Newcastle Knights v Cronulla SharksSunday, May 27, 2:00pm Hunter Stadium, Newcastle
Two teams heading in very different directions meet on Sunday with a Newcastle team having lost three straight hosting a Cronulla team who have won five straight. The Sharks have pushed their way inside the top eight while the Knights’ poor defence is costing them dearly.
Recent Form Newcastle are 10th on the ladder with a 5-6 record. They have the worst defence in the NRL while they rank 11th in scoring. The Knights have lost their last three and have conceded at least 29 points in all of those. Newcastle have conceded 28 or more in seven of 11 games. Cronulla are up to fifth on the ladder following five straight wins. The Sharks have posted 20 or more in give of their last six. Cronulla rank seventh in defence while they rate 12th in scoring.
Key MatchupKalyn Ponga v Josh Dugan. Ponga has been arguably the best player in the premiership through 11 rounds. His statistics – particularly for a player who is essentially a rookie – are astonishing as he leads the NRL in line break assists, sits second in tackle busts and fourth in try assists. Opposite Dugan is a very different kind of fullback but will need to improve dramatically on an error-filled return from a foot injury. Dugan needs to be safer at the back to give the Sharks their best hope.
Stats That Matter– Newcastle are 5-6 ATS with a 7-4 over record, going over in five of their last six. – Cronulla are 4-7 ATS with a 6-5 under number. – Cronulla have won six straight against Newcastle with wins in the last three at Hunter Stadium. – Four of the last five clashes have topped 40 points with the Sharks hitting 18 or more in seven straight. – The Knights have covered 6 of their last 9 at home in day games. – The Knights are 11-7 ATS at home after scoring 20 or more points. – Cronulla are 26-20 ATS away from Shark Park since 2015 with a 43% POT in head-to-head betting. – The Sharks have covered just 3 of their last 11 as a favourite away from Shark Park though have won seven outright. – Cronulla are 2-6 ATS as a favourite of 6 or more away from Shark Park. – The Sharks are 21-9 ATS in day games. – The under is 25-17 after the Sharks score 20 or more. – The over is 20-12 when a road favourite of 6 or more has won five straight.
Final Thoughts It is hard not to like Cronulla in this one. Newcastle’s defence is the worst in the NRL and their recent form has been highly disappointing. The Sharks are good on the road and at their best in day games and with a strong recent history against Newcastle, look the bet.
How It’s ShapingCronulla by 10
Best: Cronulla -5.5 ($1.91) Value: Cronulla Score First & WIN ($2.25) First Tryscorer: Valentine Holmes ($9.00)