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2015 NRL Round 4 Betting Preview – Newcastle vs Penrith

2015 NRL Round 4 Betting Preview for Newcastle vs Penrith thanks to William Hill Australia.

3pm AEDT, Saturday, March 28
Hunter Stadium, Newcastle
The Knights have shot to the top of the ladder with an unbeaten start through three weeks and will be hoping to go 4-0 for the first time since 2002 when they meet a Penrith team playing super football.

Selection Notes
David Fa’aologo comes into the starting team for the suspended Korbin Sims with Paterika Vaivai added to the bench. Sione Mata’utia has been named 18th man again but will likely play instead of Tyler Randell. The Panthers are unchanged from the team that lost to the Roosters on Monday night.

Newcastle and Penrith have played 40 times with the Knights prevailing on 22 occasions to the Panthers’ 17. After dominating for two decades though – Newcastle lost just seven of 31 games between 1992 and 2013 – the Knights were blown out twice by Penrith last season, losing 30-8 in the opening round before a 32-10 defeat at home in Round 9. The Knights have won five of the last eight against Penrith at Hunter Stadium.

Newcastle enter this clash as one of just two undefeated teams. They downed the Warriors at home before back-to-back interstate wins against North Queensland and Gold Coast. The Knights have not posted a big score but rank third in line breaks. Their game has been based on toughness though and they have been a highly penalised team. Penrith have been very good as well with wins over Canterbury and Gold Coast before a tough loss to the Sydney Roosters. All 14 of Penrith’s tries have come from an assists – one of just two teams with a 100% assist ratio per Champion Data – while they lead the NRL in second phase play with 52 offloads. Penrith are the worst tackling team in the NRL though with an NRL-worst 123 missed tackles.

Key Matchup
The five-eighth battle is an intriguing one here. Jarrod Mullen has just one assist across three games and has not been one of the Knights’ key playmakers. He needs to lift his efforts. Opposite Isaac John has come into the team for the injured Jamie Soward and was a real weakness for the Panthers on Monday. He is better than that performance and needs to show it this week.

Stats That Matter
The Knights are 15-10 with a 14-11 cover record and 15-10 over record at home over the last three seasons. In day matches the over is an excellent 10-4. When shorter than $2.00 the Knights are just 9-8 at home. Penrith have won six of their last seven on the road when shorter than $2.00. Penrith have covered 14 of their last 25 day matches. Penrith are a poor 1-3 straight and ATS off a five-day break. Newcastle are 18-11 ATS after conceding 18 points or more while Penrith are 18-13 ATS. Teams off three consecutive wins are 53-58 with a 48-63 ATS cover record while home teams are 21-33 ATS in the same situation. Home teams are a terrible 7-14 straight and ATS over the last three seasons with Jared Maxwell refereeing in day matches. Penrith have covered 8 of their last 11 on the road.

Final Thoughts
The Knights have won three straight but remain unconvincing. They’ve twice had to come from behind at the break to win, a nod to their resilience but something that does raise question marks over their true level. The best comparison with Penrith is probably the Gold Coast – where Penrith won by 40 playing not particularly well while Newcastle snuck home. The Panthers are a better team and if they can get a roll on the Knights’ defence can be busted. A small edge Penrith in this one.

How It’s Shaping Up
Penrith by 4

Best Bet
Penrith ($1.91)

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Newcastle vs Penrith Comparison Betting Odds

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