NRL Preview: Dragons v Sharks


NRL Preview
St George Illawarra Dragons v Cronulla Sharks

Saturday, August 13, 7.30pm (AEST), Kogarah Stadium, Sydney
Best Bet: St George Illawarra +12 ($1.90)
Other: Under 38.5 ($1.90)
St George Illawarra +8.5 ($2.28)

The southern derby is a match that always has plenty of fire in it and this will be no different with the Sharks in the fight of their lives to win the minor premiership and the Saints desperately clinging to the miracle of a finals berth.

Selection Notes
Josh Dugan returns for the Dragons at fullback seeing Adam Quinlan drop out. Backrowers Josh Thompson and Tyson Frizell also return with Tyrone McCarthy dropping out and Luciano Leilua named 18th man. Michael Ennis is back for Cronulla with Joseph Paulo and Ricky Leutele added to the bench. Sam Tagataese, Nu Brown and Matt McIllwrick are out.

St George Illawarra and Cronulla have met 37 times with each winning 18 to go with a single draw. The Sharks have won the last two winning 30-2 in Round 2 this year and 28-18 in Round 18 last season. The Dragons hold a 6-2 all-time advantage at Kogarah including a 42-6 win the last time the team’s met at the ground in 2015. An astonishing 16 of the last 18 matches have tallied 38 points or less. Valentine Holmes has scored three tries in three games against the Dragons.

NRL betting odds database

St George Illawarra are down to 12th on the ladder while their differential is second worst in the NRL. They rank 15th in attack and 9th in defence this season but that defensive rating has fallen to 14th from Rounds 11-22. Saints have gone five straight games without surpassing 12 points. Cronulla have fallen out of first place after suffering their first loss since Round 3 against Canberra. They have now claimed just a single point from their last two matches but sit firmly in second while their +191 differential ranks second. They rank second in attack and third in defence.

Round 23 NRL Odds

Key Matchup
Josh Dugan v Ben Barba. Dugan is sorely needed by the Dragons with their attack beyond inept recently. He needs to play a role with plenty of involvement and set his team up with some strong returns. Barba, by contrast, is in sublime form and could have a second Dally M Medal hanging around his neck by season’s end. He needs to just keep on trucking.

Stats That Matter
St George Illawarra are 11-9 ATS with a 14-6 under record while Cronulla are 12-8 ATS with a 12-8 under record. Saints have covered their last two and gone under in three straight while the Sharks have failed to cover their last two. Home underdogs in the final seven rounds of the season since 2008 getting 6.5 or more are 34-17 ATS while those getting 8.5 or more are 20-11 ATS. Home underdogs in that time getting 6.5 or more off conceding 12 points or fewer are a perfect 7-0 ATS. The Saints are 13-7 under since 2012 at Kogarah while they have covered 6 of their last 7 at the ground. Cronulla are 3-6 ATS when favoured by 4 or more on the road since 2012.

In-Play Stat
The Dragons are 8-0 when leading at halftime and 0-12 when behind.

Behind The Curtains

Final Thoughts
Chips-in Saints at the big line this week. Huge home underdogs are a great angle at this time of year and there is a particularly big boost with the Sharks out of form and the Dragons getting three of their best players back. Saints go great at Kogarah and usually lift for the local derby. Cronulla rarely touch up teams on the road when heavily favoured. The compass is pointing towards a St George Illawarra cover.

How It’s Shaping Up
Cronulla by 2

Best Bet
St George Illawarra +12 ($1.90)

Best Exotic
St George Illawarra +8.5 ($2.28)

Best First/Last Tryscorer
Tyson Frizell ($26.00)

Other Recommended Bets
Under 38.5 ($1.90)