|Match Preview||Recommended Bets|
|Cronulla Sharks v St George-Illawarra Dragons
Thursday, March 15, 8:05pm (AEDT)
Southern Cross Group Stadium, Sydney
|Best: Under 38 ($1.88)
Value: Cronulla 1-12 ($3.20)
First Tryscorer: Sosaia Feki
There will be no love lost when the Sharks host the Dragons in Thursday Night Football. St George Illawarra hold a 20-19-1 all-time advantage over Cronulla in one of the most famous rivalries in Rugby League. One player sure to get some extra attention is Josh Dugan, who left the Red V for the Sharks in the off-season. The Dragons were extremely impressive in their 34-12 hammering of the Broncos and are expected to name an unchanged line-up, while the Sharks have some injury concerns, with Luke Lewis expected to be unavailable for a consecutive week, while rookie winger Sione Katoa suffered a broken jaw in the loss to the Cowboys. The Wolf is also expecting Paul Gallen to come back into the starting 13, while Valentine Holmes should remain the fullback for at least another week by all reports.
Cronulla were well backed in their season opener against North Queensland but lost 20-14 as their attack looked incredibly stymied. The game went well under while Cronulla covered the opening line of 6.5 but failed to cover the closing line of 4. St George Illawarra were outstanding in their 34-12 demolition of Brisbane in the season opener. The Dragons were heavily backed and covered the 3.5-point line easily while the match went over the total.
Josh Dugan v Tim Lafai: Dugan scored a try in his Sharks debut in last week’s loss to the Cowboys and will be hoping to build on that performance against his former club. By all reports, he will remain in the centres, with Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan expected to stick with Valentine Holmes at fullback. Dugan will also have the task of stopping Tim Lafai, who has the ability to offload at will, and also needs to know when to tuck it under his arm. Lafai was poor defensively in Round 1 against the Broncos, with Brisbane flyer James Roberts scoring two tries on Lafai’s side of the field. It will be up to the Sharks halves in Chad Townsend and Matt Moylan to give Dugan early ball in this contest.
Stats That Matter
– St George Illawarra hold a slender 20-19-1 all-time advantage over Cronulla in one of the most famous rivalries in Rugby League.
– The Dragons have won 12 of the last 18 though including three of the last five at Shark Park.
– Under matches have certainly been commonplace with 17 of the last 21 failing to break 38 points with none of the last 10 at Shark Park topping 37 points.
– Cronulla covered just 2 of their 12 matches at Shark Park last year and are 15-21 ATS at the venue since 2015 with a 22-14 under number.
– The Sharks are 11-19 ATS as a favourite at the ground while they are 3-7 ATS with an average total of 33.9 when favoured by less than a try.
– The under is 14-9 in night matches.
– The Dragons are 14-5 under in night matches after conceding 20 points or fewer while they are 28-10 under at night over the last four seasons.
– The Saints have won just 4 of their last 23 night clashes away from their suburban home grounds with a 17-6 under record.
All the statistics point to an unders match here. Under matches have certainly been commonplace with 17 of the last 21 failing to break 38 points, with none of the last 10 at Southern Cross Group Stadium topping 37 points. The Dragons surprised everyone by piling on 34 points against the Broncos, but won’t have the same luxury against the Sharks defence this week. Meanwhile, the Sharks showed that their attack – in the loss against the Cowboys- is still a work in progress, with new recruit Matt Moylan still working on his combination with Chad Townsend. Unders and a Sharks win by 1-12 are The Wolf’s recommended plays in this blockbuster.
How It’s Shaping Up
Cronulla by 4