Manly v North Queensland Thursday, May 31, 7.50pm Brookvale Oval, Sydney
The slim finals chances of both the Sea Eagles and Cowboys rely heavily on a win in this matchup as both teams go in without some key players on Origin duty.
Recent FormManly are 12th on the ladder with a 4-8 record though have been in better form of late with two wins and three one-score losses in their last five. The Sea Eagles rank fourth in scoring but a lowly 14th in defence. Manly have scored at least 20 in their last four. North Queensland are 15th on the ladder with just three wins. The Cowboys have lost three straight with the last two coming by a single point. North Queensland have scored more than 20 just twice this year. The Cowboys rank 14th in scoring and 10th in defence.
Key MatchupDaly Cherry-Evans v Johnathan Thurston. State of Origin is here and though both Cherry-Evans and Thurston have featured for the Maroons, the latter one of Queensland’s all-time greats, both will be playing club footy this weekend. Cherry-Evans has started to find some rhythm over the last month with four try assists in his last three games while his running game was the third most effective of the season. With the Trbojevic brothers missing, his role becomes even more important. Thurston is coming off back-to-back games without a try assist, something that has happened just once in the last five years. He knows his final season is swinging on this and with Michael Morgan on Origin duty, the responsibility is squarely his. The champion has to lift and the smart money is that he will.
Stats That Matter– Manly are 6-6 ATS with a 6-6 total number, riding four straight covers. – North Queensland are 5-7 ATS with a 7-5 under record with three straight unders. – North Queensland have won five of the last six against Manly though the Sea Eagles won the only meeting last year 30-8 in Townsville. – The Cowboys have won four of the last five meetings against the Sea Eagles at Brookvale. – The last three matches and six of the last seven have all topped 38 points. – Interstate underdogs of 3.5 or less are 65-33 ATS since 2013 (17-8 ATS Rounds 12-18). – When that small interstate underdog kept an opponent to 10 or fewer the start prior, they are 13-5 ATS. – Manly have covered just 4 of their last 14 at Brookvale as a favourite. – The Sea Eagles have covered just 12 of their last 38 as a favourite (worst in the NRL). – The under is 11-5 at Brookvale after Manly have scored 20 or more. – Small home favourites who conceded 20 or more are 17-36 ATS since 2015. – The Cowboys are 25-18 ATS since 2015 when interstate while they are 12-3 ATS interstate after conceding 14 or fewer. – The Cowboys have covered 10 of 16 off three straight losses.
Final ThoughtsThe chips are going fair in the middle here with the Cowboys an outstanding bet. The angles all line up for the Cowboys here and they present as a better team on paper. Manly have certainly been hit harder by Origin this year with the loss of the Trbojevic brothers while Thurston may strangely feel a little more free with Michael Morgan playing for Queensland. North Queensland win this and they win big.
How It Shapes UpNorth Queensland by 14
Recommended Bets Best: North Queensland +2 ($1.91) Value: North Queensland 13+ ($5.00) First Try: Kyle Feldt ($10.00)