North Queensland Cowboys v Canterbury Bulldogs
Thursday, July 21, 8pm (AEST), 1300 Smiles Stadium, Townsville
|Best Bet: Canterbury +8 ($1.90)
Other: Over 40.5 ($1.90)
Either Team Under 6.5 Points ($2.80)
Round 20 kicks off with a sensational Top 4 battle between defending premiers North Queensland and emerging title contenders Canterbury. Two teams that could see each other again in September, this is set to be a monster clash.
North Queensland have their Origin contingent return with Johnathan Thurston, Matt Scott, James Tamou, Gavin Cooper and Justin O’Neill all back, as well as Michael Morgan. Canterbury get David Klemmer and Josh Jackson back in the team with Will Hopoate retaining his spot at fullback.
Canterbury have won 21 off 33 all-time matches against North Queensland, their highest winning percentage against an active team. The Cowboys have had the best of it in recent years though with three wins in the last four meetings including a 23-16 win in Townsville last year. The Bulldogs have won 3 of the last 4 in Townsville. The teams met in finals in 2004 and 2007 with North Queensland winning both. Cowboys great Johnathan Thurston is a Bulldogs premiership winner while Canterbury winger Curtis Rona debuted with North Queensland. Josh Jackson has scored in his last two against the Cowboys.
North Queensland are third on the ladder with an 11-6 record and the second best differential in the NRL at +173. The Cowboys rank 3rd in attack and 4th in defence while they have gone 4-4 in their last eight through the Origin period. The Cowboys are just 2-4 against Top 6 teams. Canterbury are 11-6 and sit fourth on the ladder. Their +109 differential is fourth while they rank fifth in both attack and defence. Canterbury have won four straight while they have scored 30-plus in five of their last eight, producing the best attack in the premiership over that period.
Jason Taumalolo v David Klemmer. Canterbury’s big advantage over most teams in recent times has been their physicality and the aggression of their pack, led by the ever-improving Klemmer. The bulky lock is averaging 162m a game this year and has been a devastating runner. He meets his match though in Taumalolo, averaging 162m a game himself this year. He is super effective. This matchup will have sparks flying off it sooner rather than later.
Stats That Matter
North Queensland are 9-8 ATS with a 9-8 under record while Canterbury are 8-9 ATS with a 10-7 over number. The Bulldogs have gone over in seven straight games while the Cowboys have gone under in 6 of their last 8. Since 2013, the Cowboys are 19-12 ATS when favoured at home by more than a converted try. As a home favourite of 6.5 or more off a rest of 11 or more days, the Cowboys are 3-3 ATS with a 6-0 under number. The Bulldogs are 12-6 ATS interstate since 2013 and have covered 6 of their last 8. The Bulldogs are 21-15 ATS as an underdog over the same time while they are 10-6 ATS getting 6.5 or more. Road underdogs off 4 or more wins getting 6.5 or more points are 16-24 ATS since 2008 including a 4-7 ATS record R20-26. The Bulldogs are 9-3 ATS off a break of 11 or more days since 2013 while interstate teams off a break of 11 or more days are 33-26 ATS. Since 2008 the over is 44-36 when a team scored 30 prior to the bye.
The Cowboys have come back from just 1 of 6 halftime deficits. The Bulldogs are 8-4 when leading at the break this year.
This shapes as a fabulous matchup making the line of well over a converted try somewhat confounding. The Bulldogs are going as well as any team in the premiership this season and while the Cowboys have probably been visually more pleasing they have struggled to put away good teams in 2016. With the Bulldogs so good interstate, so good when well rested and so good as an underdog, they have to be the bet in this one at the big line of +8. The over also shapes as a bet as it often is when a team scored 30 off a bye.
How It’s Shaping Up
North Queensland by 1
Canterbury +8 ($1.90)
Either Team Under 6.5 Points ($2.80)
Best First/Last Tryscorer
Brett Morris ($8.00)
Other Recommended Bets
Over 40.5 ($1.90)