are better players on my ratings. Brimson must be in the Titans starting 13, and he is their number 1 strike weapon in attack. And although Sami is having a decent year, Copley is a more experienced and complete performer.
There are also reports that the Titans footy club has arranged 26 busses to ferry up Titans fans to Suncorp Stadium. I don’t think I have seen 26 bus loads of fans at a Titans game all year, but if they are bringing their own cheer squad and family/friends, then there is a slight home ground advantage for the Titans that I think the bookies may be overlooking.
As for the Sharks, while that was a gutsy win against the Storm, the way the Storm played has to be taken into account. Coach Bellamy was filthy after the game and although the Sharks defence was tough, I think the Storm’s failure to capitalise on their field position was a key factor. The Storm still made 5 line breaks to the Sharks 2. To lose that game suggests some major attacking issues in Melbourne, rather than the Sharks defence being impenetrable.
When these teams met earlier in the year in Sydney, the Sharks grinded a 20 – 6 victory…but that Sharks team had Johnson, Woods and Moylan playing. This Sharks team is missing some serious talent still and away from home (where the Sharks will not be able to lie all over the attack) I don’t think their defence will be as dominant this week.
The Titans deserve to be slight favourites here and the fact that the bookies are giving +2.5 points is too good to pass up.
Suggested Bet: Gold Coast +2.5
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