Friday, September 23 from 7.55pm at Allianz Stadium.
Points spread market:
Sharks +2 ($1.92 at CrownBet)
Cowboys -2 ($1.92)
IT’S win or go home for the Sharks and Cowboys with one week to go before the big one.
Both North Queensland and Cronulla are coming off dramatic NRL finals wins. The Sharks edged out the Raiders 16-14 in Canberra and the Cowboys won in extra time against the Broncos.
The Sharks showed why they’re one of the most consistent teams throughout the regular season and a return to their best football will take them close to that elusive NRL premiership title.
Many critics have stated that beating the Raiders isn’t the best form guide compared to beating the likes of the Cowboys, Broncos or Storm, but take nothing away from the win and the confidence it has given the Sharks, which entered the finals having lost three from their last four.
The Cowboys are out to defend its title from last year, but they will have to call upon their champion abilities to bounce back from a grueling game last week. The 90-minute game against the Broncos was frantic from the opening kickoff and the players were feeling the pinch in the last 20 minutes.
So much so, that Cowboys five-eighth Michael Morgan couldn’t even make it back to the defensive line which led to Corey Oates scoring a 90-metre try. The Cowboys don’t lack effort, but the physicality of playing the Sharks will be tough so another champion effort will be needed.
The bookmakers are having a tough time separating the two sides, but have sided with the Cowboys based on their winning history. The Sharks have no success to call upon, so punters need to decide whether the 2016 Sharks team is the best in the franchise’s history.
This game could be decided by which team starts faster and scoring the first try will set the tone. Take a first try scorer bet at CrownBet and if your player doesn’t score first but scores during the game, it will give you up to $50 in bonus bets.
Sharks vs. Cowboys first try scorer odds and tips
Paul Gallen has been named in the Sharks’ squad, which is a massive boost to their chances. Sam Tagataese has also been named on an extended bench in place of Jesse Sene-Lefao.
1. Ben Barba – $13
2. Sosaia Feki – $12
3. Jack Bird – $15
4. Ricky Leutele – $20
5. Valentine Holmes – $10
6. James Maloney – $26
7. Chad Townsend – $26
8. Andrew Fifita – $34
9. Michael Ennis – $34
10. Matt Prior – $41
11. Luke Lewis – $23
12. Wade Graham – $26
13. Paul Gallen – $46
14. Gerard Beale – $20
15. Chris Heighington – $51
16. Kurt Capewell – $34
17. Jayson Bukuya – $46
18. Sam Tagataese – $46
The Sharks have multiple try-scoring threats, which makes them tough to beat across the park. The headline-grabbing Ben Barba has scored 15 tries this season and has an impressive 18 try assists which easily leads the team.
Benefiting from Barba’s assist game is Valentine Holmes who has scored a team-high 19 tries so far. His error count isn’t fantastic, but you take the good with the bad and Holmes looks like a solid first try scorer bet at $10 with CrownBet.com.au.
James Maloney has had a steady season, but he will be disappointed with only setting up eight tries on the season. That being said, Maloney should want to step up come finals time and he could find himself crossing the white line.
Maloney has scored five tries this season and when the Sharks are at their best, Maloney is running the ball to the line. It’s tough to run around the Cowboys defense, so Maloney should look to straighten to attack and based on that, we think he can score more points than Johnathan Thurston. This option is paying $1.95 at CrownBet under the player exotics tab.
Cowboys team list and try scorer odds:
Kane Linnett returns for the Cowboys which adds more size to its already big back line. The centre isn’t a try scoring threat, having scored only five tries, but he’s a key hit-up man which will make life easier for the Cowboys.
Second rower Coen Hess had his best game of the season last week against the Broncos and he will be looking to put back-to-back big performances in alongside fellow second rower Gavin Cooper.
1. Lachlan Coote – $17
2. Kyle Feldt – $10
3. Justin O’Neill – $13
4. Kane Linnett – $18
5. Javid Bowen – $10
6. Michael Morgan – $15
7. Johnathan Thurston – $26
8. Matthew Scott – $46
9. Jake Granville – $31
10. James Tamou – $46
11. Gavin Cooper – $21
12. Coen Hess – $26
13. Jason Taumalolo – $26
14. Rory Kostjasyn – $46
15. Josh Asiata – $31
16. Scott Bolton – $41
17. Ben Hannant -$46
Lachlan Coote will be looking to rebound after what can only be called as a shocking performance last week.
The Cowboys fullback was less than reliable at the back which resulted in Coote committing his 29th error of the season. Coote has long been considered as one of the safety fullbacks in the game and although he has scored only four tries this season, expect a big bounce back performance.
He’s $17 to score first, but take the $9 at CrownBet for Coote to score last for the Cowboys.
The best scoring chances are with Kyle Feldt and Justin O’Neill. Both players have scored 13 tries this season and Feldt has a freakish ability to score when it really counts.
He’s our top pick to score first for the Cowboys at $10 and we’re expecting punters to follow the money with this one.
Sharks vs. Cowboys game tip
It’s hard to tip against the Cowboys, especially seeing as they’re coming up against a team which has yet to win an NRL premiership, but after an extremely taxing game against the Broncos, just how much do they have left?
That’s the question punters have been asking all week and we don’t have the answer, but the likes of Johnathan Thurston never quit and they will always produce a solid 80-minute performance.
The Sharks are untested at this level, but they do have wise heads with Paul Gallen and James Maloney in the team.
The Cowboys have won only six from 18 games at Allianz Stadium which is a major concern, but the Sharks record isn’t overly impressive with 16 wins from 33 games.
It will likely be decided by one freak play and JT could be the man to down the Sharks hopes.
Our tip: Cowboys head-to-head at $1.77
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