We’re getting into the pointy end of the season and the good teams are starting to wind up into September. Will Parramatta be one of those teams? They slipped up in Round 19 while the Titans threaten to turn things around.

Eels Slip Up

The Parramatta Eels had a chance to start shedding their reputation as flat-track bullies. Even without Mitchell Moses, Parramatta entered their Round 19 match against the Canberra Raiders as +15.5 favourites. However, a valiant Raiders defensive performance put some doubt into the Eels attack and Brad Arthur’s men had no answers. Plan A has been working so well for Parramatta throughout what has been a favourable draw so far in 2021.

Having failed the first test of a brutal last seven rounds which still includes the Storm, Panthers, Rabbitohs, Roosters and Sea Eagles, there is some doubt over the Eels as a Top 4 team ($1.90).

Fun Friday

They weren’t pretty, and the Sydney Roosters beating the Newcastle Knights by 20 points doesn’t qualify as close in the end, but such is the way the 2021 NRL season is trending, a game that is still in doubt heading into the final 20 minutes is a new measure of close.

The Knights failed to take their opportunities as the Roosters once again battled injuries. With Sam Walker, Lachlan Lam and Joseph Manu all defending out of their normal position on the Roosters right edge, the Knights didn’t attack through their left side. Given a chance of their own in good ball, James Tedesco identified weaknesses and attacked them for a try and four try assists in a superb 80-minute performance.

Later, the North Queensland Cowboys led the Melbourne Storm 12-10 in the second half. A scrappy affair made for a different experience for the Storm. They’d scored 40 points 11 times in 15 games as their attack did as it pleased. Error-ridden themselves (12) and against a tough Cowboys defence, the Storm were made to work hard for the 20-16 win. While encouraging in defeat, the Cowboys are still out at $21 to make the Top 8.

Battling Broncos

It has been called a “good loss” given the opposition, but the Brisbane Broncos 18-12 defeat to the Penrith Panthers highlights how far behind the top teams they really are.

Penrith handed Brisbane this game on a plate multiple times. Ivan Cleary’s side is struggling without Nathan on the field. Api Koroisau wasn’t available for this one and Isaah Yeo only lasted nine minutes, too. The two points were there for the taking and the Broncos fumbled them away.

Brisbane failed to make the most of their 55% possession and 30:52 minutes with the ball in their hands. Brodie Croft, in particular, threw away six points. On the other side, Tyson Gamble stalled the right-edge attack as he struggled to get Kotoni Staggs involved. In fact, with the game on the line and with two sets to pull something off, the Broncos playmakers couldn’t get the ball into Staggs’ hands.

It ended up close on the scoreboard, but the Broncos shouldn’t settle for their performance in Round 19. Lucky for them, the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs crumbled on Sunday evening and remain as heavy $1.05 favourites for the wooden spoon.

Titans Turn It Around?

The Gold Coast Titans took care of the St. George-Illawarra Dragons 32-10 on Sunday afternoon. But, most importantly, they have finally started to add some variation in how they use David Fifita in a sign that things might turn around for the struggling club.

Fifita started on the bench before scoring a try, running for 160 metres and breaking 13 tackles in a destructive 57 minutes. Once predictable and one-dimensional, the Titans attack looked much-improved, albeit against a poor Dragons defence.

Is this a turning point?

The Titans are 10th on the NRL ladder and at $3.30 to make the Top 8 with the Bulldogs to come in Round 20.

NRL Against The Spread Standings

The Storm’s cover streak has ended at an incredible 14 consecutive games after the Cowboys kept it close on Friday night. Still, they top the NRL’s ATS ladder following Parramatta’s defeat as favourites earlier in the round.

After Round 19

Top 8
Bottom 8
Storm (15-3)Roosters (8-10)
Eels (14-4)Cowboys (8-10)
Sharks (11-7)Titans (8-10)
Sea Eagles (11-7)Dragons (8-10)
Rabbitohs (10-8)Bulldogs (7-11)
Tigers (10-8)Broncos (7-11)
Panthers (9-9)Raiders (6-12)
Knights (8-10)Warriors (4-14)