Thursday, August 25 from 7:50pm at Belmore Sports Ground
Premiership ladder position:
Cowboys: $1.67 at Sportsbet.com.au
Points spread line:
Bulldogs +2.5 – $1.95
Cowboys -2.5 – $1.85
THE NRL couldn’t have scripted a better Thursday night game at this stage of the season as a home semi-final could be on the cards at Belmore Sports Ground.
The fourth-placed Bulldogs will be looking to cement their top four finals spot when it comes up against the defending champion North Queensland Cowboys. The Cowboys will overtake the Bulldogs with a win on Thursday night and securing home advantage will be supremely important to both teams.
Most of the money has come for the Cowboys, which were $1.75 in the early markets, but after a handy 34-6 win over the Warriors, the Cowboys showed some of the form which saw it win the NRL title last season.
The Bulldogs had been winning tough for most of the season, but were over-matched by the Brisbane Broncos in round 24. The back line didn’t have much fluency last week and against a Cowboys defense which gave up no points the last time these two met, it won’t get any easier.
The Cowboys won 36-0 against the Bulldogs in round 20 which will still be in the minds of the Bulldogs players. A big turnaround is needed from the Bulldogs, especially its forward pack which looked lost with Sam Kasiano off the field. The big man won’t be playing for the Bulldogs on Thursday so it will find the going tough up front.
Take a head-to-head bet on every game until the finals and if your team loses by eight points or less, Sportsbet will give you up to $50 cash back.
Bulldogs vs. Broncos first tryscorer odds and tips
Bulldogs first try-scorer odds:
1. Will Hopoate – $15
2. Brett Morris – $9.50
3. Josh Morris – $15
4. Kerrod Holland – $20
5. Curtis Rona – $9.50
6. Josh Reynolds – $26
7. Moses Mbye – $20
8. Aiden Tolman – $61
9. Michael Lichaa – $34
10. James Graham – $46
11. Josh Jackson – $34
12. Greg Eastwood – $34
13. David Klemmer – $46
14. Danny Fualalo – $61
15. Tim Browne – $61
16. Tony Williams – $26
17. Raymond Faitala-Mariner – $26
Since returning from injury, Brett Morris has been on a try-scoring tear. The Bulldogs winger has now scored 10 tries from only eight games and he’s on the same line as teammate Curtis Rona who has also scored 10 tries, but from 22 games.
Morris is the best pick in the Bulldogs side, but its the forward pack which needs to step up in the absence of Sam Kasiano. Josh Jackson is having a great year for the Bulldogs and has scored two tries this season. Look for Jackson to get involved and the $6.50 at Sportsbet to score at any time is worth a shot.
Cowboys first try-scorer odds:
1. Lachlan Coote – $18
2. Kyle Feldt – $9.50
3. Justin O’Neill – $15
4. Kane Linnett – $18
5. Antonio Winterstein – $8
6. Michael Morgan – $14
7. Johnathan Thurston – $26
8. Matthew Scott – $56
9. Ray Thompson – $26
10. James Tamou – $46
11. Gavin Cooper – $15
12. Ethan Lowe – $26
13. Jason Taumalolo – $34
14. Rory Kostjasyn – not yet priced
15. Coen Hess – $26
16. Scott Bolton – $46
17. Patrick Kaufusi – $41
Antonio Winterstein is the game favourite for first tryscorer. The Cowboys winger has scored 11 tries from 21 games and is becoming more dangerous as the season goes on.
There is better value, however, with the likes of Kyle Feldt and Michael Morgan. Feldt has scored a team-high 12 tries from only 19 games and the winger has a knack of finding the line. He’s also a big chance to score the last try in the game and he’s paying $9.50 at CrownBet.
Michael Morgan isn’t having the second half of the season that was projected, but he’s got class and could cross the line first. Morgan leads the team with 23 errors from only 17 games which is unlike the Queensland five-eighth, but expect a much better performance leading into the finals.
Morgan is currently $2.80 at Sportsbet to score throughout the game which looks like good value.
Bulldogs vs. Cowboys game prediction
The Cowboys are the defending champions and will be vying for a home final. That’s important for them as it plays its best league at 1300 Smiles Stadium where it will be tough to stop this season.
The Bulldogs lost some of its appeal when losing last week and the floodgates might have opened. We think the Cowboys will finish the stronger team this season and having already beaten the Bulldogs 36-0 earlier this season, a repeat effort could be on the cards.
Predicted score: Bulldogs 12 – Cowboys 28
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