Game Of The Week – Round 18 NRL Premiership 2011

July 8th, 2011

Round 18 of the 2011 NRL Premiership rolls around with a couple of byes to the big boys (Dragons & Brisbane) leaving us with one less game of Rugby League over the weekend.

As we enter the back end of the season there’s no doubt every game becomes important but our pick for the game of the round features two teams who will be more desperate than most.

2011 NRL Premiership Round 18 Game Of The Week

Cronulla Sharks ($1.65 at Luxbet) Versus Canberra Raiders ($2.25 at Luxbet)

These two battlers meet in what is often dubbed a ‘do or die contest’. In reality both teams could mathematically drop this game and still make the finals, however that won’t happen. Whoever loses this game will not be in action in September and even if they were they’d just be making up the numbers. The situation is even more dire for the Canberra raiders, if they lose on Saturday they have to win every single game from here on in. What that means is not only do they have to beat the Sharks, they need to beat them well.

On the other end of the scale the Sharks sit in a better position, in fact if they win this game they could well find themselves only being kept out of the top eight by for and against. They’ve never doubted themselves sin 2011 and they’ve played some very good football, if they are true contenders as well they also need to rack up a score on the Canberra outfit.

If you’re into the omens try this one on for size. In 2010 Canberra had won just five games by Round 18 and they were sitting 13th on the competition ladder. From then on in they dropped just one match to make the finals in a tremendous run of form. It’s something they’ve done before as well albeit without the same level of synchronicity. It’s a million to one that they do it again, but this seems to be the way they like to play.

If they are simply expecting things to happen though they’ll have another thing coming, the Sharks are a much better team than people give them credit for and I rate them better than a few of the teams around them on the ladder. Forget the Bulldogs who are above them and you can almost forget the Tigers as well, if you want a back a team form back in the bunch Cronulla are the value pick.

None of that matters if they lose tomorrow though. They find themselves in the rare position of being favourites and they need to make that count. Not only do they need to repel what cna at times be a solid Raiders attack, they need to find the holes in their defence that other teams have isolated so easily. Their right side defence especially is weak, Cronulla isn’t known for racking up big scores but on Saturday night they have no option.

If you’re picking off history than the Raiders are the winners here, but if you don’t get drawn into that kind of thing there’s no other winner than the Sharks. They deserve their favouritism and the $1.68 being offered by Luxbet is way over the odds. They’ll win this game and then they’ll go on and give the top eight a bit of a shake as well. As for the Raiders, bring on 2012, lightning doesn’t strike twice.

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