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2015 NRL Round 5 Betting Preview – Newcastle vs St George-Illawarra

2015 NRL Round 5 Betting Preview for Newcastle vs St George-Illawarra thanks to William Hill Australia.

7.30pm AEDT, Saturday, April 4
Hunter Stadium, Newcastle
Newcastle and St George Illawarra will honour Alex McKinnon in this one with the inaugural staging of the Alex McKinnon Cup. McKinnon played for both clubs before tragically suffering a serious spine injury last season. The two teams will leave nothing on the paddock in an effort to honour McKinnon and his bravery.

Selection Notes
The undefeated Knights get a huge inclusion with Tariq Sims set to make his debut for the club after missing the opening month through suspension. Sims will start in the backrow, replacing Joseph Tapine. Robbie Rochow is out hurt. James McManus returns on the wing, forcing out Sione Mata’utia, who will likely start on the bench in place of Tyler Randell. St George Illawarra are unchanged from the team that defeated Manly.

St George Illawarra have had the best of Newcastle throughout their history with 19 wins from the 29 matches played. The Knights thumped the Dragons in the only meeting last year 40-10 in the meaningless Round 26 affair but prior to that the Saints had won four straight and eight of the last 10. Six of the last seven between the two sides have tallied less than 38. The Knights side contains four ex-Dragons – Beau Scott, Jeremy Smith, Chris Houston and Jack Stockwell.

Newcastle are absolutely flying with four wins from four outings, the first time they have opened the season in such style since the days of Andrew Johns. Newcastle have downed New Zealand and Penrith at home and North Queensland and Gold Coast away, covering three matches. The Knights rank seventh in attack but an impressive third in defence. The Knights lead the NRL in line breaks but have forced the fewest dropouts. The Dragons have struggled with their attack, scoring a last-ranked 10.5 points per game. Their defence has been superb though, ranking second. The Dragons have forced the most drop outs and most missed tackles in the NRL.

Key Matchup
Five-eighths Jarrod Mullen and Gareth Widdop will have a huge bearing on this one with a big kicking game and field position likely to be critical. Mullen has had a nice impact with two assists while he ranks eighth in the NRL in line break assists but he is in the Top 10 for missed tackles, something that has long been a worry for him. Widdop has touched the ball more than all other halves bar three but hasn’t done a lot with it. He has been one of the better kickers this year though and needs to maintain his exceptional long kicking game.

Stats That Matter
Newcastle are 16-10 (15-11 ATS) at Hunter Stadium over the last three years with a 15-11 over record. In night matches at the ground they are 7-4 with a 6-5 ATS and 6-5 under record. They are 5-2 under when favoured by more than a converted try while they are 3-4 ATS. Away from their suburban home grounds the Dragons are 12-19 with a 15-16 ATS record and 17-14 over number. When getting more than a converted try they are 9-7 ATS with a positive return in head-to-head betting. The Dragons have failed to cover their last 11 – dating back to 2011 – off two straight wins. The Saints are 2-7 ATS off conceding single digits while the Knights are 16-6 under off a double digit win.

Final Thoughts
This will be a fierce match played with an extra edge knowing the cup on the line is named after the popular Alex McKinnon will mean no inch is given in this affair. These two typically play dour low scorers and with neither attack particularly blistering this year something similar is expected, particularly with heavy rain expected. There won’t be many points in this and an upset wouldn’t shock at all but the safe bet is the under and a comfortable one at that.

How It’s Shaping Up
Newcastle by 4

Best Bet
Under 38.5 ($1.90)

Other Recommended Bets
Both Teams To Score 10 Points – No ($3.60)

Newcastle vs St George-Illawarra Comparison Betting Odds

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