Telstra NRL Finals Betting Week 1: Wests Tigers (4) Vs St George Dragons (5) – Friday 9th of September 2011
The NRL finals are finally upon us and it opens up with the match of the round as the Wests Tigers play host to the premiership defending Dragons at ANZ Stadium. The Tigers made up some ground in Round 22 as they put a stop to a 4 game losing streak against the Dragons, getting up 16-12 in the end. The Dragons have finally bounced back with 2 wins in a row after losing 5 straight, there is still a lot of improvement needed to replicate last year’s win.
The Tigers have come into the finals with the best recent record out of any club in the 8, sitting on 8 wins in a row. Next in line is the Broncos with 6 straight, funnily enough the 3rd best streak before the finals was the 11th placed Roosters who left it too late to charge home. So the momentum will need to carry over for the Tigers as the Dragons are no easy beats, especially seeing as this is played at ANZ Stadium which is Neutral territory.
There have been 6 matches between these 2 teams at this venue, and it’s all locked up at 2 apiece. The most recent was the 1 point win in the 3rd round of finals last year.
The Tigers of 2011 look like the Roosters of 2010. They are coming into the finals on a better streak than any team and they have beaten some decent teams along the way, most notably the Dragons and Eagles. So they can definitely beat the Dragons because it was not so long ago that they did just that. It was a match that came down to the wire with the Dragons scoring a match winner with less than 10 minutes remaining. The Tigers hit back with a match winner of their own, the difference is that theirs held true to its meaning.
I hesitate to say it but it is almost certainly true. The fate of the Wests Tigers rests on the shoulders of their captain and 5/8 Benji Marshall. I’m not taking anything away from the rest of their team; they have one of the best line ups in the comp. But unless Benji is playing to his potential you may as well write them off. They might beat the Dragons without Benji playing well, but win the entire comp they will not.
The Dragons have had a very strange season indeed. They started as they finished off last year, simply unbeatable and very impressive. Then from mid to late Origin season they really fell off the rails and had their worst run since Nathan Brown. They managed to win just 2 from 10 with 1 draw in that stretch. It’s fair to say that they came back to form when they lost by 2 points against the Storm 3 weeks ago. They backed up that good performance with a couple of wins over the Warriors and Panthers.
The last 3 weeks have instilled enough confidence in the fans of the Dragons as most now believe they can back up last year’s Grand Final win. I believe they definitely have the team to do it, and we all know they have the right coach for the job. The only factor that remains in doubt is their confidence. This is the most important aspect the Dragon’s performance; if they can get this right then they may prove unstoppable.
This is far from a sure thing for the Tigers and I am sure that this match will come down to the wire with not more than 8 points separating the winners from the losers.
I am going to put my coins on the Dragons for this show down at ANZ stadium. The Tigers may have beaten the Dragons quite recently, but remember the Dragons lost to the Roosters by 8 points the week after, i.e. the quality of football from the Dragons was not up to their standard. Although I’m not convinced they are at their best, they are still good enough to beat the fast finishing Tigers.
Both teams have let in an average of 14 PPG over the last 3 weeks and defence in the finals is key. Look at a low scoring game and get on unders for total points at FT, this will be released closer to kick off.
NRL Round 22 Betting: West’s Tigers Vs St George Dragons – Friday 5th of August 2011
Friday night kicks off with the match of the round as the inform Tigers take on the Dragons, a team that has a lot of tipsters and Journo’s convinced they are in a form slump despite Bennett’s strong words in a post match conference.
The Tigers upset minor premiership contenders Manly last week with a gutsy 2nd half performance. They fought back from 12-0 at half time to get up 14-12. There was some Benji magic and some brilliant support play by others. It was an all round good performance for them and it has got me 2nd guessing their chances this year.
The Dragons stupendously lost to the Rabbits last Sunday at WIN Jubilee, their inner sanctum. “Why so stupendous?” You ask? They were up 20-0, 20 minutes into the match! Now I know that 80 minutes is a long time when playing football, but seriously, what the…?
The Tigers have moved this to the SFS to cater for what will surely be a capacity crowd. This neutral ground seems to favour the Tigers as they have won 3 out of 4 here when playing against the Dragons. Hold on to your hats Tigers fans, the Dragons have won the last 4 in a row against you!
I was super impressed with how well the Tigers played last week against the Eagles. They were against opposition that has been doing enough to win the match after leading at half time in recent weeks. The Tigers showed the Eagles that enough is not ENOUGH! With 3 in a row to the black and gold’s it looks like Tim Sheen’s master plan is coming to fruition.
So what has changed in the last few weeks for the Tigers to be going so well? Their playing roster has gradually returned, and the only notable return of recent is Lawrence. The young centre has been good in his last 3, but still not up to Chris Lawrence standards.
I don’t know what it is but the whole team seems to have lifted over the last few weeks… oh and Benji has been fricken exceptional.
Wayne Bennett has pinned the Dragons recent form slump on “an attitude problem”. He has thrown the gauntlet down to his players and has left it in their hands to prove him wrong… or right, whichever way you look at it. In this proclamation Bennett left his stern and unemotional self behind. He was adamant that his players were no longer “hungry” and that it is up to them to bring home the bacon, not him.
So can the Dragons bounce back from 2 losses in a row to stop the forward momentum of the fast travelling Tigers? The funny thing about this is that the exact same thing happened last year; WARNING – This is a little creepy.
Round 17 is a loss. Round 18 is a bye. Round 19 is a win. Round 20 and 21? Lost both. The exact same results occurred last year in the exact same rounds! I can hear you chomping at the bit for what happened next; they destroyed the momentum of the premiership bound Roosters who were on had won 5 in a row coming into the match.
So can the Dragons beat the Tigers? You bet your bottom dollar they can…
… And they will. The Dragons are a professional outfit. A lot like the Storm in many respects, also different in others. Bennett’s perceived lack of care for the outcome of their season will have an adverse affect to the form of the players. In this instance the adverse is a good thing because they have been playing poorly.