NRL Preview: Cowboys v Storm


NRL Preview
North Queensland Cowboys v Melbourne Storm

Saturday, July 30, 7.30pm (AEST), 1300 Smiles Stadium, Townsville
Best Bet: Melbourne -1.5 ($1.90) 
Other: Melbourne HT/FT ($2.50)
Tohu Harris First Try ($21.00)

A potential Grand Final preview with the Cowboys and Storm two of the three premiership favourites, this match will miss the game’s finest player with Johnathan Thurston ruled out through a hamstring injury. This is a big league battle though between two near complete teams.

Selection Notes
North Queensland have lost Johnathan Thurston with Ray Thompson named as his replacement. Melbourne are unchanged.

Round 20 Team of the Week

Melbourne have won 21 of 31 against North Queensland dating back to 1998 with the Storm winning 15-14 when the teams met at Suncorp in Round 10.  The last 10 though have been split evenly dating back to 2011. The Cowboys have won the last two and three of the last five in Townsville, including an 18-17 victory in the last meeting. Low-scoring matches have been the norm with none of the last five topping 35 points (with Melbourne not topping 17 over that run). Gavin Cooper has scored 3 tries in his last 2 against the Storm while Tohu Harris has scored a try in each of his last two matches against North Queensland. North Queensland’s Justin O’Neill and Rory Kostjasyn are former Storm players.

NRL betting odds database

North Queensland have a 12-6 record and enter this off their best performance of the year, a devastating 36-0 win over Canterbury where they played a near-perfect match. Their 25.7ppg is second-best in the NRL while their 14.1ppg conceded is also second best. The Cowboys have won three of their last four and have four shutouts this year. Melbourne are second on the ladder with a 15-3 record. They have the best defence in the premiership conceding a ridiculous 11.6ppg while they rank fourth in attack with 24.7ppg. The Storm have won four straight and 10 of their last 11. Melbourne have scored 20-plus in their last four having done so only six times all year previously.

Round 21 NRL Odds

Key Matchup
Lachlan Coote v Cameron Munster. Coote and Munster are two very different types of fullback but both do huge amounts for their team. Coote is arguably the best kicking fullback in the game and he was relentless against Canterbury forcing repeat set after repeat set. Munster is a more explosive type who is one of the top tackle busters in the NRL. Melbourne will be looking for him to create sets with momentum.

Stats That Matter
North Queensland are 10-8 ATS with a 10-8 under record with Melbourne 11-7 ATS and a 12-6 under number. The Storm have covered 9 of their last 11. Night matches with a home underdog go over in 56% of matches R20-26 compared to 42% for the rest of the season. Away teams that scored 20+ last start cover at 55% v 45% the rest of the year. The Cowboys have covered 3 of their last 4 as a home underdog while the Storm  have covered 5 of their last 8 as a road favourite. Melbourne have covered their last five as a road favourite of less than 4 points. Interstate night matches with a road favourite see that road favourite cover in 58% of matches.

In-Play Stat
North Queensland are 11-0 when up at halftime while Melbourne are 13-1 when leading at the break.

Behind The Curtains

Final Thoughts
Melbourne are the bet in this one without Johnathan Thurston on board. These are the two teams most likely to meet in the Grand Final and the two most complete teams in the NRL. But without Thurston, the Cowboys are vulnerable and will struggle to breakdown the best defensive team in the premiership. With road teams off a good attacking record good bets the cherry on top, Melbourne laying a small start are the play.

How It’s Shaping Up
Melbourne by 6

Best Bet
Melbourne -1.5 ($1.90)

Best Exotic
Melbourne HT/FT ($2.50)

Best First/Last Tryscorer
Tohu Harris ($21.00)

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